Obviously the first question that came to our minds when we decided that the kids were definitely going to be schooled in Wembley was “God, were are we going to live?”. Staying in Clapham was a no go sadly, as I did not fancy a four-hour daily commute (drop the kids in the morning, come back home, pick-them up in the afternoon, come back home); and we couldn’t send them on their own given their ages. I did my usual checklist to select possible areas: 1/ has to be on a reliable tube (not train) line; 2/ no more than 15mn walk to the tube station; 4/ no more than 45 commute to work for my husband, all included. Also we knew we were fully ready to go farther from central London, to be able to easily reach the countryside for bike ride, runs and walks and all kinds of outdoor activities; and we were very keen to get a large house with a large garden.
So the shortlist for us was: Wembley Park, Northwood, Pinner, Harrow-on-the-Hill, Stanmore. So there I went, walking around the areas, timing the tube and car journeys, checking the crime stats on the MET website. Wembley Park came first as replicating our 5-minute walk to school was my target; but housing failed us (long story…). So second was Stanmore, housing failed us as well but we persisted and finally moved in, 2 days before school started.
Here is a short compilation of my views on Stanmore. Do not hesitate to add to these comments are we are very new to the area so not very knowledgeable…
How to get there? Stanmore Station is the North end of the Jubilee line, in zone 5, 10-mn train Journey to Wembley, 20-mn to Baker Street. There is a very large car park next to the station (£5/day in the week, £2/day at weekends).
What does it look like? Stanmore is much more like a leafy and affluent North-American suburbs than a traditional London borough, with large houses of different architectural styles on large plots of land. The town is quite spread about so sadly a car is essential. The joy of it though is that it is surrounded by parks and woods (Bentley Priory, Stanmore Country Park).
Who lives there? Not many families with young children but instead rather affluent families with older children (due to a number of excellent private schools nearby); and older people. Ethnically, there are many well established Indian and Jewish families and very few “new” European immigrants (and indeed very few French people).
Which schools? There is an extensive choice of state and private schools. On the state (i.e. free) side, Whitchurch Primary School (www.whitchurchprimary.co.uk) and Stanburn Primary School (www.stanburn.harrow.sch.uk ) are both rated “Outstanding” (best possible rating) by Ofsted. On the private side, North London Collegiate, Haberdashers’ Aske’s, St. Margaret’s Bushey are very highly rated and provide both primary and secondary education. Stanmore Montessori is a nursery for 2 to 5 year-olds, also rated Outstanding by Ofsted. And of course the Lycee International de Londres Winston Churchill is only a 15-minute drive away.
Where to shop and eat? Stanmore High Street, although not charming, is very practical with a large Sainsbury’s and a Lidl, three chemists, a post office, a florist, a butcher, two bakers, a butcher, several banks, hairdressers and beauty parlours. As for cafes and restaurants, there are a wide number of independent coffee shops and restaurants, as well as so chains restaurants (Cafe Nero, Prezzo, Pizza Express) – I particulary like Delisserie off the High Street; and The Alpine towards Elstree.
What to do ? Absolute LOADS of activities, many of them outdoor. Tennis: www.elmstennisclub.co.uk; horse riding: www.stanmore-riding-school.co.uk; rugby: www.pitchero.com/clubs/harrow; cricket: www.stanmorecc.hitscricket.com); golf: www.stanmoregolfclub.co.uk; scouts: www.stanmorecc.hitscricket.com); ballet: www.vanniekerkacademyofdance.co.uk. And so much more…