Very tentative research question this, but I'm looking for opinions on the pros and cons of living in the Bristol area for a middle-aged couple with 18-21 year old son, paying rent in the £800-£1300pcm range (a bit broad that, I know) and looking to be relatively close to the city centre but with an easy 'out' into the surrounding countryside. Cheers!
Having tried several, Bristol is one of the best cities to live in in the UK - just the right size, an easy trip to London or to the beaches in the south west, a really fun culture, quite alternative if you're into arty stuff. Also, the housing stock is excellent as although the docks and city centre were bombed in WWII, many of the surrounding houses survived and there are rows upon rows of attractive victorian and georgian properties. Good trips south to Cheddar, north to the Brecon Beacons, east to the chocolate boxy places like Lacock. Your son(s) will love it too for the thriving arts and music scene. 800 - 1300 should get you a nice place - we paid around 600 for a small 3 bed in Bedminster but you may find that's a bit too down at heel for your tastes.Pros: Great place to live, great shopping, attractive waterfront, interesting things to visit in the surrounding area and not too far from London and the coast. Very attractive city with hills and great views from them. An easy day trip to Bath. Cons: The city sprawls to the north but if you don't live there you don't need to visit. If you find work in the northern fringe though it is a horrible commute from the city. Like any city there are problems with drugs, crime etc but I never had any - it is very contained in certain areas. Still no big music / arena venue, the nearest realistically is the NEC in Birmingham. Public transport is inordinately expensive. Can be difficult to get out of the city with big pinch points on the M4 and M32 at weekends.I am struggling to think of somewhere near the city centre with easy access out again - realistically I don't think that's possible, although it's probably easier to get out to the south than the north, so perhaps you want to be in Southville? Your options for areas near to the city centre are (in order of my personal preference: - Southville - south of the river, a bit alternative, with a nice row of cafes and local shops. 20 minute walk to the city, great cycling access along the river. Slightly cheaper than north of the river. 1000pcm should get you a nice 3 bed place easily, possibly a 4 bed.Redland / Cotham - two very nice suburbs north of the river, more like a bus ride away from the city but very nice. Bit studenty but you have access to the fascinating Gloucester Road (a linear centre) with great cafes, local shops etc. Bit more expensive than Southville. Full of very large houses, you may find a flat in one would be big enough for you but for 1300 you could probably afford a whole house.Hotwells - at the bottom of the hill, full of extremely attractive georgian houses with scattered georgian squares. Close to the river and some great pubs. One disadvantage is the main road cuts it in half. Cheaper than Clifton and about a 25 minute walk into town.Clifton - Where everyone wants to live, but a bit full of students and much pricier than anywhere else. Houses and views are fabulous, if you can afford it I'm sure you'll love it. Clifton Village is the really nice end with designer shops, amazing houses and close access to the Gorge. You can also walk across the suspension bridge to Ashton Court estate which is a world away from the city. Clifton proper is more suburban but has nice shops on Whiteladies Road. Very studenty though which can get wearing. There's so much in Clifton you won't need to go to the city too much, but if you do it's really a bus ride or a 40 minute walk.Victoria Park / Windmill Hill / Totterdown - a sort of mini Clifton south of the river with views over the river, and very close to the main railway station Bristol Temple Meads. Much cheaper than anywhere north of the river but fewer facilities and a bit rough perhaps. About a 20 - 25 minute walk into the city.To be honest if I was middle aged and had 1000 pcm to spend I'd be looking at Redland. Southville would be my personal preference but I'm a bit younger with a bit less money and you may find it a bit edgy for your tastes. Clifton is a bit more upmarket but I personally can't stand the attitude that goes along with the money. Go and see it though, you will probably fall in love with the views on Royal York Crescent and have to have a place there!
ConmurfI'll throw a few more things into the mix following on from Beatlemanic's excellent post:Don't rule out north of the city - there are areas maybe seven or eight miles outside of the city centre with access to nice green space and close to the motorways (M4/M5) like Winterbourne and Thornbury. Bristol Parkway station is pretty close by and it's on the London mainline. Both have nice local shops and pubs. Slightly further out is Chipping Sodbury which is also worth a look at. My only concern with these places is that unless your son drives and has access to a car, he may struggle with the sporadic bus services. Closer to the centre (four miles north), the Frenchay area might be a good bet, again close to the M4/M5, bus services are more frequent, and there's a surprising amount of green space so close to the city. If you're not adverse to new housing developments, take a look at the estate on the old Stoke Park hospital site. I would concur with Beatlemanic on Redland also. Personally I'd avoid studenty areas as they tend to attract crime, particularly burglary.Bristol itself has changed a great deal over the last 10 years, thankfully for the better - the waterfront and the Cabot Circus shopping centre spring to mind. There are some good restaurants around now (although a lot of mediocre ones - happy to recommend some if anyone is interested) and some interesting events are held like the Balloon Fiesta and the Harbourside Festival. The arts/music scene is good (and often free!) and there's something for all tastes. There are cons however, the biggest being public transportation - it's rubbish - dirty, unreliable, and expensive. I can't stress enough how much of a disadvantage you will be at without a car in Bristol. Neither is it a cheap city if you don't do your research - prices for activities and entertainment are comparable to London in a lot of places.If you want to post a bit more detail on what you are looking for, I may be able to come up with some more ideas.Cheers,HP
If you want a 'virtual' look around, the central and North-western areas are on Google Streetviewhttp://maps.google.com/I've been to Bristol many times and I still haven't found the 'centre'...
Great stuff, thanks guys this is way more than I expected; or deserve for that matter, given that this is very much a tentative enquiry. First of all, I probably over-estimated the amount we’d have to spend, or be willing to spend, on rent. But there is a vague chance that we’ll have four incomes coming in for a short while so why not take advantage? But we’d probably eliminate Clifton straight off - been there, great place to visit but I think you pay over the odds for what you get. Southville sounds a nice alternative – one for the next recce, whenever that happens. We’re certainly not ruling the north of the city, though – have a friend in the Montpelier/St Andrews (?) area who’s positively aghast at the very idea of living south of the river, so that whole N/NE area will get plenty of consideration. We just fancy being closer to the centre of things for a while. Student areas? Definitely out!Surprised to read there’s no big music/arena venues – you must have a different definition of “big” than me beatlemanic because the Colston Hall and Academy are plenty big enough for the kind of thing we like (St George’s Hall and the pubs are more likely to be my regular musical haunts). Anyway, the whole music/arts scene is one of the big ticks for us.Disappointed to read that the public transport situation is poor – this backs up my wife’s one experience on the buses and my Bristolian friend’s views, which I’ve always taken with a pinch of salt in the past as he is very anti- the cycling lobby and blames them for everything. “Leisure” prices comparable to London? Yeah, noticed that, but as the Big Smelly Smoke is on our shortlist, we are anticipating some measure of pain in that regard.I’ll no doubt be back for more ideas if/when our views harden on the matter, so thanks for the offers on that.
I'd also suggest the Brislington area. On the A4 which gives easy access to the M32 (A4320), Bath and surrounding areas (A4), Wells and the south west including airport (A38 / A38). You can be in countryside within 15 minutes drive from Brislington / St Anne's. There is reasonable public transport down the A4 in the way of buses; it's about 30 mins walk to Temple Meads or 45 mins to the city centre depending on where you are. Parking nowhere near as bad as the Cotham / Redland / Clifton area. Look in the BS4 postcode area - Upper Knowle is also nice (this is not Knowle West).HTHInkyAnn
I'd also suggest the Brislington area. On the A4 which gives easy access to the M32 (A4320), Bath and surrounding areas (A4), Wells and the south west including airport (A38 / A38). You can be in countryside within 15 minutes drive from Brislington / St Anne's. There is reasonable public transport down the A4 in the way of buses; it's about 30 mins walk to Temple Meads or 45 mins to the city centre depending on where you are. Parking nowhere near as bad as the Cotham / Redland / Clifton area. Look in the BS4 postcode area - Upper Knowle is also nice (this is not Knowle West).HTHInkyAnn Took a look at Knowle at the weekend and was suprised at the disparity between house prices there and over in Bedminster/Southville. I know the latter is very trendy and all, but Knowle seemed really nice once you get 10 mins or so away from Wells Road and the handy but ugly-looking Broadwalk Shopping Centre. Maybe we just looked in the wrong Estate Agent windows (it was Sunday). Any thoughts?
Hi conmurfNo, there is a big discrepancy in prices and I believe it's down to two reasons:1. Bedminster / Southville was very VERY cheap until about 10 years ago (we bought our first house in Windmill Hill); suddenly the property North of the river started to become insanely expensive so all the commuters started to look South. Where do you get to? Southville. Oddly, Totterdown still hasn't quite gone up in the same way. However Southville / Bedminster has predominantly been bought up and rented by students and remained a bastion of local Bristolian families, which is placing a natural cap on prices. Personally I think that West Street and East Street in Bedminster are not that nice and I've never been comfortable walking around there as a single female. Windmill Hill went downhill once those two tower blocks started to be used to house prisoners and substance-abusers on release, as the crime rate shot up overnight. I think it's stabilised more recently though.2. "Knowle" has a very bad reputation, because of one specific part. Knowle West has (or certainly used to) the reputation of somewhere where you can only get a cash purchase, and only then if you want to be broken into / have your house torched / your car nicked etc. Knowle West is suburban hell, IMHO, but is also quite a bit further out of the city centre. There was a also a hitch in the stamp duty when it was re-visited and a couple of streets in (nice) Upper Knowle received the stamp duty exemption for run-down areas: Oakmeade Park was one of these, and a friend of mine bought a gorgeous ground floor flat there for peanuts.Upper Knowle on the other hand, although it has that terribly ugly shopping centre, has the lwide eafy green avenues and is rather lovely. I lived there for several years and still have friends living in the area. Be aware that parking can be an issue, as not many of the houses have separate garages, so do check any particular roads in the evening once the commuters are home. I would counsel against looking beyond Airport Road / Callington Road, as the Callington Road and West Town Lane traffic lights are a really bad traffic hotspot every morning and evening.Around Broadwalk you have a post office, NHS dentist, central doctor's surgery, supermarket, video shop, take-aways, several parks, library and quite a good community spirit. Also good bus links. A little further towards the city centre you have the fantastic A Capella Italian / deli / pizzeria - fantastic for both take-out and eat-in. You can also walk from there to the big 24-hr Tesco on Airport Road if you need something not catered for locally.Now you can tell I'm biased: I think the area is lovely. Beware of the houses on the Wells Road itself simply because it's so busy!The area between the A37 and the A4 has some lovely properties, and just the other side of the A4 in Brislington (in particular the triangle formed by the A4, Sandy Park Road and Wick Road) has equally lovely properties but for a few thousand pounds less than the equivalent properties in Upper Knowle. There is a good range of local services on Sandy Park Road, and the Sainsburys at the bottom of the hill.Anyway, HTH and you're enjoying your house-hunting in Bristol. Do feel free to email me offboard if you have any questions.InkyAnn
we're planning to move to bristol this summer.we have 3 young children.any suggestions where to rent?thanks.
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