Local Talk

Hello there - advice on relocating to Bristol

(49 Posts)
GentleToothFairy Sat 22-Jan-11 11:42:01


I am looking to move to the Bristol area with my husband and two little ones (aged 18 months and 4 years)and could do with some advice please!

My husband would have to commute to BS1 for his job. I have family in Droitwich so would like to live maybe north of the city so that I am closer to them. Ideally I would like to live somewhere that has access to childrens facilites; library, tumble tots, playgroups, dance classes etc and also has something for the grown ups; gym, restaurants, a few shops. Schools are also on the list as my son is due to start primary in September.

I have thought about Thornbury or Chipping Sodbury or Portishead or Keynsham (actually I have RightMoved every house within 30 miles of Bristol so am open to suggestion!) and would realy welcome folks opinions on these places to live esp with regard to the potential commute for my husband.


shazmark Sat 22-Jan-11 12:49:22

Thornbury, Almondsbury, Olveston Easter Compton etc all lovely. Easy access to M$, M5 and M32 into Bristol. Also easy access to Bristol parkway for rail travel. Excellent state secondary schools at Marlwood and The Castle Thornbury. Transport into fee paying Bristol schools also available. Small friendly primaries in villages and well thought off schools.
Nice rural location and access to Cribbs for shopping too in minutes. Quite a rural area so can feel a bit isolated but you can easily get to North Bristol if you drive in about 25 mins. Reasonable kids activities in Thornbury- nice park, good toddler groups and leisure centre but obviously not so much on offer as in Bristol. hth Are you especially looking for looking for rural type property or do you want a town property?

only other point i'd make is that travel out of Portishead in the morning onto M5 is awful. Queues back miles- really put us off living there although otherwise it is a great place.

GentleToothFairy Sat 22-Jan-11 19:41:06

Thank you so much for the info. Urrrm at the moment I live 10 miles away from Liverpool in a small town that has access to beaches and green space but with good links into the city but enough going on locally to keep me and the children occupied if we dont want to make that journey - I suppose thats the type of place I am looking for near Bristol. Kind of got the feeling that travelling out of Portishead is terrible which is putting me off a little.

Right, am off to search the househunting websites armed with the names of places that you mentioned. Thanks again.

deepheat Tue 25-Jan-11 11:46:19

If you wanted to be more 'in town' you could try the Gloucester Road area. Loads of things for the little 'uns (the place is literally teeming with pushchairs) and for their parents. Very easy access to BS1 and only 10-25 mins to M5 (depending on time of day). Areas to look at would be (starting with most expensive first) St Andrews, Bishopston, Horfield, Filton (though Filton is further out).

Good luck.

GentleToothFairy Tue 25-Jan-11 13:50:46

Oooh thanks deepheat - will check it out!

Or you could go inner city! St Werburghs, Montpelier, St Pauls aren't the most glam bits of the city, but we have some lovely parks (including the newly done up St Agnes one which is brill), great kids groups, an Ofsted outstanding nursery and diverse schools. Dead easy to get into town (10 min walk) and out of town (just by M32) and all sorts of shops and cafes nearby.

Did I mention the city farm? Organic supermarket? Chinese supermarket? I could go on and on...

I grew up in Yate, which Chipping Sodbury is right next to, in fact they kind of blend into one large satellite town, as the estates being built around the two joined up quite some time ago, and I would say to avoid. The centre of Chipping Sodbury is lovely, but you also have miles and miles of 60s - 70s - 80s housing estates in the area. It was fine for when I was young, but I couldn't wait to get out by the time I was 16. Not a lot to do and some parts of Yate are pretty run down. I don't know what it is like to live there now, as I moved away 18 years ago, as did my parents, and now I just visit other family there occasionally, but Chipping Sodbury seems to have a lot of retired folk, and Yate shopping centre is dire.

I agree that the Thornbury area could be well-suited to you, with much better access to the motorway and Bristol city centre than Portishead.

I am very biased towards Gloucester Rd though, as I have lived in the area for 7 years now, and I love it smile. Some bits are very, very yummy Mummy, other bits a bit more laid back and alternative, but all have loads to offer a young family. I live in Ashley Down, which is a 5 minute walk from the bars, independent shops, family pubs and local food retailers of Gloucester Rd, and a quick trip with the buggy through the allotments down to St Werburghs city farm. Great schools in the area, and pretty affordable. Me and DP are lucky enough to work locally, but it's an easy commute into the centre as well, and easy access to the motorway.

GentleToothFairy Wed 26-Jan-11 21:27:07

Oh ladies this info is great, thank you!
Gloucester Road sounds (and looks) very appealing.

whimsicalname can you let me know the name of the nursery you mentioned please?

EmmaRachel Thu 27-Jan-11 11:30:03

I relocated to Bristol over 4 years ago so I could go to Uni at Bristol, we planed to buy in the centre, but the house fell through at the last minute, we had sold our house in Milton Keynes and I was already living in Bristol during the week and going home weekends so it really was a quick decision that needed making. One of the girls on my course lived in Thornbury and suggested she helped me find a rental for 6 months, then we could get a better feel for Bristol and the surrounding areas and buy again.

I am so glad this happened! (With hind sight of course, it was very stressful at the time!)

Thornbury is great for children, the schools are amazing, the primary schools rage from small to much larger, my youngest goes to one which has just been rebuilt so it is state of the art, (Shares a sight with a special school so has a pool and all kind of cool facilities!

My eldest has just started at one of the 2 excellent secondary schools, and I can't fault it.

If you want any more info on Thornbury drop me a line xx

GentleToothFairy Thu 27-Jan-11 20:55:02

Thanks EmmaRachel I will definitely take you up on your offer.

I am planning a few weekend trips to check out some of the places along the M5 corridor/Gloucester Rd artery into the city. It certainly is a stressful but exciting time and will be the last major relocation I make, although the first one with children, so am keen to get it just right for us all! I am tempted to rent for 6 months but am wondering what the housing market will get up to in that time and don't wish to price myself out of the market should it make a big about-turn. My son caught me having a look at hotels in Spain and now thinks we are going to order our new house on the computer and wants one with a swimming pool hmm

Hello again, the nursery is called St Werburghs Park Nursery. It only takes a few under 3s (and there's a hell of a waiting list) but they have lots and lots of space for the pre school year, and lots of drop in type stuff too. My two boys (now 6 and 4) were very happy there, and they were wonderful for me last year through a very difficult time.

Because they have quite a big intake, they take kids from quite far afield, certainly up towards ashley down and over towards Glos Rd, so you don't have to move to the doorstep to get in.

hope that helps!

GentleToothFairy Thu 27-Jan-11 21:16:34

Hey whimsicalname - Thank you, I will give the nursery a call.

bratnav Thu 27-Jan-11 21:27:39

Message deleted

Stase Fri 28-Jan-11 20:35:14

A small-voiced vote for South Bristol here! We're in Ashton which is easy for M5 access. Pill is a nice village for families. Southville is yummier, but Ashton is cheaper with bigger gardens and better access to motorway. We do walks round the docks, and visit the Zoo, SS Great Britain, Explore, Aquarium all on foot/bike. Nice shops on North Street. Wasn't my first choice, but happy here now!

GentleToothFairy Sat 29-Jan-11 09:29:23

Wow everyone thanks so much - I am really starting to feel good about the whole move esp with all your positive replies!

Cheers bratnav for conformation about living around Glos Rd,it really does sound fab and a place where we could be happy. Coffee sounds good.

Thanks also Stase - I have looked at Pill but not Ashton nor Southville. I will certainly have a further explore out there

ThePosieParker Sat 29-Jan-11 09:34:20

Bishopston, Horfield, Southville, Hotwells, etc all pretty good. Further out you go the more space you get but the commute can take a long time....Long Ashton is lovely but lots of traffic in the morning.

If you come to Bishopston you may have to move again before secondary school.

ThePosieParker Sat 29-Jan-11 09:35:40

Oh and if you're not looking for childcare I can recommend an amazing nusery/pre school in Clifton....montessori and amazing!!

ThePosieParker Sat 29-Jan-11 09:36:34

PS. I live near Gloucester Road and DH works in BS1....Queen's Square, he runs home and takes less than half an hour.

MmeGuillotine Sat 29-Jan-11 09:57:26

We're moving back soon too (currently exiled to Weston super Mare) and are thinking of either around Gloucester Road, Totterdown or Westbury Park/Clifton. It's hard to choose but the lure of the shops and cafes on Gloucester Road is hard to resist.

ThePosieParker, what's the secondary school situation like around there? We're kind of resigned to BGS or similar but would prefer a state school.

ThePosieParker Sat 29-Jan-11 10:02:32

Well as a mother of four, too close to spread fees, I am resigned to having to move. Redland Green is supposed to be great but you practically have to live on the school grounds to get in! Cotham is changing the catchment, excluding some of the not so nice areas and has just got outstanding I think, then Fairfeild/Monks park I have heard a few good stories but wouldn't consider sending my children there....and so I'm hoping to move out to Backwell or somewhere.

MmeGuillotine Sat 29-Jan-11 10:17:35

It's grim isn't it? We have a three year gap so it shouldn't be too bad until one leaves university and the next one starts a few months later, which will probably be painful. I don't want to go private though and especially not if we feel like we have to.

I've heard that Redland Green and Cotham are hard to get into. Likewise Cathedral School. Have also heard a few stories about Monks Park so am a bit unwilling to send them there.

My husband comes from Nailsea and his brother went to Backwell (he went to BGS) so apparently moving out that way isn't an option for us as he vowed never to go back! Of course, he didn't anticipate having teenagers at that point. ;)

ThePosieParker Sat 29-Jan-11 10:51:33

Gordano is good.

MmeGuillotine Sat 29-Jan-11 11:02:46

Oh, yes, that's the one in Portishead isn't it? I've suggested that, but he won't consider it for much the same reason.

I suspect he'll change his mind about all this when our eldest is about to leave primary school. Although we moved to WSM because we were priced out of the Bristol market and that turned out pretty badly so if we get priced out of the schools (very likely) I may have to really work on him to move out of the city again.

exexpat Sat 29-Jan-11 11:14:52

MmeG - the effective Cotham catchment is wider than people seem to think - it goes down as far as Gloucester/Cheltenham Road and over to the far side of Clifton/Cliftonwood, and I've known people get in from both ends. But of course these things change over time, and you don't want to buy a house a mile away in one direction only to find that by the time you apply, they've changed the areas again, so the closer you live the better.

There are lots of good reports of Winterbourne International Academy (used to be the Ridings High School) if living that side of Bristol (ie actually in South Gloucestershire) would suit you.

Dumbledoresgirl Sat 29-Jan-11 11:19:16

If secondary schools and good transport links are most important to you (as they were to us when we moved to the area a few years ago) you can't go wrong with Thornbury or surrounding villages.

Mind you, I don't actually rate the town or area for much else....

Dumbledoresgirl Sat 29-Jan-11 11:20:34

Good secondary schools that should say... The Castle School had an outstanding ofsted report recently, and always performs well academically.

MmeGuillotine Sat 29-Jan-11 11:49:27

Exexpat, that's bigger than I thought! Thanks! I think we're going to be looking around Westbury Park sort of area when we move although I've heard that getting into a primary school around there may be an issue so perhaps we should just head to Totterdown?

I don't mind moving further out but I don't drive or have much sense of direction (dyspraxia) so it would have to be within walking distance of schools and things.

Argh, I'm turning into one of those annoying people who have a 'yes, but' for all good suggestions. Sorry!

This is so helpful though - sorry for thread hijack but I guess all information is useful if you are new to the area? ;)

ThePosieParker Sat 29-Jan-11 13:01:50

I wouldn't worry about schools if you're entering mid term, many people are academics and medics and so move frequently around WEstbury.

MmeGuillotine Sat 29-Jan-11 13:23:45

Oh that's good to know. He'll be in Y1 when we move so I didn't know if this was a good or bad thing.


newpup Sat 29-Jan-11 13:59:30

Hello. I live in a village just outside North Bristol. I love the fact I live in a village with the countryside on our doorstep, the motorway close by and the city 20 mins away.

We used the lovely village primary and DD1 is now at a private senior school in Bristol.

I would not want to live in the city but love having the restaurants, great shopping, museums ctc nearby.

There are some really lovely villages surrounding Bristol if that is your thing. Good Luck.

GentleToothFairy Sun 30-Jan-11 20:08:46


ThePosieParker - yes will need childcare for my littlest as I will need to work so would appreciate the name of the nursery you mentioned. Apparently the Uni nursery is good too so will have a few to check out

I don't fancy having to move again after this next move. I am the relocation queen and need to feel a bit more settled so guess I will have to consider secondary schools also.

Dumblesdoregirl - do you find Thornbury a little bit quiet? Why dont you rate it?

GentleToothFairy Sun 30-Jan-11 20:12:42

MmeGuillotine - ha ha ha hijack away all info helps! One question - what is BGS?????

MmeGuillotine Sun 30-Jan-11 20:46:15

Oops sorry, Bristol Grammar School.

exexpat Sun 30-Jan-11 20:53:35

I think Posie was probably talking about (since she said if you're not looking for childcare) The Clifton Children's House which is an absolutely brilliant small Montessori nursery - but unfortunately is no good if you need childcare to go to work, as it only does morning sessions for the 3-4 year olds, and afternoon sessions for 2-3 year olds - you can't do whole days. The children love it, but it's not very convenient for parents.

There are lots of full-day nurseries for working parents around Bristol, though - I expect you'll find plenty of recommendations if you ask here too.

GentleToothFairy Mon 31-Jan-11 09:04:21

Sorry I misread! The Clifton Children's House is probably out for me then.

exexpat Mon 31-Jan-11 10:31:29

For people wondering about school catchment areas, the city council school admission guides have maps for 'areas of first priority' for the secondary schools - they are not technically catchment areas, as living inside them doesn't guarantee you a place, but you get priority over people outside them. They also give the furthest distance anyone was admitted from the previous year

Link to the 2011 secondary admissions guide here. Unfortunately the resolution on the maps is pretty poor (better in the print version) but it gives a rough idea that, for example, the Cotham priority area spreads much further to the west and south of the school, and not very far to the north and east (so MmeG, Westbury park would be Redland Green not Cotham), and that Redland Green has a pretty small area - the furthest admission was from 769m away, but Cotham's furthest was 1,756m.

Bristol primaries don't have catchments/priority areas, but the primary admissions guide does give the furthest distance anyone was admitted from in the previous year - so you need to get a ruler and a map out to work out where you have a chance of getting a place.

Hope this helps.

ThePosieParker Mon 31-Jan-11 10:33:33

Yes, Clifton Children's House is not for the convenience of the working parent!! There are some fabulous nurseries and Nannies...

Dumbledoresgirl Mon 31-Jan-11 10:54:09

Thornbury is quiet, yes, though that is actually what we like about it. It depends on what you want, but judging by your posts, I think you would find T too quiet. Dh and I have always sought out the quieter places to live, for, although I lived for many years in London, and enjoyed that hustle and bustle, I grew up in a small cathedral city and prior to Thornbury, we lived in a village with a thriving community life and that suited us much more. We thought T would be better than a village as it would still be small enough to be quiet, but would have more going for our children as they grw older. In fact, Thornbury is twice the size of the village we lived in, but has less than half the community life.

Other things I don't like about it:

- the shops are pretty poor: loads of charity shops and poundland equivalents, very few decent high street shops

- there is very little going on culturally, though of course you have Bristol on your doorstep

- there isn't much "soul" to the place. The castle and parish church area is nice, the rest is sprawling 60s, 70s and 80s housing estates, some of which are particularly shabby

- although there are a huge number of "incomers", often people from Bristol with children who move to take advantage of the good schooling, there is also a substantial "native" population and, for some strange reason, the two groups don't seem to mix. I haven't noticed out and out hostility but it took me a few years to realise that all my friends were people who had moved to Thornbury, and when I mentioned this to them, the agreed that the "native" population kept to themselves. I find that a bit weird and insular.

- the surrounding countryside is not the nicest! There was an article in the Sunday papers once about areas of the country in which the housing market was bucking the downward trend. The Cotswolds to the north was one area, and Somerset to the south was another, and stuck right in the middle - a no man's land - was South Gloucestershire. That said it all for me. But I suppose that means the housing is cheaper here than in neighbouring areas...

Further housing estates are planned btw, plus of course, the current big issue here is the potential nuclear power station that will probably be built down the road...

Of course there are good points too: it has hardly any crime, the schools are good, transport links could hardly be better, it has its own Tesco, leisure centre, some nice restaurants, golf course, etc. Bristol is very close, as are the Cotswolds, Wales, etc. I am content to live here while my children are of school age. If I have my way though, I will retire somewhere else. smile

crazymum53 Mon 31-Jan-11 11:19:52

I would suggest you have another look at Keynsham. This has good primary schools (at least one has nursery/children's centre attached) and secondary schools (Wellsway has a slightly better reputation than Broadlands) and you are within good commuting distance of Bath as well as Bristol. Property prices are also slightly less than in Bristol itself. There are also good parks and a leisure centre.

The commute down the A4 Bath road is relatively short but can be congested at times. However there is a Park and Ride service and regular bus service as well.

MmeGuillotine there are many similarities between Totterdown and the Glos Road area with several independent shops and cafes - it's just a bit smaller and lower house prices. Also there is less demand on school places as well.

MmeGuillotine Mon 31-Jan-11 14:31:28

That's good to know. We lived in Totterdown before we moved away and love Gloucester Road. We'd like to be in North Bristol but can afford a much bigger house if we live in Totterdown and if the schools down that way are less subscribed then maybe that's a better plan for us.

My eldest isn't six for a few months so plenty of time to worry about secondary schools.

GentleToothFairy Mon 31-Jan-11 14:55:04

Thanks Dumbledoresgirl you have given me lots to think about. I suppose I am looking for more of an active community be that in a village, on the outskirts of the city or more towards the city centre. Where I grew up the whole atmosphere of the place was eventually drown out by too many new builds with little thought to town planning so am trying to avoid living in an area such as that. Similarly over time all the independent shops were replaced with charity shops,building societies and pound shops.

I am drawn to the Gloucester Rd as it sounds a little like a place I lived in Sheffield (Ecclesall Rd if anyone knows it?). Looking at the houses, however, I just don't think our money would stretch to a house with the same space that I have currently. So I need to ask whether I am willing to compromise on space for the sake of location.

I did consider Keynsham crazymum53, and liked it but dismissed it as I wanted to be north of the M4 for easy access to my parents but maybe I need to have another look. Or even reconsider south Bristol but near the M5?

Anyway thanks folks I really do appreciate all of your comments

deepheat Mon 31-Jan-11 15:08:42

Glos Rd and Ecclesall Rd are indeed pretty similar. Not sure where you were looking around Glos Rd, but if you were to look into Horfield rather than Bishopston/St Andrews then you'll find you get more space for your money, though larger houses are slightly harder to come by. Lots of 2-up 2-downs. Ashley Down also gives good access to Glos Rd at prices similar to Horfield and a few larger houses.

Lived in Bedminster/Southville for 3-years and have to say that I didn't enjoy it personally. North St was fine during the days, but found it horrible at night and when the football was on. We did live at the slightly grottier end of North Street though and this was about 7 years ago so may well haev changed quite a lot. In addition, I grew up in North Bristol so was always more likely to settle that side of the river.

ThePosieParker Mon 31-Jan-11 16:04:55

GTF....I would imagine that most houses in the 'nice' areas in Bristol will offer you less for you money, Bristol is very expensive. New houses are pretty good rates right now.

GentleToothFairy Mon 31-Jan-11 19:29:26

Yup think you have a point about new houses - I really need to come down and visit all the places that have been recommended, to get a 'feel' for them. Having a wobble now!

crazymum53 Mon 31-Jan-11 20:11:02

To get to the M4 from Keynsham there is a good (dual carriageway) link road via Longwell Green and Siston Common.

ArtyShots Tue 01-Feb-11 00:27:17

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crazymum53 Tue 01-Feb-11 09:35:50

For more information on Keynsham you could try asking on the MN local (Bath) site. It does also have gym, library, playgroups etc. so could be a good bet. There was a recent tread about moving there which you may find helpful.

GentleToothFairy Tue 01-Feb-11 20:03:41

Thanks crazymum53 will do!

CleyroHomes Tue 18-Dec-12 11:21:54

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