Thinking the unthinkable: moving out of London...

(29 Posts)

Finally thinking the unthinkable: do we actually move out of London?

All the usual reasons - house with a garden, less traffic/pollution, better for the kids. DH would still have to commute and possibly wouldn't see the kids during the week as a result.

I'm aware this is a well-trodden path so what I want to know from those of you who've done it is this:

- was it the right move?
- what benefits did you expect and did they materialise?
- where did you go (if in commuting distance of London) and what are the pros/cons of your new area?
- do you spend all your time in the car?
- did you end up bored/lonely/quaffing G&Ts with Stepford wives at a golf club?
- anything else we need to think about?

MillyONaire Thu 26-Jun-14 16:28:19

Not quite the same as we moved to rural nowhere and completely left lovely London. In part it was to benefit our children, bigger house, better quality of life, fresh air and more outdoor activities. SO, 12 years on: yes, it was hugely beneficial to our children...until now. Heading into their teens
they would be better off in a city (more facilites for older kids), there is very little for them when they're older here. Big house: tick! Why oh why did I think I needed a bigger house - I spend my time cleaning it!! I would build it 1/3 the size it is if I could do it again -because my children will have to leave home at 18 for uni I only have another 5 or 6 years until this house is ridiculously too big for the two of us! Outdoorsy stuff: yes - all the time. We cycle, sail, hike, kayak, camp, go to the beach after school often so yes that's a definite positive. Quality of life: hard to say really, dh works longer hours because he is self employed here and there's the other side - I am struggling to get work at the moment because we are so rural. The commute to nearest bigger town is over an hour and while that may be do-able on a train/bus, it is a different story when you are driving country roads for an hour plus on dark winter evenings/mornings. We do not socialise at all so that side of life has suffered though it is a friendly town and I do like it and the people here - that took a while. I'd do it again though because I'd rather have tried and failed then been too afraid to take a risk. We are now considering a move back to a city though not London so it's onwards, not backwards!

Panicmode1 Thu 26-Jun-14 16:34:44

We moved out after our first was born, first to just outside Epsom (urgh!) and then quickly bounced to Tunbridge Wells. This ticks all the boxes we wanted - reasonable commute, great schools, close to London but also can get to the sea in 45 mins ish, lovely countryside on the doorstep, vibrant town and lovely people. I would rather be more rural, but with four children, being in town means we aren't a taxi service and there is plenty to occupy them. For ideas on where would suit, www.lifeafterlondon.com is a great resource. Friends of ours, who vowed they would never leave London have just left Balham for the south coast and are SO happy, even with a longer commute.

laline1 Thu 26-Jun-14 16:36:36

Do you want to move out of London into a small village, or move out of London into another city? We've done the move from Oxford from London. The commute is a shocker, to be frank (but then the commute down the Wimbledon branch of the district line wasn't always sunshine and roses), but at least if you're travelling from Oxford, you get a seat on the train. The benefits: much larger house and garden for your money, plus it's a very well connected city - not only to London (there is an all night bus service!), but also to the midlands and the north. In addition, it's got good museums, events, theatre, restaurants and the people are lovely: lots of smaller community things going on. There isn't the same variety that you get in London and the shopping is definitely worse, but as a died-in-the-wool Londoner, I would have to admit under duress that I do quite like it here... The architecture is amazing and you can escape into real, proper countryside in about ten minutes flat, without having to negotiate the M25.

MaliceInWonderland78 Thu 26-Jun-14 16:36:51

We did it. We moved rurally. Our kids are quite youing, so it's still great for them. Probably less so when they're older I guess.

I did work in London - and initially I worked away during the week. I now work locally, for alot less money, but might end up going back to London to work. For us though, it'd still be worth it. My wife works part time (though she's off on maternity leave at the moment) and all in all, it works quite well for us.

She would agree with Milly about having a large house!

And, yes, you have to drive EVERYWHERE! It's actually quite expensive living in the countryside (though nice). When we first moved, we were travelling back to London 3-4 times a month. Now it's probably once a month.

JadedAngel Thu 26-Jun-14 16:38:27

I never imagined leaving London but we did.

First of all to Surrey which we absolutely hated. We found it dull, lifeless, suffocating and just as expensive as London.

Now we live in Cornwall and I would never ever go back.

In answer to your questions:

- was it the right move? - To Surrey, no, To Cornwall, yes

- what benefits did you expect and did they materialise? - more space, quality of life, friendly sociable village, outdoor lifestyle, bigger house - Surrey no, Cornwall yes

- where did you go (if in commuting distance of London) and what are the pros/cons of your new area? See above re Surrey. There were no pros. Now we live right on the beach, so that helps. We both travel to London for work - usually once a week or once a fortnight. Train takes 3hrs. Plane takes an hr.

- do you spend all your time in the car? No - our village has most of what we need - school, village shop, post office, two pubs, deli, restaurant, butcher, cafes, beach.

- did you end up bored/lonely/quaffing G&Ts with Stepford wives at a golf club? - In Surrey DEAR GOD YES. Not an issue here. It's a very social, young village, lots of beach bbqs, surfing etc

- anything else we need to think about?

Think about what you like to do and find a location that matches to that. We absolutely hate shopping centres, tennis clubs and dinner parties so Surrey didn't suit us. If we'd needed to stay in the South East, parts of Sussex might have been a better choice. Maybe even other parts of Surrey. Do not move to Woking.

Think about your daily routines and how they would work when you are looking at new locations. e.g. if you don't want to be in the car all the time, but want to live rurally, perhaps look at villages that have schools, shops etc. Many don't and can look quaint but be a hell of an inconvenience with a family.

Really imagine yourselves there. Visit potential locations in all weathers, all times of year, times of day. Stand outside prospective schools at kicking out time to get a feel for it, talk to people in pubs, do your research in as detailed fashion as you can before you fall in love with a house.

Haha there's an actual website for London refugees? Will check it out...

laline1: I guess I want to move not to a village but the edge of a town - somewhere like Oxford would be great as DH will baulk at anywhere without a preponderance of period property. Culturally Oxford would suit me down to the ground but it wouldn't be an easy daily commute for DH. I really want to be able to get out into the countryside easily, the way you've described it is really attractive. Don't care much about shopping.

MillyONaire - Good point about house size - a big house seems like a fantasy but I guess it has upsides and downsides. A friend bought a georgian house with a chunk of land and now seems to basically be a full time estate manager - that's not for me.

JadedAngel - Wow, you've scared me off Surrey. I'm not really a tennis and dinner parties kind of person either. Kept trying to convince myself that Surrey would be ideal but I think I'll listen to my intuition and your comments and strike it off.

JassyRadlett Thu 26-Jun-14 17:09:29

OP, I live London/Surrey borders and my experience could not be more different from the above, for us it's best of both worlds. More space, easy to get away, great sense of community but still very manageable commute.

I've never been to a dinner party here. Or the golf or tennis club. I don't think we have those.

Which station do you need to commute into?

JassyRadlett - Blackfriars/Cannon St would be ideal but unlikely I realise. Be interested to hear about your experiences - and whether there's much aircraft noise where you are? That's one of the things that puts me off - we'd have moved to Richmond years ago if it hadn't been for Heathrow...

nicename Thu 26-Jun-14 17:16:08

I dream of it but then reality kicks in and I try to look for the positives.

DBIL moved out to AF-Nowhere and the racism he has encountered is rather worrying. Even DH said that he wouldnt be comfortable living out of central London, and would worry for DS being bullied.

But hey, we have the ideal property when its just the 2 of us - very central, near shops, museums, parks, cinema, theatre...

nicename - wow, really? Sorry that you have to even think about such a thing when you consider where to live. We're white so aren't likely to be troubled by racism, but I just don't want to live around people like that.

Maybe somewhere that's still a bit cosmopolitan is more the ticket for us.

Thurlow Thu 26-Jun-14 17:27:19

We moved from south London to a market town in Hertfordshire just before DC1 was born. So instead of a 1.5 bed, 3rd floor flat in Catford we have a 3-bed terraced house with a garden on a quiet residential street. It makes up for most things really! We both still commute into London but the trains are pretty good and you learn to use your train time as 'me' time.

I'm so glad we've moved. It's not a massive town so over the two years we have been there I have gradually got to know people, even if it's just to chat two for a few minutes in town. It's so much friendlier than anywhere I lived in London. I'm definitely not bored - but DP is a bit. I had a baby and so made friends that way; he works shifts and so can't even join a pub football team. He's still glad we moved but wouldn't mind having a friends around the corner.

JassyRadlett Thu 26-Jun-14 17:30:12

I'm Surbiton - there was a thread earlier this week about aircraft noise! Very unusual here, a little more towards Nth Kingston.

Surbiton isn't cheap and it's not perfect for where you are. But oh, it's nice. Good mix of people, lots of young families.

JadedAngel Thu 26-Jun-14 19:03:31

You see I would find Surbiton utterly depressing although I will agree with Jassy in that it is a nice area with lots going for it. But the point is, it really is horses for courses when it comes to choosing somewhere to live. Opinion is useful but visiting places, walking the streets, driving the lanes, talking to people, really is the only way to find out if it's for you.

Start with a map. Highlight all the places that are a reasonable commute for your work locations. Then visit them and work from there x

JassyRadlett Thu 26-Jun-14 19:06:36

Oh, I'd love to live by the sea (or better still my home country) but like many our jobs are very London-centric. Pockets elsewhere but no long-term prospects. So Surbiton it is. It's a compromise but given other options it's quite a nice one.

JadedAngel Thu 26-Jun-14 19:37:43

It is tricky when jobs are London-centric. You have to find the best option within those parameters unless you're willing/able to change them. We were quite lucky in that respect. My London-centric career I was convinced would be totally over but if anything it's the opposite. Big surprise but a nice one.

Surbiton is good if you want to feel a bit disconnected from inner London urban life but want to be able to get back there quick sharp. And having the river nearby is lovely.

beccajoh Thu 26-Jun-14 19:51:25

I live in Walton on Thames in Surrey. I live in an ex-council house that's worth about £400k (we bought for much less - do-er upper + property price bubble) and we're at the poorer end of the social scale here. It can be a bit stepford but there's lots of more normal people here. The Stepfords are pretty easy to avoid. The people are nicer, more space, schools are good, green space etc. we couldn't have afforded any of that in London.

We were ready to move out of London, but I am hankering to move further, back to my home town or nearby really. Unfortunately DH's work is rather London-centric so it'd take a bit of a career shift. Not impossible, though.

Bowlersarm Thu 26-Jun-14 20:10:26

We moved from Balham - absolutely loved our life there, it was all brilliant, but still wanted something more. So:-

YES. It was absolutely the right move. Haven't looked back. Would never move back.

Expected a slightly slower paced life. Didn't want the DSes pounding the streets of London as teenagers. Wanted a fantastic social life, and life long good friends in a countryside setting. Wanted dogs, a large garden, great neighbours, lots to do. YES. Ticks all those boxes.

A village in Kent.

Yes. Quite a lot of time is spent in the car. I don't care. That's the only downside.

Never ever bored. No time to be bored.

If we could go back and do the move from London, I'd rent rather than buy. Our life is almost perfect, but 99% rather than the 100% we could have achieved had we waited until the perfect house in the perfect village came up.

I would highly recommend it op.

RuddyDuck Fri 27-Jun-14 06:59:48

We moved from London to Cambridge. Dh commuted for a while but then got a job locally.

Cambridge us a great city - lots going on, probably quite a lot more than other towns the same size because of the demographics.

We moved to a village a few years ago, which has been great. I wasn't confident enough to do that when we first moved out of London, because I thought it would be really hard to make friends. Village life really suits us, but we do have a very good bus service into Cambridge for the dc, and it only takes 15 minutes to drive in if it's not rush hour. The station in Royston has fast trains to London which take 45 minutes. I sometimes go down to London for the evening for a play, or to meet friends.

It worked for us, but we had lived in Cambridge whilst students, so we knew the city really well and did have some contacts here still.

JourneyToThePlacentaOfTheEarth Fri 27-Jun-14 07:33:55

We did the same as ruddy and moved from north London to a small town near Cambridge last year. Dh was brought up here but myself and our kids are Tottenham through and through! It's been a great move. The dc love it and have made lots of friends. They have a level of freedom that I couldn't give them in London. It's quiet but there's still lots of fun and sporty activities provided for my boys. They've experienced a few racist comments at school but it was as if they were trying to target the most obvious feature about them rather than be maliciously racist. The school dealt with it very well. I'm not worried about keeping them organised when they're teenagers. There's clubs, sports and other activities to do and Cambridge is a short train ride away. I say go for it op, you won't regret it

JourneyToThePlacentaOfTheEarth Fri 27-Jun-14 07:43:58

I forgot to say that dh and I also work in London and take the fast train from Royston. My MIL helps with the kids when I'm at work but I might start using after school clubs too. Everyone we've met since moving has been very friendly and welcoming and I've made good friends. Dh already has his childhood friends here and socialises with them regularly

nicename Fri 27-Jun-14 09:01:55

Its good if you have some roots to return to!

RuddyDuck and Journeytotheplacentaoftheearth, Cambridge does sound great. I don't particularly know anyone there, but the only place I have family in the UK is Bath and that's not a commuting option, but Oxford/Cambridge are similar I think culturally and in terms of being a human scale place to live while retaining a lot of the benefits of the cosmopolis...

It seems like no one's really regretted the move and I'm really grateful to you all for sharing your experiences. I know I've got to do the legwork myself now but this has given me a huge amount of good advice and things to think about.

tips hat to generous mumsnetters

AliceInSandwichLand Fri 27-Jun-14 13:33:42

Am sure I've met JadedAngel on one of these threads before - have been very happy in Woking for 20 years without setting foot in a tennis club! 2 minutes to the theatre, 30 seconds to wild heathland where you can stand at 9 am, 5 minutes from the M25, and not be able to see another person or building, ethnic shops for food, lots of other advantages for us - really a very different view from JadedAngel - therefore would absolutely agree with her that you have to decide what factors are important for you and choose somewhere that fits the bill, because one man's meat is another man's poison!

FishCalledWonder Fri 27-Jun-14 13:37:35

Moved to Hertfordshire so DH could still commute to London for work. I love London but we've never regretted it. It's near enough for day trips.

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