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Hitchin or Bishop's Stortford?

(56 Posts)
ACatCalledFang Wed 11-Jan-17 13:29:15

Just as the title says, really - would really welcome any thoughts on benefits/downsides of both. We're preparing to put our London flat on the market and plan to buy a house in one of these, mainly because they're the only towns we've visited that both DP and I agree on grin.

We're looking for 3/4 bed semi or detached houses within walking distance (20 mins/1 mile) of the station and town centre. If a three bed, it needs to have three doubles, or two doubles and a very decent sized single. Garden is important but doesn't need to be big. Not looking for a project house; modern or period would be fine - location and room size are the main issues. Budget is up to £500k, could potentially push this a little higher.

From what I have seen of both towns, I get the impression Hitchin might suit us better in terms of having more going on (?) and the rail links between Stevenage and the north are a big attraction here for visiting family. But it seems our money would go further in Bishops Stortford and I've seen more houses I like there.

How do the schools in both compare? (We're a few years off needing to worry about this.)

How about the commute?

Most importantly: the prices.... I get the impression that houses which are priced right are selling. But I've been watching Rightmove for over a year and there are a lot of properties which have been on for months, many of which are not reducing in price. Yet the consensus seems to be that prices in Hitchin have rocketed in recent years - but a lot of the houses don't seem to be shifting. Any idea on how close to asking price things are currently going for?

Would appreciate any thoughts from anyone who knows both!

StealingYourWiFi Wed 11-Jan-17 13:32:23

I live in Bishops Stortford but have my uni placement (healthcare) in Stevenage with my campus just outside of Hitchin towards Luton.

What do you want in terms of 'more going on?' I wouldn't worry about being closer to Stevenage, it's a dive IMO. Stortford is logistically brilliantly placed, between London and Cambridge, lots of villages surrounding. Right on the M11 and Stansted airport. Schools are rated very highly.

I am biased though grin I love it here!

StealingYourWiFi Wed 11-Jan-17 13:33:15

With regards to Bishops Stortford, the area I live (semi detached mostly around £250-300,000) never stay on the market more than a couple of weeks.

ACatCalledFang Wed 11-Jan-17 14:23:08

Thanks for posting! Regarding Stevenage, it's literally the rail links. We have relatives visit pretty much fortnightly and it would be much easier for them to change at Stevenage for a Hitchin train, or be picked up by us, than to go into Kings Cross and back out again to Bishops Stortford (i.e. tube to Tottenham Hale or round to Liverpool Street). So not necessarily a deciding factor but a consideration. Out of interest, do you know how long it would take to drive from Bishops Stortford to Stevenage?

"Stuff going on" - we have a young DC (toddler) so things like toddler groups, soft play and so on would be good. I got the impression there was quite a lot going on for families in Hitchin - is Bishops Stortford similar? It seemed quieter when we visited but that was midweek so possibly not an even comparison.

From what you're saying, it sounds as though stuff that is priced right is selling. Do you mind my asking roughly where in the town you are? We like the look of the Thorley Park area at the moment - any thoughts on where in Bishops Stortford to focus on avoid?

ACatCalledFang Wed 11-Jan-17 14:23:40

focus on/avoid

Salumeria Wed 11-Jan-17 17:01:04

I know Bishops Stortford quite well as in laws live nearby. Personally I am not massively keen on it, and would possibly prefer Hitchin if I had the choice. Good schools though.

We sometimes visit from the north by train, change at Peterborough and get the train directly to Stansted Airport - would that be a possibility?

I think it would take about 45-50 minutes to drive to Stevenage station to pick people up - ILs definitely view this as a bit of a nightmare, and prefer not to do it - think the parking is awkward.
Though you have to pay to go through the barrier to pick up from Stansted Airport, which is also not great grin.
There are plenty of buses from the airport into BS.

ACatCalledFang Wed 11-Jan-17 17:12:43

Thanks for your input, especially regarding driving times. Changing at Peterborough is definitely an option but a pick-up would be required if it was to anywhere but our local station grin. Good to know about Stansted though.

What it is you're not keen on about Bishpps Stortford? Anything in particular, or just a vibe?

StealingYourWiFi Wed 11-Jan-17 17:14:43

I live just off of Thorley Hill. Thorley is a nice area and I grew up there. No children so can't comment but my friends who are parents are forever at baby groups, coffee morning etc.

This is a lovely quiet road

Stevenage would take around 45-60 minutes to drive to but it is very busy around the station at rush hour when I drive home. There's a bus into Stortford actually from there but it takes two hours grin

Most trains that go to Stansted airport will stop at Stortford too. I've visited Hitchin very briefly and it seems pretty similar to Bishops Stortford, in regards to atmosphere and how it looks but that's as good a comparison as I can give!

ACatCalledFang Wed 11-Jan-17 17:17:49

I have that house saved in my Rightmove favourites! Do you reckon it's walkable to the station in 20 mins? Good to know we're looking at the right parts of town, and quiet is a priority for us so that's great. Thanks again, this is really helpful.

thatsthewayitgoes Wed 11-Jan-17 17:21:43

Move to hertford - we love it here!

Prices are cheaper in Stortford as you are right under the stansted flight path so may be worth bearing that in mind. Out of the 2 I'd pick Hitchin xx

DozyDorissimo Wed 11-Jan-17 17:26:20

I've lived in Hitchin and round about for 30 years though not born here.

One thing to think about is the trains. There is only one (or two) trains per day that stop at Stevenage and go straight north ( ie Newcastle or further) and I assume the same applies to the journey the other way. There are more connections north from P'brough.

Parking if you needed it at either station (Stevenage or Hitchin) is a nightmare unless you get there really early. After 10am most mornings you are lucky to get a space so people walk 10mins from town centre car parks. Pick up at Stevenage is awful- no spaces at all really. Hitchin is better for that.

I know nothing about BS and schools.

Hitchin has good schools, it's a thriving town but prices have shot up in the last 2 years. I think you could get a house you want for £500K but you'd be pushing it. Anywhere 20 mins walk from station is at a premium. Most houses are being snapped up in days- London effect. For that figure you're looking at 3-bed terraced Victorian, modern 3-4 bed on what is called the Poets Estate , or ex council a bit further out.

if you find any you like on RM happy to tell you what the area is like.

Salumeria Wed 11-Jan-17 17:31:33

Just a vibe, really. It's actually a pretty nice place, I suppose. Maybe the road on the main shopping street seems a bit narrow as you go down the hill, and the buildings feel a bit oppressive. I can't really put my finger on it exactly.

Though I do really dislike the shopping arcade bit in the middle - Jackson Square (though it is much nicer now than it used to be 20 years ago). Also Marks and Spencer always had a bleak and depressing vibe, but maybe they have refurbished that too, it's been a while since I was there. And I resent that they have turned a very nice independent book/stationery shop into a Fat Face or White Stuff or something.
And Grange Paddocks swimming pool always seems a bit grubby and dingy.
It does have lots and lots going for it though!

DozyDorissimo Wed 11-Jan-17 17:32:26

THIS is something in your budget? It's almost in Letchworth and is about a 20 min walk to Hitchin station - maybe 15 if you walk very fast!

DozyDorissimo Wed 11-Jan-17 17:35:53

The most desirable parts of Hitchin are the south side and the west side. The northern side nr the Priory School is cheaper and the school less highly rated, the side going out to Letchworth (Purwell) is cheaper.
Anywhere within a deffo catchment area of Hitchin Girls is £50-£100K more than houses the same, elsewhere.

StealingYourWiFi Wed 11-Jan-17 17:36:40

The train station is a 1.5 mile walk from that part of town. Thorley is a nice estate but you are looking at a walk to the station. It's definitely walkable but it is uphill on the way back.

This house is in a popular part of town (on the opposite side of town to Thorley) and is within good walking distance to the station.

StealingYourWiFi Wed 11-Jan-17 17:39:31

Salu M&S has been refurbed and is much better, has a cafe too. They are also redesigning much of the town centre. here

There's good shopping outside of town too. Saffron Walden is lovely, Cambridge just a short drive/train away, Lakeside and Bluewater not far and Westfield Stratford too. All of which I drive to in less than 45 minutes.

Salumeria Wed 11-Jan-17 17:46:26

Stealing is correct, you can get trains from S airport to Bishops Stortford, but coming from the north you do have to change at the airport onto the London train, you can't get anything direct.

smilingmind Wed 11-Jan-17 17:46:44

Depending on where in the north you are coming from but to get to Bishops Stortford I get a train from Birmingham to Cambridge and then one from Cambridge to Bishops Stortford.
The train from Birmingham also stops in Leicester and a lot of smaller stations.
I find it much easier than going through London.

StealingYourWiFi Wed 11-Jan-17 17:48:10

Also could they get a bus direct to Stansted airport? I know National Express do definitely!

Salumeria Wed 11-Jan-17 17:50:35

Stealing maybe I will have to make a shopping trip to Stortford next time I visit the inlaws!

StealingYourWiFi Wed 11-Jan-17 18:02:22

grin it's definitely improved. I feel sad at the loss of the independent bookshop (Bordmans?) and also Pearsons opposite but I guess they can't keep up with the online trade. There's still many independent stores in town though which says a lot compared to other towns I've visited. The North end of town is very independent, once past all the estate agents and restaurants!

ACatCalledFang Wed 11-Jan-17 18:21:14

This is all really useful stuff and I actually have both those houses saved on Rightmove! A steer on the following would be brilliant, for anyone with local knowledge of either:


Bishops Stortford:

Ilikedogs Wed 11-Jan-17 18:44:50

We are in Hitchin andreally like

StealingYourWiFi Wed 11-Jan-17 18:46:11

Bishops Stortford ones:

1) Nice road, have a relative who lives down there. It's on the outskirts of Thorley. Shorter walk to the station than The Ridings house. It's also an easy walk to Sainsburys which has a play area for the kids, community centre, couple of takeaways, newsagent/post office etc and a large playing field where you can walk dogs, let kids run around.

2) Wouldn't be a bad walk to the station, close local primary schools (2) and one secondary although it is Catholic. Can also walk to previously mentioned Sainsburys and town centre easily.

3) Very close to where I live. These houses generally get snapped up pretty quickly. Definitely the closest to the station. Within walking distance of primary school and a boys secondary school, girls secondary school a little further walk but doable. Both my cousins walked to them schools from the first house area. All downhill on the way to them places but uphill on the way back.

4) I don't particularly like this road and would avoid.

Ilikedogs Wed 11-Jan-17 18:54:12

Sorry toddler pressed post.

Anyway, we really like it here. We sold our house (sounds like it would have fit all your requirements) for just shy of 500k. At the time there was a lot of competition for it but I think the market is quieter now.

How far can you stretch your budget? There is a 4 bed on Bowmans close for £600k which is very close to William Ransom School. (Has been on for a while)

I would really look at the distances for the schools as some can be quite tight (although WR has been expanded very recently). Most of the schools are meant to be pretty good.

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