Choosing an area to live in Durham


This is an installment in a series of posts about moving to the UK for a Ph.D, specifically at Durham University.  To read more posts like this, see our list here.

When we moved to Durham we were faced with choosing where to live from amongst many good options.  Some colleges offer housing options.  Four our family of four, living in college was not an option.  You may want to contact your college to see if they have a situation that would work for you.

There are, of course, many factors to consider when choosing where to live.  What is important to you will depend upon your situation.  Some of the influencing questions may be:

  • Do you need to be near the city centre?
  • Which departments/buildings will you frequent?
  • Will you need to be near a particular library?

But there are others to consider as well.  What about your family situation?  Do you have a spouse and/or children to consider?

  • Do you need to be near particular schools?
  • Will you have a car?  This will influence several decisions like:
  • How far do you want to live from shopping and convenience options?
  • How far do you want to live from bus routes? (We will talk about transportation in another post.)
  • How easy is it to access a church for Sunday and weekday activities?

In our situation, we decided to choose to live further from the city and closer to shopping options.  We don’t have a car, so we are near a major bus route.  We decided that it is easier for Rob to walk to campus than it is for 3 or 4 of us to walk to the store and haul the groceries back.  We found a concentration of stores and drew a circle around it.  When we could find a place inside that circle, we looked closely at it.

With that in mind, here are some areas to consider in the Durham area.

Dragonville/Renny’s Lane has several options including a super-sized Tesco grocery and home wares, TK Maxx, Pound World, B&Q (the UK version of Home Depot), Boots (pharmacy), Computer stores, sporting goods stores, and even a Pizza Hut and KFC!  News reports say that an ASDA (owned by WalMart) is on the way.

The Arnison Centre has a similar selection of stores.  However, the Arnison Centre is further from the city centre.

Obviously, the further you move away from the city centre the more the rent goes down.  Another option is moving to a nearby town/village to save on rent.  However, that saving would be somewhat offset by the added expense of bus fare.

Our experience has been that you are likely to find other Durham students in several of the areas right around Durham like Pity Me, Gilesgate, Neville’s Cross, Framwellgate Moor.

We have friends who live a short walk from a bus stop that will get them into town a little faster.  More about how to get around town next time.




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