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cant decide where to leave- (london areas)

(20 Posts)
vannah Fri 24-Apr-09 21:15:11

So sorry, this is a bit long..
I recently posted about how heartbreaking it is to leave an area that you are really attached to.

But the time has truly come for me to hurry up and make my decision as to whether or not to proceed with the sale. (our buyer is waiting as are the agents)
We have a gorgeous flat though squashy and no garden, in a trendy part of north london. The local primary is ok, but secondary schools around here are not very good at all and its hideously expensive, the garden flat option also £££.

We are trying to decide between a place in west london near Harrow, where the houses are cheaper (though very suburbian feeling and looking to us) and the schools are good with one very good secondary not too far away.
And Finchley, (west finchley) near to moss hall school where the house we have found is lovely, - much more our thing, plus its closer to the area where we are living but quite a walk to the shops and the roads are v busy and ballards lane (the main shopping road) looks rough really busy/fast cars/noisy/ lots of kebab shops.

Dont know whether to
a. stay put in the squashy flat and the lovely area (not great school and there is a bit of a racial divide here - not so good for my little ones, often notice that my boy is lonely..deprived kids of a garden

b. move to what feels like the other end of the world (near harrow) to lovely people,good-ish schools but feeling isolated and possibly depressed about the not so nice 1930s semi....

c. finchley - nice school, nice house,closer to our current area but dont like surrounding area at all, not 'walk friendly' and will have to move again for secondary.

I should also add that Im really attached to a new sport that Ive taken up here and have fantastic teacher - I would be devastated to leave this and have researched similar in the proposed areas but not found anything good...

thankyou if you managed to read this far!
any thoughts welcomed

SOLOisMeredithGrey Sat 25-Apr-09 12:40:34

I'd go for b in your situation. It sounds like a good option and far better than a or c IMO.

MrsMattie Sat 25-Apr-09 12:59:45

Hi vannah.

I live in Finchley. Also moved from smaller place in Stoke Newington a couple of years ago to get more space, a garden etc.

First things first. I spent a few months mourning the cool cafes and independent shops of Stokie/Hackney etc when we first moved, plus the ethnic mix (we are a mixed race family, and although Finchley is quite multicultural, it is visibly less black than Stokie, which was weird at first...) but really, there are huge benefits to living up here. It's leafy, there are good schools and loads of families in a similar situation (so many ex-Stokie/Crouch End/Muswell Hill people, it's quite funny!), great parks and it's on the tube, so you can escape to the bright lights when you need to.

My personal experience - we looked at houses in West Finchley, but in all honesty, I found it felt too suburban. We put an offer on a house right near the station, but I panicked at the last minute about not being able to walk up to the supermarket or post office etc quickly (I'm a SAHM at the moment, so would've felt doubly isolated). Woodside Park was the same (very good school where Wds Pk meets Mill Hill, called Frith Manor). However, it is a very popular area because of Moss Hall, so perhaps there is a family-oriented community feel around there that you'd only get the benefit of if you lived there? it always feels so very quiet to me, though! Also, bear in mind, you will need to move to within a few roads of Moss Hall if you want to guarantee your child gets in there. Ditto for all the good schools in Finchley and surrounding areas. Seriously. Hideously oversubscribed round here.

We ended up in North Finchley - which on the face of it is a pretty soulless place when you're used to charming, trendy little places like Stokie/Crouchy etc. However, I'm delighted with our choice 2 years on. There is a lovely community feel here that you don't see immediately, but it is here. The high street is functional, but really very useful. There is an excellent small primary school (Northside, Outstanding Ofsted since new Head came in a few years ago) and several other good, solid, well thought of ones (Queenswell, St Johns). Are Finchley Central and East Finchley also options? If you look to the very south of Finchley, just as it meets the North Circ, there are a couple of excellent schools (Brooklands, Garden Suburb) in that catchment area.

Secondary schools is another ball game altogether!

MrsMattie Sat 25-Apr-09 13:00:38

Forgot to say - Harrow is definitely the proper, proper suburbs. You'd have to be prepared for that, really...

lalalonglegs Sat 25-Apr-09 16:04:53

Does it absolutely have to be Harrow or West Finchley? Is there nowhere else even in areas you may not previously have considered but which you might find more urban and be happier in? Enclaves of east and south London where there's a better mix of space and facilities? Give us an idea of your budget and we might be able to point you somewhere.

vannah Sat 25-Apr-09 23:02:24

thankyou so much everyone,
not sure how but ive posted this thread twice.

mrsmattie that is SO helpful many thanks, will be showing this to dh and very encouraging, thought we had researched finchley schools well but havent even heard of some of the ones you mention. and yes we are in c/end...

lalalonglegs, ive lived in east london before and would rather not again. South I dont know anything about?
can spend about 450k...

QSthevampireslayer Sat 25-Apr-09 23:05:05

Finchley. I would go for Finchley.

But, why do you have to move again for secondary?

Swedes Sat 25-Apr-09 23:08:36

Have you thought about Rickmansworth? It is on the tube and has really fantastic schools? Plus nice houses within your budget. And fanstastic leisure facilities.

One of my best friends lives in Pinner and I think it is much more suburban than either Rikmansworth or St Albans.

pooka Sat 25-Apr-09 23:16:15

Rickmansworth lovely. My grandmother lived there until she died last year

Great location IMO - close to country, not suburban in feel in comparison to pinner (where my other grandmother still lives). But can be a bit pricey. No worries about secondary schools though, as far as I am aware.

wombleprincess Sun 26-Apr-09 09:08:11

why limit yourself to finchley or harrow? you dont seem happy with either of them (which i can understand!)

keep looking until you find an area you are happy with.

TheMysticMasseuse Sun 26-Apr-09 09:13:08

if i was you i wouldn't move to Harrow. you'd get used to it eventually but you'd get quite depressed... we moved from Clerkenwell to West Hampstead 2 years ago and i am still in shock, and WH is far from suburbian... Finchley sounds a good compromise...

lalalonglegs Sun 26-Apr-09 09:39:14

You could easily get a three/four bedroom house with garden in Brixton (SW2) for £450k - there are some popular primary schools such as Sudbourne and, if you chose down the Streathem end, you might be in the catchment area of Dunraven (good secondary). Brixton is far from suburban and has a fast tube service to the West End and a train service as well. Really bustle-y with a fanatastic arts cinema, some really good restaurants etc.

Swedes Sun 26-Apr-09 09:58:41

Rickmansworth central

Rickmanworth central again

4 bedroomed house very close to St Albans Abbey and catchment to excellent primary schools and secondary rooms=3&minPrice=400000&maxPrice=475000&includeSSTC=true&_includeSSTC=on&pageNumber=3&backToListURL= %2Fproperty-for-sale%2Ffind.html%3FlocationIdentifier%3DREGION%255E1244%26minBedrooms%3D3%26minPrice %3D400000%26maxPrice%3D475000%26includeSSTC%3Dtrue%26_includeSSTC%3Don%26index%3D20

3 bedroom in St Albans abbey Conservation Area

Or Harpenden which is only 24 mins into St Pancras and has truly terrific schools. For example this house is a v short walk from the High St and common and has 4 beds

or this 3 bed

How old are your children?

Swedes Sun 26-Apr-09 10:11:07

It's so expensive (stamp duty) and unsettling (for everyone) to move, I would try and move somewhere that has decent schooling throughout.

I live in Harpenden and most people I know seem to have arrived here via Belsize Park, Highgate or Muswell Hill. I must ask them how they all felt about it when they first moved.

vannah Sun 26-Apr-09 16:13:30

this really is incredibly helpful, yes we are realising we cant do the move to harrow..

swedes so kind of you to post those links, showing them to DH. He and i searched rickmanworth about a yr ago and only pulled up dreary looking places- love the first one!
I do also feel that it would be far more ideal to make just the one move.
qsthevampireslayer - any good secondary schools in finchley that you know about?

thanks again everyone

pooka Sun 26-Apr-09 18:49:39

Swedes - my grandmother's house was on church street. I do like Rickmansworth. FOr a split second considered buying her house when it came on the market, but then realised that would miss my local network down here, and would be evil commute for dh to southeast london! grin

MrsMattie Sun 26-Apr-09 19:17:13

Secondary schools in Finchley, depending on where in Finchley you live and what your catchment area is, are decent, if not all outstanding. there are only a couple of really shit not-so-great ones.

Ravenscroft - OK, improving loads
The Compton - also improved rapidly over recent years and has excellent Ofsted report
Friern Barnet - so-so
Mill Hill County - decent school, well thought of locally
Copthall Girls - decent girls school

If you are Catholic (or one of the tiny minority of non-RC who get in) there is Finchley Catholic Boys (good, solid school) and St Michaels' Grammar - fantastic selective girl's school.

If you're Jewish, there is Hasmonean, which is well thought of.

If you are considering grammar, we are smack in the middle of two of the best selective single sex schools in the country - QE Boys and Henrietta Barnet.

There is also the annual bunfight for scholarships to Mill Hill School - high achieving private school in picturesque surroundings up t'road smile.

it's not too grim around here for London. I notice a fair few of the neighbour's send their children to Barnet/Hadley Wood/Potters Bar for secondary school, so perhaps if you live to the north of Finchley you fall into some sort of different catchment? not sure about all that, to be honest...

Swedes Sun 26-Apr-09 20:09:49

Rickmnansworth has much to rec it. Where else can you learn to sail on your doorstep, be on the tube and have really excellent schools?

vannah Mon 27-Apr-09 10:25:20

mrsmattie that's brilliant. Shall be saving this page into a word document. Am obviously hopeless at searching ANYthing on the computer be it schools or houses.
Swedes thankyou...going to have a proper look one evening this week.

missile5 Mon 20-Jul-09 01:00:33

Have you looked at Wren Academy. A brand new school just over the road from the Compton. Excellent leadership team and up and coming. I say that as it is a brand new school, but already the first year of children are showing extremely good results.
The school started off with just a year 7 in 2008 and will grow each year with a new year group.

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