Shall we move to the West Midlands?!(27 Posts)
We currently live in St Albans with 3 young DC, and DH works in central London. He is sick of the commute and working long hours, we are going to need more space in the not too distant future but it's soooooo expensive here, and to be honest, the thought of spending the next 15 years here until all the DC have left school fills me with horror (in a 'is this it?' sort of way). Oldest DC is in Year 2, and youngest doesn't start school for 2 more years, so we feel that the time is right for a big move. We have a lot of family here, so it is quite a big decision. We are thinking that the Birmingham area is a good idea, as we also have family in the North West, and job possibilities look reasonably good there. Trouble is, we don't know it at all! As far as I can tell, Leamington Spa & Warwick look good & affordable, but I'm worried about swapping one commuter 'hell' for another. I really don't like how crowded it feels around here now - you get stuck in traffic going into town at 10am for no reason at all, you can't see a GP for weeks, and god knows if we'll get a secondary school place, as we're in a bit of a black hole where we live. The train service has become awful and DH leaves home before 6.30am and gets back after 7pm most nights as it is, so when there are problems, this just gets worse. Will it be the same in the Birmingham commuter belt? Where would we get a decent 4 bed house for under £600k with good schools, plenty going on (I'm not really one for rural living), that isn't too crowded, and is quite attractive, is the million dollar question?!
Shrewsbury may well fit the bill if there is suitable work. Train service to Birmingham isn't good but is supposed to improve. Gp services OK but local a and e under threat and very unstable, so be aware of that.
Driving round birmingham not fun although nowhere is as bad as the south east.
Have you looked at Warlingham Surrey. Much cheaper area. Depends where you are commuting into.
I hate St Albans the traffic is horrendous. Wasted many hours of my life on Hollywell Hill
Leamington is great. You could live centrally www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-62334461.html and be able to walk to the station. Schools look to be mixed - good and oversubscribed.
Solihull and Knowle are also good areas.
Do-er upper www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-44068191.html
Bit of a bargain in Rugby - www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-62508353.html
I'm from Worcester which is nice and good links to Birmingham and the motorway
Would your DH still be working in London? Are you looking into a different commute but a better home life?
It will be loads better. Our office car park is half empty at 5pm whereas in London office everyone still has their head down at 6. You can have a life. Just check for proposed hs2 route.
We moved from London to Solihull with small DC and we are happy here. You could have a very nice four-bed on a big plot for your budget in Solihull. You could also afford Dorridge, although your money wouldn't quite go as far. You can't really go wrong with schools in Solihull, Dorridge, and Knowle. Birmingham International (15 mins from us) to Euston is 1h10.
A word of warning, however - we also have family in the NW and the M6 is just as hellish from here. The journey to family in Manchester should take 2hrs ish but routinely takes us 3.5 hrs.
Coventry, Solihull, Meriden, Kenilworth, Leamington, Warwick all within commuting distance and would be in budget.
I'm in a market town in north Worcestershire, which is directly south of Birmingham. We're surrounded by beautiful countryside but within half an hour of Brum's city centre. Worcester is half an hour in the opposite direction. 600k would get you a fabulous house too.
Thanks for the responses. I'm getting quite excited by the idea now :-) I think the short term idea would be to move first and for DH to possibly do 2 days in London, 3 days at home, but job search in Birmingham. We don't have a real plan yet! It sounds like this could actually work though, which is great. I think we'll have a weekend in the Birmingham area soon to get a feel for it. Bad news about the trip to Manchester though. It takes about 3.5 hours from here as it. Not a deal breaker though......
I think access to Manchester would rule out north Worcestershire, despite it being a lovely part of the world.
Parts of Brum are nice too! Harborne, Moseley and Solihull (not technically Birmingham but basically connected). Loads of nice market towns in Worcestershire/Warwickshire of which Leamington/warwick are the most expensive but your budget will still go a long way. Kenilworth seems nice. Shrewsbury is amazing but you are looking at an hour in the train so a bit of a commute.
I grew up in Sutton Coldfield, albeit a v long time ago! North of the city so better for Manchester links, but an easy train commute into Birmingham. Schools used to be good, no idea now though.
Lots of people I know commute into London (Marylebone) from Solihull, Knowle and Dorridge on a daily basis. Birmingham International is a 15 min drive away and the line goes to Euston. You can get a 4 bed house for £600k in these areas although it won't be huge with lots of land! Schools are excellent in all of these areas.
Another vote for Harborne. Central yet leafy, great amenties, good primaries, lovely sense of community in our pretty conservation area. We moved from London and love it. I know St Albans very well indeed having lived there for many years, and would chose Harborne every time. It's so easy to get around the country from the Midlands too! I commuted to London from here regularly too and it was manageable. Good luck!
Redditch? I know it has a bit of a reputation as commuterville but you could get a fabulous house for well under your budget. We are just about to buy a huge 4 bed with a big garden, we can see 2 very good schools from our window and in the catchment for 2 very good high schools. Countryside nearby but also near enough to town. Lots of young families. Try areas like astwood bank or headless cross.
Can't comment on areas, but we made a move to the East Midlands from London 18 months ago with 3 young dc (eldest was in year 1 at the time). Best thing we ever did, our quality of life is just so much better and travel to work much more pleasant. Go for it.
We moved from SW London to Lichfield this Summer. Virgin train into Euston is fast, although expensive. We are still marvelling at the lack of traffic, the peace and quiet, Cannock Chase on our door step, few aeroplanes, buckets of fresh air and stars at night! Negatives are: public transport is non existent, compared to what we were used to. Agree the M6 round here ATM is totally pants, but hoping once the roadworks are finished, it will get better. The M42 at peak times is just as bad as the M25, but it's to be expected. As PP's, have suggested, look at the HS2 route. We weren't TOO fussed by it, we see it as a 'positive', but it's about 3 miles from the house we bought.
It's been 4 months and we are so happy we made the jump out of the SE!
I was going to suggest Shrewsbury as others have above. It's within commuting distance of Brum or Telford but is pretty and has everything you need. Otherwise Bridgenorth might fit the bill (closer still to Brum).
I would say Worcester tbh. Bloody love Worcester.
Not a fan of Brum, Solihull is fine but I prefer the feeling of Worcester. That amount of money would buy you something gorgeous.
Have you considered E.mids? Direct trains to Birmingham, access to M1, M69, also 2 Airports.
If your DH intends to commute to London, I would stick to living near fast rail routes eg Rugby-Euston is 45-50 mins, Coventry is on the same route but I wouldn't advise living there.
The other towns PPs mentioned should be fine for those working in Birmingham.
Tamworth has a fast line into London, an reasonably priced too.
Lichfield is lovely and commutable to both London and Birmingham.
I'm a brummie through and through and I love it, but we do have the slowest commute (if you live and work in Birmingham, a 6 mile trip into the city centre can take an hour!) so I'd be tempted by somewhere like Lichfield that had good rail connections.
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