Looking to move outside M25 (west) with good commute to central London - so many choices!

(43 Posts)
marushka82 Mon 18-Feb-13 18:20:51

Hi everyone,
My DH and I are currently expecting our first DC (due at the end of July this year) and are thinking of moving outside of London to get some peace and quiet and a bigger place. We are currently in Ealing in a one bed flat (we love the area, but we probably won't be able to afford to rent a 2 bedroom place), DH works in Hayes & Harlington area, I work around Farringdon/Chancery Lane/King's Cross region).
The plan is to buy a car and drive around Buckinghamshire, Berkshire etc to check out a few places before we move around June. DH would drive to work and I'd like to be within a 40-50 minute commute to Paddington/Marylebone or King's Cross so I can go back to work after maternity leave.
Initially we'd rent but we'd be looking to buy something in a year or two. I read a few threads on these boards and I have a few places in mind, but need to do some narrowing down. Ideally I'd love to be somewhere nice and family friendly, with a community and a bit of a high street (you get it, not in the middle of absolute nowhere without a shop or a playground in sight!).

On my list are Marlow (though the commute scares me, as apparently it's about 70 mins to Marylebone!), Beaconsfield, Iver (though it seems like there's not much there), Amersham, Great Missenden, Harpenden, Windsor & Eton (long commute to Waterloo, but apparently possible to catch a train from Slough - are there any reasonable bus links between Windsor and Slough train station?), Chalfont St Giles, Princes Risborough, Burnham, Chorleywood, Taplow, Denham.

Phew, as you can see I haven't really narrowed it down and I'm totally confused! We haven't been to any of these places yet, but of course are planning to visit; in the meantime though, any tips/opinions would be much much appreciated!!!! Thank you ladies! smile

Murtette Thu 21-Feb-13 22:42:35

Take a good look at train times as well as commute times and then also look at nursery opening hours in your chosen area. For example, there's a huge gap in the Chiltern Trains service from Marylebone to High Wycombe so you either get a train at 5.40 or 6.05. And, after the 6.05 train, it takes at least 10 mins to get out of the station car park at HW! So don't just think "oh, great, there are super fast trains so its only 37 mins from HW to Marylebone" so I can leave home at X and be at work by Y or I can leave work at 5.30 and be home by 6.30 as you may leave work at 5.30 but can't get a train until 6.05 so you don't get to HW until 6.40 & can't get out of the car park until 6.55 and then have to get home...and nurseries usually finish at 6.30.

Having a good support network around you once the baby comes is important, moving house, starting afresh, making new friends is hard work, especially with a new baby.

The money you would use on travel (and it is expensive) would be better used on other things. Feel free to get the train out this way and see if anywhere takes your fancy, a day trip out to 'the countryside' is always nice. And if you find somewhere you like PM me or any of the others that live in the Beds/Bucks/Herts area and we will give you the low down.

marushka82 Thu 21-Feb-13 12:29:44

Jax haha, I thought as much!
West Ealing/Hanwell/Northfields looks more and more desirable. Zone 3, most places in the region of £1200-1300 pcm, some even with a small garden (wow, right?) and parking space, nice residential streets, close to the station(s) and all the shops. DH could keep his commute cost down by taking a bus to work (drops him right outside of work and obviously costs less than a full Oyster or driving!). AND, cherry on top, The Gym (cheap £17 per month 24hr gym) is nearby - perfect!
Once again, thank you for your suggestions everyone, we might consider a move once we have a better idea what we're doing (plus a deposit!); it's always good to know what options there are!
Ah, can I just say I love Mumsnet? Such a nice community of helpful people (apologies for being soppy, pregnancy hormones must be kicking in! :D thanks

no dont trust google maps! They fib. wink

Stay in Ealing, if that is what you want. Dont move to expensive shire, it is bloody horrifically expensive!

HappyJoyful Wed 20-Feb-13 14:22:16

I think the driving commute from Hemel or Tring to Hayes/Harlington would be impractical, I certainly wouldn't think you could do it in 40 mins. He would hit an awful lot of traffic, school runs etc.

Honestly, we're obsessed with 'owning' our own properties in this country, enjoy the concept that you would be able to move to an area and see if you liked it then move again freely if you didn't! I haven't rented for ages, but certainly when we did I established good relationships with the landlords and I recall painting rooms etc and changing curtains / blinds. If you don't get you don't ask! So do try see beyond the cosmetics of a place as the rental market at the moment is huge so landlords want tenants and if you saw somewhere that you wanted to rent but didn't like the paint colour you could just say and see if they'd let you paint it.

Northfields and all around Boston Manor / Hanwell / West Ealing and Greenford are hugely popular now with families- I cringe to look at places where in the past I'd have thought I'd didn't want to live and yearn to be there!

Going Tring to Hayes you would need M25 and it is gridlocked in the mornings. Or go A40.

marushka82 Wed 20-Feb-13 11:44:12

CocoNutter, thanks, I had a look at Tring and also Hemel Hempstead (I know these are on different lines) but i don't know whether to trust Google maps and their estimation of how long a car journey would be from A to B. If I check Tring to Hayes/Harlington it comes up as 40 minutes (in current traffic). That would be a reasonable commute for DH but if this route gets bad traffic 40 mins can easily turn into an hour or longer!
HappyJoyful thanks so much for sharing your experience. It certainly made me feel better. I just have this dream of owning a house and being able to decorate it how I want etc etc... I guess you're right though, once you buy you're definitely less flexible and sort of tied to a place.
I had a chat with DH yesterday and he said we can explore both options, but I think because of commuting costs we might lean more towards finding somewhere is West Ealing/Hanwell (had a look on findaproperty last night and found a LOT of places!).

Honestyisbest Wed 20-Feb-13 08:25:47

I wouldn't put P Risborough in the same price bracket at Old Amersham!
You can rent this for a reasonable price for example...www.rightmove.co.uk/property-to-rent/property-37484335.html/svr/1712;jsessionid=1157E3D91CD4D5FF6DE867BABA0D38A5
We live in a neighbouring village and we feel we have the best of both, relaxed family living and train line to London for work and play!

CocoNutter Wed 20-Feb-13 01:19:45

Have you looked at the London Midland line (terminates at Northampton)? Lots of nice places on it - Tring, Berkhamsted, Leighton Buzzard. Cheaper than Chiltern and often quicker. Goes into Euston - v easy to get to chancery lane from there. I've no idea how long it'd make your husband's commute though!

Karbea Tue 19-Feb-13 18:51:12

Hello

I'm in gerrards cross and if you get the right train you can be in marylebone in 18mins.

Windsor/Marlow line takes much much longer.

Loueytb3 Tue 19-Feb-13 17:37:18

I would think you are better off trying to move near to a tube (if you can) purely on a cost basis.

Would second Ruislip/Ickenham/Northwood which are all on the Met or Central lines and relatively easy trips into the city. I commute into Farringdon. It takes me 55 mins door-to-door and that's with a drive to the tube tacked on.

Uxbridge is a bit cheaper.

Rickmansworth is also nice but a bit further out, so would take you longer to get in. I would do a drive around those areas first before ruling them out and looking further out.

I do like Amersham but it is expensive.

Windsor and some of the villages around there have issues with plane noise - we don't hear them in NW London.

marushka82 Tue 19-Feb-13 16:55:52

HappyJoyful both mine and DH's families live abroad so we're on our own. Friends are scattered around London so we usually meet at our place/anywhere central.

Again, thanks for all your suggestions ladies!

marushka82 Tue 19-Feb-13 16:53:19

Girls, thanks so much for your input! I did a quick calculation and it seems like whether we stay around Ealing or move out of London with me paying £300-350 for travel and DH driving we could potentially end up with the same/similar costs. We've been to Ruislip once to suss it out, before deciding on Ealing and back then decided it's too far. Obviously now it's a bit of a different story :D
I would love to use a sling (my friend is willing to give me hers and teach me how to use it!) and could use a stroller for walks around Ealing.
I think we just need to think about it again and weigh out all the pros and cons...

moonbells Tue 19-Feb-13 16:33:02

It does take about 75 mins to get to King's Cross on the Met from Chesham, so a 40-50 min commute is unlikely. The Chiltern line is much quicker, but then you have to get from Marylebone to where you need to be.

Try Rickmansworth. Good schools and villagey feel, and you can pick up the Chiltern or Met there. I drive through every day; there's a nice park rather unfortunately situated on a big roundabout, but right by the Aquadrome. Marks and Spencer Food. Waitrose. Tesco. Lots of little shops. And a brilliant cake and coffee shop/artisan bakery.

Drivingwise, you're next to two junctions of the M25 and there's a road which goes to the M40 without needing to go on the M25, very useful when it's a car park!

HappyJoyful Tue 19-Feb-13 16:21:54

Just had a quick look on Rightmove (always curious to know what's happening in Ealing prices and what we could move too) and like you say there are some in that price bracket - even one really near Pitshanger even (Fairlea Place - great size 2 bed flat at £1250)

Think you need to really think what it is you want / looking for - do you have family in Ealing that will help with a new baby etc ? where do your friends live ? All important factors!

I had absolutely no problem with the underground and new born baby and pushchair - loved my peaceful hour on the tube with a newborn coming into town to meet friends.. loads of friends used slings when travelling round. If it makes you shudder now though, not sure you will enjoy it.. but no need for car necessarily if everything you want / need is local.

messybedhead Tue 19-Feb-13 16:01:14

This may be a shocking suggestion wink but have you thought about hayes, uxbridge, ruislip or denham.

Hayes is cheaper (for a reason) but only a bus ride from pitshanger and would be a much cheaper commute?

marushka82 Tue 19-Feb-13 15:52:37

Totally confused now, re-did the Ealing/West Ealing search and there are lots of £1200/1300 two beds around West Ealing it seems.
Might have to talk to DH again... phew... we were really looking forward to moving somewhere a bit more quiet and the thought of having a car was nice as well, I won't lie smile
Is it really inconvenient to have a baby but no car? I have to say the thought of taking a pram on public transport in London makes me shudder!

HappyJoyful Tue 19-Feb-13 15:43:35

Oh how I pine for Pitshanger Lane - went to school there and parents still there!

Coincidentally, also, met some people who had moved to Chesham from Bromley not that long ago and they were loving it in Chesham.

I'm probably comparing Ealing to Chesham and hence my less than favourable/cynical comments on the area - stand alone - there is a lot of pluses to it.

As you say, the prices in Ealing are horrendous and you would certainly be able to get a nice house /terrace cottage in Chesham for your budget, well within an easy walk to the station.. which is on the tube (a big plus for Chesham!!) I'm afraid though I think on that budget it wont get you much in the surrounding areas (uber rich Chalfonts / Beaconsfield etc) as they are all closer to the A40.

Another big plus is the cost of childcare - I know my sister is paying almost double what we do for a childminder so that's a big plus!

I think until you have visited the places you can't rule them out or consider them seriously. I certainly would take the tube journey out there (you don't need a car!) and have a wander round on a Saturday - it's a lovely place to amble for a bit and you'd soon get a feel for what is there, it does seem to 'hit' some of your requests.. eg; High Street, not too rural, good(ish) community vibes..

Don't in the slightest be depressed about renting forever. I certainly wish I'd not brought a place (barely any increase in property prices and pretty much 'trapped' now) There are tonnes of decent agencies renting great properties and it gives you huge flexibility.

Get a list together and just start visiting and enjoy the decision making! Embrace the choices - it's lovely to have them!

marushka82 Tue 19-Feb-13 15:23:46

HappyJoyful don't worry, I appreciate any feedback and tips really, as we've always been around London (the furthest we were was Bromley and we really loved it there, but DH got a job out west and his commute from Bromley was a horrendous 2.5 trip one way with 3 changes - nightmare!).
I looked around Ealing and so far I see a lot of 2 beds for £1200 which are either super old and crusty or really poky and not really close to the station. We are now v. close to Pittshanger Ln and I think the rent is higher because of the good catchment area (which gives us nothing at the moment as the baby's not here yet, let alone school age :D
We're definitely not thinking of buying anything just yet, we want to rent and suss out the area first before committing. Besides, who knows what's going to happen in 2-3 years? I honestly, honestly don't know how people afford to buy houses these days. Is everyone on an 60k+ salary? I try not to think about this too much as I find it very depressing really. I'm not unrealistic and not expecting to get a mansion for the money we are prepared to pay for rent, but I doubt we'll be able to afford a higher rent if I'm going to pay £300-350 for commuting...
I reckon it's a good thing we still have time to think about this, but I'm getting more and more confused. Also now depressed thinking we'll rent forever and always be poor sad I sometimes just want to leave everything and move to Australia (we discussed this as a possibility ages ago, but then my parents would not have that many chances to see their grandchild). Eh, it's all depressing as hell...

HappyJoyful Tue 19-Feb-13 14:59:54

I'm really sorry to sound a bit cynical or to shatter your dreams on moving out to 'rural' pastures but I think you will find some of the places you've listed being, as costly, if not more than Ealing.

Places like Princes Risborough, Old Amersham and Chorleywood are all mega expensive.

Am an 'Ealing expat' in Chesham - there's a few of us, but to be totally honest I'd give my right arm to be able to afford to live in Ealing again.

I certainly wouldn't rush into buying anywhere and rent somewhere to see if you like it. Generally in Chesham 2/3 bed 'cottages' terrace houses are rented out for somewhere in region of £995 I think from a quick google on Rightmove.

But yes, please do consider it long and hard, it has pluses yes but it's not particularly diverse and there are a lot of negative sides to the area's I feel. Happy to expand should you wish to know more!

Know Ealing exceptionally well but obviously don't know where your 1 bed is - have you considered looking at some of the 'cheaper' parts of Ealing / Ealing-Brentford, Ealing / Greenford, West Ealing ? As I say, there's places I never thought I'd wish to live but do now rather than Chesham.

The Chiltern line is expensive so commuting into London costs a lot. And they keep putting the prices up. But fast train can get you into Marylebone in 40 mins from Missenden/P Risborough.

Houses are expensive but thats because the schools are good. It really depends on what sort of lifestyle you have or would like to have.

marushka82 Tue 19-Feb-13 14:48:42

oops, meant to say paying for an Oyster made me forget, not after paying, yikes!

marushka82 Tue 19-Feb-13 14:47:54

LadyMetroland thanks for all the suggestions! I have to say, after paying £135 for an Oyster for the last few months made me forget how expensive commuting from outer London can be... Just checked season tickets from Princes Risborough and they are £380 (Oyster included)...
Thanks for the NCT tip; will definitely sign up once we decide on an area!

LadyMetroland Tue 19-Feb-13 14:43:01

Oh, Chesham is worth considering too. That's on the tube (last stop!) and is cheap - relatively speaking. Loads of baby groups etc.

Another thing I'd really recommend is signing up for the NCT now in one of these areas as the classes fill up quickly. Definitely the best way to meet other first time mums and you will find having a ready made group of 'friends' invaluable if you're new to the area. Beaconsfield has a branch and Chesham too.

LadyMetroland Tue 19-Feb-13 14:34:05

I think somewhere on the chiltern line would be best for your needs. Trains are clean and reliable and good fast train services in to Marylebone. Most of the towns are near the M40/A40 so would be good for your dh.

It gets less expensive as you move up the line: Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield are nice but super expensive. Wycombe is mixed, large town but good connections. Princes Risborough and Thame are both nice, a bit less expensive.

Don't forget in Bucks you have the Grammar school factor which raises house prices. Thame is in Oxfordshire so may be slightly less expensive for that reason.

The other branch of the chiltern line goes to Amersham. That is v expensive but nice. Too busy for my taste but will feel like a backwater if you're used to Ealing.

Renting before buying is definitely the way to go. Will give you a good sense of an area before committing. Impossible to know what somewhere's really like until you've lived there imo.

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