to want culture and safety for my children?(138 Posts)
We live in the French Alps but will move back to the UK in 18 months. The question is where to?
Dh currently does a weekly commute so part of the motivation is changing that but also to give the kids an English secondary education.
We love the idea of moving back to London but worry about moving these rural Alpine kids (ages 8-9) into the heart of the city. That said, we'll still spend school holidays in the Alps so they will get their mountain fix.
We're lucky enough to have freedom to live in many places, and would love thoughts on our options or any other ideas. Basically, do we try to replicate our Alpine life in the UK or go the polar opposite and have Dh around every day in a tiny city maisonette.
Tiny place, very central London - Holland Park, Pimlico
3 bed flat, Zone 2 London - Highgate, Hackney, Dulwich
Bath (with daily London commute for DH)
Brighton (with daily London commute for DH)
Further afield with a weekly commute still (considering Yorkshire, North Devon or Cornwall)
I spent 6 months in Bath and really enjoyed it. A year in Brighton and hated it. Loved Maida Vale and it's good to get more for your money.
I grew up in the SW. Even more for your money and can be idyllic. Some fathers of my friends did do weekly commutes, staying up in London M-F but that sounds horrible to me.
For me, I'd be looking at daily commutes but outside of 'London'. Bath and similar. Look at transport links. Where exactly does he need to be? If central then it's easy to live further away if you can get on a train. Less ideal if you arrive in St Pancreas and then have lots of tube stops.
What does your DH want to do?
Bath would be a significant daily commute.
Brighton is lovely with a large number of daily commuters. Train issues occasionally at moment with industrial action by drivers but that should settle and it's a fast journey direct into London.
I think children have a more gentle childhood outside of London. My daughter's friends and boyfriend mainly grew up in London and are well adjusted, lovely young adults (but all boarded from 13 so got the freedom in school). Our own friends that raised their children in London were more restrictive or moved out for teenage years.
I'm biased as I live here but I would go for north Devon
There's plenty of spaces between Pimlico and Bath, OP!
I love Brighton and it's hippy funky scene, although I don't live there any more so I am bias.
I was in a similar predicament and moved closer to London to minimize on my daily commute. Even 2 hours commute (both ways) cuts through your day and finding time to do anything enjoyable like sports or be with your family or even help with the homework is severely compromised.
Now, we live in the great London suburban sprawl and dare I say I love it. While, the yummy mummy culture of my town is meh, I love the close proximity to central London. (30 mins) and it's quick access to the green spaces of South Downs and the sea of Brighton.
I found that a short commute (15-20 mins drive) was better for us and me. the long commute was causing me issues at work as I had to go by a certain time, I was always tired and the daily grind was depressing me.
I understand the need to be in a cultural area but how many times are you honestly going to walk to a gallery opening or a concert in the middle of the week with kids in tow? We spend most of our days doing homework or hobbies and getting on top of things.
Weekends we do love theatre and museum etc so we get in the car or get the train.
Of course its impossible for us to know what would suit your family but I would say that 8 and 9 year olds are very adaptable and would probably fit into a city senario fine.
Does you DH work from home at all? Where's his base? Workwise
If it helps my parents moved DBro and I, rural Italian alpine kids to Brighton and we all loved/love it. Feels very safe for a proper city and has good secondary schools.
If you can live anywhere, then I wouldn't focus on commuting distances to London. As a PP said, Scotland would be your best option for combining city and mountains.
@Beebeeeight I think Aviemore to London might be a bit much for OP's DH!
I absolutely love Bath, I imagine it would be a brilliant place to live.
Realistically even in Yorkshire you're only looking at a 60/90 minute commute. I would feel inclined towards Brighton as it'll meet their cultural needs, maybe compare what you can buy housewise near Brighton compared to Yorkshire/Lincolnshire. I think you'll get more for your money being up north. Lincoln is quite nice, it's just for day trips the beaches aren't that nice and are more shingle based, compared to the southern coast.
I would make a list of priorities, so if golden sands isn't a priority, being rural, in a nice area with a good school is, close links to cities that provide cultural stimulation, somewhere around Lincoln. You should get quite a lot for your money. Where as Brighton you still might get somewhere near that is a fix up kind of place for a decent amount.
If I get the time I'll have a play on Rightmove and get two comparisons.
Is there anything specific you'd look for in a property.
Actually whilst I think about it, people are always moaning about the South Coast Railways. So commute wise, darting North might be better.
Brighton is fab. Look at Hove for a (tiny bit!) more space and quiet and of course beach access.
3 bed flat, Dulwich.
Why waste time and money and the earths resources on all that commuting? Time with kids is more important. Schools are good, (check catchments), family life good, stay in London for easy access to flights to the alps!
A London upbringing is brilliant for children and teens.
And it is a very quick trip indeed from Dulwich to Sussex, Kent, the S Downs and Brighton, for weekend days out.
Why a city? You say that you can live anywhere? Why not a big house on the West side of London. Live in a commuter village.
No point in moving to the mountains in the UK. It would be cold, wet and miserable.
The French Alps are much nicer than our mountain weather.
You can travel to culture.
Oxford is a nice city with good schools and culture, but a quicker commute to London than from Bath (I have friends who do it every day). It's a bit more expensive but still very reasonable compared to London and a fab place to live.
Personally I'd make the most of the chance to do something completely different and go for London. London is magnificent for children, from the V&A and Natural History Museum to mudlarking along the Thames (you now need a license though! a day workshop is fun to start with) or all the art and galleries. Highgate would also give you easy access to Hampstead Heath. I might also look at Stoke Newington (easy cycle commuting into the city, but more of a 'village within a city' feel to life?), Kentish Town, Finchley...
I would say somewhere like Oxford with reasonable commute. We live in Yorkshire and DS likes to visit London but thinks the concrete to trees ratio is sooo wrong . From Alps to city maisonette would be a big leap. Children are adaptable but would it overall be a better quality of life?
Battersea us getting quite trendy these days.
I wouldn't move far or wig the assumption of a reasonable commute. I've been battling a daily double commute for a few years now and it's awful. So many delays and strikes - its exhausting.
You could also look at small in Bayswater (next to Hyde Park).
What about schools? Are you looking private or state?
If your husband is an even slightly involved father, tiny flat close to his work. Kids will benefit more from his presence then a bigger kitchen. Xx
With all the problems with Southern Rail (still not resolved), I wouldn't be going anywhere near Brighton/the Brighton line if I needed to do a daily commute into London.
What about Nappy Valley - Battersea & Clapham (still in Zone 2)
Great schools, including several with bilingual French and English streams and a hence a French community. Tonnes of open space in Clapham Common, Tooting Common, Batersea Park and Wandsworth common - probably about 1500 acres all combined, and all within walking distance, plus very easy access to the countryside (Richmond park in 15 mins, Surrey Hills in 30 at the weekends)
Very easy access to the airports for trips back to France, and great commuting links
Dulwich or similar area, close to London but lots of green space, easy for airports & countryside if you want it. DH can come home every day.
Commuting is a pain, so I wouldn't consider a long commute. Where will your husband work in London? Choose somewhere on the nearest trainline, to avoid the hassle of crossing London.
So if he goes into St Pancras, choose somewhere in Hertfordshire, but if he is nearer Victoria, choose Kent.
I agree with the poster who says kids are pretty adaptable.
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