Londopers-Luton Questions

Work may be moving me from the US to the Luton UK area. I am looking to understand a little about the area including need for a car, public transportation into London, cost of living compared to London proper, safety, good areas to look for housing and any other information you can offer. Thanks for your help.

I don’t think this is a GQ question.

Luton is very very dull. That’s the main thing I’ve ever heard anyone say about it. We went there once on a Sunday and it appeared to be closed. This may or may not be important, depending on what you want. A vibrant cultural metropolis it is not; what it is is a dull commuter town with (I gather) a few nicer bits for long-term living.

You would probably need a car unless you lived very near the main station or didn’t need to travel around much.

It’s quite easy to get into London - it takes just over half an hour from Luton station to King’s Cross St Pancras, but then you have to factor in journey to and from those stations and remember that weekend travel is often messed up. It’s quite expensive too; you’d need to go on to nationrail.co.uk and put in various options to find out how much your typical journeys or seasonal travelcards would cost you, but it’s not going to be cheap.

Cost of living - well house prices are cheaper than London zone 1, but few places in the world are more expensive than that. Food, eating out, etc, are the same as London.

Thanks Sam! I am just looking to get a feel for the area, and if this thread should be moved I would welcome a mod move to the proper forum. I initally was just looking for tube/train options into London but as I typed I had more questions that encompass more than a general question. It looks like a car and housing will be covered by my company. I have a 3 yr old and will have an infant when we arrive. I lived in London for a while in the 90’s so I am not totally out of my element, but I don’t know this area particularly. Thanks again for your input!

Whilst Luton is dullsville, nearby St Albans is a lovely, historic market town. If I were relocated to Luton, that’s where I’d live - it would be an easy commute with a car. More expensive but worth it, IMO.

I live in Luton. I have no experience of living in London so cannot discuss relative costs.

The best thing about Luton is that it’s very easy to leave. Luton got voted the ‘#1 crap town’ a while back and little has happened to improve the situation. There’s Luton airport, the train station with the express service to London, and the motorway. Transport to London from central Luton is excellent.

You will need a car. In the U.K., unless you live in and stay in a major metropolitan area, you all but need a car. For personal safety, I stay out of central Luton late at night. Luton as a whole counts as ‘a bit dodgy’ in my book.

Do you have children? The local secondary schools are not good.

If you have funds, I strongly suggest you consider Harpenden instead. It’s a much nicer place. Or one of the little villages like Slip End. But traffic in Luton can be dreadful, so choose your target area with reference to where in Luton you’ll be working. That’s especially relevant right now because there are roadworks on the motorway from Junction 10 (South Luton) northwards.

I missed this: my local primary school seems to be quite good, and the NHS is excellent in dealing with children.

Since the OP is looking for advice, this is better suited for IMHO than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

Who did you piss off? :smiley:

Luton is the Newark of London.

Nearby St Albans (“Snawbs”), as mentioned, is nice. Hertford is also a nice wee town. Bishop’s Stortford is lovely. All of these are commutable to London via train.

Further afield you have Saffron Walden, which is gorgeous and handy for Stansted Airport, but probably a bit too far for your company’s needs.

Avoid: Hemel Hempstead (if I had to live there I would be put on suicide watch) and Milton Keynes - a modernist nightmare and cultural desert, though it has its defenders.

I’m guessing that the OP is going to be working in Luton.

Although he/she does ask about public transportation into London, which suggests a daily commute for him/her or spouse?

Depending on where your office is, it’d be worth looking as far as Cambridge - 45 mins by train to Kings Cross, pricey but nice housing, and a great place to live (certainly compared to Luton).

But I’d add another vote for St Albans if you definitely have to be in that part of the world.

The cost of living anywhere in the UK relative to the US is astronomical. I wouldn’t make the move (if you have a choice) without a significant increase in salary, or an equivalent living stipend.

Things in Britain generally cost about the same in pounds as they do in the US in dollars.

jjimm’s characterization of Luton as the Newark of London is spot on.

Though if housing/car are paid by the company, that’s a good chunk of change there. Groceries are more expensive but not appallingly so. Most shocking bills will be: council tax, heating, gasoline (the latter may make the OP’s head explode).

I remember car magazines jokingly talking about the 5 pound gallon in about 1993. Think it was somewhere around 3 pounds fifty per gallon then.

I assume you’re long past a fiver by now.

They changed to litres to fool us.

It was £1.20 a litre last time I filled up. That makes it around £5.46 to the (Imperial) gallon.

Yeah, I’ve been back a dozen times in 1996 and couldn’t figure it out because of that crafty litre switch. Do they still publish fuel economy figures in mpg?

The UK is almost as messed up about metric as Canada is… but at least Canada doesn’t still have the road signs in miles, while fuel is in litres, leading to abominations like “miles per litre”.

You can’t get flights directly there, but the pilots will generally drop you off at the nearest bus stop.

Thanks you all for the info and suggestions everyone! Just answer a question or 2 the job is in Luton, though I am open to living somewhere within a relatively easy commute. I do have children & would like to find an area that is somewhat family friendly. As for the high cost of living, I do have experience (though it has been a while) living in London and am aware that it is extremely expensive compared to my current location. Much of this will be mitigated through salary/COLA increase and the housing and car that will be provided/allowed for for the time that we are there. I will be going on a scouting trip in a couple of weeks and will look into several of the suggested areas. Thanks again!

If you’re working in the southern side of Luton (airport, Capability Green) then Harpenden is good. For East Luton, you want Stopsley. For the airport on a limited budget, you want Wigmore or St Anne’s. If you’ve been seconded by Ford to work at Vauxhall, then you want to be somewhere near me. :slight_smile: