Thinking of moving to Whitstable?

Recently I’ve had a few lovely people get in touch with me here on LITB or via Twitter to ask me lots of questions about living in Whitstable so I thought it might be helpful if I outline the main answers here for anyone to read.

When we were in London we both worked full time and my eldest went to nursery, (so lovely, so expensive) 2 bus journeys/40 minutes from where we lived. Taking and collecting him was the worst part of each of our day.

Since we now had one child (and another on the way) we no longer went out all the time and enjoyed all London had to offer. Yes, we could see our friends easily if they came to us. Yes. we went to Broadway Market every weekend. And yes, fashionable hairdressers and flat whites were easy to come by. These were all good things. But we mostly went to work, collected Nate and went home. And we lived in a little 2 bed flat on a main road with no garden. We wanted more space. We wanted a proper place for our kids to have a childhood.

So far the things we love about living here:

Community – it is properly and unexpectedly amazing. Friends just pop in for tea, or you pop round there and your kids will have mates who live in their streed that they run around with and get sweaty and overtired with and drink Ribena with on summers evenings. You will have friends who understand the demands of family life and will offer to drive you to hospital in the middle of the night if you or your partner goes into labour. They’ll miss you if you go out of town for a week. That is cool.

Food – East Kent is a really foodie place. Kent is the garden of England so there is lots of brilliant produce that comes from here, loadsa farms where you can stop (at this time of year) for new season asparagus and strawberries. We have proper local butchers selling meat from local farms like Monkshill Farm. We have great Cafes like Windy Corner Stores and The Beach Cafe. There are fab restaurants and I don’t mean like, fab for the provinces I mean like fab for the New York Times. There are Supper Clubs galore from our very own community supper club to the very talented Emma Wilcox’s. We have the utterly lovely Sportsman (Michelin starred) and I haven’t even got round to Margate with the best burgers in East Kent at Fort’s, innovative Indian at The Ambrette and gourmet Pizza at GB Pizza.

Beach – We swapped a 2 bed flat in Dalston for a house by the sea. We are about 3 minutes away. This means when it is sunny we go to the beach. We go when it is cold and windy too. Before school. After school. In the day. In the evening after supper. I run there. The kids play there. And in case you are wondering it does not get tired. They ALWAYS want to go to the beach. We have pebbly beaches here in Whitstable and round the coast in Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate they have sandy beaches.

Creativity – This is going to be a bit waffly sorry. Basically lots of people who live here are arty and creative. By “here” I mean Whitstable but also East Kent. This means creative businesses like Margo Selby Textiles and Cloth Ears are based here not to mention lots of painters and photographers. Also lots entrepreneurs, people who want to have a better balance between family and business come here to set up a different type of life, check out East Kent Mum and Catriona Campbell to see what I mean. East Kent has even launched a bid for European City of Culture 2017!

Ok so there is the prosaic stuff. The nitty gritty now:

Commute – The commute is tough. Dylan gets up every day at 6 and is out of the house soon after 7 to get the 7.25, this is the latest of the “fast” trains from Whitstable in the morning. This means it takes 1 hour 11 minutes to St Pancras direct. Miss that and he has to change at Faversham and it takes at least 1.5 hrs. The latest fast train back in the evening is at 6.25pm otherwise same deal. This means he often sees the kids for about 5 minutes in the morning and he comes home after their bedtime. TOUGH. It is also very expensive. Somewhere in the region of £5k per year. However, the train he gets is really nice and he always gets a seat. He tells me that he enjoys the downtime. I get a bit jealous of his hour of peace each day. Many people I know have said that the commute is more pleasant than commuting from one side of London to another.

Schools & Pre-schools – In Whitstable there is a great selection of pre-schools, childminders and primary schools. Go on the fab Whitstable Mum site to find out more. They also give details on all of the (many and varied) drop in classes, parent and toddler groups and all that good stuff. I’m really happy with Nate’s pre-school. After primary the schools aren’t quite as good – there are two middle schools in Whitstable and reports from Mums I know here is that one is good and one is not. I have no personal experience of this though, welcome any comments from existing Whitstable Mums. Similarly, I have no experience of the one secondary comprehensive in Whitstable. Kent still has the whole complicated Kent test at 11 so my concern is that the clever kids go to the grammer schools in Canterbury and Faversham. Not sure I particularly love that.

Houses – We decided to rent when we first moved here and although that has been a drama I still think it was the right thing to do given we had to make our decision quite quickly (I was pregnant). The rental market is tough though, it is a very small market and good houses go very fast. The house we are in had 8 couples view it on day 1. So don’t assume that because it isn’t London it isn’t competitive. Buying is more normal I think, the market here is still very buoyant though compared to national picture. Lots of lovely houses from bigger places out in Chesterfield and Tankerton to lots of Victorian terraces in central Whitstable. If you want (a LOT) more house for your money consider Margate or Ramsgate as Whitstable isn’t cheap (though obviously cheaper than London).

I hope this is helpful. And please feel free to message me in the comments with any further questions. Whitstable Mums is a great resource too, and there is lots of chat daily about Whitstable goings on in their associated Facebook group.

22 Responses to "Thinking of moving to Whitstable?"

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  1. Clemmie

    May 7, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Horray! It’s like all my worries and woes all answered in one place! We came down yesterday and despite the crazy amount of people on the beach and ridiculous queues for Sundae Sundae we still loved it! Viewing a house this week in fact so fingers crossed!

    Reply
  2. Andrea

    May 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    …And breathe out. Clare, thank you very much for this x

    Reply
    • Clare

      May 9, 2013 at 7:24 am

      Andrea, I hope this helped with some of the questions you sent me directly? Did it? I’ve had a few emails very similar to yours recently so just wanted to publish something to direct everyone towards but please let me know if you have other questions!

      Reply
      • Andrea

        May 9, 2013 at 9:52 am

        It has answered them all brilliantly. I see a business for you here as a Whitstable fixer… Will definitely be back in touch with other questions if they arise (which I’m sure they will as we negotiate the house buying and nursery finding conundrums). Its great to feel there is a friendly soul out there with the knowledge, thank you! x

        Reply
  3. Nina Parmar

    May 8, 2013 at 5:25 am

    Love this! We are DFL’s (down from London) and currently live up in Beltinge. Always in Whitstable and love it. The community really is fantastic. Life has slowed down for us….less travel, more time with the kids! My daughter goes to a school with 80 children in the whole school. Yes, 80. (12 in her class)

    Reply
  4. Jac

    May 8, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Good blog post! There’s actually also a fair amount of home schoolers in Whitstable, and home school groups in Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable, if people are looking into that option. :o)

    Reply
    • Clare

      May 8, 2013 at 10:42 am

      Hi Jac, great point. I’d love to chat to you about that at some point. Would you be up for talking to me about it and then I could post about it here? Cx

      Reply
  5. Sammy

    May 8, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Slightly longer commute of 80mins but the fast trains for DEAL are also very good and you can even get one back home from St Pancras at 11.30pm if you want to spend the evening in London after work.

    Reply
    • Clare

      May 8, 2013 at 11:54 am

      Nice bonus Sammy. Loving the shout out for DEAL which will always be in capitals henceforth! Bonus on the direct late train. What other top DEAL tips can you give us?

      Reply
  6. Debbie

    May 9, 2013 at 6:55 am

    We are also DFL’s but have been living in whitstable now for 6 years. My girls are at a grammar school in Canterbury which we were concerned about first but they have had a lovely time there ! Whitstable is such a great place to live ! My husband also gets the train to London and spends very little time with the girls but we would never considered moving back ! Even my oldest is now enjoying living here ! Such a great insight into living in Whitstable you gave :) !!

    Reply
    • Clare

      May 9, 2013 at 7:15 am

      Hi Debbie,

      Thanks for your nice comments. Glad to hear you are still enjoying Whitstable after 6 years. Interesting to hear about the grammar school. Missing the kids is hard for anyone who has to commute but we figure (perhaps like you) that the trade off is worth it for us. Living here means one of us can stay home with them. Which we couldn’t have done in London. And the beaches. OH THE BEACHES!

      Cx

      Reply
  7. Rod

    May 9, 2013 at 8:13 am

    You’re absolutely doing the right thing Clare. We moved here 14 years ago with 2 very young kids. They went to the local RC primary and RC secondary in Canterbury. I commuted for 9 years up to Surrey in a bus and didn’t really see the house in daylight sometimes until the weekend. But, I now work from home (not as close to the sea as you but I have a view from my office)! Not so sure about the sense of community, it certainly isn’t as close as say Scotland but it’s what you put into it I guess..The other concern is about long term job opportunities for the kids (not much about here but I suppose they could join the rat race and do the commute if nothing appears locally). House affordability (for the kids) is also a concern. That said, on balance, we (all) are very happy here. There are some lovely walks, along the beach (check out the marshes up by the Sportsman, or in the woods/Blean/Clowes). We should also make more of being so close to France/Belgium but actually, there’s always something to do locally…it’s great to be able to walk into town or to the beach and not have to compete with all the others driving in and out in their cars…@rm867

    Reply
    • Clare

      May 9, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      Hi Rod,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and as I said on Twitter it is great to hear from someone who has been in Whitstable a while. And also nice to hear from a guy!

      When you lived in Scotland was it city/suburbs/rural? Just wondering? For me I guess the sense of community compared to London is pretty outstanding but then that is quite an extreme comparison. Interested to hear about other places.

      With kids, I guess for me I don’t expect my children will settle where we are. I imagine that like me they will go off to uni and then get a job in London or another city or travel and set up home someone else entirely so that aspect of things hadn’t even occurred to me but it is a great point. I think East Kent is changing a lot at the moment though so who knows in 10 or 15 years right?

      Love you recommendations too.

      Cx

      Reply
  8. Sharon

    May 9, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Hi,

    Glad you are enjoying life in Whitstable. I agree it is a great place to live.
    You mention the 2 middle schools in Whitstable. Just to set the record straight they are both good schools! Endowed is a small faith school and Whitstable Juniors is a large school taking kids from all backgrounds it is a very inclusive school. My son attends Whitstable juniors and he loves it! Ms Moody the headteacher is wonderful. There is alot of negative talk about the Juniors but I would say to any parent go and have a look round and make your own decision. Whitstable juniors has a great heart!
    Best wishes
    Sharon

    Reply
    • Clare

      May 9, 2013 at 11:31 am

      Hi Sharon,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and its great to hear that from someone who actually knows the school and its staff.

      We aren’t even at primary school stage so still lots to work out! I agree that you should always make your decision based on going into the school and looking around yourself.

      Cx

      Reply
  9. Veebs

    May 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    hi, this is really interesting reading. thank you! can you be REALLY honest with me wrt Ramsgate. I am hearing conflicting stories – chavtown with an undesirable rep / up and coming buzzy busy seaside town. ??!!
    Whitstable sounds so perfect but I would prefer someone a little more livelier given we will have two teenage girls by the time we move there and want a little bit more for them to do, if that makes sense. Ramsgate seems more for your money in more ways than one.
    If it were just hubbs and I we would opt for the pretty charms of whitstable!
    We woul love to get an honest opinion thanks so much x

    Reply
  10. Emma Wilcox

    September 3, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Thank you so much for the mention, in great company too :)

    Reply
  11. Helen stewart

    January 28, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Thanks for this blog – so useful! – we just did a trial run of living in whitstable (in north London ATM) lots to love, but (commute aside which is a bit long but not unpleasant) it does feel so quiet to me – is that just a living in London culture shock thing that fades, or a winter thing or just how it is? I would love to flexi-school (O H would take some convincing) so glad to hear about the HOme ed. side of things.

    Reply
  12. Gillespie

    February 9, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Interesting post.
    Alas, your commute is a bit much for me. It’s longer than I thought it’d be.
    OTOH, people who think dropping £700K on a crumbling tiny terrace in London puts them at the centre of the world and that it can’t possibly be good anywhere else really get on my tits. I’m not sure I can be around them forever.
    What you’ve done is great.

    Reply
    • Clare

      April 28, 2014 at 11:37 am

      Haha! Thanks for your support. The commute is tough – for us it is worth it but not for everyone.

      Reply
  13. Stephanie McVeigh

    March 25, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Hi There
    We are hoping to move to Whitstable in the summer and like you will rent for a year first. Are there any great estate agents that you can recommend or should we just work our way up the high street?
    Also Kids are 3 (reception in September) and 7, Year 3 in September. Are there any particular shools you think we should be looking to rent close to?
    Bit worried about our son finding new mates too although he is really socialble and so wondering if there are any summer clubs where perahps our 7 year old could get to know a few kids.
    Thank you very much!
    Steph

    Reply
    • Clare

      April 28, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Hi Stephanie,

      We are really lucky with lovely primary and infant schools so they are all good take a look around and go on instinct would be my advice.

      Christopher Hodgson are my number 1 estate agent. Really helpful and felt a lot more ethical than some I’d encountered before (mainly in London though) but as renting in Whitstable can be tricky (small rental market) you probably don’t get much of a choice who you go with.

      Good luck – join Whitstable Mums on FB (Not my group but very useful) for more mum chat and advice.

      Cx

      Reply

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