Commute to Cambs? Where should we buy a house?(23 Posts)
DH works in Cambs city centre. We live in a very rural backwater near Melton Mowbray. We have been happy here but we want to move to Cambs to cut his commute right down. We would like to move asap, we have two boys under the age of 2 and DH is out of the house such long hours because of the commute. Our budget is £220,000 max really but could possibly stretch to more if we absolutely had to. We like being rural but want to be close to Cambs. I was hoping for some ideas and suggestions please? We really don't know the area at all but have been looking at the villages surrounding Haverhill, Newmarket & Bury. Most of which are out of our price range! What are Haverhill etc like themselves? And does anyone have any experience of oil fired heating? A lot of these Suffolk villages don't seem to be connected to mains gas! Thanks so much
Suggest you also post on the local board for Cambridge (NB Cambs is an abbreviation for Cambridgeshire not the city of Cambridge).
Whereabouts does your DH work? As the city itself is very congested you would ideally live somewhere that is relatively convenient for where he works.
Your budget is low, so you won't be able to find much in the city or south of Cambridge. Bury, Newmarket and Haverhill are longish commutes. Haverhill is a charmless town developed as London overspill.
Friends live in Saffron Waldon and the DH commutes to Cambridge. The secondary school is fab.
Your budget will unfortunately limit where you can look. Haverhill is quite far from Cambridge to be honest, and not a great place. Where in Cambridge will your DH be working? Would he drive in or use the train? (New station coming at science park soon if that is relevant). I think the cheapest way to go might be Wilburton/Haddenham/Witchford/Sutton area ie up the A10. The Fens are an acquired taste but the villages themselves are quite nice. Otherwise you might find something it Huntingdon/St Neots etc but that's still quite a commute.
forget Saffron Walden, it has become very expensive in recent years I'm afraid - we are visiting there at the moment and I can't get over house prices round here!
Haverhill is cheap, but really not very nice. Bury is lovely.
Oil heating is fine, very common in that part of the world and oil is cheap at the moment.
How many beds are you looking at?
This is in a lovely part of Bury.
Or maybe Thurston there is a train station there.
I used to work in Cambridge and commuted in from Kettering - plenty of nice villages in Northants within 20 - 30 minutes of Cambridge and a lot cheaper than living in Cambs.
Linton is lovely, great schools, great facilities and a lovely village feel. Property prices rapidly rising and likely to continue so good investment!
Linton probably too expensive as well - Rightmove has one 3 bed semi there for £270k which is above OP's max.
Lots of villages in Cambs are not connected to mains gas either and oil heating is fine, the only thing you have to watch for is oil theft which happens from time to time.
I would avoid Haverhill, Littleport, and Soham. Someone has suggested the A10 corridor but the A10 is a pig of a road, if my husband leaves for work at the wrong time (after 7.10am) it can take over an hour to travel the 15 miles to Cambridge. Ely is lovely and has a train link to Cambridge. Burwell is nice but might be out of your price range. If you like rural you could look at somewhere like Prickwillow. Fordham is nice and has a few amenities. Newmarket is OK (ish) but house prices seem to be affected by the racing industry. Linton is lovely as someone has suggested.
St Neots? In your budget and a 20 - 30 min to Cambridge if no traffic
Yes I don't know if you can afford Ely but if you can (and DH can get train) that might be a good option.
My DH works at the science park in Cambridge and we live in St Ives. There is a guided busway into the city - takes maybe 40/45mins (35 to the science park) on the bus. He mostly cycles (the straight path along the busway) - for him it is a dream of a commute. St Ives is nice - but the property market here (and all around the Cambridge commuter belt) is insane. Nothing half decent stays on more than a day or 2 and prices rising all the time. We bought our 3 bed terrace in September for 210 (with £20K in work needing doing). Huntingdon is cheaper but further away. Driving the a14 not recommended...
St Neots is a nice small town, but the commute to Cambridge can be a nightmare in the mornings. St Ives is on the guided busway, so the commute is easier if your dh works somewhere that the guided bus goes to.
You say you might be able to stretch your budget slightly. If you could stretch to £250k then you could look at Cambourne, which is great for families with small children and is within cycling distance of Cambridge (just!) Or there is a bus every 20 minutes. Your dh would save on commuting costs so it might be worth the increase in price.
If you look on Righmove, there are 3 bed properties for sale for £250k and under in Cottenham and Swavesey. Both are nice villages with preschools, schools, village shop etc, and within cycling distancs of Cambridge. But properties get snapped up very quickly.
It all depends on the traffic on the A14 if you live west of Cambridge. What should be a 30 minute drive can take hours on a bad day but if he leaves for work before 7am, it would be ok. The guided bus goes from Huntingdon but takes about an hour. If you look at the villages around the town, Brampton, Godmanchester, Buckden, possibly either of the Offords, you'll be in catchment for the better of the two local schools. There are lots of little hamlets as well. St Neots tends to be more expensive as it's one stop less on the (direct, fast) train from Kings Cross. Good luck!
Thank you so much for the responses, extremely helpful! We are looking at 3 beds but would consider a 2 bed. I'm hoping more properties might come on the market over the next couple of weeks as there doesn't seem to be much about at the moment. Does anyone have any experience of commuting to the Grafton centre area of Cambs from villages such as Great Bradley and Cheveley? Also, do you think somewhere like Sudbury would be too far?
Sudbury would mean a very long commute for your dh. Is there flexibility about his start time in the morning? That could help. My dh leaves home at 9am, so after the main rush hour, and is at work in central Cambridge by 09.25. He then works until 6pm, and is home around 6.20
I do the opposite, leave home just after 7.30 to start work in Cambridge at 8pm, then leavecat 4.30 and am home within 20 minutes. We live in a village10 miles west of Cambridge.
If we left home at 8, however, we would face am hours journey.
I have colleagues who commute in from villages near Newmarket, their journey is usually ok ss long as the A14 is running smoothly.
Personally I'd opt for a higher house price and lower commuting costs/comuting time, in order to be as close to Cambridge as possible. There are 3 bed houses for £250 k in Cottenham, Swavesey, Cambourne etc. That would be cheaper in the long run than a £230k house in Sudbury where you'd be paying a fortune to commute. Especially as Cambridge is within cycking distance from those villages.
Good luck with the house hunting.
I used to do Great Bradley to the science park - 20 mins in the middle of the night or off peak. If you need to do it when everyone else is, 7:45 onwards, you are at the mercy of the A14 and on an OK day takes 40 mins. Grafton centre probably add 10 mins. But you will have hills.
Sitting in traffic trying to get into the A14 currently, and I thought I'd add the reason we moved away from Great Bradley was the lack of pre and after school care provision. We had a use a taxi for our 4-5 year old from school to an after school nursery. Plus had to drive like a woman processed to be able to make the 6pm pickup.
Could you consider shared equity? There are 3 bed houses being built in new developments around Trumpinton/Addenbrookes that would then be affordable, and only a bus or bike ride to work for your DH.
Otherwise I think your budget will mean you have to look a significant distance away form Cambridge which sort of defeats the object of trying to move nearer. OR live on a rail route and get your DH a Brompton for cycling up to the Grafton from the station.
What about Downham Market ? Station there is about 40 mins on the train into Cambridge , about an hour if you have to drive it , and I use it between 4.30 and 6pm , after which it gets a lot quieter . 220k would get you plenty . Oil fired heating in most of the villages surrounding , but the town has mains gas . And oil isn't a big deal at all , particularly at the moment , as it's the cheapest it's ever been .
If you're considering Downham Market, you might want to first check out the schools, as a lot of West Norfolk schools aren't currently considered to be particularly great and haven't been for a long time. Options for pre- and after-school care also aren't very good. Obviously, if your children are very young that could change in the future though. Otherwise, it's generally a good place to live, the property is comparatively cheap, it's surprisingly quick to get the train to London and the new train station in Cambridge mentioned above will be on the line that goes from there.
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