Country versus city for brining up two boys

(57 Posts)
TandC Wed 23-Jan-13 15:20:33

We currently live in zone 3 London and have two boys - 3.5 yrs and 1.5 yrs. Considering a move to rural Hampshire to offer more space, bigger garden etc, with the main motivation being that we are keen to offer them high performing primary and secondary state education. I guess I expect that the move is the best thing for them but wondered if anyone could argue against this? We're not farmers so is living a rural lifestyle seems a little odd. Also, mindful that they will miss out on the culture and diversity that city life offers. Has anyone made this move and what have you found? Views please.

thewhistler Wed 23-Jan-13 21:46:13

I am one with Weissbier.

I adore the country but it was as boring as hell for a teenager. No transport. Nothing to do, except under age sex, under age drinking, and under age tractor driving.

Great while you are at primary stage, but dire after that, unless you have the means to shoot and ride etc. And parents are perpetual chauffeurs, country roads are unsafe.

Small towns okish, but everyone does know your business and if you want to change school or doctor it will be harder. Limited food choices, though not in Hampshire. If you live in a village you will be expected to Join in everything..

I love it, actually, but I didnt as a teen.

TandC Wed 23-Jan-13 23:20:20

Wow everybody, thank you so much for your valued contributions. You've certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons in this house tonight and I love all the personal stories. Thank you for sharing. Lack of bus, access to cinema and the like, and bored teenagers are top of tonight's worry list. Ugh, I am more confused than ever now because I really want this house / village to be the solution. Somebody please tell me where to live. DH needs to get to Leatherhead by car for work.

bruffin Wed 23-Jan-13 23:36:17

We live just on the border of London and Herts and have the best of both worlds. We are 20 minutes from central London. We also have the lea valley country park within walking distance. Dcs get to do climbing and kayaking on their doorstep,lots of scouts, guide groups in walking distance.

happygardening Thu 24-Jan-13 07:45:07

You need to think about you DC's and infact your interests. I was brought up on a farm in what was then and in fact still is a very small isolated community. I was only interested in dairy cows dogs and horses so the countryside was perfect for me. All my spare time was given over to those interests I had absolutely no desire to do anything else. So no transport/cinema only a tiny choice in friends limited shops (read no shops) didn't bother me in the slightest. In fact when I wasn't pursuing the hobbies I was bored and unhappy and just wanted to ge back to them.
But many of my friends hated where we lived they hated the glorious splendid isolation and AE Housemans "blue remembered hills" and certainly I doubt see it now as a "land of lost content".
My advice is rent somewhere for a while not in the summer when even a true urban lover could not help but affected by its sheer beauty but in November when it's cold and raining and there's mud everywhere and when after 9 pm the place looks like the Marie Celeste.

thewhistler Thu 24-Jan-13 07:57:18

Or Feb when there is not even Christmas to look forward to.

lainiekazan Thu 24-Jan-13 09:47:16

Well, I would say that "rural Hampshire" is in fact not all that rural - you are never miles from civilisation.

Furthermore it is not far to London - SW Trains service v good and although not cheap you can stay in touch with Life.

We live in a semi-rural area which although is not very exciting is ideal for the dcs. Schools are very good indeed and there is a nearby Waitrose so no worries about sub-standard wine! Ds and his friends walk round to each other's houses.

One thing to watch out for is that the more desirable the area, the worse the cost and in Winchester and its immediate environs, for example, you would be paying London prices for a decent house.

happygardening Thu 24-Jan-13 09:54:34

lainiekazan I agree I wouldn't describe any of the home counties and Hampshire and much of Oxfordshire except maybe deep into East kent with its terrible transport links as "rural." All are commutable for London hence their high house prices.

juneau Thu 24-Jan-13 10:08:09

I grew up in a rural area and I was perfectly happy until I hit my teen years, then I hated it. My parents didn't buy me a car (unlike many of my friends), so I was reliant on my mother to take me places. There was no cinema, very few shops, a twice-daily bus to the nearest city, but it took forever to get there and I only did it once, and in the school holidays I was bored and miserable. As soon as I could, I left home and lived in a succession of big cities until three years ago when DH and I moved to a small, cathedral city with lots of cultural stuff, shops, restaurants, bars, etc and only 20 mins on the train from London. I think that unless you know and love the country and are real 'country people' who can think of nothing more wonderful than muddy walks with dogs, and don't mind being miles from the nearest shop, you'd be mad to just up and move there on a whim. Surely there has to be a middle ground between London zone 3 and a rural location?

thewhistler Thu 24-Jan-13 10:18:37

If you are already on the A3, then look around there.

In general I agree about home counties not being really rural, and for an adult who drives that is right.

But for a teen who is in a village with one shop if lucky, school in local town where if you are lucky there is a cinema but the leisure centre's services are being cut down, the council is reducing the bus service etc, it can be grim.

I would go for a small town over a village, though am a village girl myself. But the boredom was acute. 4 miles to walk to nearest town with coffee shop. No cinema for 20 miles and knackered single mum who said we couldn't afford tickets and petrol. No leisure centre. No clubs. No decent teen type shops. Fortunately I enjoy reading. So that is what I did.

TandC Thu 24-Jan-13 10:23:18

Agree happygardening and lainiekazan. I don't really think of the area as rural because the lane the house is in contains mainly residental properties as far as I'm aware, not farms. It's an estate agents description. But DH agrees with it. I'm originally from NZ where rural means a farm in the middle of nowhere with nothing around it for miles. BTW happygardening I've always been confused by the term 'home counties'. Are they all the counties that border London? And yes, renting is a good way forward.

OwlLady Thu 24-Jan-13 10:25:23

I live on the rural outskirts of a small market town but also not far from two/three larger towns. I love it tbh. I wish I had of done it sooner but I am pretty anti social and a bit of a loner blush you need to be able to drive though if you live rural

lljkk Thu 24-Jan-13 10:43:50

We live on very edge (turn left out the door to access lots of country side) of a medium town (struggling centre, but still basic shops here) with lots of local facilities (good for younger kid clubs) and good transport links to the city (handy for the teen). Local high schools are quite variable in quality. Don't expect roads to be gritted but do expect lots of mud on the road.

Not sure anyone has mentioned JOBS, or rather the lack of local employment opportunities: move to a country idyll but expect to drive an hour each way to get to work. Ugh.

milkshake3 Thu 24-Jan-13 10:48:48

My experience as a child was of living in the countryside, ponies, dog walks on my own, building dens etc etc.....then I became a teenager...it was soooo boring.Nothing to do unless my parents were prepared to drive me everywhere (and then it was always"we'll pick you up at 9.30" I was always the first to leave a party.....I've put that right now!). I then went to boarding school in a lovely regency town, and loved the freedom that gave to walk around at weekends, visit shops, cafes, go to the theatre with school etc etc - LIFE!! It prepared me well for moving on my own to university in a big town. It's telling that both my DSis and I have chosen to bring our families up in towns rather than the countryside, although my DM (who has always lived in the country, never drives further than 5miles from her cottage and finds the world intimidating) thinks we're mad!

Good luck with your decision!

Halfling Thu 24-Jan-13 10:52:34

Move to a smaller town in the vicinity of London. It is the best of both worlds.

juneau Thu 24-Jan-13 10:53:04

I've always been confused by the term 'home counties'. Are they all the counties that border London?

Yes

Chestnutx3 Thu 24-Jan-13 10:56:57

Why not look at the villages/small towns around Leatherhead. Around Bookham - great secondary Howard of Effingham. Access to Leatherhead and Guildford. Dorking?

Bonsoir Thu 24-Jan-13 10:59:01

If you and your family like rural things (horse riding, dog walking, gardening, cricket) you may like the countryside. But if you don't like those things, you will be very bored. It really is best to live within easy access of the things that you enjoy in life.

happygardening Thu 24-Jan-13 11:03:14

Milksgake is probably right pre teens and boys in particular love the freedom of living a rural life but unless your a fully paid up member of the Young Farmers, horse mad or other filed sports you probably as a ten could struggle.
Re schools we're lucky we're surrounded by high performing state schools but that's because we live in an exceedingly affluent rural part of our county and within a stones throw of another very very affluent county so everything is exceedingly middle class this is reflected in the house prices. But we have friends who live in similar sized market towns but in less affluent areas who aren't so lucky with their schools. Employment is a big issue especially for teenagers. The lovely boys who helps me with my dogs is very restricted as to where he can work he cant afford the insurance on a car and there's no decent public transport and cycling on roads without street light and the distance makes this not a viable option so his employment options are very limited. This also applies to 16 yr olds trying to get Saturday jobs my friends has to drive her DS to his.

housemad Thu 24-Jan-13 11:53:37

We moved out of London 20 years ago. I still miss the city life. Both DCs never live in London so they don't miss it of course but they do like being in the city. We visit London every now and again and still have friends live near the city. I think all of us are townies. We live close to a small town not countryside. Although we miss the city the standard of living is so much higher in London compare to where we are. At the moment we can afford to pay for many afterschool activities such as piano, gym, dance, drama lessons etc. If we move back to London we would not be able to provide DCs with that much extra learning experiences.

thewhistler Fri 25-Jan-13 09:29:12

Milks, if you went in the 6th form can imagine. I went in yr 9 and the frustration of being in a lovely regency town to which I had v restricted access drove me mad. But perhaps things are better now.

Was it one in yorkshire or one in the west? Mine the latter.

Pyrrah Fri 25-Jan-13 14:53:52

Grew up in the countryside - was so thankful my parents sent me to boarding-school so that I actually had some friends. The holidays were dull, tedious and mainly consisted of meeting up with the other boarding-school kids and either getting drunk and snogging in someone's barn, or getting drunk and snogging at the Young Farmer's parties.

Rural is very over-rated.

We're bringing DD up in central London... there are pigs and goats at the end of the road, a sailing school 15 minutes away by bus, she went sledging in the local park last weekend and when school closed on Monday we went to see the dinosaurs at the NHM.

If we want to go yomping round a large wood - and don't fancy the one across the road - then we go and visit my parents and borrow their local one (that we need a car to get to).

The only issue for me with London is the painful price of anything bigger than a shoebox to live in.

thewhistler Fri 25-Jan-13 16:54:59

Reasonable town with buses and a cinema and reasonably large school or two would be ok.

But agree pyrrah's activities although tractor driving was also quite fun and now drugs have reached the outback too.

lljkk Fri 25-Jan-13 18:46:01

Not many small towns have cinemas.

jalapeno Fri 25-Jan-13 18:58:53

Thewhistler that's what we have but at London prices. I love our little area, it's just so expensive and I am so aware of what is down the road. But then perhaps everywhere is like that, not just within the M25?

We are very close to a dodgy larger town...although that is getting some "regeneration" action soon so may improve. This is handy as it was almost burnt down a few years ago shock.

thewhistler Fri 25-Jan-13 20:50:46

Tbh, many home counties areas are pretty highly priced.

But cousins lived for some time in Redhill and that gave them much of what they wanted, enough for the teens, easy access to London, Guildford and the countryside, houses slightly cheaper, and they are good at construction anyway so they extended a 70's grot into a charming cot iyswim.

Bits of Guildford?

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