April 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm #4793
Really need help ASAP! We have overgrown our London house and made a decision to move out of London :(((. We have been looking for about 2 years now and finally narrowed our search to 2 (or 3) areas: St Albans, Harpenden and Guildford. We have 3 young children, a live-in nanny (who doesn’t drive), husband works in London (and hopefully I will be back at work in London soon).. I have never lived outside the big city so need life, shops and kiddie stuff around me. We also need good commute to London and good jr and sr state schools. All the above places seem to tick those boxes. House prices also seem to be very similar. We know people in St Albans / Harpenden but not really in Guildford. How do we chose which place to concentrate in??? Am I missing any other criteria? May be any of you lived / know the above areas and could shed some light? We sold our house in London and need to move out in the next 8 weeks. Looks like we will end up renting for awhile (unless we make up our mind and find a place quick!) but would love to rent in the area we will eventually buy. Please help!! many thanks in advance!April 10, 2013 at 1:51 pm #4794
Hi, I live near Guildford, but also know St Albans and Harpenden quite well, and in fact 13 years ago did the move from Bucks to Surrey (before then lived in London). I would say Guildford wins hands down. The countryside in this part of Surrey is stunning and Guildford is a lively town with lots going on. That is helped by the fact it has a University so there is a good student night life (for when the kids are older MNG is notorious!), the shopping is very good (apart from lacking a John Lewis), there are lots of independent shops, huge range of restaurants and coffee shops. The Yvonne Arnold theatre is very good and has lots of plays before they reach the West End. The area is spoilt for good schools both private and state, from prep school age to senior. Very good sports facilities at Surrey Sports Park and the Spectrum Centre. It also has other lovely towns and villages near by Haslemere, Godalming, Farnham – which all have their own character and charms. Then there are the lovely country pubs….. All this and only 35 minutes on the train to Waterloo!April 10, 2013 at 1:52 pm #4795
I’ve lived in Guildford for the past 10 years and I love it here. There’s plenty of life in Surrey! Lots of brilliant shops in Guildford together with high street shops and more boutique shops too. It’s a brilliant place to bring up children and you’ll find there are plenty of families – many of whom come from London too. You’re really close to lots of parks and open space, the country is right on your doorstep but the commute to London is around 40 mins direct train to Waterloo so you get the both of both worlds!
There’s some really good state schools but pay particular attention to where you want to live as many have quite small catchment areas (especially the primary schools).
Hope that helps! Let me know if you need any more information!April 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm #4796
That is super helpful guys! Thanks for posting. May be you could help out with Guildford areas? We have looked in the Marrows and around and I really liked it there.. but I don’t know Guildford well enough (and no friends there who could tell us more about the good andnot such a good areas).. We have done the school research and it seems like a lot of good state schools are around those areas. Are there any other areas that we should concentrate on? any areas to avoid? we are looking for a 5 bed house with a decent garden… thanks again!April 10, 2013 at 2:11 pm #4797
Can I suggest that you give Guildford Tourist Information Centre a call 01483 444333 or email email@example.com and ask for a Visit Surrey Guide, Guildford Attractions Guide and map of the local area – that will help for starters. http://www.visitsurrey.com is also good for finding out everything that’s on in the area. Merrow is very popular for schools and is just outside the town centre but you could walk in. Burpham also good. Onslow Village too. Worplesdon is also lovely but not walking distance to town – you would need bus/car as its more out in the countryside. I can see a weekend of exploring on the horizon – and with maps and brochures in hand it will be easy.April 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm #4806
St Albans and Harpenden are so convenient for commuting and slowly there are lots of younger bods with families moving to the area. I am not local enough to be able to help with schools etc but my father works in St Albans and I really like the town the few times I’ve been. Apparently though Harpenden is the most expensive town in Britain (I don’t know what poll my mother was looking at – in the Daily Mail at a guess). It is cheaper if you move more towards North Herts/Beds and that is an area I can help more with……….April 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm #4807
Shamley Green, Shalford and Bramley are nice villages just outside Guildford to the South, you would have to drive to the station though. A website that might be useful is: http://www.livinginsurrey.co.ukApril 10, 2013 at 7:31 pm #4809
Hi Diana, I live in Farnham about 10 miles from Guildford but I went to school in Guildford and er have friends who have just moved for work reasons from Farnham to Harpenden with two small children. They say Harpenden is a much better commute than that from Surrey particularly if you work in the City but that the green spaces of Surrey win hands down…. but in terms of lots of young families they say both areas are pretty similar. Re: schools as someone has said check catchment areas very carefully as they can be a matter of 300-500m or so – the Surrey & Herts council websites will give you details on distances you need to live to have a good chance of getting into schools. Good luck!April 10, 2013 at 8:02 pm #4810
We would have to say Guildford! We have a website http://www.surreymummy.com which is jam packed with info for Surrey families, places to go, things to do, clubs & classes, an active chat forum where you can reach lots of other Surrey parents, local classifieds, news & reviews & much much more! All the team made the move from London to Surrey and 3/4 of us moved to Guildford! Some of the best private schools in the country are in Guildford for example The Royal Grammar School for boys and Guildford High for girls (I can but dream!) And the state schools are rated very highly too. In terms of areas for the best schools (this is just an anecdote) when we made the move to Guildford the town centre estate agents recommended Merrow to me, and indeed that is where we ended up, there are several excellent state schools here with Outstanding or Good Ofsted Reports. But there are lots of other lovely areas and villages on the outskirts Guildford with great schools, good transport links and you can get the best of both worlds with regards to country & town living! Guildford’s historic town centre is beautiful and has great shops, wonderful restaurants and cafes, plenty of things to do with little ones including Busylizzy at G Live running over 20 classes a week for mums and their children 0 – 5 years. Do pop over to our website where we have lots of listings of things to do with your family in Guildford & the surrounding areas. In terms of commute my husband commutes in daily to London, it’s 30-40mins into London Waterloo so pretty reasonable. We’ve never looked back and I can honestly say I really do LOVE where we live! Good luck with your decision. We’d love to see you over on Surreymummy.com !
The Surrey Mummy TeamApril 10, 2013 at 9:30 pm #4813
I’ve lived in St Albans for 10 years and have been very happy here. Excellent primaries, good (some very good e.g. Parmiter’s) state schools (and excellent public ones too – St Albans for boys, High School for girls), nice people, very fast commute to London (though I work from home). If you go to church, the Cathedral is very welcoming to families and they have an excellent cathedral choir if your DCs are good singers. Lots of music going on generally in fact here. And it’s hardly a concrete jungle – you can see sheep in the fields from the Waitrose. I don’t know Guildford but the times I’ve driven through it I’ve not thought it was particularly lovely (I could be very wrong of course) though do know folk in villages surrounding it. I come from York and this feels very like it, just on a smaller scale.April 11, 2013 at 2:35 pm #4822
Thank you so much you all! this has been tremendously helpful! I wish I posted a lot earlier as gained some great info and found some good and helpful websites! Thanks again to ALL of you! please continue with the comments and advises!! so far it seems like Guildford is winning, but then the commute from st Albans / HArpenden and community of friends there is still a big plus.. still thinking.. exchanged on our house today … 4 weeks to find a new place! off to Guildford this saturday!
DApril 11, 2013 at 4:11 pm #4823
I would re-iterate what some of the other posters have said about the villages around Guildford. Before buying in Guildford itself I would really recommend having a look around villages such as Wonersh, Shamley Green, Bramley, Dunsfold, Chiddingfold, Brook etc. Yes, they are all further away from Guildford train station, but the drive to that station may be worth it for a more tranquil life.April 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm #4863
I agree with most of the comments above, Guildford is the best area out of the three. Brilliant schools (ranking quite high on the national tables), beautiful countryside, excellent commuting point. We have quite a few friends who have moved here from London and they love it here too.
There are two trainstations in Guildford itself, both with direct links to London. The Burpham/Merrow area is very popular with young families and they are also incidentally linked to the best schools in the county. I agree with one of the posts above, it’s also a good idea to check out some of the smaller towns/villages, maybe along the train line to London, they are absolutely gorgeous. Cobham and Oxshott comes to mind.
Good luck with the house hunting and wish you all the best with the move! 🙂 You will love it here in the country, and more importantly, the kids will love it too!April 14, 2013 at 6:06 pm #4881
Thanks for recommending to look at other villages around Guildford (Diana, Penny, Rob and Vanda!) Good idea! and we did look at several villages mentioned. Would we be within the catchment area for good state schools (or which ones of the mentioned are within the catchment?)? Another thing, the reason I liked the Merrows was because it looks very green and suburban but yet it’s only 10 minutes to central Guildford and you could walk it or take a bus (since the nanny doesn’t drive). Also, there are few shops around if you need to pop out for bread or milk. Which of the villages mentioned would tick those boxes (catchment to school, nearby milk / bread shop, walking / bus to the center and good commute to London .. In the past we looked at a couple of houses in Ashtead, Horsleys and Bookham .. Any thoughts on those areas? Many thanks again!May 15, 2013 at 8:32 pm #5174
I would recommend Harpenden over St Albans… St Albans can seem a bit drab… especially the shopping district. Very much a village feel in Harpenden…
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