Moving to Harpenden from North London - a good idea?(17 Posts)
We are looking at moving out of Crouch End to Harpenden as an option. We feel that Harpenden has great schools, lots of green spaces, is an OK commute to London and has lovely houses.
The downside is that it isnt London and the commute and that we wont know anyone. I have always lived in London so Im used to local cinemas, great takeaways and places to eat, gyms, chatty people in the streeet, shops open late etc.
Would it be a complete culture shock and is it worth it to do it primarily for schools?Has anyone moved from North London to Harpenden? Is it easy to make friends, is there enough to do? Is it a hard transition? Any advice please, we are going next weekend again to have another look around. Thanks.
It does take a while to come to terms with. The initial shock is quite severe. Took me a year to accept that we aren't moving back in. Love it now but there are always times when we wonder - why did we ever? Heart over mind I guess...
My colleague lives in Harpenden, she seems to have loads of problems with the trains even though it is notionally an easy commute (unreliable, overcrowded, expensive).
I should say am not from your areas. But similar move from greater London to Home Counties.
When my Dad remarried after my Mum died, he moved to Harpenden with his new wife. We (as a family) are originally from North London, I was the first to escape and headed for Hatfield initially but have now moved a bit further up the A1 where I am now settled (North Herts). In terms of quality of life, Harpenden is a beautiful place to live, lovely pubs and restaurants. Lots of surrounding towns for shopping/entertainment. Commuting can be a bit of a pain I understand, my Dad was going into the City but now retired. Personally, I would never regret being in the "shires"...I love the peace, the countryside etc. I never struggled to make friends, got straight in there with the school and organised nights out, joined the gym, that helped a lot. I would say "go for it". Good luck!
Personally I find it has a small country town feel. But I don't live there. Have you considered a bigger town in that area? Eg St Albans has more shops, restaurants, bars and a cinema. Equally good schools if that is your driver for moving
St Albans is great and busier but you get a seat on the train at Harpenden
Harpenden is a very nice town for family life especially for young children, lots of green fields. Train + tube journey is tedious if you have to work in central London.
We looked at Harpenden but chose Berkhamsted instead. Better train service, cheaper housing, more restaurants, a cinema (The Rex - it's a bit special), good schools both state and independent, a Waitrose and M&S food in the town centre, with Ashridge on your doorstep. Harpenden really doesn't have that much there whilst it is arguably rather beautiful. 90% of all house sales in Berkhamsted are people moving out of London if the estate agents are to be believed. We have no regrets as feel we have the best of both worlds and Euston is only half an hour away and unless there are delays you can always get a seat.
Might also be worth mentioning that some children from Berkhamsted go to Bucks Grammar schools.
We live further in (near Radlett), but just to echo the words of caution re commute on Thameslink line (or whatever it's called now). There are frequent fast trains to Harpenden (or SA), but the line is notorious for delays, cancellations etc (we've been here over 20yrs, so trust me!). Yes it's manageable and equally there are halcyon periods of reliable service - but if you're in any doubt in the first place, this is the kind of thing that can cause resentment & frustration down the line (pardon the pun).
As for quality of life, it is indeed lovely, yes great choice of schools (although still plenty of over-subscription) etc. The children will open up friendship opportunities for you too, through school, without doubt.
And yes, I'd consider Berko too, lovely place & great schooling options state & private.
Might be an idea to trial the commute as a starter to see how you feel? But in principle, I'd yes, go for it & welcome to the shires!
Another one mentioning the commute isn't quite as good as it sounds on paper. DH and I never get seats for the morning journey from Harpenden, delays or not. The line seems to be particularly prone to delays/cancellations, and their plan to deal with overcrowding is to put less seats in carriages so there is more room for standing and they can squeeze more in!
I have some relatives and friends who live there and they are very happy. However, before you move, please check the cut off distances etc for the schools you are interested in - from what I hear they are minuscule.
A friend moved there, having been told she was "equidistant from three outstanding primaries" - they wouldn't get into any of them so she set up her own free school.
If you want somewhere a bit livelier the you would be better with St. Albans. Harpenden is very pretty, but it's quiet. However there are plenty restaurants in St Albans and Hemel Hempstead had a large cinema complex and amazing sports facilities.
Harpenden is a picturesque and lovely town. The commute will be a pain (never get a seat, expensive and oh the frequent delays).
St Albans is livelier and more stuff going on for all age groups plus a shorter (but equally painful) commute.
Berkhampsted is lovely also.
All three are very nice, middle class areas with good schools.
Just make sure you wear North Face or Barbour and you will fit in - I always joke that it is some kind of uniform in Harpenden.
DH and I once decided to count how many people were wearing one of the two and in one Saturday afternoon we once counted over 50 people dressed in either - we spent half the time in near hysterics.
Joking aside, you can't go wrong with all three places to be honest. All great places to live and raise a family.
Schools are good if you can get in - so you better make sure you pick a house in the right catchment preferably a hundred metres from the school of choice. Getting in to your school of choice will be the biggest challenge. They are all oversubscribed - much the same as North London.
One thing I have noticed is how different the roads are round that way. It's as busy as north London but country roads.
It's definitely a culture shock at first. We moved from central London to Hertfordshire 11 years ago and I still miss the buzz of being in town. I hate having to be in the car so much. However, there are lovely things about living in a greener area, while still being close enough to London to get there easily for work and for family days/evenings out.
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