After over three years of planning to move to Cornwall (from Kent), we have well and truly decided we are not buying a house there. It is simply too expensive – ridiculously so if you’re after an old place with beams and inglenooks like I am. (Not so bad if you’re after a new build). Our problem is we need somewhere big enough for two of us to work from home. Anyway, after so long researching and house-hunting, I can offer a bit of advice if you’re planning on relocating to Cornwall and aren’t sure of areas.
We were looking within a 10 mile radius of Mitchell; a village bang in between Newquay and Truro. We chose there for several reasons – the main one being the ofsted reports on secondary schools. Elsewhere in the county they just don’t come up to scratch. Therefore prices are severely effected by catchment areas. This is mostly so of St Austell where you have one very good school and one blimmin’ awful school. E-mail the county council and they’ll kindly send you maps showing the vital red lines. And they go in strange directions too – the amount of times I thought I’d finally found a house big enough and that we could afford, only to find it was outside the catchment area. It may in fact be easier to move after your kids are 11 because although Richard Lander School in Truro is usually over-subscribed for the start of yr7; when I last checked, three spaces had become available.
Really, if you’re not near Truro, you’re not near anywhere in Cornwall. It’s the only place with the facilities you really need for a family and certainly if you want a job in the county. It’s a very nice city; apart from the traffic, which I suppose is what you’d expect. We subscribed to the paper for some time, and crime is so low, they actually report when a car wing mirror has been knocked off! Good shops; good big supermarkets; good schools (though watch out for the not-so-good primary on the East side of the city); a college with good facilities; a leisure centre (though we’ve never tried that one out); a theatre, small cinema and enough pubs and restaurants.
Newquay has a much nicer feel. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed and of-course the surf is first class. The only down-side is that you have to put up with the summer tourists. I wouldn’t buy any of the Victorian terraced houses because half of them are B&Bs for the stag and hen nights and I doubt you’d get a good night’s sleep at weekends. Alcohol induced crime is higher here, but the council are very good at dealing with it. Extra police wonder the streets in summer and the litter and mess is cleaned up before the shops open the next morning. Burglary and more serious crimes are much lower than national averages. Good schools; shopping is limited to either cool surfy clothes or market-style chavvy shops, though it does have an excellent Woolworths; good swimming pool; good skate park and lovely beaches.
Redruth is not a particularly desirable area, with high unemployment and high teenage pregnancies, but once you’re up to St Ives, prices go up again due to the artistic desirability and good surfing (Can’t remember what the school was like there though). Any further west and unfortunately you’re just too far from anything apart from the sea. It’s so pretty, but you’d need to travel an hour round tiny roads for a WH Smith. Or even a post office these days.
Falmouth. We never seriously considered here. Although it attracts up-market tourists for the water sports; out of season the area is a little down-class. (Sorry to sound snobby, bit these are the things people want to know when they’re moving). The secondary schools aren’t great and I gather there’s a problem with teenagers with nothing to do. There’s a leisure centre with a good play-pool, but it shuts ridiculously early – I think it was about 6 or 7pm when we went.
We found lots of lovely areas to live, but with something practical wrong with them for families. Eg. Camelford looked really nice, but for a decent 6th form or college you had to travel right the way down to the south coast. We nearly bought in Perranwell Station, but although outside the catchment area, most kids went to Richard Lander school, which was great till we discovered they catch the bus at 7:30am to get there. If you’re not too fussy about the style of the house, I would recommend buying in a village between Newquay and Truro; we didn’t find one that we weren’t happy with. Mitchell, Summercourt, Quintrell Downs, Shortlanesend, Threemilestone, Goonhavern are all well placed and reasonably priced and we were happy to live there. You do have to be prepared to drive a lot, just like you would I suppose with any village. I never came to a conclusion on St Columb, St Columb Major and Fraddon. They seemed fine on the surface, but I’m sure there must be a reason why houses were so much cheaper there!
Unless you’re a millionaire or are happy to stand at a certain angle on one leg on the toilet; don’t expect a sea-view anywhere in Cornwall.
I hope I have been of assistance.