We're moving house (work relocation) and have identified a village and school with a place for our DS (reception) and are now trying to decide what type of area to live in.
All the houses we have fallen in love with are rural (about 1-2 miles away from the centre of the village and the primary school). While living in these locations would provide an idyllic childhood (they are all period properties with land etc), I feel we should live in the centre of the village, so DS could play out with his friends as he grows older, rather than me having to arrange playdates and driving him everywhere (although I don't mind the driving part).
DH says that he couldn't bear to live on a modern estate (unfortunately the very few 'non-estate' houses in the village never come up for sale). Plus, he says, in rural areas, lots of the children live a fair distance from their school, so parents are used to ferrying children around for playdates and it won't 'disadvantage' DS in any way. He thinks I'm being very PFB about the whole thing. The thing is, if we had two children, I would buy a house in the country without hesitation, as that is our preference, and we can easily afford to. But having an only child is making me hesitate. He's a very sociable lad, but I would hate for our decision to lead to him having a lonely childhood.
Does anyone have any experience or thoughts about this?
We had a similar choice, and we went for the house in town (well, village really). Having said that, dd (yr 5, just 10) has four particular friends in school, and only one of them lives in town.
But then she's much more into playing one to one with friends rather than knocking about on a bike in a gang. And it is great that she can just walk round to her friends house if she's bored / friend can come round here.
It might be worth thinking a bit longer term about how easy it would be for your DS to cycle/walk into the village independently. Another of dd's friends lives about 1.5 miles away but half the distance is a very quiet road and the rest track. He often cycles down to visit on his own & similarly I'm quite happy for her to walk out there herself.
However one house we looked at was only 3/4 of a mile from town but down a very busy main road that I'm not happy cycling on myself, let alone allowing a child to do it. So how long you're going to have to be 'chauffeur' will vary depending on roads as well as distance per se.
If it helps, this isn't an only child thing - a friend is one of 5, and lived out on a farm - I said how idyllic it must have been and she said no, she was really lonely for years until another familhy with two girls that she got on with moved in nearby as she was an 'odd middle' one in the family.
Thanks for the responses. Very good point about the roads to the village - I would definitely want a road where we could cycle to school together, and when he's older, he could cycle on himself.
I think another problem is I get a warped impression of what is normal or not on mumsnet. Reading threads, it seems as though children never go out unsupervised or just kick around together these days anyway! If they don't, and playdates are the norm (i.e. even if someone lived 200 metres away, I would prearrange it and deliver him to their house and he would be that mum's responsibility for the duration of the playdate anyway) then I agree living a mile outside the village wouldn't disadvantage him. At what age do kids just hang out, e.g after tea? A possibility would be to move rurally now, and move into the village when DS is older (part our problem is the overall lack of houses on the market - we need to live somewhere!)
I would also say that preorganised 'playdates' definitely tail right off from about yr 3 onwards, because kids play out more independently and also many do after school activities.
So for example dd sees much less out of school of her two friends who live in other villages (& therefore need an organised / ferried meet up) than she did back in reception/yr 1 when most socialising was of the organised playdate stylee. Of course she also does after school activities now, so she does socialise that way as well as casual hanging out.
In our village a lot of "hanging out" happens at teh park, for the younger ones its just after school, older ones go home, change and come back. teens arrive later still. kids cycle a mile or two to the park from age about 8/9.
The rule of thumb for year 3 seems to be, " you can go to the park, if your friends are there you may stay, if no one else is there, come home again" .
DS is in year 1. not yet allowed to GO to park by himself, but has free range with in boundarys we have set once he's at the park. I take a book.
Hi, I think you are doing the right thing by considering this aspect of living I a rural area. Kids in some rural places are actually very stuck for places to play, if for example the farmers dont allow them on the land, and their house doesn't come with land. I was brought up in a rural area and even though I had a close in age sister and a near neighbour the same age as me, I got resentful of such limited company by the time I was about 12. Although the parents might all be happy to ferry kids about, it is really good for children to have some independence in choosing when to come and go, and playing for short periods often can make more rewarding friendships than a full day together once every few months. Do you seriously plan on moving again fairly soon? Even so, I would still opt for a house in walking/cycling distance of a public park. Good luck finding a house you both love!
I grew up on a farm and was ferried about until 18. Seemed quite normal. (Was late passing driving test due to concentrating on A-levels.) No-one questioned it.
Have one DD and we live outside a village on a main road. She has playdates and we have sleepovers; it seems to work now in Reception. We can walk to friends' houses but only with an adult due to fast road and lots of cows in fields. We have a largish garden, rabbits, guinea pigs, chicks to play with, a dog, a tree house, a large trampoline ... she doesn't really seem to get bored.