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Choosing a house and school in Bucks from a Winnebago in Yellowstone Park

The Initial Enquiry

We enjoy a challenge at Chiltern Relocation and one of our latest home finding quests certainly kept us on our toes.  An English family based in California asked for our help in finding them a home and schools for their children in Bucks…. but without ever viewing the schools or homes themselves…they would be totally reliant on our viewings and recommendations.
So here was the brief:
• Find a family home within catchment for their children
• Find state school places for both children
• Be located close to commuting routes
• Help to take the ultimate decision in choice of school and home as the family would be unable to view homes or schools in person.

How we helped

When it comes to finding schools and a home it is a chicken and egg situation: you can’t apply for a school place unless you have an address within catchment but you also cannot guarantee a place at a school if you live within catchment.
For example we found some fantastic rental homes within catchment of outstanding primary schools but discovered that the schools had long waiting lists for places.

When it comes to school places, Bucks County Council oversee all the school waiting lists and will only consider an application with a residential address in the catchment area. The council ask that the parents write to them directly via a lengthy application process.
To try and get around this stumbling block we spoke to a lot of admissions staff at a huge number of schools within Bucks to gauge whether there was likely to be a space in the classes required in September 2014.  If we found there were school places available we could start to look at potential rental homes within catchment.

The family were also keen to choose a location where they would be able to afford to buy a decent four/five bedroom house once they had settled in so this ruled out a number of towns such as Amersham and Beaconsfield. The two main areas that the family liked  – and where there was the possibility of school places and a future house purchase – were Chesham and Great Missenden.
Chesham boasted a number of Outstanding OFSTED rated primary schools but a dearth of family homes to rent within catchment.  With the clock ticking to secure both home and schools we widened the search to Great Missenden.

The Problems we Faced

Meanwhile Chiltern Relocation were out viewing houses within catchment areas and putting together reports to send to the family stateside.  Sharing potential school suggestions and housing options was done via email and SKYPE.  However the family were enjoying a road trip around California before moving back to the UK and internet reception was patchy.  We would often wait days for a response to a potential house and in such a fast moving market the house would be gone by the time we received any feedback.

Many of the schools in our clients chosen villages are divided into infant schools and junior schools.  This further complicated our search as it would mean the children would have to attend different schools.  However the excellent Great Missenden School would be able to accommodate both…or so we thought.  According to the school there was only space for the older child so it was back to the drawing board for the younger sibling. As luck would have it the brilliant Hyde Heath Infant School in the next village thought they might be able to find a place for the younger child.

Confident as we could be that school places were available, we pushed on to find a suitable family home within catchment.  Chiltern Relocation viewed a number of homes on the family’s behalf and found a four bedroom, two bathroom home with a decent garden within catchment of both of the primary schools.  We emailed a report to the Winnebago and got the thumbs up to precede on the families behalf and they would wire across a deposit straight away.

Conclusion

Just when all pieces of the jigsaw had seemingly fallen into place we hit another problem.  The house would not be available until the days before the children started their new schools.  Keen to get settled in the UK and feel at home before starting school the family were now uncertain as to whether this house would be the one for them.  However after careful consideration they came to the realisation that the home was worth waiting for given how difficult it had been to juggle all the moving parts.

Once the rental contract was signed, a swift application followed to Bucks County Council to secure the school places and the family stayed with friends until they got the keys to their new home.  We are delighted to hear that the children love their new schools and the family are settled in their new home and location.
This was certainly one of our more interesting home finding remits!

Clients Comments

“We hired Chiltern Relocation this summer to help us relocate our young family to Buckinghamshire. Despite doing everything remotely via Skype from the US, they developed a very clear understanding of what we were looking for and exercised impeccable judgement on our behalf. They thought of everything and was highly proactive in pushing things along for us, including (critically) advising us on which schools had places available. Most importantly, success: we’re delighted with the house and the location! We would recommend Chiltern Relocation without hesitation”.

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Philip Cooper

Philip Cooper

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