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Gin100

Choosing a Suburb & School – Chicken & Egg

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We have a 189 visa & are looking to move to Melbourne in August. We've had little success in finding jobs from the UK (well, we can find them, we just can’t get them!) so we’re now thinking we should come over & go contracting until something permanent comes up. This leaves quite a lot of scope on where to live but after a lot of research, we think we've narrowed it down to south-east Melbourne; Sandringham & around. Our lines of work mean that there are likely to be more jobs in the CBD & on the east side of Melbourne & we really fancy living somewhere close to the sea but without a long commute. We've not been to this area before but it looks good on paper.

 

We have 2 kids; if our school year calculations are correct the eldest should be due to start secondary/high school in late Jan. The move (to Oz and from primary to secondary school) is a big upheaval & we feel under pressure to get the suburb & school right first time – we don’t want to have to move again shortly after arriving. We don’t have the luxury of being able to afford private school but neither do we want to end up living in an area we don’t like purely because there is a good state school there.

 

So, in terms of specific questions:

 

  1. How have others solved this suburb/school quandary – which do you choose first? Any tips or lessons learned would be appreciated
  2. Does being 12 in December 2014 mean that you go into secondary school year 7 at the end of Jan 2015? (I’m struggling somewhat in mapping UK school years onto Australian ones)
  3. Any views on the state secondary schools in Sandringham & surrounding area for academically-inclined children? I’m thinking specifically of Sandringham, Brighton, Cheltenham & Bentleigh Secondary Colleges and Glen Eira.
  4. I've heard that most government primary schools are good - is it the case? Any specific recommendations?
  5. For zoned schools, I've heard that if you live in the zone then they legally have to give you a place – is this right for both primary & secondary schools?
  6. Any wildcard suburbs we should be looking at? Ones that we've not picked up on yet but would fit the bill?

 

 

Thank you so much!

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My advice would be to look at the areas in and around good rail links. That can make it a bit easier with schools as it's possible to get children in schools outside of your local catchment. If you like the suburb you're most likely find you settle better too.

 

Also it's important to chose the school depending on your children's abilities. Some are more arts and social science focused as opposed to academic.

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Good suggestions, thanks. I don't think I'd really appreciated that schools had their specialties too - that makes it even more complicated...

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The suburbs you are looking at are very good suburbs so tend to have good school but the down side is accomadation is more expencive as people like that area.

You would be best renting in the short term until you know where you will be working. Then you need to look at access to work, trains, trams etc. that will then give you areas to look at to live in that fit in with the daily commute to work.

This is a good web site http://www.whereis.com it allows you to enter a suburb, then brings up a map including that suburb. You can then enter a second suburb and press directions it will give you the route, km and time to travel. In the box that says "what" you can enter school or shops and press enter, it will give you all schools/shops on that mapped area.

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If you've decided what you want in terms of lifestyle then you can stick to those areas that you mentioned. Bayside is expensive you pay a premium to be close to the beach. I've also heard the govt schools are very good in those areas. I actually like the bush better so live in the hills. It gives a different lifestyle but since the road links are really good you can get to school nearby in a number of suburbs. The Yarra Valley has a great school there and it's a gorgeous place to live too. As far as work goes don't bet too put off by distance to the city, it's quite common for people to travel 40 km to work here. A lot of people like to be away from the city.

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You will pay top dollar in Sandringham, it is very expensive . Not sure if this is an issue with you or not and if not, yes the schools round there will be good- putting it bluntly it is a 'rich' suburb. Another place with good schools is the Glen Waverley/ Mt Waverley area and also round Camberwell the state schools are excellent. None of those suburbs are what you would call cheap though.

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First find your job then check out easy access to it. Then check out what you want from a suburb given the pay in your pocket (local facilities, access to interest activities, need for additional transport etc). Eyeball the neighbourhood to see if you really want to live in their vicinity and then hope you can find a rental. Schools usually fall into place thereafter as they usually (but not exclusively, I know!) reflect the neighbourhood. If you don't like the first one you try you can apply for an out of area placement (no guarantee) or have a look at the parallel privates like a good number of parents choose to do. Easier if you are Catholic of course.

 

Yes, 12 in Dec would mean Yr 7 in Jan

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Thanks everyone for all your comments & suggestions.

 

Tina2 - yes, I seem to have a habit of falling for the places which cost an arm & a leg to live in! We will certainly be renting initially & will probably do so for a while, until we have sold our house in the UK. This will give us time to figure out where we want to be but I'm anxious to get it as right as we can first time so we don't have to uproot the kids yet again in a year or so's time. I'll check out that website, looks useful.

 

Jasepom - we've been to the hills a couple of times & it is tempting; they are beautiful & the Yarra Valley just stunning. We live in a small city in the UK surrounded by rural hills but we don't live near the sea so I think we quite fancy a change but I may find I prefer the hills! That's an interesting comment about commuting distance from the city. I think perhaps we are being constrained by our UK mindsets - we are fortunate enough currently to have a 20 min walk (me) / 20 min cycle (husband) to work now so we're not used to commuting long distances but perhaps that's just what happens in Melbourne & it's a part of the package you sign up to when you emigrate. Saying that, we're not 'big city' people (we recently visited friends in Brunswick & decided we could never live there as it was too much city) so we do want that feeling of space & distance (we did like Williamstown). More thought needed perhaps!

 

Starlight7 - those rich suburbs are just very appealing! I will take a look at Glen Waverley & Mount Waverley. Camberwell I've heard good things about. That's the thing, isn't it, nice suburbs aren't cheap. Unfortunately.

 

Quoll - this was our original intention; job then suburb & school. Jobs are proving difficult to get from here though so temping initially looks like the way to go & the contracts could be anywhere & will be short-term. Clearly once we've got permanent jobs we could go down this route, it's just that thing about not wanting to settle & then uproot the kids a second time if we can possibly help it but that may be what we need to do. I've looked at the private school fees & they're just scary (certainly for people coming out without jobs) but maybe longer term if we get decent jobs it might be possible. We've never considered private (or Catholic) schools in the UK but maybe it's just different in Australia. Thanks for the confirmation of school years - it's what I thought but it was difficult to be sure!

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Melbourne is now the fastest growing city in Australia. If you were not keen on brunswick in many way Sandringham is very similar, very busy. If you are more a country person then I agree Yarra Valley is a good thought or you could look at Mt Eliza, it is on the beach and there is a train from Frankston into Melbourne. Frankston its self has some lets say not so nice areas so look more at the Mornington Penninsular.

Yes distance can be a big shock to many poms arriving over here. We took a job 3 hours north of Melbourne and now travel 90kmto do major shopping and see specialist doctors.

There are lots of good primary schools but high schools tend to be a bit different. Aus is moving the way of the US with large high schools up around the 2000 to 3000 students in some areas so again looking at areas like the yarra valley or the Morningtom peninsular has the advantage of not such big schools. There is also a move towards combining primary with high in some areas. That has the advantage of not having to change schools at year 7 but the disadvantage of generally being a very large school. Have a look at http://www.benton.vic.edu.au/academic-excellence/academic-program this school is on the Mornington Peninsular and has no catchment area. Appreciate it is very hard for you trying to decide from so far away.

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Once you've lived in the country it's hard to go back to the city. There are some suburbs in and around Knox which are great in terms of lifestyle but also have all the amenities on the doorstep.

 

Thinking of :-

 

Lysterfield

Rowville

Wantirna South

 

and slightly further out :-

 

Upwey

Tecoma

 

Cause they are very close to a major shopping centre (Knox) you get fantastic amenities and you're on the edge if the Dandenongs. Also can get to the city in about 50 mins by car.

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Thanks again guys, will follow up your, as ever, helpful suggestions.

 

I think the thing with Brunswick wasn't the fact that it was busy as such, it was that everywhere was city. We went for walks around Brunswick, on the trains & trams and I didn't get the feeling of space anywhere. With Williamstown I didn't feel like this at all & I think this was because of the sea. You could be in a busy area and go to the sea front & feel free. I'm quite comfortable with busy places but I don't want to feel hemmed in & need somewhere to easily escape to, whether it's the sea front or a big park or something.

 

I think the distance thing is going to take a while to get used to. Reminder to self - must stop trying to transplant my existing life to a new continent!

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A lot of people take a holiday rental for a couple of months and then get job and permanent rental sorted then put kids in school. No one will get their knickers in a knot if it takes a couple of months to get straight and you should hopefully have picked up work by then.

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That's a *very* sensible suggestion Quoll, I think that would probably be the way to do it...

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And there is a app for that ;-) You can use http://www.findschoolzones.com.au - a mobile friendly app/website which puts school zone/catchment information at your finger tip.

 

The app shows and sorts state schools based on latest NAPLAN results which as you would already know should not be used in isolation but can be good guide to start with. It provides the basic info on the school (website, phone, address etc) and links to the properties for sale and rent (uses realestate.com.au) around that school catchment area. Also if you enter a home address, the app can help you find all the schools which are zoned for that address along with latest NAPLAN results and school route using google maps.

 

Hope this helps.

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In that list of schools you had, you missed the best one. Mc Kinnon Secondary College is in McKinnon/ Ormond. It is one of Melbourne's best performing state high schools and is a short drive along North Road to Brighton.

 

You will need to google "McKinnon Secondary College Zone" to see the map as it is strictly zoned. The median house price reflects the school but there is quite a lot of rental property in the area. If you can afford it, I would choose it over Sandringham even though you will be further from the beach. You will be a lot closer to the beach than Mt waverley/ Glen waverley for a school in the same league.

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Wiiliamstown High School is also very good - and also strictly zoned.

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Thanks niajp - I like the app but it doesn't cover Victoria unfortunately - shame.

 

rosiew - yes, I've looked at McKinnon, very sought after. I'd heard that they were insisting that kids had to live within the zone for their entire time at the school - do you know if this is correct? If so, it feels very restrictive & the zone seems pretty small; I'd have some concerns about committing myself to living within such tight boundaries for the next 10 years (time for both my kids to start & finish secondary school), particularly when I've not been there before. My impression is that Brighton Secondary College might be more flexible on this front & looks like a good school too - any views welcome!

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Thanks niajp - I like the app but it doesn't cover Victoria unfortunately - shame.

 

rosiew - yes, I've looked at McKinnon, very sought after. I'd heard that they were insisting that kids had to live within the zone for their entire time at the school - do you know if this is correct? If so, it feels very restrictive & the zone seems pretty small; I'd have some concerns about committing myself to living within such tight boundaries for the next 10 years (time for both my kids to start & finish secondary school), particularly when I've not been there before. My impression is that Brighton Secondary College might be more flexible on this front & looks like a good school too - any views welcome!

 

Most schools with a zone will have a policy that if you leave the zone, you leave the school. They probably all enforce it with different degrees of effort. Certainly if you are renting you will usually need to show a current lease every time it is renewed.

 

Someone with more knowledge might know about Brighton Secondary - although not many people on this forum seem to live that far in.

It is not a school that is famous for its academic success like some of the others, but that does not mean that it is not a perfectly good school.

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