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To think London is an ok place to bring up dcs?

(146 Posts)
longestlurkerever Sat 19-Jul-14 11:14:12

I live in London. I am lucky enough to own a house with a small garden near a big park in zone 2 and have enough flex in the budget to cover tube tickets, regular cheap days out and the occasional more expensive one as a treat. Lots of my friends and colleagues are looking to leave London, saying they wouldn't want to bring up children in London, in a tone that makes it sound like it would be borderline neglectful to stay. I guess if we were going to move (either further out to somewhere more rural but with a commute in for work or to properly delicate) then now while dd is still small would be the best time to do so (she is turning 3) but I am not sure I want to.

There is so much to do with young dcs here, often free or cheap. This week we have been to the South Bank to play in the fountains, on the temporary slides and at the fake beach, to a free toddler cycling club and associated awards ceremony with free drinks and goodie bags, to three separate parks with big paddling pools, sand pits and zip wires, to an nct event with free face painting and taster classes of dancing and theatre, to the woods for play camping with tents and hammocks (that was with nursery) and we are just about to go to an abandoned railway line for Blackberry picking followed by the city farm. Over the last few weeks we have been to four museums and two puppet shows not to mention lots of birthday parties in parks and on the heath. Neighbours and I are building a communal play area on the railway land behind our houses nd have applied for the road to be closed off once a month for a 'play street'.

Admittedly all of these activities are a bit 'urban'. The toddler cycling is on an unlovely estate with boarded up flats and the blackberry picking is along a nature reserve interspersed with graffitied railway arches. I sometimes worry about all the pollution in London but overall I think dd is having fun, making friends and experiencing lots of different things that she maybe wouldn't do in a village. Is it ok that she isn't drinking in beautiful scenery and bounding through fields? I love the seaside and we are off to Wales on holiday next week. Sometimes I dream of living by the sea but tbh feel a bit lost in the countryside, esp in bad weather, and put dd in a field without other children and a playground and she looks a bit bemused.

So aibu to bring dd up in London? Am I being hopelessly naive to think I can steer her away from gangs and crime as she gets older, or to think that the countryside has its problems too? She will be going to state schools - they are fairly decent where we live. I grew up in a town but a much smaller one.

OwlCapone Sat 19-Jul-14 11:16:10

There is nothing wrong with London at all. It's not for everyone but there's absolutely nothing wrong with raising a child there.

AtlanticDrift Sat 19-Jul-14 11:18:52

Of course its ok. People raise children perfectly well in cities all over the world. On the opposite end of the argument in the country you wouldn't have to entertain them with all those things, you just open the door in the morning and let them out

NewtRipley Sat 19-Jul-14 11:19:13

It it a great place. Regular trips to the countryside and seaside and bob's your uncle. Other places exist (I'm told) but this suits us and our teen DCs

But it is hard for people on a low income to stay in London, despite the free activities for children.

thecuntureshow Sat 19-Jul-14 11:19:29

YANBU OP! For all of the reasons you state and more.

I am sure I had more opportunities growing up because I lived in London. I certainly had a great time especially as a teenager.

Your friends are wrong

I have friends with children outside of London who spend all their time going to the same place, driving their kids about all the time.

DH and I want to stay in London to bring up DCs but whether we can or not I don't know - housing prices have gone up 30% in the last few years. If we already had a home we'd never leave.

HemlockStarglimmer Sat 19-Jul-14 11:22:08

I grew up in London and didn't join a gang or get into drugs or crime.

Admittedly that was quite some time ago as I'm now 52 but I could have done all those bad things if I'd wanted to. But my parents brought me up properly and that combined with me being me meant I didn't want to.

I'm sure your children also won't want to.

I loved living in London and it's only now I'm old and boring that I don't hanker to go back (left in 1993).

Preciousbane Sat 19-Jul-14 11:22:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HemlockStarglimmer Sat 19-Jul-14 11:23:48

Jut to add -
The opportunities to indulge in drugs were greater in the small West County town I moved to.

Tangoandcreditcards Sat 19-Jul-14 11:26:05

Of course it's fine. I grew up in London with my 4 siblings (albeit zone 4, went to school in zone 2!). Lived here all my life except uni.

DS is only 5mo but I can't imagine bringing him up anywhere other than London, it's part of who I am. We rent with all the costs that entails, so it may be further out than we currently live as we need a bit more space (but no further than zone4, if we can help it!).

For me (and I know it's not the same for everyone) I would rather never own my home than miss out on hours a day with my family from commuting.

girlwhowearsglasses Sat 19-Jul-14 11:39:40

YANBU! When I had my DCs I had all sorts of comments about babies in cities - and schools and so on and on.

Having a baby in a city saved me from some of the isolation and shock of being out of workplace rural friends had. If I cared to walk into the street I would get talking to people, and life was going on around me - not 'just' other mums, but all aspects of life (Central London - not a 'dormitory' suburb)

Free activities for under 5's could be found on most days, within walking distance.

Now my DCs are at school it's just as good. If you chance in a school that takes advantage of location you can find your kids (and their contemporaries from all backgrounds) are having the sort of experiences a rural kid like me would have had their mind blown by: and for free on public transport. This year they have had free trips to Royal Institution, workshops at the Globe and Tate Modern, visits from Rambert Dance, trips to Museum of London, British Museum, Natural History Museum: all free.

This is an inner city state school with loads of really disadvantaged kids. I can't think where in the world you'd get this kind of education. It's the ongoing relationship with this kind of culture that I really value: not a special day trip into town, but - for example - over the summer we will probably visit lots of museums - but only briefly- so maybe half an hour in the Mummy Room at British Museum.

OneLittleToddleTerror Sat 19-Jul-14 11:46:31

I grew up in Hong Kong and then Auckland. I can honestly say there is nothing wrong with growing up in a large city. It is what you do with it that is important. My husband is from a very rural NZ town and he raves about how great it is. I just don't buy it at all. I see all the things kids from rural areas are missing like what girlwhowearglasses listed. And the opportunities for a teen or young adult. DH said most rural kids just hang about a farm and get drunk anyway.

Artandco Sat 19-Jul-14 11:47:10

I love London, and live here with our children. The one thing I do worry about is the pollution at the moment.

ReallyTired Sat 19-Jul-14 11:53:20

If you are rich like the OP then London is a fanastic place to grow up in. The OP owns a house with a small garden which is near a park. Only rich people can afford property in zone 2. London also has the best state schools in the country by miles.

If the choice is a one bed flat in the east end or moving further out to buy a 3 bed property then it makes less sense to stay in London.

laza222 Sat 19-Jul-14 12:00:08 your friends own houses in London? I think perhaps some people can convince themselves that London wouldn't be a great place to bring up kids because it isn't something they could afford to do or If they were to it on their money, then they wouldn't have the standard of living they'd want. If you see what I mean.

I would love to bring up children in London but pay £1230 per month for a one bedroom flat in zone 2 at the moment. When a child comes along, it would be tricky to do as I couldn't provide the standard of living I'd like to. That would be different if I owned a place. Realistically we are likely to be here until we have our first and move out after a year. The part of zone 2 we live in, a two bed flat is on the market for £750,000 down our road!

We could of course move to another part of London which is cheaper but due to my husband commuting out by car everyday, that would be tricky. We picked this area due to its location near the road he needs to take to get out.

ReallyTired Sat 19-Jul-14 12:11:40

If you venture a little way out of London then £1230 a month can pay for a nice house or least pay for the mortgage. The idea of paying £750,000 for a two bed flat is insane.

Somewhere like Molesey you can get this

and its still easily close enough to get to London by train.

Or Watford

If you don't mind me asking, why can't you move nearer to your husvand's work if he is commuting out of London?

wobblyweebles Sat 19-Jul-14 12:13:21

Will your children actually get places at the decent schools? That would be my only worry. Other than that you sound like you're pretty well off so your children will have a comfortable life wherever you live.

laza222 Sat 19-Jul-14 12:16:56


I don't mind you asking at all!

We both grew up South of London and moved to the Midlands due to his work. I got a job up there, was made redundant and then found a job in London. I commuted for a year and the early start/long journeys drove me mad. We also missed family and friends and felt hugely isolated so decided to move to London and he commutes north each day. It sounds expensive but we were paying out £8,000 in train fare the year I was commuting so actually there isn't much difference.

tigermoll Sat 19-Jul-14 12:17:16

My boyfriend grew up in London, I grew up in the country. I got into far more trouble than he did, even though we had comparable levels of freedom and poorness (if not exactly poverty) There was certainly a lot more drugs where I grew up. Mind you, he did tell me he was eleven before he 'met a horse ' so it depends what your priorities are. Ps it was a police horse.

Feellikeimfailing Sat 19-Jul-14 12:20:20

We have 3 DCs in zone 2, a garden, amazing state schools, however I find it frustrating, claustrophobic and polluted. I want to move to the a remote island somewhere.


autumnsmum Sat 19-Jul-14 12:20:22

I'm glAd this thread has been started , one huge plus about living in London has been the choice of provision for dd2 who has autism , also the transport as I don't drive , we are in social housing albeit long term temporary accomadation

Artandco Sat 19-Jul-14 12:25:51

Oh also, it's not a London thing, but a city thing, that I feel might be the reason we eventually leave London. The main reasons pollution, but also I feel that if costs grow at estimated rates and housing rockets higher, then for us to move somewhere with a little space to grow % of own food, and keep chickens etc would be really beneficial.

I know it scaremongering and prob slightly inaccurate but wen they give costs like by 2020 x6 eggs will cost £4.60, and a punnet of strawberries £8, it's slightly scary. If the cost of everything goes at the same rate, the idea of being slightly self sufficient, with own space ( rather than relying on parks), and cyclable/ walkable sounds appealing.

At the moment though, we live in 1 bed flat, have x2 children, very central, and life works well, and we are very happy.

longestlurkerever Sat 19-Jul-14 12:25:56

Thanks all. I do realise London isn't for everyone, or a realistic option for many. I am not rich but accept a lot better off than many (dh and I both have professional jobs in the public sector but I an part time). My house was a bit of a bargain and the area was up and coming (read - a bit grotty) when I bought it but it is those in my income bracket and above that tend to adopt the 'tone!'about London childhnods. Dd won't get into the most sought after schools but the local ones are decent I think.

Sundaedelight Sat 19-Jul-14 12:28:06

London is great but expensive and frustrating with small children due to crowds/ pushing etc. The pollution is also a big concern for me. However, for many older children, especially teens, it is heaven as they can get themselves about more easily.

We live in commuter belt and it is much easier to do day to day stuff here like shopping/schools/doctor/swimming/sports than London purely because there are fewer people in the way. It's a bit calmer but rather boring sometimes.

NewtRipley Sat 19-Jul-14 12:31:26


I suspect I know where you are, and I agree. But some people are unduly scared of London life and London schools if they have been brought up somewhere different.

irisgrey Sat 19-Jul-14 12:32:03

London for a teen with an Oyster card is a great big playground. There is so much stuff they can access without the need for parents to get them there. Plus the buses are free. My kids love it.

I accept though that they are fortunate to live in a safe area, with parks, a lido and a great school. And we are comfortable financially which obviously makes a difference.

I've always thought I wouldn't be quite so keen on London for them if they didn't have grandparents living in the country to provide a rural escape in the holidays.

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