Hints for family life in Glasgow?
July 9, 2012 5:26 AM   Subscribe

A friend is planning to spend six months in Glasgow and has questions about day-to-day matters: housing; music; dancing; groceries; school; and other matters. I've already sent her previous Glasgow-related questions, and I'll happily forward your more current recommendations.

A friend and her family (husband and children) are headed to Glasgow in late December of this year, returning to the U.S. in June.

Housing: They will be looking for housing near the university. She asks, "Where is the best (safe, on the quieter side) neighborhood to rent a furnished apartment for a couple and our three young kids? One or two bedrooms ok, walking distance from the University and grocery store would be good." If they're carless, as is likely, does the neighborhood offer walkable access to things like grocery stores and spaces where the kids can play? To a library, bookstore or cafe? What does the suggested neighborhood have to offer?

School: Again, she asks: "Does anyone have information/opinions about the Steiner School?" If this school and the suggested neighborhood are unwalkable, is there public transport between them?

Play: Music and dancing are important to my friend. Her question: "Any Suzuki violin teachers in town?" Are there places where she can join a dance club (think Morris dancing, etc.), a choir, a pick-up instrumental group? Are there places where she and her husband, or the entire family, can go to listen to and/or participate in live music? And is it possible to find a babysitter?

Worship: She's a Quaker. Any info about Meeting? Times, location(s), transport?

Other: Favorite quiet spots to go and read? Entertaining diversions for the family? Weekend jaunts in case they have access to a car, or take a train trip? Things to bring that can't be obtained there? Sites devoted to living in the city? Best-kept University-related secrets? They will be attached to the University; are there specific people/departments there that can help them with this transition? Banking advice? Suggested packing list? What am I forgetting to ask about temporarily relocating a family to Glasgow?
posted by MonkeyToes to Travel & Transportation around Glasgow, Scotland (9 answers total)
Location ; For University and Steiner School; Probably somewhere bounded by Argyle St, Kelvin Way, Kelvingrove Park and Elderslie St. Byres road is handy for Uni ( I am guessing Glasgow University ) but a bit far from the school. http://www.glasgowwestend.co.uk/ should give a wider idea of area.

Lots of public transport along Argyle St and trains and underground stations are nearby.
That part of Argyle st has markets and a number of other places . Live participatory music in that area off the top of my head ; Park Bar, Ben Nevis, University has choirs. The area around there is steeped in Highland culture and has places that encourage playing live music.

The Kelvingrove Art Galleries are minutes away.
Mitchell library is nearby.

Main Quaker meeting house is just up the road next to Charing Cross Station.

Glasgow is a very walkable city with transport if required. Kelvingrove park is all around the University.
posted by stuartmm at 6:32 AM on July 9, 2012

Glasgow Quaker Meeting is west-ish end. A lot of people there are attached to Glasgow University; would be a good place to ask first.

(Oh, and: Glasgow has several universities. Don't call it the university, please.)
posted by scruss at 6:36 AM on July 9, 2012

Glasgow University, yes? (There are several other universities in Glasgow, so if it's one of the others, disregard a lot of the following!)

Glasgow Uni is in the West End, where your friend won't have a problem finding a nice and safe place to live which is walking distance from both the university and food shops. It is on the expensive side, though, and since it's close to the university with a high student population, can be noisy in places.

Lacking a car won't be a problem; the city has a fairly low rate of car ownership, and public transport is fantastic. If you're walking distance from the university, you are most definitely walking distance to parks, libraries (Hillhead Library is very near the university), cafes, etc.

The way estate agents divide up the city, these are the areas she'd be looking at:

- Hillhead - Right next to the university, very handy for cafes/shops/underground, but can be fairly noisy if you're very close to Byres Road. Wealthy Victorian middle-class suburb, so some gorgeous, huge Victorian flats.

- Dowanhill and Hyndland - 5-15 minutes' walk to the university. Bit quieter than Hillhead, nice huge Victorian flats, also expensive to rent there. Hyndland has its own little cluster of shops and cafes.

- Partick - About a 10-15-minute walk from the university, 20 at the outside. The kind of area often described as 'newly gentrified' and a bit cheaper than the above. Built as working-class housing for 19th century dock workers so flats aren't as spacious as Hillhead and won't usually come with their own gardens, or much breathing space from your neighbours. Lots of students, and can be noisy. Has a nice farmer's market on some Saturdays. Good underground and rail links. Partickhill is more like Dowanhill, but a bit cheaper and a bit further out.

- Kelvinbridge - 10-20 minutes' walk to the university. Again lots of shops, cafes etc., underground station, and some big spacy quieter flats. Noisy if you're very near Great Western Road, though. North Woodside is between it and Woodlands.

- Park/Park Circus - beautiful, fairly quiet, 10/15-minute walk to the university through Kelvingrove Park, but pricey.

- Kirklee - 10-20 minutes' walk to the university, big leafy Victorian suburb, nice old flats.

- Woodlands - 15-20 minutes' walk to the university, very studenty, cheaper but quite noisy.

- Anniesland - 20-30 minutes' walk to the university, decent rail links, useful for shops etc. (there's a big supermarket there). Some nice flats there, but the quieter ones are probably pushing it a bit re: 'walking distance' from the uni. Cleveden sometimes gets included as its own area - it's closer to the university and there are some beautiful, quiet, and spacious flats there, but it's expensive.

- Kelvindale - 25-40 minutes' walk to the university. Quite quiet, semi-detached houses along with flats, bit more space for families, not too expensive, but also a longer walk. Does have a train station though.

- North Kelvinside - 10-40 minutes' walk to the university. Letting agents use this to cover a huge and massively varied area on the north side of the Kelvin. The area around Queen Margaret Drive is very nice, not too expensive (rent is a bit cheaper and council tax a lot cheaper when you cross the river, inexplicably), and quiet-ish although you probably don't want to be on Queen Margaret Drive itself. Further east are some newer developments (the result of slum clearance in the 80s), flats and even some houses with a bit of green space about them; much cheaper to rent than some of the pricy areas, but you're also getting closer to the rougher parts of the city to the north (although it's not an area where I've ever worried about safety).

Other: Favorite quiet spots to go and read?

For cafes I like Tchai Ovna on Otago Lane; Offshore on Gibson Street is nice if you want somewhere to sit with a laptop. The Botanic Gardens at the top of Great Western Road are wonderful, and also have lots of space for kids to run around.

Weekend jaunts in case they have access to a car, or take a train trip?

Most of Scotland! For peace and quiet and nature I'd recommend the west highland coast, up past Oban; it's easy to get to on car or train, very quiet, and absolutely beautiful. For outings to towns and cities nearby, Edinburgh and Stirling are both easy to get to on the train and less than an hour away.

They will be attached to the University; are there specific people/departments there that can help them with this transition?

As staff, or as students? Either way: yes, I think so if it's GU, but I'm not sure of the exact specifics. There is a staff small ads section on the university's website which is handy for housing and such (alas, I think your friend would already need her university login details to get access, but worth checking with whoever she's corresponding with in the department she's going to on what's on there at the moment.)

Best-kept University-related secrets?

Of the 'this path is a good short-cut to the library' kind or the 'what staff REALLY think about issue X' kind? Either way - I work at Glasgow Uni, so if it is GU she's going to, happy to answer any more specifics on here or via MeMail.
posted by Catseye at 6:41 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

As a diversion/day trip, do go and see the Burrell Collection. Really nice, eclectic art museum just outside the city.
posted by crocomancer at 7:15 AM on July 9, 2012

I love Glasgow, but don't have a huge amount of helpful advice, having mainly been there while I was living in Edinburgh. There's absolutely plenty of great places to go there. I much enjoyed the People's Palace and Winter Gardens, but all the city museums are excellent public space.

What I really came to say was that, as lots of people have said, carlessness won't be a problem at all, but if you do need short journeys by car, then City Car Club has a fair amount of sites where you can pick up cars by the hour in Glasgow. Having a car located nearby is a pretty good indicator of the kind of neighbourhood where there are affluent people who move around a lot, i.e. the kind of place where people who are visiting a university for 6 months would be able to fit into the social scene.

Also in terms of carlessness, all the major UK supermarkets do online shopping, where you book a delivery in a specific time slot and they do all your shopping for you and bring it to your house.

And finally, Loch Lomond is extremely nearby. It's beautiful, and the bottom end of the Highlands. Ben Lomond is an easy walk for adults, and doable for children aged 8-10+.
posted by ambrosen at 12:18 PM on July 9, 2012

Glasgow is Scotland's musical capital, so there's a world of choirs and pick-up groups she can join, and lots of live music to listen to, if she asks around and checks noticeboards at the university.

Days out-

Absolutely check out Edinburgh and Stirling.

She can take the train and ferry to some of the closer western isles, like Cumbrae and Arran. Nice for cycling around/sightseeing.

Lots of pretty highland towns and villages are accessible by train. Pitlochry is a theatre town, so it would make a good day/overnight trip if her kids are old enough to go for a walk and then see a play. It has deciduous forest so it's very pretty in the autumn, and has a salmon ladder.

Using The Train Line to search for and book tickets is much less frustrating than the awful individual train service websites, or National Rail.

If they have a free weekend, they're very close to Prestwick International Airport, a tiny airport next to Glasgow that offers cheap flights via Easyjet etc. to continental Europe.
posted by pickingupsticks at 12:31 PM on July 9, 2012

Take the train from Glasgow Central Station to Largs on the West Coast. Go to Nardini's for some of the best ice cream ever!

Also, for a whole year's quota of quaint, the train north to Ft. William and connect westward to Mallaig. The latter route is served by a steam train from mid-May through late October.
posted by John Borrowman at 1:35 PM on July 9, 2012

For violin lessons contact the Royal Conservatoire of Sotland. They have the Junior Conservatoire on a Saturday for young ones. If that's full or if it's annual enrollment memail me and I'll chase down a list of violin teachers for you.

Will they be there over summer? There are also dance (for adults and children) classes at the RCS over the summer, or they'll be able to point them to somewhere. Morris dancing is a little.... English. They should totally check out ceilidh dancing! Many churches put on ceilidhs, especially around Burn's Night.

And I'll double/triple confirm my favourite end of town or living is the West End.
posted by jujulalia at 2:08 AM on July 10, 2012

Oh and the BBC Scottish Symphony put on excellent concerts, including kids stuff, outreach and family days. Check out all the fun at City Halls for music listening. The Fruit Market also excellent for similar events, including Scottish music.

Royal Scottish National Orchestra at Royal Glasgow Concert Halls (or is it Glasgow Royal Cocert halls? At the top of Sauchiehall St.) will probably have similar.
posted by jujulalia at 2:11 AM on July 10, 2012

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