Author Topic: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrogate?  (Read 2448 times)

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MommyPenguin

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RAF Menwith Hill or Harrogate?
« on: June 26, 2013, 04:50:53 PM »
Can anybody tell me anything about the base, or the area around it?  My husband might possibly end up being transferred there after his current assignment (U.S. military), and while the idea of being stationed in England is pretty exciting, it's also a bit unnerving (nothing about the UK, just it being another country, you know).  My impression is that European houses tend to be smaller... what are the local houses like?  We have 4 kids and could possibly have 5 by the time we move.  So we need enough space, not just to live in but also to store clothes between kids, toys, and since we homeschool, a ton of books and supplies.  We're currently living in a house that is 4 bedrooms and about 1800 sq. ft., but we're planning to rent out the basement so we have maybe 1200 that we're living in, plus a garage and shed.  It's on about 1/4 acre with woods and a playground behind it.

We're not really the type to go out a whole lot, as we barely even make it to a movie or two a year.  So as for "what's around" I'm more interested in things like libraries and playgrounds.  We homeschool, so the school system doesn't matter.

I guess I'm mostly wondering about what the area is like, what the cost of living might be, etc.  Can we get a house that we'll fit in without breaking the bank?  Etc.  I know gas is a lot more expensive... anybody know how other utilities compare?
« Last Edit: June 27, 2013, 12:16:30 AM by MommyPenguin »

camlan

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Re: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrowgate?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2013, 10:20:35 PM »
How exciting! The Army sent my family to Germany and South Korea when I was little. I had to make it to England on my own.

There will be plenty of assistance to help you get settled and find a place to live, so don't worry too much. Although I can't blame you for wanting to do some research. 

This link has some good info to start with: http://newpreview.afnews.af.mil/501csw/newcomerstips/index.asp

There are seven kids in my family and they managed to find quarters for us in South Korea where we would all fit. The life of a military brat--living in a literal mansion with 8 bedrooms and a music room and a sun porch and servants' quarters in Philadelphia, then moving to a cinder block quonset hut in Pusan with rat poison containers dotted around outside, both military quarters.

My brother was stationed in Istanbul where there really isn't a US base, but there was someone at the US consulate who assisted newcomers with the military and State Department in finding places to live. There's usually an office that has a list of landlords who have a proven track record--sometimes the same house just keeps getting rented by new US service personnel coming in.
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MommyPenguin

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Re: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrowgate?
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2013, 10:50:37 PM »
You're right, Camlan!  I'm sure they will help if we do end up stationed there.  The reason I'm wondering, really, is because it's entirely optional whether he goes there or not.  In fact, it will probably mean cutting our current tour short, meaning I won't actually get to live in one place for a whole glorious four years (which I was looking forward to... we've been averaging 10 months).  So I wanted to get an idea of whether this was something we'd *want* to do.  While, as he pointed out, I've always said I'd love to go to England, I was thinking for a vacation.  Two years is a different story (especially cutting into my precious four years of staying in one place, one place that happens to be near both sets of grandparents and free babysitting/grandparent love).   That's why I'm thinking, you know, what would it mean.  What kind of house opportunities, etc.  Since I homeschool, we're in the house all day and so the house is really important to me.  Yes, of course, if the military tells us that we *must* move somewhere or other, off I go to pack and no complaining (or, I will try not to).  But since this is purely an opportunity, I wanted to get an idea of what it would mean.

veryfluffy

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Re: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrowgate?
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2013, 12:12:27 AM »
If you look on one of the property websites, eg www.rightmove.co.uk or www.zoopla.co.uk, you can get an idea of properties available (I'm guessing you want to rent, not buy).

For instance, around Harrogate it seems you can get an ordinary 4 bed semi-detached (we don't measure properties in sq feet, but count the bedrooms and reception rooms instead) for around £1000 per month. Four-bedroom detached houses with gardens seem to start at around £1400 per month, eg http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-to-rent/property-38844523.html.

   

MommyPenguin

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Re: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrogate?
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2013, 11:07:38 AM »
Thanks so much!  That really does help me see what options there are!  There is *some* base housing but not a lot, and it sounds like most people are off base.  I'm still not sure if I *want* to or not, particularly about cutting short our current tour, but my husband just told me not to spend too much time on it as it's a "long shot."  I'd actually had the impression that it was like, if he asked for it he'd be pretty likely to get it, so that definitely changes things.  This definitely gives me something to go on, though.  Thanks!

mechtilde

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Re: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrogate?
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2013, 03:19:00 PM »
Harrogate itself is a very nice place (very popular with rather posh tourists), and has high rents as a consequence. You might find something nice but less expansive further out, but that said North Yorkshire is expensive anyway. Rents might be cheaper closer to Leeds or Bradford, but you have to consider that there would be commuting costs and time to factor in. It may not look far on the map, but the traffic will probably be a lot heavier than you might expect. Also that the road may well be narrower and with more curves than you may be used to (although that depends on where you're from)

I'm not sure what Skipton prices would be like, but they might be a bit cheaper.

One other factor is that you will pay a lot more for detached than for a semi-detached, and even less for a terrace. Depending on where you are a lot of the less expensive housing will be terraces, and this is the case in a lot of parts of Yorkshire, and some of the Victorian era houses can be quite large. Don't rule them out- I live in a terraced house near Newcastle (so about 1 1/2 hours to the north of you) and it suits us very nicely (two adults, two children, four bed terrace with two of the rooms in what had been the attic). That said, no matter what you rent you won't get as many bathrooms as US houses, and even with four or five bedrooms and they will be smaller than you are used to. Gardens are smaller too.

Whether you get a basement or not depends on the region and how high the water table is! We don't have one here, but when my DH lived in Huddersfield he did have one.

I should mention that it is a lovely part of the country. The tourists go there for very good reason. You are within easy distance of Holmfirth where Last of the Summer Wine was set, and Thirsk, where James Herriot lived. Within about an hour's drive you've three cities, some amazing old buildings, fantastic museums and galleries, and stunning scenery. Most museums and many art galleries in the UK are child friendly, and some of them are free or offer season tickets.

You also mentioned homeschooling- there will almost certainly be some homeschooling groups in your area, and some of the local museums and art galleries may have good resources. Whilst homeschooling is not common in the UK, there are people out there who do it.

You mentioned libraries and playgrounds- I've had a quick look and there is one in Harrogate and another in Skipton. This link is to the local council website http://www.northyorks.gov.uk with info on libraries and other local services. Don't forget that although you're in the middle of the country, you're still not that far away from the coast, and that can be a great day out- if you can get used to the idea of wearing coats and wellies on the beach! The nearest one will probably be Bridlington, but Whitby and Scarborough are also options. Whitby itself is worth a visit anyway- lovely place.

How much you have to pay for utilities depends a lot on what sort of house you have and what fuel you use. A well insulated property will save you a lot, and with a terrace you only have heat escaping through two of the walls rather than four. Gas heating is the cheapest, fuel oil is more expensive and electric is the most expensive. The only people I know who have air con in their houses are professional computer geeks who have to keep their equipment cool, and even then only in that room. Not that you really need it here...

I have gas heating and pay £140 per month for gas and electricity, but I do live in a very well insulated house. I have friends who pay a lot more. I can give you more of a breakdown of expenses if you want as there are local taxes, water charges etc to pay as well.
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Elfmama

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Re: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrowgate?
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2013, 12:08:50 AM »
If you look on one of the property websites, eg www.rightmove.co.uk or www.zoopla.co.uk, you can get an idea of properties available (I'm guessing you want to rent, not buy).

For instance, around Harrogate it seems you can get an ordinary 4 bed semi-detached (we don't measure properties in sq feet, but count the bedrooms and reception rooms instead) for around £1000 per month. Four-bedroom detached houses with gardens seem to start at around £1400 per month, eg http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-to-rent/property-38844523.html.
We left Harrogate/Menwith in 1989, so what I'm saying might be outdated.  Be aware that UK bedrooms do tend to be smaller than US bedrooms.  Our house in Harrogate was a 4-bedroom, but two of the bedrooms were so small that there was room only for a bed.  DD2 had to use the top half of a bunk bed so that her dresser and toybox could go underneath.  However, there has been a LOT of new construction since we left, and the houses could be more on the line of what US housing is.

You said that you'd like to go there for a vacation -- let me tell you, you can spend every weekend there doing stuff, and still not have time to see everything!  We joined both National Trust and English Heritage (they administer historic properties): between the two, there was something happening every week that we could take the kids to.  We loved it there, and would gladly have stayed for a longer tour if Uncle Sam had let us.
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mechtilde

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Re: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrogate?
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2013, 03:15:26 AM »
Quote
However, there has been a LOT of new construction since we left, and the houses could be more on the line of what US housing is.

They aren't. If anything they are even smaller- especially because a lot of new build are detached, even if there are only a few inches between the houses as they fetch more. So in order to get a detached house on the same size plot, they have to make it even smaller. Land, especially building land is very expensive here.

If you want a decent sized place you are usually better off going for an older property.
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scotcat60

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Re: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrogate?
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2013, 09:56:31 AM »
I know gas is a lot more expensive... anybody know how other utilities compare?

By gas, do you mean petrol, or gas for cooking, heating etc.?

There are websites like comparethemarket.com/energy which will tell you how to save on energy bills, as some energy providers are cheaper than others, just as some phone companies will charge you different tariffs for you service.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2013, 10:03:06 AM by scotcat60 »

mechtilde

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Re: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrogate?
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2013, 01:07:13 PM »
I can't really compare because I don't know how much it costs in the US or what units of energy you use.

Gas is what we call natural gas and use it for cooking, heating etc. Petrol is what we call gasoline.

Gas is still the cheapest heating option, followed by fuel oil, followed by electricity.

The utilities you have to pay for are electricity, gas/oil if you use them (gas is not available everywhere), water (this includes sewage). Rubbish collection, police, libraries, schools, roads etc are covered by council tax. For phones and internet you usually have to rent a land line and then have phone and broadband packages on top of that.
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MommyPenguin

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Re: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrogate?
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2013, 12:22:11 AM »
Okay, I'll look up my utility bills when I get a chance and give an estimate of what units/how much.

mechtilde

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Re: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrogate?
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2013, 02:27:55 PM »
If you go onto one of the price comparison websites they should be able to give you an idea what it would be, but you might find your energy consumption is different here.
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veryfluffy

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Re: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrogate?
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2013, 04:31:51 PM »
Ballpark figures  per month (depending on usage, etc.) are likely to be around about the following, give or take:

Electricity and heating fuel (gas, oil, or more electricity: £100 to £150
Council tax (which covers rubbish collection and local services): £100
Water: £30 to £50
Telephone and internet: £25

   

Daffydilly

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Re: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrogate?
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2013, 04:43:56 PM »
Contact the Airman family readiness center. They should be able to give you lists of popular housing areas around base and prices for what typical gas/electric usage rates. They might also be able to suggest people to talk to who actually live offbase.

Snooks

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Re: RAF Menwith Hill or Harrogate?
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2013, 04:23:19 PM »
Harrogate's lovely but it is pricey.  I'd avoid Bradford city if I were you, it's not the nicest place in the world (at least where I lived wasn't) but surrounding areas are nice.

The house will be smaller than you're used to in the US and have fewer bathrooms.  You might want to look at villages rather than towns and cities because you're more likely to get a garden your kids can play in.  Avoid new builds if possible, they're small and crammed in.