Moving to Surrey from US(17 Posts)
DH will be taking a job in Weybridge, and we will be moving to the UK from Miami in a few months. We intend to rent for at least a year while we establish credit and get our bearings, but I would like to pinpoint a few areas to begin looking for homes with a long-term view for schools, shops, activities, commute, etc.
DD is almost 5 and DS is almost 3 so pre-schools and primary schools are most important at this point. DH and I will be coming for a home-search trip soon and I'm hoping to narrow my search to a few towns before we arrive. I've been reading the threads here (hugely helpful, BTW - thanks to everyone for taking the time to share their opinions and experience) so I have a sense of which schools are highly-regarded. How to enroll the children in them is another hurdle, but for navigating that we will have assistance of a relocation agent.
I understand the cost of living in the London area will be considerably higher than where we currently live. I don't expect to find the size house or garden we have here for the same money; the ability to walk to shops or the pub and having our children grow up as part of a community outweigh that for us.
All that said, where besides Weybridge should I consider? DH doesn't want to commute further than a few miles. His offices are in/at(?) Brooklands.
This is my "wish-list" for a community.
- nice grocer with good produce and meats. I'm happy to do the occasional journey to the big stores for staples.
- excellent schools (we are neither Catholic nor CofE so I know that limits some options)
- a good pub for DH where we might go as a family as well
- proximity to parks and family-friendly activities (I don't know what those might be)
- *shopping, great restaurants, spa: these are bonus items that belie my earlier breast-beating about simplifying life, but hey, while I'm asking....
I apologize for this post being so long. I appreciate any great things anyone has to say about their area (or warnings about others)
Just bumping this for you!
From Miami to Weybridge, oh boy!
I dont live in or know that much about Weybridge i'm afraid (i'm based in Kingston-upon- Thames and highly recommend it for a day out shopping and eating by the river) but in general competition for the good schools is fierce. Once you have found a place to settle, make sure you buy in the right catchment area for your schools.
Look on the local council websites for info on schools and read their latest OFSTED report. You want a grade 1 or 2 school if possible.
Best websites for property searches in the uk are
Thank you so much for the info. I have looked at the Kingston-upon-Thames visitor website; it is on my list of day-trips. I have looked at both of those property sites you noted and have seen some nice homes but I have no idea in what town/area we should live. Luckily there seem to be many good schools throughout Surrey.
Since I have very little sense of the area, how long would it normally take to drive from Kingston-upon-Thames to Weybridge during normal commuting hours?
We don't necessarily need to live in Weybridge and I'm open to suggestions. The homes in Weybridge are considerably more expensive than, say, some just a few miles away. Is it because of proximity to the rail line? the schools? the town itself?
When you say the competition for the good schools is fierce, does that mean that living in the school's catchment is not a guarantee of enrollment?
No. Your child has to be one of the x closest children to the school. X is the number of spaces in the academic year for that school minus the number of children who are siblings of older children in the school who may or may not live anywhere near it (and minus those who are looked after or have SEN).
If your child is going into reception in sept you will need to have an address by Jan 15th with a year long contract if renting. If you don't get a reception place you can go on a waiting list or accept a place at another less prefered school.
Another Kingston person here. Kingston is about half an hour from Weybridge normally but no idea what it is like at rush hour. North Kingston is the place to be locally. Great green spaces shopping and lots of young families. Houses are v v expensive
Primary schools are great but hugely in demand, cacthment areas are tiny, a couple of streets will make a big difference so you have to be very careful. Big shortage of good secondaries tho.
In your position I would also look at Shepperton which I hear is very nice and villagely. East Molesey which I think is under-rated but very queit and maybe Hampton.
Look at Teddington, Hampton Wick and Strawberry Hill - we're lovely, with great schools
I will look at all of those right now! Thank you all so much.
So, what happens if there is no space at the great school down the street from where you live? You would have to travel miles to a different school? This is all very interesting and helpful. I did not glean this from the UK education sites I've been attempting to sift through.
DD will be 5 in December. Here (in FL at least) a child must be 5 by the 1st of September to enter kindergarten. She is in a Montessori pre-school right now. As I understand it, she would be eligible for the 1st year of primary school right now in the UK as she does turn 5 this year. If we can only secure her a place for next September (2013), is there an alternative (private?) type of school that would take her mid year (january)? I would hate to have her be a full year behind so early on.
Wow. I have been very anxious about this decision and now I'm truly worried. I had kind of pushed the schools thing to the bottom of my list of things to worry about since they have such a good reputation. I really didn't realize the constraints.
I highly recommend Shepperton. Not a bad commute to weybridge. It is the last stop on the commuters line but that is no bad thing imo. It has a good amount of shops whilst still maintaining a village-y feel. Local schools are good. It also has a fab fish and chip shop
If you do look at Kingston and cant afford north Kingston ( it is very expensive if you want a big family house) you could look at New Malden near Burlington infant school which is a grade 1 primary school. It is very nice around that area and it is close to the millionaires row of Traps lane and Coombe area so the schools around there are very good. Lovely family atmosphere and close enough for a walk to Richmond park or a 5 minute drive / public transport to Kingston town centre.
Richmond Park is amazing to have close by.
Why not have a look at Cobham and or surrounding villages?
If your OH is going to be working in the Brooklands area and doesn't want a long commute then I would look at Weybridge, Walton, Cobham, Claygate and Esher/Hinchley Wood.
Cobham and Esher are very popular with American and other ex-pat families due to the international school there (ACS International).
Would suggest you do very careful research re: school catchment zones. Nearly all the state schools in those areas are good and, as such, very full and your children may have to go onto a waiting list. There are also a number of church schools that have strict admission criteria.
Bushy Park near Hampton Court is a good alternative to Richmond Park.
Hope this helps!
I second Walton-upon-Thames as a nice area to look at. Kingston is probably a step too far for the commute.
Cervelo's advice is good. Weybridge itself is very nice with lots of families with young children...and lots of schools that I think have good reputations. I live in Kingston but spend plenty of time travelling to Weybridge to photograph families! I would think that Kingston/Teddington is going to be further than you would like, because traffic can be a nightmare in rush hour...Walton is the next closest to your OHs work, then Cobham/Esher. If you would like help from someone who really knows the area, I can wholeheartedly recommend you get in touch with Andy Davies at James Neave Estate Agents in Walton. He covers Walton, Weybridge and surrounding and is possibly the nicest estate agent I have ever met! http://www.jamesneave.co.uk/contact-us.html
Best of luck with your move,
I'm another FL girl living in Surrey Not sure this will be helpful at this point, but I second the recommendations for Cobham/Esher/Molesey areas. I'm in West Molesey, and the access to greenspace along the river is a major bonus - it sort of offsets the pain of missing my garden back home!
Hope your move goes well, and that your transition to UK life is a smooth one!
Also your child would go into Year 1 but that is the second year of school in the UK. How is your DH planning to get to work? I would recommend Cobham, but it will be a bit of a traffic Jam drive in in the mornings for him. Another option is to look at train routes.
If you really want the best state schools, I would look at Twickenham (Richmond Borough LEA). I am also American. And I live in that area. It is more of a West London feel, whereas Surrey is more in the coutry. Depends what you like.
Oh, and David Lloyd Hampton if fab gym with tennis courts, pools, spa, etc. I know it well and will happily give you more info if you need it.
Hi there - hope all plans are going well, it's a big move huh?;)
I would ABSOLUTELY suggest you look at Reigate, Epsom, Tadworth - all commutable to Brooklands and latter I know has GREAT primary school, the village has the butchers and deli you want; an award winning restaurant, couple GORG pubs walking distances, ditto woods/open spaces, ditto pretty much everything. Suggest you google and look at Kennedys Independent Estate Agents to get a feel for property/prices etc. Is also handy for M25 (orbital motorway around London) and to town (as in, London!) and to Gatwick Airport.
Hope useful and best of luck
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