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.

monsterchild Wed 23-Jan-13 15:24:49

I don't live in the Uk but I do live in a rural area near a large city. The drawbacks are numerous:
1. Kids may not have friends close by
2. Friend groups will likely be pretty homogenous, and kids may not get to meet many kids of other cultures
3. Boredom
4. As kids get older, fewer job opportunities for youngsters
5. Lots more mud in the house

monsterchild Wed 23-Jan-13 15:26:01

Oh, and higher travel costs as you have to take them into the city to get the diversity experience.

All that being said, I personally do enjoy living in the country, but I am a farmer type!

happygardening Wed 23-Jan-13 15:27:07

If you live in a smallish country town you can hopefully get the best of both worlds. I personally love the very rural but its not everyones cup of tea the Rural Idyll is not necessary an easy way of life.

IncognitoIsMyFavouriteWord Wed 23-Jan-13 15:37:08

I live in the country after moving from a city.

This is the best DS has been to. He's really thriving now.

He starts secondary in September and I have him registered at a top rating school.

All of DS's friends live in our village and if he makes new friends at high school it isn't that far to the town for him to go on the bus or for me to take him.

IncognitoIsMyFavouriteWord Wed 23-Jan-13 15:38:00

best school obviously (dimwit emoticon) grin

GrimmaTheNome Wed 23-Jan-13 15:45:49

>We're not farmers so is living a rural lifestyle seems a little odd
I'd bet theres more telecommuters than farmers living in the countryside nowadays!

> Also, mindful that they will miss out on the culture and diversity that city life offers

if you live in a village or market town outside a big enough city that wouldn't be true. How long does it take you to get to theatres/museums etc from zone 3 (clueless non-londoner). We had a pretty easy drive into Manchester this weekend - MOSI followed by Bridgewater hall concert with some tapas in between. And a nice cowshitty snowy country walk the next day.

Wolfiefan Wed 23-Jan-13 15:47:52

Live in rural area but an easy 30ish minutes to more than one city. Best of both!

MooMooSkit Wed 23-Jan-13 15:53:32

I don't know if this will help but I moved from a city (london) to a very small seaside town with a little one and really want to go back to London with him really. Mainly as I find transport here unreliable if you don't drive, really expensive and there isn't much to do near by. I also find you have some anonymity in London, you can walk round and know not everyone knows your business whereas living in a small town everyone knows each other which can be nice sometimes but it also means there's a lot of gossipers and things spread like wildfire if you make friends with the wrong people.

Also someone else mentioned it can mean your quite far from friends/family which is a bit rubbish.

I'm looking into moving back to a city with some good schools in time for when he starts primary school next year but i don't want to stay in a small town anymore.

jalapeno Wed 23-Jan-13 15:54:40

I'll follow this with interest as I have two boys, live in zone 5 (or is it 6?) so near ish pretty countryside and quite far from central London but too close to nasty town for my liking and v expensive! I have been thinking of a move for a while.

Children older though so more of an upheaval. I'm also worried about lack of diversity and ease of buying a bottle of wine pint of milk. I also hear living costs can be more expensive, water, fuel, travel etc.

happygardening Wed 23-Jan-13 17:16:54

I'm also worried about lack of diversity and ease of buying a bottle of wine pint of milk. I also hear living costs can be more expensive, water, fuel, travel etc.
Eleven years ago we left London and fulfilled my dream of returning to the rural idyll (where I was originally bought up) after a couple of moves we are now living in Smalltownsville a small rural market town in the Shires. My DSs have no memory of London (we left one of the most ethnically diverse boroughs). Here in Smalltownsville the vast majority are white middle class in fact Im embarrassed to say that after 14 years in a living in our ethnically diverse borough where you stared at white people because they were in a minority I find myself staring at the occasional black person because we see so few of them. Everything about our town is groaningly middle-class and I worry that DS1 will never of had the real opportunity to mix with people from other backgrounds. We can buy milk easily but not decent wine (only a small coop) and you right we spend more on fuel both my husband and I work over 25 miles from our work (this is normal) and just to get the dog groomed this morning I drove 10 miles. Something you would never do in London, Our nearest cities are 30 miles away and we think nothing of driving this far to do shopping so our fuel consumption is high. We have very limited public transport so my two teenage DS's have to be driven anywhere if the want to see a friend. The cinema is 20 miles away and the other day I had to drive DS1 and girlfriend to the cinema blush for him hang around becasue it wasn't worth coming back and then drive him home. My husband an opera nut misses Covent Garden and I do miss art exhibitions accessible operas at the ENO or Covent Garden and the theatre.
But I would go right back out into the middle of no where if given a chance. No noise, stars like you'll never see in London. views like your never see in London, no street lights, we have birds, otters, badgers, foxes, hares, wild orchids, farm animals etc. we never lock our doors I dont worry about my DS's and know all my neighbours. For me it really is the Rural Idyll it feeds my soul and makes me content with life.

I have two teenagers and live in a tiny village, like happygardening we have peace and security and no locked doors.
All their friends are spread around in villages for miles. They go to a very good small comp in a nearby market town which serves a large rural area. The market town is 5 miles away and from there they can get a bus to the nearest large town 10 miles east or a sizeable city 10 miles west.
There are too many draw backs to tiny village life (although shopping isn't one of them thanks to on line grocery shopping) but a small market town = perfect IMO.

jalapeno Wed 23-Jan-13 17:37:54

I would love a market town! Perfect size for me smile

Sorry for the thread hijack OP but anyone that has moved away from family and friends...was that too much to bear? One thing we are good at is making friends so I don't doubt we'd find some eventually but I'd worry about family support, our families are rubbish at childcare etc but if push came to shove they would in an emergency. I worry that would bite us on the bum.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 23-Jan-13 17:39:58

Trying to get a balance between the two is good in my opinion.

I live in a large village with good amenities. Shop open till 11pm 7 days a week just a few doors from me. Train station a minute walk away. Good schools.

15-20 minutes by car into small city or 10 mins by train. Then there are two larger cities an hours drive away or a bit quicker by train.

I can go from front door to kings X in 1hr45mins as well so we get into London quite a bit.

racingheart Wed 23-Jan-13 17:40:13

We moved out for same reasons as you, but to a semi-rural area. Best of both worlds. We have rolling hills and acres of woodland on the doorstep for cycling, sledging, general running off energy, sweet scented air and clear starry skies. But can be back in London in 35 minutes, so they don't miss out on shows, museums, exhibitions and the general buzz of London life. Not to mention stocking up on non-Daily Mail attitudes to life, which do prevail in the Shires.
As the DC get older I want them to feel increasingly comfortable getting around London on their own. But living in a village helps them develop a sense of community. If they ever stepped out of line, someone would tell me about it.
For us, a totally rural world wouldn't work. The DC would get bored, I hate being a taxi service, we all love a bit of culcha. But half-way works perfectly. And you're right about school OP. They are all good to outstanding round here.

happygardening Wed 23-Jan-13 17:48:48

Family support can be problem but most importantly for us as both our parents get older and more frail a long distance between them is very problematic. Not something you think about when they're fit and able but as they get older and ill a definitely problem.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 23-Jan-13 18:19:26

speaking as somebody whose kids are at a school with a Rural Hampshire catchment, its awful, you'll hate it, please stay away
actually, no, Happy is right. you will NEVER regret moving out.
people who live round here all their lives do not realise how lucky we are round here.
The M3 on a Friday is a bit of a drag, but the fact that I can be in Central London in an hour and a half, at the beach in half an hour, in West Quay in 20 minutes or the middle of nowhere in 15 takes some beating.
And the school is pushing the kids towards top Unis.

Pagwatch Wed 23-Jan-13 18:27:14

I live right in the centre of a big town and we love it.
Ds1 adored growing up here. He had a short walk to school and to everything else.
He could meet friends independently to go out to cinema or to the leisure centre. He loved the independence, loved that friends would meet here. As he got older he was able to walk to the train station and go further afield.
He often had friends he didn't see from one end of term to the start of the next unless their parents were prepared to drive them to town or to the train station.

By the time uni visits started he was able to travel alone and he is way more independent and capable than many of hs peers.

We are a shirt drive from muddy walks, open spaces etc. he was able to meet mates for bike rides etc. easy.

Best of both worlds

cory Wed 23-Jan-13 19:13:09

I would think about what the amenities are like, communications, possibilities for meeting up with a wide range of other children and cultivating a range of interests.

I grew up myself in a small market town very far from everywhere and basically it wasn't a very safe environment for a teen, because there wasn't a lot to do, so teens did take spend their time on sex and drink and you had a choice of going with that or being very lonely. I chose to be lonely- but I might not have done.

I feel much safer about my own dc who are growing up in a city with lots of activities going on- they get to see that other teens do do things, and the ones who settle for drink and sex only are in a minority.

But there must be plenty of rural locations where you can get the best of both worlds. And a small market town with good access to bigger things could be perfect.

jalapeno Wed 23-Jan-13 19:26:40

I grew up in a small village only a few miles away from here...I thought it was the arse end of nowhere and swore I wouldn't ever do it to my kids!!

Pagwatch we have what you describe, it is hard to see the positives sometimes when you worry about the negatives.

This thread is good food for thought, thanks OP smile

morethanpotatoprints Wed 23-Jan-13 19:31:49

My 2 older dc were brought up in the country and I would never do it again. Fine if you are involved in church and every last thing offered at school. If you have lots of time to entertain others kids and take your turn with other parents. Great if you have good transport and time to ferry your dc miles for activities and hobbies.
No way would we ever do it again.
Just my opinion though grin

TalkinPeace2 Wed 23-Jan-13 20:27:10

One REALLY important thing - live on a bus route!
I live on the bus route between the market town and the city. Means that the kids can go see their friends without my involvement.
And get home from school.

AngelEyes46 Wed 23-Jan-13 21:09:42

My brother's family moved to Wales when my niece was in year 9 and nephew was in year 7. My brother kept a flat in Purley and travelled to Wales every weekend. At first it was extremely difficult for my niece (nephew coped with it better). Now, the children love Wales. They are both at Uni (niece in South Africa - I don't think it would have happened if they had stayed in outer London). My SIL wouldn't change it for the world although she would probably agree with the posters above - you HAVE to drive a lot! Shopping is a half hour drive; you have to be very organised with everything you do. But, it is peaceful, a lovely village pub and a real community spirit although it took her a while to get to know everyone. They have dogs, chickens and goats and live a very relaxing life.

DayToDayShit Wed 23-Jan-13 21:19:32


Weissbier Wed 23-Jan-13 21:21:05

My parents moved from town to village when I was 13. I absolutely
loathed it. It took over an hour to get to school and the last train home was at 9PM meaning I couldn't even go to the cinema without arranging to stay with a friend. To this day, I get hives if I have to be in the countryside for longer than about 24 hours. That said, where I was born, and where I live now, are big, but quite tranquil cities. London is exhausting, I grant you that.
Also just my opinion grin

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 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?


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?

thewhistler Fri 25-Jan-13 21:00:44

Best advice on here, live on a bus route. Next best bit of advice, live near a station..

then the teens should be ok.

TandC Thu 31-Jan-13 21:32:32

Thanks again everyone. And thank you for the suggestions of where we should look. I've started researching Reigate, Guildford, Dorking and in parallel I've made and appointment to visit two local primary schools in the village we're looking at. They tell me they have their intake for this Sept. and as the population isn't transient like London's, I'm not sure we'll get in for next year either. Long term, I guess we'll look to move to more of a town location when the boys reach their teenage years, as there is no bus route or station nearby.

Pyrrah Thu 31-Jan-13 21:41:38

Decent station is much more important than a bus route unless it's a really good frequent service.

My parents lived on a bus route - hooray. Then you find out that there is only 1 bus an hour between 8 and 5 and sometimes it doesn't turn up.

It meant that my parents were a permanent taxi service if we had holiday jobs or wanted to go out.

A decent train-line (ie not some unattended station at the bottom of a deserted track that is likely to feature on CrimeWatch) with regular services to good big towns is a huge plus.

So many of the things you hope to do in the country just don't work out. I know my parents had dreams of us all going on bike-rides... until the girl at the other end of the lane was knocked down and killed. After that we weren't allowed bikes.

Dozer Sun 03-Feb-13 08:35:28

Guildford, epsom, reigate?

pickle346 Sun 03-Feb-13 11:54:24

We moved out of london to the countryside before having a family - now with 2 children we are moving back to london! Lots of reasons, main one being jobs, but also lack of facilities and amenities for the children and us. There is no diversity at all here and we are looking forward to going back!

jalapeno Sun 03-Feb-13 18:09:01

For us, Epsom and reigate are both lovely but very close in proximity and £££ so not worth the hassle of moving. Guildford is too near the ILs shock

LittlePicnic Sun 03-Feb-13 21:35:59

Hi. Be careful where you choose. We are in a large village very close to a small city. Council cuts mean the last bus from the city to our village is now 8.40 p.m. On a Saturday night!! ( no nights out without cabs back). We moved from zone 3 London to here. hmm I like it here but find no street lights a bad thing- who wants to cycle or walk in the dark? Not me so I don't really go out in the evenings in the winter. The people here are less friendly than my neighbours in London!! Maybe it's just here ( even the ordinary folk seem to think they are god)! So looking to move before DS1 goes to secondary school.

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