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To wonder how to have it all (country living, city work, DC)

(47 Posts)
Goostacean Thu 21-May-20 15:42:05

Lockdown has made me/us realise that our 3 bedroom garden-less flat actually IS big enough for me, DH and our two under-3s, although we’d been planning to move to a larger property locally when we find something suitable. I’m on mat leave, DH is WFH and it’s all been manageable. We live in NW London and normally commute 35-40mins each. Children are at/would be going to a local nursery - 10min bus ride or 20min walk, next to our closest tube stop.

However, the more I think about it, the more I would love a large garden, open plan living, enough bedrooms that the boys don’t have to share for us to have an office (currently DH works in the living room and works into the evening even when it’s not lockdown so I barely go in there for days on end). But it would be a faff to drive everywhere or have a long train commute. I’ll be going back to work and that will change our lifestyle a lot obviously. We’d also like access to the main London public schools in the future, which is more difficult and would be very tiring for the boys if we lived outside the M25, I guess.

Do you have a long commute and/or two parents working in a city centre (any city, not just London)? School age children? What do/did you prioritise? What do you (not) regret? The houses we could buy for the same budget are stunning. Rightmove is dangerous 😂

caperplips Thu 21-May-20 15:52:32

We're not in London, nor indeed the UK at all.
We live 10 miles from the city and we are totally rural with farms surrounding us. We both work in the city and now dc goes to school there but prior to this went the local primary school.

We have a large garden, a detached house with plenty of space - 3 large reception rooms, utility, toilet downstairs, 3 large double rooms and family bathroom upstairs.

We're feeling very fortunate to be living here during lockdown as we have lots of space and we're never on top of each other. Dc had lovely country upbringing and all the advantages of small country school so tiny classes.

They're the advantages. On the flip side:
we have to drive EVERYWHERE - there is not as much as a corner shop we can walk to.
Dc now teen and want to be around friends and have a social life
Now that dc teen, WE want to have more of a social life and taxis are very expensive
I hate not being able to walk where-ever I want to go, or have friends call in for a coffee / glass of wine spontaneously etc

We've had lots of lovely years here but now I think we all realise our needs have changed as a family once again and we're considering moving back to the city in the coming couple of years

ditavonteesed Thu 21-May-20 15:59:27

Come to Sheffield, the peaks and loads of amazing woodland 10 minute drive away, I go for a couple fo hours with the digs most days. 10 min tram to the city, lots to do (well normally). Dh and I both work full time dh 30 min commute, me 10. Kids both walk to school. And the best bit, house prices. 3 bed terrace with a lovely garden for £160,000.

zefi Thu 21-May-20 16:05:33

What is your budget though OP if you can say?

Goostacean Thu 21-May-20 16:08:46

I was browsing £1.25-1.75m for 5 beds in Hertfordshire, for example. So in that ballpark, I’d say.

(Yes it’s an obscene amount of money and that’s why I get so cross that around here it somehow doesn’t go very far...)

ITonyah Thu 21-May-20 16:10:57

Surely for that money you can move to Hertford or St Albans and commute in??

ElsieBobo Thu 21-May-20 16:13:34

I’ve done this for about 7 years now. It’s not easy, we live about 1 to 1.5 hour out of a city in the countryside. Trains are not reliable enough for my liking to get to school pick up. Even with after school club (which we are lucky to have - most local schools don’t do it as no market for it) you need to leave work in the city by the afternoon to get there by 6pm and my kids are usually last ones there. . It can be hard to find other forms of childcare - we have no childminders who service the area/ our school and can’t find after school nannies etc. No students who want a few hours work. Most of the other school mums don’t work so I’m the only one racing off every morning. It has been lovely during lockdown however and if we move to a much more flexible working system it might work for you. For me I’ve learned I can only manage to commute 2 times a week( 3 max on occasion) and keep all the balls in the air- some degree of home working has been essential.

AdultierAdult Thu 21-May-20 16:20:11

Do you both need to work in London? My first thought was a smaller, but vibrant, city like Bristol or Oxford...you could even build your own with that budget www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-80427518.html

Otherwise why not do what everyone else does and come out to Beaconsfield, Great Missenden etc.

A quick search: www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-67784595.html

~20 mins to Marylebone, loads in the town itself and good access to countryside. Personally I'd prefer the Peaks/Bristol/Oxford but - though we are currently relocating out of Bucks - there is a reason so many Londoners move out here!

BlackberryCane Thu 21-May-20 16:21:19

How much scope is there for either or both of you to work remotely?

Xenia Thu 21-May-20 16:23:59

I am in outer NW London on tube private road, wood opposite, 5 bed house, 4 separate downstairs living rooms including my home office - have worked from home since the 1990s. I think it is the best of all worlds.

I suppose it will depend on your budget. A couple fairly recently bought a house about 2 doors up for about £1.3m - detached, 4 beds, large garden.

zefi Thu 21-May-20 16:25:36

Also, when you say London public schools, do you mean the independent day schools?

Have you considered the whole SW London area and outwards into Surrey? Once you’re the other side of Richmond it gets a little cheaper. All the areas such as Teddington, Hampton and onwards as the river flows, all have kind of villagey atmospheres and a laid-back vibe with the river and lots of greenery. For schools, you’re in striking distance of LEH, Kingston Grammar, Hampton, Kings Wimbledon. I think these schools also have coaches so you could even move out as far as Esher etc, if you don’t mind a more suburban vibe. There is also the Tiffin Grammar schools in Kingston (state). But do be warned, these schools are super-competitive at 11 plus. LEH, Hampton and Kings Wimbledon have preps and it might be easier to get in at 7+, but they will need to be very academic And a certain type really for these schools (I see your two are only little as yet).
I have kids in the Hammersmith / Barnes independents (LU, G&L, SPS) and some do travel in from places within striking distance of Richmond tube - eg St Margaret’s, Whitton or Twickenham. Ham and Petersham between Richmond and Kingston also feel very countrified and are in a gorgeous stretch of the river, but cheaper than Richmond..

Didiusfalco Thu 21-May-20 16:27:04

Is there not a compromise where you can have a house with a garden in London? I mean, I know it’s expensive, but that is still house money you have there. Don’t underestimate the importance to your quality of life of things like a decent commute, easy access to preferred schools etc.

yasmiina Thu 21-May-20 16:27:24

For that budget, browse around Kingston on right move!

I even found a nice semi detached 4 bed house in Ealing, open plan, big garden, etc for 1.2 million a few weeks ago! You don't have to leave London smile

Notesfromalankywoman Thu 21-May-20 16:29:45

How about Canterbury and Kings? You could be mortgage free, still commute to London with gorgeous countryside and seaside pretty much on your doorstep. We did just that on just over half your budget and as it honestly was the best thing we ever did. Especially appreciate it now. Even with everything closed there has still been so much to explore and enjoy...

petwer Thu 21-May-20 16:33:14

I have a great balance (live zone 3 south London) simply because I work locally, just not interested in a commute ever again. I also work p/t, short days, tto ish & the school is very close. DH works in the city but wfh 1-2 days a wk. Our home & garden is smaller than we would like but to increase this we need an extra 500k (100k stamp duty). However even that doesn't allow for much more & if we did have that I still want more for my money. DH is looking at wfh as a minimum 3 days a wk now, currently it's 5 & I only do 2 days but have always had the remote option.

We are looking at moving out, lots of our friends/neighbours have already done it places like Bristol, Surrey, Sussex. I'm tired of being jealous of their space & not really sure why i'm still here!

HauntedGoatFart Thu 21-May-20 16:33:42

...? On that budget surely you can have everything you want in London.

I live in West London on the Crossrail route. 5bdr house with garden, and I could have got a bigass garden for your budget. Commute of about 1h15 at the moment but that will plummet when Crossrail kicks in to more like 30-40min. Good primary school for the DC 5 mins walk away. Tons of green space, plus all city amenities and public transport. And when the DC are older they can get themselves around to school, friends and all activities.

Devlesko Thu 21-May-20 16:35:10

How is that having it all.
It sounds pretty boring and hum drum to me.

petwer Thu 21-May-20 16:39:08

tbf you have a very good budget

crazychemist Thu 21-May-20 16:39:16

We live in Kent. We moved out here when we were expecting DD (we were in a flat in London, so we needed to move, and as the plan was eventually to get out of London we decided to do it earlier than strictly necessary). I’m currently teaching in a London independent school, but there are lots of good independent schools in my area of Kent so am aiming to change over to one of those at the end of next academic year.

Depending on where you work in London, there are lots of train stations just within/just outside the M25 that have a pretty speedy commute into London. Depending on how much travel costs matter to you, HS1 is less than 20 mins from Ebbsfleet to Kings Cross, but it is pricey.

If you want a seriously big house, you’re not likely to be right next to a train station though, so you need to factor in time to drive to the train station.

My DD is 3, with another one on the way. Currently it feels like we have plenty of space, but long term we definitely have our eye on an extension. Worth thinking about whether any house that you buy is in green belt - that really restricts what changes you can make.

zefi Thu 21-May-20 16:49:34

Ok, with your budget and if you want the “best of both worlds” as you say, could I strongly recommend Barnes? It’s like a village and fantastic for families. In a beautiful loop of the Thames. Has an almost seaside vibe in parts. Very green and has its own duck pond in the centre of the village. There’s the London Wetland Centre here and loads of green recreational space. Best schools in the UK are within walking distance. Hammersmith tube just over the river (10 min walk from this house) so good access anywhere. Richmond Park Close by. Lovely shops, restaurants and cafes. Friendly, safe and lots of character. Gorgeous river walks and cycle routes. It’s quite unique really and it’s a fantastic lifestyle for anyone, but particularly families. You could get something like this house which is moments from Hammersmith Bridge. 5 mins from St Paul’s Boys; a 15 minute stroll down the Thames to Latymer Upper and a similar walk to St Paul’s Girls or Godolphin & Latymer. You also have Putney High a ten minute drive, Harrodian and Ibstock Place (in Barnes); Wimbledon High and KCS about 15-20 min drive. Loads of fantastic preps to prepare them for entry into these schools. Outstanding Catholic Primary in Barnes too and another outstanding primary as well (but that’s in the Mortlake side so different catchment). People move here for the schools and to feel like they live in a village in Zone 2/3, but only 15 mins from Sloane Square grin

Lightsabre Thu 21-May-20 16:50:45

Bear in mind that some independent schools will not consider admitting children that have more than an hours commute time door to door.

Swiftier Thu 21-May-20 16:57:18

Where do you live in London? You’d get a lovely big house with garden in many parts of London on that big a budget! If you want more space etc I’d move to a leafy part of London that would still allow me to get into work in good time. Plus you’d have all the benefits of being in London for the weekends etc. No disrespect to anywhere else suggested, but often people move out of London to have more space because they can’t afford space IN London. You could afford space in London on that budget!

Swiftier Thu 21-May-20 16:58:22

Like Wimbledon, Richmond, Greenwich, Blackheath, Alexandra Palace, etc.

Theyweretheworstoftimes Thu 21-May-20 17:00:02

https://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-61017861.html

Here you are

Trains 30 mins to London Euston

It's even got a pool!

ClaudiaWankleman Thu 21-May-20 17:01:55

How is that having it all. It sounds pretty boring and hum drum to me.

Because, surprisingly, people have different wants and needs in life @Devlesko

Your own dreams aren't superior just because they don't involve suburbia.

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