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It's another "moving out of London" thread! £400K, 3 bed house - where would you go?

(48 Posts)
ACatCalledFang Sun 03-Jan-16 16:18:30

I'd welcome some ideas from you knowledgeable people on where we should focus our research into a move out of London, as we're rather clueless and Rightmove doesn't tell you whether a place is affordable for a reason...

We've decided it's time for us to move out, and to upgrade from a 2-bed flat to a house, which would be unaffordable for us in our current location.

Our dilemma is that we both commute into central London, but have family outside, mainly in the north, who we visit regularly and vice versa. From the point of view of our commutes, we'd be looking at locations within easy reach of Victoria, Waterloo or Charing Cross. For visiting family, it would be St Pancras, King's Cross or Euston (all feasible for commuting onwards into the centre if initial train journey under, say, 40 mins).

What we're looking for may not exist on our budget, but our wishlist is something like this:

- a town rather than a village (unless it was a large village with good facilities/easy access to same and good transport links; we like the look of Knebworth in Hertfordshire).
- a commute of no more than an hour to Victoria/Waterloo, or 40/45 mins to Euston, St Pancras or King's Cross.
-somewhere friendly enough with a reasonable amount of activities for preschoolers (we have a baby, and plan on having more) and decent state schools.

- budget of around £350K, £400K max.
- a (freehold) house with a garden, semi or detached. Keen to avoid a terrace unless end of terrace.
- 3 bedrooms minimum; more would be nice, or potential to extend later on.
- we'd consider doing some work but are not looking for a fixer-upper. We lack the skills and knowledge for major renovations and would have to live in it from the start with a baby/toddler.
-within walking distance of the station but in a fairly quiet area.
- slight preference for an older property rather than a new(er) build. Something like a 1930s semi would be great; an older property with decent sized rooms even better.

Areas I think worth looking at include Hertfordshire (Hitchin, Welwyn, Letchworth, Stevenage), Surrey (not quite sure where to start given our budget, have looked at Godalming briefly and ruled out Haslemere on cost grounds), NE Hampshire (not sure whether this is too far out), and West Sussex (ditto depending on the area). I'm not sure where the tipping point between cheaper housing and excessively long commutes may lie, and would welcome thoughts on the locations I've listed above as well as places we may not have thought of.

If you've read through all that, thank you! All thoughts welcome (including "totally unrealistic") hmm

Katisha Sun 03-Jan-16 16:21:41

Have a look at Leighton Buzzard. 35 mins to Euston.

Artandco Sun 03-Jan-16 16:25:25

Chelmsford? £300-350k for 3 bed semi. 30mins to Liverpool Street.

ChablisTyrant Sun 03-Jan-16 16:26:48

I would prioritise the daily commute and so look down the Victoria and Waterloo lines. Avoiding the tube each day is important. For visiting family you have the thameslink option if you want to avoid the tube.

From Victoria your best options are Horsham and Haywards Heath. Horsham is nicer but worse commute and secondary schooling rather complicated by single sex schools. Haywards Heath is the best commute in Sussex by far. You could afford a house near the station.

PettsWoodParadise Sun 03-Jan-16 16:32:19

Zone 6 edge of London Borough of Bromley you would get something e.g quick commuting into London including trains that go all the way to Kings Cross.

ACatCalledFang Sun 03-Jan-16 16:35:37

Wow, you're quick - thank you!

Artandco - thanks for your suggestion. We've pretty much ruled out Essex due to the requirement to commute in via Liverpool Street, which isn't very convenient for us, but I could be persuaded to look again.

ChablisTyrant - I've looked at both of those briefly, so will look again in more detail. I actually know Haywards Heath a little, and can't believe I forgot about Thameslink! Any areas in either town to avoid, as far as you know?

Katisha - hadn't thought of Leighton Buzzard, will take a look. What's it like? Again, any particular bits of town to avoid?

DinosaursRoar Sun 03-Jan-16 16:36:46

Towards the top end of your budget would get you 3/4 beds in Tonbridge in Kent - on the fast train into London bridge/Waterloo East/Charing Cross line or Cannon Street.

You might be able to get 3 beds for that in Sevenoaks (takes approx 20 mins off the train to London times) if you go the Riverhead/Dunton Green end, which is also nice but schools are in short supply (there has been a lot of housing development without school capacity being increased).

DinosaursRoar Sun 03-Jan-16 16:41:52

oh and if you are doing the 'looking down the line' thing, remember to look at trains going into Waterloo East if you need Waterloo.

ACatCalledFang Sun 03-Jan-16 16:42:04

PettsWoodParadise, that's just the sort of house I've been looking at outside London, didn't think we'd be able to afford it within London, even in zone 6.

Think DP is pretty set on "Leaving "London" in a way that I'm not (I'm torn as to whether we leave or just go further out as, once you go, you generally can't afford to come back). But I will show him this and see what he thinks.

What is that area like? I don't know SE London at all. Would it be an area with grammar schools like parts of Kent?

TenTinyTadpoles Sun 03-Jan-16 16:43:38

Cambridge? 45 minutes into Kings Cross.
you could get a house like this and the local schools in Cambridge are good

bishboschone Sun 03-Jan-16 16:47:38

Have you looked at Horsham or billingshurst ? Both have mainline stations . Horsham much bigger but more expensive .

DinosaursRoar Sun 03-Jan-16 16:48:42

oh and re the commute, I would prioritise the daily commute over easy access to visiting family, a pig of a journey once a month is better than a pig of a journey twice a day!

You might find moving further out leads to a similar commute times than zone 6 if you can get a fast train link, but the better the commute, the pricier the houses.

Alanna1 Sun 03-Jan-16 16:50:41

You could also look at some of the suburban train lines that come into kings x/finsbury park/liverpool street. There are books about places to live an hour from London too. Hertfordshire etc. But if you think your very long term jobs would stay in the waterloo area etc, then I'd prioritise my morning commute too. But if your jobs might move within London then the suburban rail way lines are an option.

PettsWoodParadise Sun 03-Jan-16 16:53:40

St Paul's Cray isn't perfect but is very much better than the neighbouring Cray, St Mary Cray and the new Nugent shopping centre has really bought the area up. The majority of houses are owner occupied by hardworking people but there are the odd family who can be a bit renegade but they are getting priced out so are less and less. I live about 2 miles away in Petts Wood which is lovely, but unless a house comes up in neighbouring Crofton (cheaper due to houses being 1970s style and a little bit longer walk to the station) suspect it is out of your price bracket but do keep an eye out for that area as it is really nice and sometimes a hose comes up, as is The Knoll.

For schools you are in catchment for Bexley Grammars, St Olaves and Newstead Wood grammar, some of the Kent grammars (Wilmington and the superselectives in Tonbridge) but then as it isn't a fully grammar area you don't get the two tier system that some areas suffer from so a perfect combination. DD just sat in September so I know a lot about all three tests!

I love that we are still London and yet on edge of Green Belt. Perfect combination really. If you see other houses in the area feel free to PM me a link and I will give my honest opinion.

ChablisTyrant Sun 03-Jan-16 19:19:54

All of Haywards Heath is fine. The most desirable part of town is west of the railways tracks called Harlands/Lucastes. Many cycle to the station from Lindfield and Cuckfield.

SmellTheGlove Sun 03-Jan-16 19:23:53

I have friends who have just moved to Horsham for similar reasons to yours - I've been down a few times and it seems really nice. They absolutely love it. My friend commutes to London (Waterloo) and finds it ok, not much worse than when commuting from outer/east London where they were before. Cost of commuting needs to be factored in. They got a lovely Victorian 3 bed seem for about 350k I think - less than they sold their London 2 bed flat for anyway!! I would be very tempted to do the same if we didn't have DS already settled in primary, definitely a good idea to make your move before baby starts school..

ACatCalledFang Sun 03-Jan-16 21:07:00

Thanks again for all your suggestions, phone has just eaten my original reply while settling baby so I'll try again....

PettsWoodParadise, thanks for your very kind offer, will definitely PM you if we decide to look more closely at the SE London/Kent areas you suggest.

I agree with posters above who suggest prioritising the daily commute, and being able to get off at a mainline station and walk to work is a big draw for me. I'm likely to remain in the Victoria/Waterloo area for the foreseeable future; DP's work is more flexible and we could potentially look at just the one commute. We have a lot of sums to do...

However, we try to travel north every month as I have some relatives who are too elderly to visit us, and my DM visits us pretty much fortnightly at the moment to help with DS, which is likely to continue for some time. At the moment, we're the right side of London for such visits, especially by car, which would obviously change if we head south. I'm also very aware that my DPs are ageing; it's not an issue yet but there could come a time when much more frequent travel is required by us. Hence me giving much more thought to the ease of visiting family than I might have done previously.

I'd not considered Cambridge before but may take a look; would prefer to avoid having to drive to the station though. Billingshurst is another town I'd not thought of.

If anyone out there knows Hertfordshire, I'd really value your thoughts on it!

TenTinyTadpoles Sun 03-Jan-16 21:09:34

OP most people in Cambridge cycle to the station, no hills to contend with smile

ChablisTyrant Sun 03-Jan-16 21:16:56

If your family are up north then Cambridge sucks. Quicker to go into London and out again than cross-country. And A14 west is a nightmare.

ACatCalledFang Sun 03-Jan-16 21:29:42

Good point! Haven't been there for years!

ACatCalledFang Sun 03-Jan-16 21:32:18

For the northern trips, we need A1 or M1 access if by road. Hence Cambridge, lovely as it is, not being ideal.

Biscuitsneeded Sun 03-Jan-16 21:35:08

Not necessarily true. Cambridge to Peterborough then on to the North... New station coming in North Cambridge too, with cheaper housing nearby.

AnneElliott Sun 03-Jan-16 21:56:06

What about zone 4 in Kent? Sidcup/Chislehurst and Bexley have nice parts where you can degunatrly get the 3 beds and a garden.

Wuffleflump Mon 04-Jan-16 14:46:10

If Cambridge, would agree Comberton not ideal for the station.

New station in 2016/17 next to Science Park. Would look at Histon or Milton villages for that, or Arbury / King's Hedges / East Chesterton areas within Cambridge. Maybe Fen Ditton, once new walking/cycling bridge across river is in. They're all 'cheap for Cambridge' meaning expensive, but you could get something for your budget, and you'd be in a small growing city rather than a town.

Wuffleflump Mon 04-Jan-16 14:47:00

Also, depending on your lines of work, Cambridge is good for jobs, so prospect of an even shorter commute in the future.

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