A.P. asks from APO, AE on December 27, 2008
Moving to Mildenhall & Looking for a Nice Village to Live In
We are moving to Mildenhall in less than a week and looking at off-base housing online. We've seen a few houses we like but it's hard to decide what area to live that will be easy to get to and from base but has all we want. I would love to live in an area that has a house walking distance to a village that offers a market, tea house, possibly a pre school etc. Essentially, a small town with safe sidewalks so my daughter and I can walk everywhere--does that place exist there?
We really would like to have a great English experience.
Some places we are looking are ELY, Branadon and Newmarket. Anyone have any experience with these towns?
Any info would be great. We are very excited for our move!
Any thoughts from you?
We definitely know what we want in a house to rent. We're just concerned Ely may be a hastle to commute from?
Thanks for your input
D.M. answers from Stationed Overseas on December 29, 2008
Welcome to Mildenhall A. & family!
We've lived here for just about 3 years now and have lived both on and off base. I have my prefrences about where to live but you need to find what works for your family. We initially lived off base looking for the English experience but found that we had esentially moved into an American community.... without the American conveniences. It seems you already have a wonderful idea about what ammenities you'd like... you've obviously done some research!! Good on you!!
For your house hunt please check out www.rightmove.co.uk If you haven't already been to it... the site is great.
As far as towns to live in... Every place here seems to be drenched in history and charm. Please be careful not to let that cloud your better judgement. Specifically, pay close attention to the crazy commute times here. Make sure you drive the route @ 7 am and 5pm. The roads here on not great so commute time tend to be much longer then you'd expect. Plus... we're not as far north as you were in AK but it does get pretty old driving long dist. in the dark morning and night.
Friends of ours recently rented a gorgeous new 5 bedroom house in Thetford... and now regret their choice because of the 45+ minute commute each way... in the dark!
I have heard wonderful things about Ely from friends that live there... but I'm not such a fan of the crazy A1101 (road). You'll learn about that route specifically in your in briefing. Mildenhall is close and convient... Emilys tea room is cute plus there is a Friday Market downtown. But... since it is close to the base you might have trouble finding that perfect house with all your specific needs w/in your OHA cap. (Check the right move site though) The better houses tend to have the lousy commute times attached! It's like we're all looking for the same thing ;)
The villages of West Row, Beck Row and Hollywell Row surround the base but don't offer much besides housing and a few very small shops. They are super convenient though to get to work and shopping plus Beck Row has Busy Bees nursery school. (www.busybees-nurseryschool.co.uk I've only heard the best things about this preschool)
Oh... on a side note... the BXtra just stopped carrying fabric and has really cut back on crafty things in general but I have found you can get a lot from Joanns.com. Again good luck :D
C.S. answers from Stationed Overseas on December 28, 2008
We live in Ely and we love it. We actually live in base housing but it is mixed in with local housing.
My children are older than your little one, they go to a local school. There are several toddler groups in Ely that are very friendy and welcoming.
The commute to the base is a pain but definately worth it.
Everything in Ely is pretty much in walking distance. The Cathedral and river walk makes Ely a great place to live. We will be sad to leave in August, we and the children have had a great time here and will leave a lot of wonderful non-military friends here.
N.L. answers from Stationed Overseas on December 28, 2008
Hi A., congrats on your move. I am from Newmarket. I would recommend Newmarket and any of the surrounding villages that have schools. I would not recommend Brandon or Thetford. Ely is not a hassle to commute from, no more than any other town, there are good roads between RAF Mildenhall and Ely, but they are only one lane each way until you get to Newmarket. East Anglia is a congested area for traffic no matter where you live, although Thetford and Brandon have good roads to Mildenhall, they are very busy roads and the towns are not that nice. Newmarket is a lovely town, with lots of shops, schools (St. Louis being your best choice for elementary level), although they all have good standards. And Mildenhall is straight down the A14. Bury St. Edmunds would be another nice town too, although I don't know anything about the schools. There are lots of surrounding villages, and towns such as Soham, Burwell, and Mildenhall itself. Please be prepared for the fact that houses in England are much smaller than the average american house. If you get out and about and experience the country I don't see why you would not have a great time. I am jealous, we have been trying to get back there ever since we married nearly 15 years ago. If you have any other questions don't hesitate to ask.
J.R. answers from Stationed Overseas on December 29, 2008
We are also stationed here, at the base of Lakenheath (where you will do the majority of your shopping, appts, etc. We've been here a little more than two years, coming from Elmendorf (I'm from Alaska). I've never done the drive from Ely during peak traffic times, but I would guess that it gets backed up. I know that Brandon definity gets backed up morning and evening.
Mildenhall Town has everything you specified on your wants (market, tea shops, I'm sure there's some kind of preschool), there are a couple play groups there my little daughter and I go to (she just turned two yesterday). Barton Mills is right behind Mildenhall and is smaller, but the trails lead into Mildenhall. Red Lodge I don't think has anything but housing (well there is a playgroup over there so they might be getting some services) it seems to be a big development there, with newly built houses, probably only a ten minute commute. Friday after work would be about the only day that you'd be held up in traffic (at least until you get around the roundabout). Same with Newmarket, because Newmarket is about ten or less minutes from Redlodge. Newmarket pretty much has everything, but its a bit more commute. Elveden seems nice but its on the A11 towards Norwich and traffic can be a bear,especially on Fridays! And there is a proposed plan to widen the road this year..so delays could be worse. Norwich is too far for a commute but you have to check out the shopping at some point. There are a couple of small villages right around mildenhall base, called west row & beck row, these both have tiny grocery stores, and at least the one has a Chip Shop (fish &chips), but don't know of any tea shop. Mildenhall and Lakenheath bases both have a starbucks (if you do coffee) but there not drive thru!! Something I miss about Alaska...kaladi..yum. At the Mildenhall Starbucks (in the Bob Hope Center)you can get your tea or coffee and in the next room is a play area for kids. Similar to a Mcdonalds playplace. There's lots of little villages, and places for let, you just have to hunt for one big enough for your stuff and that you want to be in for however long your here. There is another base a little bit north of Lakenheath called Feltwell (quiet base, not much going on but a furniture store), there are some nice little villages that way, but I'm not sure about traffic. Anyway, my husband deploys in a couple days, give me a ring... i can show you or point you in the direction of some playgroups or whatever...J. 07818 067489 or 01638 510 206 Oh yeah, if you will be talking to friends and family alot back in the states, I suggest you get vonage, its unlimited long distance for like twenty or twenty four dollars a month, and you get a virtual US number so your people can call you too (it goes through the computer, so you need internet first). You guys probably know about Vonage already. Well the little one is up...wheither or not I talk to you, I wish you all the best..j
A.G. answers from Stationed Overseas on December 28, 2008
Hi A., (edit at the end)
Hope you had a good Christmas even though you probably don't have all your stuff.
We've lived in Littleport which is just north of Ely following the A10. We are about 18 mins from the back gate (ops group) and 25 mins from the front. Ely is about 5 mins more. We wanted to liv in Ely, but since we were bying and house prices hadn't crashed yet we could really only afford what we wanted in Littleport. I really enjoy living here, but since Ely is 7 miles I obviously drive there. Ely has a vegetable, flower, food market every Thursday and a bigger market on Saturdays. There's a nice river with restaurants and an awarded tea house (peacocks). You can walk to most things and Ely has pretty much everything you need for everyday living. Cambridge is about 30 mins away depending on traffic, they have everything you need. Otherwise there's alway internet shopping. (upromise.com gives you free money fro your kids' education without the hassle). Ely is nice and still has that small town feel. Let me know if you have any specific questions.
I forgot to add. The main satelite company here is Sky, they also offer skytalk which gives you unlimited calls to 20 countries including US and Canada, this is to landlines as well as cell phones. The deal is only 5 GBP per month. The only catch is to not talk longer than an hour then they charge (you can just hang up and dial again, they do this to stop companies from abusing their lines)
Good luck, Søs G.