Moving to south Oxfordshire and help needed!(39 Posts)
Hiya all, I'm new to mumsnet and would love some help deciding where to move to in south Oxfordshire. (I've seen a few threads about moving to Oxfordshire on here, but I'm not sure they apply to the area we're looking at). My husband has just got a job in Abingdon and so we'll be moving there in February, but we have no idea of the good and not so good places to live .
What we're looking for: we'd like to live in a town within about 15/20 minutes drive of Abingdon (if not Abingdon itself) and we have a 1 year old daughter so somewhere with nice parent/toddler groups and parks etc would be fab. We are only looking to rent, but I doubt that has any influence on the area, no? I've had a look on a few estate agents websites and the areas that keep popping up are Didcot, Sutton Courtenay, Dorchester, Berinsfield, Clifton Hampden, Culham and of course Abingdon. Does anyone know about these areas? Or suggest other areas to watch out for?
Any advice would be hugely appreciated!
Only a vague secondhand recommendation from me, but all of my friends who live in Abingdon with kids think it is a great place to live.
For some of the other towns, look at the public transport unless you are going to be running two cars. It could make a big difference as to how well you can get out.
Ah thanks, that is good to know about Abingdon! And yeah I do want to be able to get out and about plenty so will keep p.transport in mind. Thanks again, it all helps!
Abingdon is a fab place to live and it has lots of toddler groups, pre-schools and family friendly cafes! My advice would be to look for a place in North Abingdon as the traffic in South Abingdon seems to be worse. The surrounding vilages are lovely but if you want to make friends quickly I would suggest moving to the town.
Hiya, thanks that's all really good to know!
We both quite fancied Abingdon from the little we knew about it (and from the feel of the place that my hubby got when he went up there for the interview), and now what you and the other mum has said has really given us some reassurance about our gut feeling.
Thanks again for replying!
Abingdon is ok but town centre always seems a bit run down to me. Have heard that the precinct is going to be done up as quite a few empty shops at the moment. That said have many friends that live there and seem quite happy there.
Berinsfield has a reputation locally as being quite rough. Disclaimer - not been there myself so no personal experience of area!
Clifton Hampden and Culham have very few facilities.
Don't know much about Dorchester.
People quite often look down their noses at Didcot but it actually has improved over recent years. Good transport links to larger towns - Oxford, Reading and London. Commute to Abingdon not too bad. Orchard Centre has reasonable shops, cinema and a couple of restaurants and will be expanding over the next few years.
I live in Didcot, and as MrsAR said, it can be sneered at, but I think it's OK. It has improved in recent years, and is fab for young children. 3 children's centres, plus other play groups, swimming pool, and several playgrounds. It has easy train access to London, Oxford and others, there are buses to Abingdon and Oxford, Wantage and Wallingford, and in a car it's just a hop up to Abingdon.
If you do move here and want advice on local facilities then just post again!
Hi MrsAR and Jammyrella,
Thanks a million for your thoughts! It's really helpful to hear about Didcot and the surrounding villages. We are really keen to live somewhere with plenty of things going on so I think we are going to rule out the villages. We were just going to look at Abingdon, but your thoughts on Didcot mean we will have a look there too.
Thanks too JR for the offer of advice on facilities. I may well do that!
Wallingford is worth a look. Pangbourne (just over the border from S. Oxon) has a direct rail link to London. Also Goring but these 2 might be a bit far from Abingdon.
Thanks for the heads up! I have looked them all up on the map and unfortunately Google reckons they are 25 mins or more away from Abingdon and we're keen to live within 15/20 mins of Abingdon. But thanks anyway!
Didcot looks rather unlovely compared to Abingdon, but it has a lot more going for it in my humble opinion!
Abingdon is pretty and has a Waitrose and a few nice independent shops and that's about it...
By contrast, starting with public transport, Didcot has a mainline station, Abingdon hasn't. You can be in London Paddington in 45 minutes from Didcot, and Reading and Oxford are 10 minutes away.
There is a cinema in Didcot, there isn't in Abingdon. In Didcot there is also a fantastic arts centre, Cornerstone, with a theatre that has a great programme, an art gallery with really good exhibitions, and courses for adults and children.
The shopping area is thriving, unlike Abingdon's which is slowly dying.
The swimming pool is one that has a flume and wave sessions, great for children.
I can't tell you much about toddler groups and the like as my DCs are too old for them but I know there is a children's centre and some good playgrounds.
Housing is also a lot more expensive in Abingdon, at least it was the last time I looked. You can get a lot more space in Didcot than in Abingdon.
Also the traffic and parking are hideous in Abingdon.
The villages are lovely, but there is not much going on there, and if you can't/won't drive then you have to rely on slow and expensive bus (coming from London the price of bus fares was a bit of a shock!).
Wallingford is also really lovely-looking, and has an independant cinema, a theatre, nice shops, but no mainline station.
Hope that helps you to narrow it down!
Wow, thanks for taking the time to go into so much detail! You have made some useful points which we will definitely keep in mind. We are coming up next week to start looking for places and will definitely look at both Abingdon and Didcot.
Re housing prices, Abingdon always used to be more expensive but I think over the last few years Didcot has caught up and they are now fairly comparable.
I live in South Abingdon. A number of years ago we had an estate agent tell us that our house across town would be worth a good £30k more, because we're on the wrong side of the tracks!! This is down to a particular road (Saxton) that many Abingdon people are very opinionated about. I live in a road near there and it has not been the pits for a number of years and is not at all how people make out and so I reckon the South offers more value for money, but having said that you may want to look at the school situation in Abingdon. All good primaries and all the secondaries are located on the North, so I now have to battle with the terrible town centre traffic every morning in order to yet my DD to school!
Abingdon is very good for outdoor leisure space and has some wonderful areas by the river (including a children's park and outdoor swimming pool), but is not very good for indoor leisure as they pulled down the cinema a few years ago!
Two of my best friends live in Didcot and I would say that it is still a very rundown/dodgy town in areas, but they have the benefit of a train station, a sparkly new shopping centre with some good shops, two maybe more leisure centres and a cinema!
Each to their own! Good Luck!
That's interesting KitKins, because when I was looking to buy in the area I considered South Abingdon as it is much more affordable than other areas in Abingdon, and was put off by so many people telling me how rough it is!
On the other hand, I really don't think Didcot is that bad. Yes there is one area in particular (around Queen's Road) that you could call rundown/dodgy, but every town has one, and it's not as horrible as some people make out (a bit like Saxton Road really!).
Lozwp I was in your position a couple of years ago. Good luck whatever you choose!
Thanks for your comments. I have lived in London, Cardiff, Manchester and now just outside Hastings (I can't wait to settle properly up your way now!) and I think you're right- every place has a more run down/dodgy feel about it. But like you say, housing is usually cheaper and the feel of places quite often change with time.
I really do think we are going to have a tough time deciding as there seem to be an equal number of pros/cons to Didcot and Abingdon. I can't wait to see them after hearing so much about them on here!
Thanks again - it's all really helping!
To everyone who has taken the time to write a comment to this thread...
Thanks again sooo much for your sharing your thoughts and experiences! I can't believe I got so many replies and the detail to which you have gone into! Before this thread, we had no idea of even where to begin looking and we now feel we have such a better idea of where to start and what to expect - and that's such a nice feeling!
I shall let you know how we get on...
We are in a similar situation to you. My husband got a job in Abingdon and we moved from London 2 months ago... I am enjoying it, but have to make an effort to meet people.. so just joined mumsnet today to do that!
I have a little girl who is now 16 months and is into everything. I have her in nursery 2 days a week, but am in the process of getting to know local toddler groups...
We moved to South Abingdon, St Amand Drive, and it's very nice... we have not seen a bit of trouble here and you can walk into town it's only 5 mins! a lovely walk by the river...
I believe that North Abingdon is very child friendly, and we may look there once we decide to buy something.
If you are renting in Abingdon, a note, don't hang around if you see something you like... the places go like hotcakes... it took us ages to find something...
I also live in St Amand Drive monmolly <waves>. What a small world! I have a 10 month old and a nearly 4 year old. DD1 goes to Caldecott school which IMO is excellent and doesn't deserve the bad press.
Do you go to St Helen's Toddler Group? It's on a Monday morning and is excellent. Which days do you work?
Lozwp - where is your DH's workplace? If it is North of Abingdon, the traffic getting from North to South is awful unles you leave before 8. If it is to the South however, South Abingdon is easy to get out of.
I really like living in Abingdon. Abbey Meadows in the summer is lovely and there are so many places to walk/cycle. I am very happy here. The shopping does leave a lot to be desired but I am hoping the precinct revamp will happen!
Hi monmolly and twofalls,
Thanks both for your lovely messages! It sounds like we have a lot in common between us!
My hubby's workplace is in South Abingdon and yeah because I keep hearing about the awful traffic getting from N to S we will be looking to live in South Abingdon. Are you saying that going from S to N isn't too bad? That could be useful info for me re work.
p.s. What's Abbey Meadows?
South to North is pretty bad unless you leave before 8AM and then it is OK. School run time is horredous which is why we choose Caldecott.
Abbey Meadows is a lovely park by the river. We pretty much camp out there in the summer! It has a playground, play fountains, a crazy golf course, outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, loads of ducks and you can do a lovely circular walk up the to lock, over the weir and back down the other side of the river for a pint in one of the pubs. Pretty much all pushchair friendly.
Hi twofalls, thanks for the heads up on the S-N traffic and Abbey Meadows - it sounds lush (that's my time living in Wales showing! , fab word!).
Can I recommend Steventon - it's a lovely village. We lived there until we moved down the road to Sutton Courtenay, where we are now (we wanted to stay in Steventon but couldn't find a house at the time). Sutton Courtenay is nice too, but Steventon is really friendly, has a lovely big village green, nice pubs etc. It's handy for Didcot and Abingdon.
Hi Goldberry, thanks for the heads up on Steventon. It sounds lovely!
Hello - I can agree that Abingdon is a great place to live. We moved to Abingdon just over a year ago from East Oxford - and it's so much nicer. We in North Abingdon (at least I think it's the north - just behind the Boundary House) and our road is all retired people and a few young families. I have one DS who is just two and I work full time in Oxford and the commute is fine (about 20mins in the car or 30m cycle). There does seem to be lots of kids, Abbey Meadows is great as is the sports centre. Haven't got any mummy friends here though as I can't make any of the toddler group stuff. I've found that generally though, not just Abingdon, that it's difficult to meet other mums if you work as all baby/toddler stuff seems to take place during the working day.
I'd definitely recommend Abingdon over Didcot - we looked at both when moving and although both seemed fine, Abingdon won for me. I have never lived in Didcot though, so don't really have much hands-on experience. It does have a good shopping centre and swimming pool.
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