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First home in Leigh on Sea?

(10 Posts)
Tabyria Tue 05-Jan-16 23:31:22

Hi everybody,

Happy NY!
I'm new on mumsnet and starting this exciting phase: DH and I got married two months ago! We're living in central London in a rented one bed flat and want to move away to start a family. We hope to have a home and be trying for a kid (or even be pregnant?!) by Christmas smile

We used to love exploring London and everything it has to offer, trying new restaurants, bars and pop ups several times a week but we're also keen hikers, love strolls in the countryside with pub meals and have taken a quieter approach lately. We both have jobs in London so will be commuting daily outside of maternity/paternity leaves.
We were considering the Beckenham area, for a shorter commute, but tend to think that space and nature (and bigger house!) might suit the change of lifestyle that comes with kids better and are thinking a lot about Leigh on Sea as we've loved what we've seen from it.

How is it to live there? I've read a few older threads but I'm under the impression that things are moving quite fast in the area. Is it still as friendly as described and are the non selective schools improving? Any area we should be wary of? We love living without a car:will we need one there to go to the cinema or drive kids to activities or can most things be done walking/by public transport? Finally, do you find that the lifestyle there is what we're looking for: the beauty and peace of nature nearby with the appeal of a friendly but slightly buzzing high street with cafes, bars, a few restaurants and things to do? We want to keep going to London at least twice a month for theatre, exhibitions...anyone out there doing that or are we kidding ourselves?

We're spending the weekend there to get a better feel for it but any insider tip/opinion would be so helpful.
thanks so much smile

Tabyria Wed 06-Jan-16 09:58:58

Bump for today smile

Spickle Wed 06-Jan-16 14:03:44

I only have limited knowledge but do have friends that live there.

Leigh-on-Sea is a nice place with quirky shops and plenty of eateries, all walkable. Old Leigh is lovely with traditional cockles and muscles and some good pubs. There is a tea shop in Old Leigh called Sara's Tea Shop which is wonderful. The railway line into Fenchurch Street is located in Old Leigh and could be a bit of a walk from the other areas of Leigh (and is a fairly steep incline). I have also heard that some houses down the incline towards the estuary have had subsidence issues, so definitely recommend a full structural survey if you find something you want to buy. I can't advise on the local schools - my son went to the Grammar school which does have an excellent reputation.

The nearest cinema is in Southend itself - not walkable, but should be buses to take you there. The train station goes into Southend Central, so would be a 5/10 minute walk to the cinema from there. For the theatre, there is the Cliffs Pavillion and Palace Theatre in nearby Westcliff, possibly walkable or taxi!

Like a lot of places, Leigh-on-Sea is quite built up, it is not separate from Westcliff or Southend, though there is a gap before you get to Hadleigh. Houses are mainly older, traditional and some areas lack parking and have narrow streets but I guess it depends on your budget.

Can't help on activities/clubs for kids but most towns would have facilities for children, after school activities, cubs, brownies, dancing and sporting activities. Not sure whether there is a swimming pool in Leigh or whether you would have to go into Southend for it.

If you want to be walking distance from a cinema, restaurants and the countryside for hiking, perhaps consider Chelmsford? Main line into Liverpool Street, taking around 40 minutes. Not near the coast though!

Tabyria Wed 06-Jan-16 14:17:44

Hi Spickle, thanks a lot for the answer. And the tip about the structural survey is very useful, we'll keep that in mind. We didn't know about the theatre (good!) and you confirm what I thought about cinema but that sounds doable. Exciting!

We had a look at Chelmsford actually, and it didn't quite work for us. On paper it was great but the town depressed us when we went there. I guess we like places with a bit more of a soul, a bit more history maybe. The coast is a plus but not a requisite -we never thought we'd end up there!
Keen to see more this weekend.

DannyFishcharge Wed 06-Jan-16 14:25:52

I live nearby and from what I've heard Leigh is a lovely place to live. The transport is great so it's easy to get into both London and Southend.

mrsmortis Wed 06-Jan-16 15:34:21

How about Colchester? Lots going on, cinema, a couple of theatres, restaurants, all that Roman history, etc and it's definitely possible to live there without a car. My MIL doesn't drive and lives there. She gets by fine. We walk into town over nature reserves without touching any roads until we cross the final one to get to the shops. 52mins to Liverpool Street on the fast train.

Tabyria Wed 06-Jan-16 15:45:39

Thanks Danny and Mrs Mortis. Love all the positive feedbacks about Leigh smile

Good point about Colchester. We don't seem to be able to get quite the same quality of house for our money there at the moment but it might just depends on what's on the market. We'll keep an open eye.

Higgywiggy Sat 09-Jan-16 16:15:40

We moved from north London a couple of years ago with a tiny baby and have since had another and despite my initial reservations (will I turn into a desperate housewife?) it was the best move we made! I have made lots of great friends with varying interests (not everyone reads the Daily Fail as in other home county towns), I walk everywhere, and there are LOADS of activities for babies, toddlers and kids. We live in the centre of the town a stones throw from the sea and shops. DH commutes full time and I commute part time into London (or will do again when I finish this mat leave). I could be going into London every other week to socialise and definitely thought I would be, but in reality with two under two my world has definitely shrunk geographically! And I don't view that as such a bad thing any more. I do get to go to anything I desperately want to in London if I want to (read: can be arsed to) and know in the future when I have toilet trained kids that sleep through the night and don't need ferrying to activities and have scheduled naps all weekend DH and I will prob do more London-y stuff again. In the meantime good coffee and a quick skim of the papers in Barlow & Fields whilst breastfeeding a baby and stopping a toddler smashing up the place, maybe followed by a nice walk along the estuary is about enough to break up a weekend. There are plenty of nice cafes, restaurants, bars on your doorstep, an active community centre & lots of local events especially in the summer (art trail, folk festival, etc).
Good luck wherever you end up!

SpaghettiMeatballs Sun 10-Jan-16 07:58:13

I am from LoS and still visit family regularly. It's a great place to raise a family if proximity to London is important.

If you have the budget the marine estate area is the best place to look IMO.

Tabyria Mon 11-Jan-16 12:34:50

Hi everybody, so we went to spend the wkd in the area and definitely loved it smile
We found we could afford bigger/nicer houses in the Westcliff/Southend bit but, even though the Milton conservation area is lovely, we feel that Leigh on sea is the place to be for us.
We visited two houses there but they were both quite noisy (Thames Drive/London Road by the light and Elm Road/Station road = hearing cars from the garden) so we'll wait until something quieter comes up. It must be possible!

We love the Chalkwell area but I'm wondering what the commute to London is like with the new timetables. Do you have a seat at peak time? At least, Leigh station has trains starting there, but trains stopping at Chalkwell have started several stations earlier and I've seen angry tweets about passengers standing after Westcliff...

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