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16 June 2010 @ 01:00 am
Help, please!  
Hello! I know this community hasn't been used in well over a year now, but maybe someone will read this and be able to offer me some advice.

First, some information about me: I'm a 25 year old Canadian teacher. I live in Toronto and have never been to the UK (or anywhere in Europe, for that matter) before. I've been looking into teaching jobs in England for the past couple of months, having heard that there is a shortage of teachers over there (we have the exact opposite problem here at the moment). Last week, I was offered a job at a high school in Roade.

Now, I know that Roade is a very small community, and I've always been a city girl, but I figure this is all about new experiences and all that, so I think I'm willing to give it a try. I've been looking things up a bit online; I understand that Roade is quite close to both Milton Keynes and Northampton, and so I'm considering my options. Ideally, I would like to live in one of those two places, and then commute to work in Roade every day. But reading about a place you've never been to before can only tell you so much, and obviously, this is a big decision that I don't want to make without knowing exactly what I'm getting myself into. I'd really like to get a feel for things from some people who are actually familiar with the area.

So...is there anyone out there who is familiar with the area and can tell me a bit more about it? Mainly, I'd like to know about living expenses, what there is to do, how reliable public transportation is, and how long it takes to get to London and other major cities by train. Also, if by chance you are familiar with both Milton Keynes and Northampton and can sort of tell me how they differ, in terms of culture, lifestyle, and so on, you'd be immensely helpful in allowing me to figure out if one would be a better fit for me over the other.

I don't really have a whole lot of time to make the decision - I told the school I'd get back to them by tomorrow, or the next day at the latest! - and at this point, the only thing that's making me hesitate is the fact that it's in such a small community. (Besides that, everything else about the school seems great to me.) Like I said, I've always lived in large(ish) cities here in Canada, so I'm a little nervous about the prospect of working in a town as small as Roade, and living in either Milton Keynes or Northampton. I just don't want to be bored out of my mind, especially since I won't know anyone at all when I first move.

Any information, honest opinions, and words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.
nicnac: Huh?nicnac on June 16th, 2010 09:23 am (UTC)
I can help you with some of those questions. Roade isn't far from me and the school has a really good reputation; one of my old neighbours moved house so his daughter fell within the catchment area.

Roade itself is pretty small and if you're a city girl I don't think you'd want to live there. So, onto MK and Northampton. I personally don't like MK, but I'll try to be objective. It is a new town and was laid out on a grid system, with a gazillion roundabouts. All the amenities are clustered into types, so there is a big mall for the shops, a food area for restaurants, an entertainment section with a snowslope and cinema and bars etc., it doesn't have a traditional British high street. I can't clue you up on public transport as I don't use it, but I know that buses from MK to my village are scarce, so I don't know how frequently they'd run to Roade. The train station is thoughtfully located a mile from the shopping area. It's very green and has lots of underpasses to walk through, which I think was the architects' version of a utopia in the sixties, but back in the real world they can be quite scary to walk through at night.

Northampton is laid out along much more traditional lines and has a high street and is less bland. There's a market in the town square (might be daily, but I'm not sure) and everything is much more accessible if you're on foot. I haven't spent much time there, so I don't know what it offers for entertainment beyond the usual restaurants, bars, cinema etc. Overall I think Northampton might be a better choice if you're without transport; however, MK might offer more in the way of entertainment. I have heard that some parts of Northampton can be quite rough (although the same can be said for MK).

You can reach London in 45 mins from either train station. It is easier to get to Birmingham from Northampton. If you need to look at accommodation prices, check out rightmove.

Hope that helps!
april tuna: laurynallhookedup on June 16th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, it definitely helps! Thanks so much for all the info. (And I don't mind at all that you weren't being totally objective because that's kind of what I need at this point: people's first-hand experiences and opinions!)

Also, that's really good to know that things in Northampton are more accessible by foot. I should have mentioned that I do walk a lot in Toronto - part of the reason why I love living downtown is because everything here is within walking distance, so I rarely take transit unless I'm going somewhere further. So that definitely goes in the Pros column for Northampton. Thanks!
april tuna: laurynallhookedup on June 16th, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, and that's a relief to hear that the school has a good rep! A friend of mine who supply taught in the UK told me that some of the schools she was at were really rough and the kids were tougher than they are in Canada, so I was a little apprehensive.
nicnac: Huh?nicnac on June 16th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
You find that more in inner city schools, so you've made a good choice selecting one in the sticks :o) I think it has a swimming pool too.

This webpage shows a map of all bus service in northants (Roade is directly under the block in the centre) and this webpage shows timetables, you can key in Northampton to Roade. I expect the bus service to be better between N'hampton and Roade than between MK and Roade because the former are in the same county, whereas MK is in Bucks, but I could be wrong.
april tuna: laurynallhookedup on June 16th, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC)
Perfect! Thank you.