Newly pregnant and moving houses. Best areas for families with a infant?

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akrim
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Newly pregnant and moving houses. Best areas for families with a infant?

Postby akrim » Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:53 pm

Hello, 
My partner and I are expecting our first baby and are looking to move to the SW area! 
We want to rent a flat or house for a year first to see how we like the area, and potentially buy something later.
What are some good areas for a couple with a new baby? 
What do you love/hate about the area you live in? 
Ideally walking distance from a set of restaurants, some greenery, fitness club/swimming pool etc.
Most of our friends are still childless, so we are looking to meet new parents like us as well. 
We don't care about school catchment areas for now. 
We have visited Clapham common, Wandsworth, Battersea etc but my head is still spinning! 
 
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VickySW18
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Re: Newly pregnant and moving houses. Best areas for families with a infant?

Postby VickySW18 » Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:16 pm

Congratulations! When are you due? We have lived in Earlsfield for the past 6 years and expecting our second child in October. I don’t think you can go far wrong in any of the “nappy valley” SW areas as there are so many families here! But I would certainly vouch for Earlsfield - Garratt Lane has a wealth of restaurants and cafes (the church has a really lovely community-run cafe very popular with mums and babies), not so many shops but Fara Kids is very handy for second-hand baby stuff, Wandsworth Common is very close as well as lots of smaller parks with great playgrounds for toddlers, lots of local baby classes, I used to go swimming at Tooting Leisure Centre which isn’t far but also did the post-natal gym classes at Enhance gym on Garratt Lane which was also great to meet other mums, plenty of yoga / Pilates classes around here too. Couldn’t be more happy with our daughter’s nursery too! Good luck with your search!
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SouthLondonDaddy
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Re: Newly pregnant and moving houses. Best areas for families with a infant?

Postby SouthLondonDaddy » Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:16 am

The first thing I'd mention is that 3/4 of the people you ask will tell you that wherever they live is great, that they couldn't see themselves living anywhere else etc etc, and they will blatantly lie on their commute time, which probably takes twice as long as what they'll tell you. I lived abroad and didn’t notice this as much abroad, whereas here I have NEVER, not once, heard anyone saying: “I moved to X because I couldn’t afford Y; the commute sucks but at least I have managed to afford a nice house”. Anyway…

What's your budget? Not just to rent but also to buy, unless you are happy renting somewhere now then moving to a different area to buy?

Where do you work, what are your transport needs?

Do you have a car?

Do you want an area where you can do without one?


How far west do you want to consider? Up to Putney or also Sheen Richmond etc?

My two cents is this: In all these areas I would avoid newbuilds like the plague. Newbuild flats, even if with garden, are too expensive vs older houses, come with huge management charges over which you have no control (and which could therefore increase at a crazy pace), and are generally not what British families look for. If you look up sold prices on right move you’ll see many newbuild flats have been sold either at a loss or at a much smaller gain than older houses (eg a flat appreciated by 3% when houses appreciated by 15%).

A good thing about the train services in most of these areas is that they are very frequent, and you can often go to the station as if it were the tube, ie without even checking the timetable. This can make a big difference, because if you live in an area where trains are every 10 minutes, if one train gets cancelled and the next delayed, it starts to add up. Also, there are many train lines that converge at Wimbledon or Balham, so there is an element of redundancy: if one line has a problem you still have other lines which are running. If you live somewhere with only one line, good luck for your commute.

As for areas: in general, all the areas below have good access to parks. You need to think if you want an area from which you don’t need a car (Balham and Wimbledon are better than Southfields and Earslfield for this), and which transport link is more important (district line, train to Waterloo, train to Victoria).

Southfields and Earlsfield: the locals will feel offended, but I dare think the high streets suck - there is little to nothing, not even a big supermarket (you need a car to go to one) BUT there is a lot nearby, from Wimbledon, which you can reach by public transport, to the Southside shopping center, for which you most likely need a car. Whether the Earlsfield train to Clapham Junction and Waterloo or the Southfields district line is more useful depends on where you need to go. That branch of the district line is neither fast nor frequent, so if you have to get to, say, the City, it might actually be quicker from Earlsfield. If you have to get to Earls court - Chelsea then the district line is better.

Wimbledon: the best of both world with both the district line and the train. Very lively in terms of shops restaurants etc (at least pre-covid). I like the neighbourhood but find houses a bit too expensive for my budget. Some people don't like the fact that it's farther away from the centre.

Balham: the high street has a bit more than Southfields and Earslfield but there is less nearby. You can get to big supermarkets without a car but shopping centres are farther away. Having both the tube and the train is good but the tube used to get extremely crowded at rush hour. Balham is on the line to Victoria, not to Waterloo like Wimbledon and Earslfield - which is more useful depends on where you need to go. 

Putney: being close to the river is great, Wandsworth park is very nice, the high street is nice and lively, but the proximity to a river crossing means the area is always busy with traffic, especially since they closed Hammersmith bridge (and it doesn't seem like it will be reopened any time soon). It has train and tube.

Battersea park: I personally don't like it. The park is great, but the new developments cost crazy money, and older houses are too expensive for what you get, because there are many dodgy areas around and because transport options are very limited for now. Most trains pass by Battersea park station without stopping, and busses take forever.

Wandsworth common: beautiful park, but non-existent high-street, and, like Battersea park, most trains pass by without stopping.

Wandsworth town: limited high street, similar to Earlsfield and Southfields, good transport options by train, access to parks slightly worse than from other areas (unless you count Bramsford gardens).

Clapham common / Clapham North: maybe more popular with childless people in their 20s and 30s than with families. Transport isn't great because the tube used to get incredibly busy pre-covid.

Clapham Junction / Northcote rd: Clapham Junction station has excellent transport links, with very frequent trains to Victoria and to Waterloo. The Northcote rd high street is, I find, very nice, and is between the commons, but if you want to be close to Northcote rd and the local schools, you are probably at least 15 minutes away on foot from the station. If you are closer to the station you are farther from the schools...
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Danishmum3
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Re: Newly pregnant and moving houses. Best areas for families with a infant?

Postby Danishmum3 » Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:43 pm

Congratulations! I would suggest battersea park. The park is great with nice playgrounds and cafes..also battersea itself is full of activities for babies and toddlers (at least pre COVID) and you can easily walk to Chelsea with all its shops and restaurants. I am personally a fan of the new builds around the park..yes they are pricey but they really worth every penny, the quality of living is much higher in my opinion. Anyway good luck with your choice!
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SouthLondonDaddy
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Re: Newly pregnant and moving houses. Best areas for families with a infant?

Postby SouthLondonDaddy » Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:44 pm

May I ask why you find they are worth every penny? 

To each their own, of course, whether you like a property or not is subjective, however there are a number of non-subjective things potential buyers must be aware of before buying, especially if they have never bought before (the OP might buy in the near future), and management charges are a biggie. In the rest of the civilised world, if you buy a flat you have a say in who manages the building; if the building managers double their prices for no reason, or give jobs to sister companies at inflated prices, you fire them. Here, with the beautiful feudal heritage that is the leasehold, and which is unheard of in most of the world (even Scotland got rid of it), in most cases you have no say whatsoever. I know people in East London whose management charge went from £2,500 to £ 4,000 overnight, and their only recourse is an expensive litigation. I went from paying over £ 2k a year between ground rent and management charge for a tiny flat (in a building with no concierge, no garden, no lift, no anything) to paying ca. £330 per year of insurance for a much, much bigger freehold house. Over time, it adds up.

Of course if you cannot afford a house, or if you decide the flat has other pros which outweigh this, fair enough, but, in my experience, many first time buyers do not fully appreciate that they have practically zero control against inflated management charges.
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Danishmum3
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Re: Newly pregnant and moving houses. Best areas for families with a infant?

Postby Danishmum3 » Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:39 pm

It is about quality of life..yes management charge is high but you do get great facilities (gym, pool, etc) plus concierge and security..with a house you don’t get any of this..not to mention there is the management which deals in your place for every issue you might encounter (noisy neighbor, etc..)
Yes of course all of this does come with a price
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SouthLondonDaddy
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Re: Newly pregnant and moving houses. Best areas for families with a infant?

Postby SouthLondonDaddy » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:49 am

@danishmum3, and how much do you pay for the management charge? Has it gone up over the years?
I know of many newbuilds without a pool where the charge is easily between £2.5k - £4k, without a pool, and with a separate fee if you want to access the gym. I imagine you are not paying less than £4k?

@OP, other areas which I am not a big fan of but you might want to explore are Tooting and Streatham. In terms of transport links, Streatham is probably worse than most other locations mentioned, but it also tends to be a bit cheaper.
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fishflower79
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Re: Newly pregnant and moving houses. Best areas for families with a infant?

Postby fishflower79 » Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:28 am

I live in Southfields and think it’s amazing with a baby. The community is incredible and there are so many families with young children. If you can get a house on one of the Grid streets there is an incredible community FB page called a Grid Mummies where everyone shares info, gives away/sells stuff and generally helps one another. You’re a close walk to Wimbledon Park which is lovely for kids and Wimbledon. Village is only a 20 min walk with the pram. It feels very safe with no groups of kids hanging around street corners like some other areas, and it’s also pretty quiet in terms of plane noise (much quieter than Putney or Barnes). There is good housing stock. The houses in the Grid are really pretty. It’s also cheaper than Clapham or Wandsworth. The high street is small but has one of everything you could need really. And it’s so quick to Wimbledon if you want proper shopping. There are tons of baby groups too. Southfields is on the district line but if you live on the earlsfield side you can walk to Earlsfield station (15 mins to Waterloo). Can’t rate it highly enough!
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JosephGraham
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Re: Newly pregnant and moving houses. Best areas for families with a infant?

Postby JosephGraham » Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:40 pm

congratulations!! you should check out areas with not so big population and a friendly neighbourhood
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