Grammar schools/high property prices – vs – fabulous houses/private schools

Home Forums General Moving Chat – sponsored by Knight Frank Shall we go? Grammar schools/high property prices – vs – fabulous houses/private schools

This topic contains 16 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  Sarah 8 years, 7 months ago.

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    OK, so here’s the dilemma. We currently live in a part of the country that still has grammar schools. We have a good one on the doorstep BUT house prices in catchment are high (plus it’s the South East so expensive generally). However, the schooling would be free. We don’t have to live in this area any more, we are fortunate to have jobs which mean that we could live anywhere.

    So, do we stay here, with our friends and grammar school but be resigned to living in a small house with our 4 children OR do we move to another part of the country where we have identified an excellent independent school which is far less expensive that the private schools around here AND we could afford a large house plenty big enough for our large family and dog (but leaving our lovely friends of 7 years).

    What would you do??



    Very briefly – it sounds as though it is just your friends keeping you there! Not to sound heartless, you WILL make new ones and you can still have lovely weekends with your old ones….



    I agree with Fiona plus what is a house but bricks and mortar with usually a high value… Use it to get what you want don’t be attached to property


    • This reply was modified 8 years, 8 months ago by  John.


    Agree with both Fiona & John. Don’t know how old your children are but trust me – we have 4 – as they get bigger you’ll want as much space as possible. True friends will travel! We moved out of London for very similar reasons.



    Yes, I’m with the crowd: added to which competition for the grammar school will become fiercer each year so your children may not get a place, then you will have the worst of all worlds – small house, wrong school, regret! We moved when ours were little and made friends at the school gate – it is much easier to move when your children are young enough to make new friends, you will definitely make friends with the parents and have a lovely lifestyle to boot (I do live in the middle of nowhere, so may be biased on the town v country debate!) Good luck!

    • This reply was modified 8 years, 8 months ago by  Georgie.


    Ok, I’m going to through a different view on this. Private schools are expensive full stop, it’s not just the fees but the uniform, the school trips, the extra’s and the feeling that you are trapped in a cycle of expense. It’s hard to leave a Private school for the state sector however good as the facilities are generally better; indoor swimming pools, loads of extra’s. 4 children through private school (and you don’t say how old they are) is a stack of cash however cheap fees seem at the moment, they get more expensive as they get older – a friend of mine was charged £120 for a cricket cap as her child had won school colours, this garment only gets worn once and she was made to feel honoured that her child had won the award!
    I completely agree with another comment, you will make new friends, we moved to the countryside over two years ago and although the first year we didn’t make that many friends as I was still working in London, we had lots of our “old” friends come to stay. Now I work from home I have made some really good friends, it just takes a bit of time.
    Reading that back probably no help but having got into Private education I know to well the trap and the expense!



    I think I have a similar message. We moved to a beautiful part of the country 9 years ago leaving friends over 200 miles away. We actually now see more of them than we used to, they now come for weekends and we have much more time together. Our children who had left for London, also visit more often just to get some open space and fresh air…we wish we had done it years ago!



    To go off from what Georgie said about living in the sticks, one bonus (if You’re like me and like watching the night sky) is you can “see” the night sky, and the milkyway on a clear night, plus shooting stars, and loads of fantastic wildlife… It’s brilliant




    I’m with the majority on this – yes, get out of London, have a nice big house with a decent garden and access to countryside/beaches BUT make sure its got good public transport links or facilities close by for your children otherwise you will end up spending your time in a car chaffeuring them to everything! In the country there is no “just hop on the tube/bus”! and one other point – there are some excellent schools in the country too that are not fee paying if you dont want to sign up to the hidden expense that Kate correctly said that route will incur. Good luck!



    I agree with the others. Get out of London and you and your children will enjoy a better qaulity of life in a place where children can enjoy their childhood and not grow up too quickly. Here in Pembrokeshire we have an excellent small private school called The Castle School which is far less expensive than many others around the country!. House prices are very reasonable and we are surrounded by fabulous award winning beaches. If I can be of further help, please do not hesitate to contact me on



    Yes I agree as well. Living in the country is so much easier with children – more space and less pollution. Here in the Salisbury area we have two wonderful grammar schools – South Wilts for girls and Bishops for boys. Both higly regarded. You are close to London links, so no problems for your friends to come and stay with you. If you decide to go the private route, there are also a lot of schools within a reasonable distance.



    You don’t say where you are now in the South East – we would suggest looking at Guildford which has some excellent schools including the Royal Grammar School for Boys and Guildford High School for Girls as well as a range of private ones. This website gives details of all the state schools in the area: and for private ones go to
    Good luck



    Ahhh, the number of parents we come across who have this dilemma. We recently relocated after seven years in Hertfordshire (just before eldest went to secondary school). All I can say is, we actually see more of our ‘old’ Hertfordshire friends now than we did when we lived down the road from them. We all make proper time to see each other instead of brief catch-ups between the school-run, work and dinner.

    We were a bit reckless when we moved – we fell in love with a house (on the internet!) and just bought it – then we thought about schools (fortunately the schools we got are great).

    Advice: Do you actually feel like a change of scene? Establish what is the priority factor – getting a particular school or moving to a particular area. Then just focus on making this priority work out.

    If you need any advice about schools in Herts or Kent then try or

    (Blatant plug for my websites, sorry!) Good luck.



    Hi Lucy – some immediate thoughts about the schooling aspect of your question.
    Assuming the grammar school is selective, living on the doorstep won’t necessarily mean you get a place for all your children there, they will each need to pass the test so there is an element of uncertainly in this respect about will they get in etc. Most independent senior schools test at 11+ too but they take into account so many other things when offering places than grammars who rely on test results alone. You don’t say how old your children are or if you are thinking of going private at 11+ or before. Sibling discounts are unlikely to be more than 10% each for the 2nd-4th child. Independent schools tend to have a wider recruitment area so friends could be some distance away so I agree with the poster who mentioned having good public transport routes. I went to independent school in Guildford and my parents spent a lot of time ferrying me to parties across the whole of Surrey from Esher/ Leatherhead way to Haslemere. With state schools you might find more children within walking/short journeys. There are so many pros and cons with both sectors. It may be that the same grammar or independent school will not be right for all 4 of your children. If a child is happy then he/she is much more likely to thrive at school – whatever the type of school, so where do you think they would be happiest in the long-term? Happy to talk further if you think it would be useful.



    Hi Lucy, I’m sure all the above responses are giving you food for thought !

    Lots of people will help when you have identified an area, I am sure, but perhaps this can help ?

    I met a lady from the Good Schools Guide yesterday – they produce a giant book, or you can subscribe to their website for comments on schools. There’s lots of free info on their site as well. They have up to date info on every school on and off their books, and they now have a dedicated state school advisor so they cover the whole gamut of options. What I didn’t realise is that they have different levels of service – you can call for half-an-hour’s phone call advice, ask for suggestions, or get the whole process arranged for you. They can discuss grammars -v- private, which schools are best for a specific SEN, a particular area or any combination of schools. It sounded hugely useful and wish I had realised this when I was making choices about schools and where to live. Tel : 0203 286 6824

    If you truly don’t need to be anywhere particularly, you can find grammar areas that – whilst expensive for the area – are nowhere near as expensive as S-E areas that also provide the easiest commute options into London.

    I would recommend investigating the Midlands – there are grammars at Stratford and Rugby, but also supplemented by some excellent state schools, plus a huge variety of private schools. The grammar catchment areas are very wide so again if you are not trying to combine a daily commute, you can maximise the size of your house by going a bit more North. (That said, the trip is doable for friends / relatives or for a few times a week – there are lots of people that do it daily anyway !) Helpful free regional info is available on lifeafterlondon, or at

    Let me know how you get on if you do explore using them !


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