Moving to Cambridge with kids(22 Posts)
We are moving to Cambridge but do not know much about which area is good and where to avoid. As I will commute to London for work, I guess it would be good to be not too far from the station but yet it is an affordable and nice area to live in for family. My kid will go to primary school next year, so it would also be good to be in the catchment area of good state schools. We would appreciate much of your advice. Thank you!
There are no real bad areas, personally I wouldn't go near the Mayflower Flats but if you are looking for family accommodation you wouldn't be looking there anyway. Cost wise central Cambridge is extremely expensive, there is a lot of buy to let and student properties. if buying in Cambridge and commuting from the train station - get a bicycle that is the fastest way to the station. Other options are look at the villages/cheaper towns near the train line. For example Cambourne/Papworth 10 minutes to St Neots, fast train to London 45 minutes and a lot lot more house for your money. Or if you need to be nearer to Cambridge, then the Shelfords could be a good option. School wise all the schools in Cambridge City are very good. The state schools are as good or better than the private ones. However they are oversubscribed and in year applications can be a headache. If your DCs are very young you shouldn't have a problem getting a place at one of the city's schools. The schools in the surrounding Cambridgeshire are also very very good, some of the best state schools in the country with excellent facilities. The schools only start to get a bit hit and miss when you get out of the CB postcode. Hope that helps
Bear in mind that the new Cambridge North station will be open soon, which adds another possible departure point for you.
If you're working to London are there other constraints tying you to Cambridge?
DH works just south of Cambridge and we chose Saffron Walden. Great school, bustling market town, lovely environment and less than an hour into Liverpool St.
Have you considered elsewhere or are you sold on Cambridge?
The Petersfield/Mill Road area is within walking distance of the station (and also the town centre), and has lots going on for families. St Matthew's Primary is the catchment school, which is rated Ofsted Outstanding.
Regarding affordability, unfortunately housing in central Cambridge is generally rather expensive. However Cambridge is such a nice place to live that many people are willing to put up with a very small home!
What do you call 'affordable'? That's the first question.
Thank you for all your input and advice! They are very helpful!
fenlander, my DCs are nearly 3 and 1. The elder will apply for reception year this summer for next Sept intake. We prefer to be close to the city but will check out Shelfords/Camborne/Papworth nonetheless, perhaps they are hidden gems. Are there any good state schools in these areas? Yes, we can cycle. By the way, where is Mayflower flat area? You also mentioned that the properties near the city are mostly buy to let and student properties. Does it mean the area is not suitable for family?
How's St Matthews Primary School. It has Outstanding Ofsted report. But, is it a reliable Outstanding? E.g. Milton Road primary school was recently rated Requires Improvement but it had been a reliable Good school and has good reputation for many years. So, it doesn't change much of how people perceive it.
Leucanthemum, Rosiebells, yes, my DH will work in the north area so Cambridge North station is appealing to us. However, are the areas nearby good and are there good schools around? How about Milton and Waterbeach? Good schools around? We are still checking around. Whilst our preference is the city area but we try to stay open.
How about Trumpington? There are many developments going on now. Any ideas about the Fawcett and Trumpington Meadows primary schools?
Softsheen, yes, we prefer to live near to the city. We walk more than we cycle. we are also checking on St Matthews Primary School. as I asked above, is it a reliable Outstanding? Is there any area in the city that we should try to avoid?
Tingalingle, good question! something that is not beyond £500000?
How about Cherry Hinton area? There are Morley, Queen Edith, Queen Emma etc....
i commute into london and my husband works at the science park. we moved close to the new train station in chesterton and really like it. we can cycle on the river into town. and there is so much going on for children in the area. there are several parent led organisations such as chesterton's parents group which organises different activities (little music makers on tuesdays, softplay on fridays, occasional picnics), twice a week there is a local nct coffee group, the local children centres and churches also offer several activities every week... this was all super while being on maternity leave, i could attend several groups per day within walking distance and as a result have made many local friends. I heard that the two local schools are good as well.
however, I think any part of cambridge is great and has a strong community feel.
The Mayflower flats are just off the back of Midsummer Common. Very cheap for Cambridge, as it's about the only rough block of flats in the city. (But it is Cambridge's version of rough!).
All the schools in the villages on the outlier or commutable distance to Cambridge are very good. Cambourne is Cambourne Village College - Outstanding. Papworth is Swaversey Village College another outstanding. All with excellent primary schools (mainly good or outstanding). I just wouldn't go past Cambourne/Papworth (any nearer to St Neots on the A428) as then the schools get a bit hit and miss.
£500k isn't going to get central Cambridge or round the train station; however Cambridge is not a big City, so if you go to one of the outer wards you can get in budget & still be able to cycle to the Train Station.
Chesterton would be a good fit, good schools and you could cycle to the Train Station. You are probably looking at £500k for a 3-4 bed in that area. Sometimes the ex council properties go for less - when they do they get snapped up pretty quick.
With the new north Station, then parts of Castle Ward could also be a good option - I love the Tavistock Road area, family homes and a primary in walking distance (I loved living there). Milton may be another good option, again excellent schools and a rather fabulous collection of village pubs.
Shelfords - good schools, so close to Cambridge it may as well be a ward & has its own station on the London line. Probably at the cusp of the £500k budget, I reckon this cottage with go nearer the 500 than the 400. But it is lovely.
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Trumpington the new builds are full of buy to let and investment buyers. The houses are tiny tiny, I looked at a 3 bed there and I'm sorry it was a "one person could live here and maybe swing a cat". Other heavy student & buy to let areas are Mill Road and around Romsey Town. Personally I love Romsey Town and parts of it are still very much families - but it is getting over run by students. Still a fantastic place to go shopping or out for dinner though. Can't beat Mill Road for that.
St Matthew's is a great school; I have a DD in Year 1 and she is happy and doing very well.
In St Matthew's catchment £500k would buy you a very nice 2 bed terrace, or at a stretch a not-so-nice 3 bed/ one needing a lot of work. The real problem though is that very few 3 bed houses even come on the market, and when a nice one does go up for sale, a bidding war ensues
Rosemarie04, thank you for your recommendation! Your situation is very much like mine commuting wise. I have heard good things about Chesterton too. Which are the 2 good schools you mentioned? Also, people told me that King's Hedges and Arbury are relatively rough areas in Cambridge. Is this true? I just thought you may know better.
fenlander, what are good schools in Chesterton and Milton? What do you think about Waterbeach?
Softsheen, it's true there are not many houses in the market now in the St Matthews catchment area. What do you think about 2-bed/3-bed flats in the area?
Anybody knows anything about the new development Beacon Rise? The developer Luminus?
Well my children have attended Shirley Primary and had a good experience.
Shirley is in Chesterton.
Another vote for Chesterton. It fits your criteria: good location for commuting to work (it's near Cambridge North station, the Science Park and the A14), it's affordable - or at least more so than the rest of Cambridge, you will be able to get a decent house for around £500k - and it's a family-friendly area with good nurseries and schools. (I can't advise on specific schools but I have heard they are generally good in the area.)
My two cents on some of the other areas suggested:
Mill Road / Petersfield / Romsey - this is a very expensive area due to proximity to the central train station. A lot of the properties are narrow terraced houses and not particularly spacious. The streets and pavements are narrow and parking is a nightmare. I love Mill Road (it has a good atmosphere, good cafes and restaurants, and events like the Mill Road Winter Fair are fun) but wouldn't live in the area unless I could afford one of the eye-wateringly expensive big house with a driveway (and there aren't many).
Trumpington - lots of property development in this area so you're likely to get a new build. I'm personally not a fan of new builds and I think the area feels a bit soulless, but there are a couple of nice pubs in Trumpington village and it's close to Grantchester which is lovely. It wouldn't be ideal for your commute though (you or your husband).
Do bear in mind that Cambridge traffic is atrocious so unless you plan to cycle everywhere, even relatively short car journeys can take forever.
I worked in Papworth Everard and it's a sleepy village. Really hate Cambourne (more soulless than Trumpington IMO).
I guess it depends whether you're city/small town/village people?
Oh and Cherry Hinton is a good area for families, probably not as a good as Chesterton if your husband will be working in north Cambridge, because of the traffic issues I mentioned.
There are Shirley and Chesterton Primary in Chesterton. I heard good things about both. Chesterton is very small and homely (only one class per year) and they are very child focused and developing creativity.
You could get a 3 bed flat in St Matthew's School catchment for under £500k. For instance, in St Matthew's Gardens, which although not very characterful (in comparison to the surrounding Victorian houses), does have the advantage of underground parking spaces allocated to each property. There are several good local parks/playgrounds which would partly compensate for not having a garden.
Also heard good things about Chesterton Primary and Shirley, happy children, good progress etc. As far as I know both are popular and oversubscribed especially the younger year groups.
Keep an eye on the Shirley if you decide in favour of Chesterton, a couple of parents told me the current head is very good but approaching retirement so things could change.
Best of luck!
Chesterton seems perfect for you. NB that a really quite big area comes under that name so you'll want to visit and get a feel for the different bits. The feel of the neighbourhood can change from one street to the next. Don't write off Arbury and Kings Hedges totally -- there are small bits of each I might not choose but really I don't think anywhere you might spend £500k on a family house is bad. Arbury Primary is really lovely with a fantastic head. Colleges Nursery School (a state preschool next to Arbury Community Centre) is truly fantastic, though the wraparound care hours are unlikely to work for a London commuter.
Histon/Impington might also be worth a look.
Thank you all for all your input!
We went to Cambridge to view some flats/houses last Saturday and to get a feel of the city/village. We saw some near the centre and one in Waterbeach. The feeling is the city is bustling, e.g. Newmarket Road with lots of traffic. Is it always like this in that road? But the area to the south of Midsummer Commons is nice. We particularly went to Waterbeach to see the surrounding. The feeling is there aren't many things there, i.e. a little quiet. Perhaps I am wrong or missing something?
So, we are still undecided. We haven't been able to visit Chesterton though, will do so. We are now also open for Trumpington. It's a little far south for Science Park, but would the guided bus be a good solution? They said there will be a new primary school starting this year, but we are not sure if it is going to be a good school since it is so new. Any insiders' news here?
Thank you so much in advance!
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