Considering moving to Norfolk - Need help

(27 Posts)
new2move Thu 25-Jun-20 21:08:10

We are in London right now with our five year old child. With the entire coronavirus situation, my partner has the option of now opting to work from home. So for the first time, we can move anywhere. We are right now, kind of cramped in a small house (renting) and would love some more space.
Someone recommended a private school in Riddelsworth and I just had a talk with them. And they are going above and beyond to support our child's needs. The fees is also much affordable compared to the private schools where we live - she currently is in an outstanding state school we aren't very happy with.
So all that seems quite nice.
However, we are very apprehensive about moving out of the city. We haven't lived in Uk for long so not at all familiar with norfolk. It seems quite rural from what I have looked up online. Are there any bigger towns around? How is life like? Where should we look around Riddelsworth? Any inputs at all will be very much appreciated. Thanks.

OP’s posts: |
zebbyzebbo Thu 25-Jun-20 21:52:49

School aside, what are you looking for? would you want to visit London often?

Bury St Edmunds (Suffolk) is half and hour away and very nice, but it's not big city life.

new2move Thu 25-Jun-20 23:23:09

@zebbyzebbo, I think it would be nice to experience the life. But we are a bit apprehensive too, having never lived before in such sittings. And ofcourse we will be able to afford a bigger place to live in. We wouldn't be visiting London that often. Maybe once in two months. We don't have any family in UK so quite flexible with location.
We would like a place with a high street to be accessible - with shops, coffee places, restaurants,...

OP’s posts: |
curiousmenow Fri 26-Jun-20 08:37:05

I would look at Bury St Edmunds. Or Stowmarket (smaller). Norfolk side are Thetford (less appealing to me although can't say why) and Diss is a small town but quite 'country', but it has a station direct to London.
Norfolk often (although not necessarily fairly) gets mentioned in threads about diversity and race - If you are not British, is that an issue?

curiousmenow Fri 26-Jun-20 08:38:03

Sorry I've name changed from zebbyzebbo - I don't want it to look like I'm skewing votes!

Loofah01 Fri 26-Jun-20 08:49:58

Why Norfolk? I've always felt it is flat, dull and frickin cold and windy. As you're not apparently limited to location then pick any train line out of the city (assuming you mean London) and look at locations along them. There's a lot of choice!

Bagelsandbrie Fri 26-Jun-20 08:58:46

We live just down the road (15 mins) from Riddelsworth school. I may be completely wrong but there was some talk of it closing recently or in the last year due to funding issues (as happened with another private school in Norfolk- here -

Private schools in Norfolk are good but they are struggling at the moment. Just something to be aware of.

We moved from London to Norfolk in 2007 and we love it but it is very rural. That’s what we love about it but others are shocked when they visit...! My mil who also moved here at the same time always says she wishes she hadn’t moved - there’s no regular buses, takes ages to get anywhere (nearest city to us, Norwich is 25 miles away) etc etc. Internet signal can be rubbish if you’re very rural. Teens get bored as they can’t get anywhere. Trains very hit and miss even if there’s supposed to be a direct line - I planned to commute via Diss train station and gave up as trains so often late and cancelled. Just rubbish!

But - its peaceful and beautiful countryside wise. Lovely for young children. Good state schools - probably why a lot of private’s are struggling. There’s good and bad everywhere.

The job market isn’t great though. My dh earns about a third of what he’d earn elsewhere but then houses and everything else is / are cheaper too.


yikesanotherbooboo Fri 26-Jun-20 09:17:23

Norwich itself is a very nice city with a great cultural life. I love norfolk but it is largely very rural and geographically quite cut off ( that has improved to some extent in the last 10 years). I wouldn't move for a particular school personally as schools change and at the moment a lot of private schools are at risk of folding.I would potentially move for lifestyle.

Bluntness100 Fri 26-Jun-20 09:39:42

I’ve some friends who recently moved to Norfolk, and it is lovely, but they have retired. I think your partners work situation is possibly liable to change unless he is close to retirement, so I personally would look to stay more central where job opportunities are.

bilbodog Fri 26-Jun-20 09:42:09

Look at norwich - its a lovely city.

new2move Fri 26-Jun-20 10:02:48

Thanks a lot everyone for your inputs. Really helpful.
@Bagelsandbrie, thanks that's really useful to know. I think the school we are considering has just received funding and are also looking to expand their boarding facility. But it is still useful to know that it might be all as rosy as it seems. We are concerned by the rural settings since we have never lived like that before, but we might love it as well. Just such a huge change! Ofcourse a big house would be nice to live in compared to our small London place. But I also love being able to go to our neighborhood broadway, grab a coffee,...
My husband's job won't be dependent on the location since he will be working from home but for the same company and with the same salary. So we will be able to afford the private school and save some money. However, he will definitely need a good internet connection to be able to work. So that is our basic requirement wherever we move.
Our daughter is still young so I think he will be happy. And I think we will move when she is older. We aren't really looking to get tied to a location right now.
Another concern is diversity. I don't think there is much of that in the rural settings. And I don't know how it will be for people with different skin colour.

OP’s posts: |
ShowOfHands Fri 26-Jun-20 10:10:26

I've lived in Norfolk for most of my life and hadn't heard of Riddlesworth but I see it's on the border with Suffolk. It's not an area I'd choose to live in. DH knows the area much better than I do as he works out of Thetford (avoid avoid avoid btw). PP make good points about private schools here. Dd's best friends are on their second private school. First was struggling massively and their current school is having dire financial problems. Our very old and well established nearest private school has just closed too. And honestly, my dd is at a state school and it's arguably, academically better than local private options. I know that's not the only draw however.

Norfolk isn't flat and dull at all but it is remarkably different to anywhere else. It's a different way of living in terms of transport, diversity and even climate and the Internet is rubbish. It's a place where many people choose to live and love to visit but I think that's because they know it well. And it has some incredibly desirable and expensive areas and some areas where I wouldn't live if you paid me. You need to know the place a bit better before you live here.

ShowOfHands Fri 26-Jun-20 10:25:40

Norfolk is 95% English and 97% white. It is not diverse at all. Norwich is a bit different but South Norfolk's diversity is centred around Eastern European populations mostly.

I have a couple of friends who are black and they say they don't experience racism like they've experienced it in places like Birmingham to give an example of where one friend has lived, but they think it's because they are perceived as a novelty, not a threat which is ridiculous but I know what he means. I think it's just a different form of racism actually but it's not as troubling because a lot of antipathy is aimed at the Eastern European groups or around the bad feeling directed towards second homers and London interlopers. Again, this is something you might want to consider.

Nice areas outside of Norwich are rural really, the towns aren't so desirable but Internet and transport are woeful. If your child wants to do anything extracurricular, you will be a taxi service.

I adore Norfolk but you need to know it, really KNOW it to live here.

TipsySquirrel Fri 26-Jun-20 11:02:13

I’d never heard of Riddlesworth but googled it and it’s close to the Suffolk and Cambridgeshire borders, so it depends how long you are willing to drive to school. Personally I think Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are all nice places to live (on the whole anyway).

Bury St Edmunds is lovely. It’s a smallish town but has great range of shops and you can get what you need. It also has a lovely (but very busy) Christmas market (although this years has been cancelled). Thetford is a town but I don’t think it’s as nice as Bury St Edmunds. It can have a bit of a reputation, so I’d avoid. The villages around Riddlesworth are very pretty but very isolated, they won’t have shops not even a little shop to get your milk from. Although, these villages will likely have seasonal fresh produce out on the roadside and a honesty box if you want to buy some local produce.

Looking west, you have Red Lodge which has a high street but is experiencing massive growth, a lot of the area is new build estates so it depends on your preference there. Mildenhall and Lakenheath are big US Air Force bases so there are a lot of US citizens there and surrounding villages of Beck Row and Brandon. The architecture there is a bit of a mix-match of typical English countryside houses and US houses. However, there are a number of shops in those areas but there are no direct train links to London. If you want to look more into Cambridgeshire, there is Ely which has a private school - Kings - and a direct train line to London. Ely has a good range of shops (although less high street brands than Bury St Edmunds and is a lot smaller) but a good range of restaurants. Norwich is another really lovely area, good range of shops and restaurants. I’d probably say Norwich is a but bigger than Bury St Edmunds, so has a bit more variety. There’s a train line to London. However, it’s probably a long drive to the school you are looking at.

I think Norwich, Bury St Edmunds and Ely are more diverse than rural Norfolk (and most rural villages). Bury St Edmunds and Ely I’m a bit more familiar with and I would say you have a higher population of Eastern European’s in Ely and people of colour in Bury St Ed’s but that is just a generalisation. I think you’d be better looking at the bigger areas and towns than rural villages to begin with, then you can move to a more rural village if you want in the future.

Bagelsandbrie Fri 26-Jun-20 11:02:40

Well it’s not diverse at all. I went to school in Brixton and I was the only white girl in my class, almost in the whole school (!) - my two children who have grown up in Norfolk don’t know any black children at all. It’s almost 100% white. Lots of Polish people - in fact our local school made a separate class for the Polish children to learn English as so many couldn’t speak any!

Some of the older generation here are quite racist but there doesn’t seem to be the same attitudes amongst the younger generation. My son (aged 8) for example would probably be very interested to have a black child join his class and wouldn’t have any racist thoughts but as someone upthread said it would definitely be unusual and quite an exciting thing! I hope that doesn’t sound awful. I’m not meaning it to!

If the internet is one of the main things you need you definitely don’t want to move anywhere rural here!

Sooverthemill Fri 26-Jun-20 16:27:17

Norfolk is very rural as is Suffolk. Transport isn't great, trains take a long time to get to London from where I live in Suffolk. Roads aren't great, buses not frequent, we don't have a taxi or Uber service here. We don't have Deliveroo or justeat either! Internet not very good. The small Private schools all seem to be struggling especially now after lockdown as they won't be able to get the international students back apparently. Shopping is hard in small towns but online obviously the Royal Mail deliver. We do have big skies, little pollution, friendly neighbours and lovely countryside. I would have hated living here as a teen but loved it as a younger child. I think with young babies I'd have been lonely. You really do need to understand the area you are looking into and of course the school will sell you the ideal but if it doesn't work out you have limited options once you have moved

KuruptFM Fri 26-Jun-20 16:33:58

Yes,the internet is a bloody nightmare.

ShowOfHands Fri 26-Jun-20 17:37:08

Oh yes uber. Wtf? No idea. And you can get a taxi if you book it a week in advance. Takeaways don't deliver here either.

You need at least one car per household or, as when my dc were young, you need a bloody good coat and children who walk miles. I used to walk a mile with a newborn and a 4yr old, get a bus, walk 2 miles and then leave dc1 at school before doing the same in reverse. Buses were 2 hourly and often late or cancelled so I would have to cycle 8 miles with both dc in a trailer. In the snow. I have surprisingly fond memories!

curiousmenow Fri 26-Jun-20 17:53:02

There are lots of good points made - and plenty of lovely places in the UK that aren't Norfolk and aren't London.

I feel the need to defend Norfolk a little though: I live in a generally unpopular, deprived area. Many families have never moved out of the area and as an 'incomer' it can feel very small at times - and I understand the 'different type of racism' description. BUT, I have a big house, can walk to local high street for a coffee, easy walk to beautiful and enormous beach and not too far to the lovely Norwich and then, ultimately, London by train - although the journey is annoying enough to do only occasionally. Soon there will be myriad zoos and other attractions open needing no more than half hour's drive or cycle.

During lockdown we've had all we've needed - groceries delivered, Just Eat takeaways, generally warm weather and a good sense of community. Although I never see many black faces, there are significant local populations of a number of Eastern European countries, as well as Portuguese, Greek and Indian in particular.

I wouldn't have a lot of this if I lived where I grew up - a very (also white) 'desirable', expensive,
London-commutable, rural village. Plenty of similar places in Norfolk of course.

curiousmenow Fri 26-Jun-20 17:53:43

Oh, and Virgin fibre ;-)

ShowOfHands Fri 26-Jun-20 17:58:57

I adore Norfolk but would never advise a Londoner with no experience of the county to blindly move here. You have to want to live her and know what it is you're wanting.

I have loved lockdown. I've walked, cycled, run, gardened, ambled and I have a car so can get to local towns for shopping.

We have incredible beaches, the broads, forests, market towns, a vibrant city, diverse history and a predominantly lovely population.

I chose to move back here after a time living in a bustling and exciting city. Its my home. You need to know what you're getting into though.

Cern01 Fri 26-Jun-20 18:51:04

I live in rural Norfolk and pass the school you mention daily. We moved from Cambridgeshire, and I work in Cambridge. We love it but it is different. Very little diversity, but we would welcome some, terrible WiFi, interesting, but not unpleasant locals.

The scenery, peace and lack of pollution are wonderful and my teenager is very happy here too. I would say research carefully, particularly the area you are considering.

The school you mention is close to Thetford, a horrible place with a big drugs problem. The rural villages around though are beautiful. Great property, which is very good value.

Do PM me if I can be of any help

IdblowJonSnow Fri 26-Jun-20 18:58:22

Norfolk is incredibly rural and not much going on in large parts of it. I wouldn't move there for a school that's for sure! If you can move anywhere why not pick somewhere with a fabulous state school, there are thousands of them.
The further north you go or away from london, the cheaper it'll be (generally).

CoolShoeshine Fri 26-Jun-20 20:05:11

I’ve lived in Norfolk and never heard of that school so I wouldn’t recommend you move purely based on that. There are other private schools on the county with more widely known reputations.
Apart from the forest, the Thetford area isn’t the nicest part of Norfolk although it is the most convenient for roads to London and Cambridge. It’s generally a bit dull.
Closer to Norwich is much nicer as is north Norfolk. Bury as mentioned before is a fabulous small town. But if you can move anywhere you might want to consider other options first.

JaggedHedge Fri 26-Jun-20 20:06:26

Agree with PP on everything said so far including shite internet, the private schools, the whiteness, avoiding Thetford.

I've lived in the SE for the last 15 years and I suffer a culture shock when I go back despite having grown up I there - it is very rural and conservative everywhere outside Norwich itself.

I absolutely love it, but it definitely wouldn't be for everyone. I wouldn't choose to live more than 6-7 miles from Norwich because it takes ages to get anywhere and bus services, apart from the park and ride, are hit and miss.

The villages in the triangle within the A11 and A140 from Norwich out to around New Buckenham / Long Stratton are all pretty desirable areas.

Market towns can be a bit odd. Wymondham used to be lovely but it's swamped now with new housing. Diss was looking quite vibrant last time I went, but its quite far from Norwich.

Renting can be challenging as well if you're not planning to buy. Outside Norwich there is far less rented housing stock than the SE and in Norwich itself the stock is all student lets for the University and expensive.

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