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The big move out of London....

(64 Posts)
Welshmum Fri 12-Sep-03 13:55:01

Has anyone moved out of London to live by the seaside - somewhere alot quieter? DH and I are contemplating just giving it all up and living in NZ or Wales (he's a Kiwi and I'm Welsh). It would mean giving up both our well paid jobs and leaving all our friends etc But a large part of me is so fed of living in the city and I really want my DD to go to a good little school like we both did. I just don't know if I can do it though -I've been in London for 20 years. Would love to hear any advice/experiences.

fio2 Fri 12-Sep-03 13:59:34

Have you thought about moving to the coast closer to London ie. within a commuting distance or is this not an option?

quackers Fri 12-Sep-03 14:14:16

Hi Welsh mum, we did it a year ago! We moved from big old London, which I did love but the commuting etcc... was apin. We gave up our jobs (good ones and I in particular was very settled and happy in the job), sold our house and moved to the isle of Man! I have an amazing view from my house and the beach is a short walk. My DD has made more friends ans so have we!! We have found new jobs and although I'm not as happy here, I'm paid more ironically!! It took a few months to settle but it has worked out really well!! We love our trips back to Lndon and enjoy it for what it is - a great city that you rarely enjoy if u live there! Good luck, if you don't try it you;ll never know!!!!!

WideWebWitch Fri 12-Sep-03 14:55:16

Hi Welshmum, yes, we did. Well, I did, with ds, when I left ex dh. We (me, new dp, ds) are shortly about to move back to a larger city though, having had enough of country life. So here you go, these are my views:

Bad points about the countryside:

* Salaries. We can't live on what dp is paid here. If I were to work full time I'd be paid about 1/3 or less than I'd get anywhere else, so once childcare's factored in it's not worth it. The cost of living isn't that much lower, apart from rents. Utitilies, food, petrol all cost much the same as elsewhere. Houses are so expensive where we live that we couldn't afford to buy here, ever (not on these salaries anyway). Insurance is lower, sure, but not that much. IF you can afford to live on MUCH less money (i.e you have lots of cash or equity or end up buying outright) then fine, you'll be OK. Make sure you can live on your decreased income though, would be my advice.
* Ethnicity. 99.5% (official county council figures) of our local population is white. I don't like it.
* Winter. Shops shut as do lots of other things. I quite liked this except when I was lonely and felt the hills closing in around me.
* Facilities can be rubbish. For example, where we used to live there was no shoe shop, cinema, video shop, take away delivery, railway station or Body Shop/other shops I want to go to. (just an example - the nearest Clinique stockist is an hour away) So it could feel quite isolated sometimes and an 2 hour round trip to a shoe shop isn't much fun with children.
* Small minded attitudes. I was treated quite badly as a single parent in the countryside and was shocked at some of the antiquated views I encountered. I haven't been a single parent in a city but I feel sure it wouldn't have been so bad and I wouldn't have faced such prejudice. I haven't met any true soul mates either and I'm outgoing. I do still have all my old friends though, thank goodness, so make an effort to see them.

Good things:
* Country air, beautiful countryside, beaches. Mmm. Except that in the summer I'll be charged a fiver a day to go to any of my local beaches and they're so packed I don't go anyway. It annoys me since people living locally contribute to the economy all year round but get stitched up along with the tourists in the summer.
* Great schools. Small, sweet. Doesn't make the education any better though. Especially in life skills etc.
* Friendliness. People are friendlier in some ways - for example people in shops will stop and chat for ages. Bit annoying if you're standing behind them in a rush though! I once texted a friend to say "why do people shopping here behave as if it's a lovely social outing?" and she wrote back with "because it *is* if you live in XXXXX". Quite.
* Low crime. We regularly leave doors open in the summer and I pretty much know that if I leave something in my car it won't be stolen. That is nice.
* More space for your money. Houses etc., if you're buying.

If we were staying here I'd worry about what there was to do for my children when they get older. There are very few facilities for younger people (large retired population) and the few jobs here are are poorly paid. I also want them to realise that not everyone is white and middle class (which describes where we live now). There was a huge group of youths (eek I am old, using that word!) on the quay last night, sitting in cars, playing loud music, with nowhere to go, nothing to do and I felt sorry for them. Maybe this happens everywhere though? I grew up in a medium sized country town btw (much bigger than where I live now, pop about 36,000) and there was a *huge* drug problem there. At the age of 14 I could lay my hands on any drug you liked. So I don't think countryside = no drugs, crime, etc either. In fact, I can see that the boredom might make drugs very attractive! (JOKE!) Anyway, as you can see, I'm very down on the countryside! But equally, I don't want to live in London again so we're compromising and going to a large-ish city. Could you try renting out your place in London and seeing what you think for six months/a year in NZ or Wales first? I don't think I'd have stayed in the countryside for so long (3 years) had I had my place in London to go back to tbh. HTH!

Jimjams Fri 12-Sep-03 15:29:05

Yep we moved just over a year ago. From London to Devon. Much better here. Massive paycut, but much bigger house. DH still works long hours but can pop home for lunch. If one of the boys throws up I can ring dh and he can be home. Dh can pop out for all the bl**** meetings to do with ds1 without having to take holiday as there's no commute, which means I can be supported at those meeting. We live in a city but have a view of the sea. 20 minutes drive to the moors.

It's great. What do I miss about London? Errr nothing - except friends and quite a few have been down to stay.

CountessDracula Fri 12-Sep-03 15:44:23

WWW I grew up in the country (winchester) and drugs are so rife it's untrue.

There really was v little else to do, the cinema closed down and there were millions of pubs so everyone just got drunk and took drugs.

I do feel there is more for kids to do in London, but obviously there are aspects of the country that are better too.

WideWebWitch Fri 12-Sep-03 15:52:30

Ah, CountessDracula, I grew up not so far from's a market town with a socking great cathedral

CountessDracula Fri 12-Sep-03 15:56:32

What Winchester? I know, I grew up there!

Does it begin with S?

Jenie Fri 12-Sep-03 16:06:00

I grew up in Malvern and it was dull but I did get to enjoy a great childhood of making dens in the fields and climbing the hills with a pic nic and friends who had nothing better to do than do that with me!

I guess that I had the childhood that I want for my own children but we live in a busy town now in Buckinghamshire area and things aren't that simple anymore.

Drugs are rife yes but you'd be ignorant to assume that it's much worse in pituresque Malvern compared to where I live now..... my house is valued at £120k and I live next door to smack heads (only recently moved in).

Atleast if someone broke into your house in Malvern you knew who it was and could ask for your stuff back and get it (if you knew the right people). Everyone knows what your business is and as you get older it drives you nuts.

The hills in Malvern are so oppressive that it has a very high rate of depression and mental illness due to the hills looming over you 24 7.

But in short the education was 100times better and it's a great environment to bring up children. It's all to do with how you look at things a positive person would say we can go to the park, climb the hills, feed the ducks, walk the fields (and eat what evers in season). A less positive person would say there's nothing to do, some people don't feel as though they've done something until it's cost them money!

sibble Fri 12-Sep-03 16:28:13

Hi Welshmum
We moved to NZ last year as DH is kiwi. I am in UK (London) for 1 month visiting friends/family. I think if anybody is seriously thinking about the move and is able, they should give it a go. Why spend the rest of your life wondering what if...? I gave up a good job in the city, family, friends, house, everything and DH had been away from NZ for 18 years so it was as much of a gamble for him too. I could write reams but in summary.
On a plus side to NZ, Dh is home before 6pm every night (hardly saw him before 8-9 in London). We own 11 acres, are 20 minutes from good beaches, the shops, 30 mins from Auckland, DS (3.5 years) has horseriding lessons, swimming lessons, his nursery is on 10 acres with cows, sheep, goats and all the kids feed them (with bottles when babies). The weather is more pleasant/consistent. I don't have to work whereas in London we needed 2 salaries. (I work p/t through choice which is a much nicer feeling). I could go on but for us it works.
On the negative side. It is a long way from home and when I had m/c earlier this year had nobody on the end of the phone when I wanted to talk due to time difference. It is hard making friends as friendship takes time. That is about it.
Having now been back for 3 weeks I will always love London - I was born here. I love shopping, hanging out at bars, cafes and the cosmopolitan culture (DH seriously misses pub culture) but in reality how much of that do I get to do with a 3 year old.
My ideal would be to have flat in London, my house in NZ and appartment in Spain or France and fly between the 3 - but we can all dream!!!!!
Rent your house/flat if you are unsure and go for at least a months holiday first but I would go for it. Live for the moment if you can. When DS is older we may change our minds, move back or to a city to give him more opportunities but at this stage it is good for us all.

waterbaby Fri 12-Sep-03 16:31:44

Jim Jams - sounds like we're close by - also in Devon, Estuary not Sea View though!

Love the fact that our children play on the beach almost every day, and there is plenty of space (common, moors etc) to run around on, not just a park (though from other threads some of the parks in London do sound fab, someone was talking about a bar in a park - heaven)!

I grew up in a small seaside town and struggled to imagine my daughter not going to the same kind of school I did. I'm sure there are great schools in cities, (which might have much better facilities than we have here) but they were so far away from my experience as a child that I couldn't relate to it.

WWW, CD; yes, can relate to your comments from my own teenage years - drugs and drink are just as available in the countryside as the city, and the general feeling of safety we have (not locking doors etc) can mean these habits are not picked up early - loads of people still don't think that 'that' happens here.

IME the country/seaside was fabulous til about the age of 13. 'Boring' from 13 to 16 (but I didn't have much input from parents,there are loads of things you can find to do with them to starve off this some but not all of the time). 16 to 18 couldn't wait to get a car - was happy to be there but public transport wasn't around, hence little independence. 18 - left for the big city - for uni, missed the fresh air and places to walk something chronic, but for several childfree years enjoyed the benefits of city life. Now am really loving being a parent here! Paddling in rockpools, horseriding, days on the moors... but with a steaming bath and warm towels just a few miles away!

CountessDracula Fri 12-Sep-03 16:32:57

Sorry, I was thinking about teen years there.

When I was younger it was fab living in the country. Cycled all over the place, spent most of the time outside fishing, stalking innocent bunnies with air rifle and missing them (can you imagine letting your 6 and 8 year old loose with a gun? We did it all the time!), playing in the garden, building dens, hiding in haystacks, toasting marshmallows on the fire, in short a really idyllic country upbringing.

Welshmum Fri 12-Sep-03 17:25:47

Loads more to think about now....even more indecisive - if it was possible. Great to have all the views though -thanks

beetroot Fri 12-Sep-03 19:48:14

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Jimjams Fri 12-Sep-03 19:52:24

We do sound close waterbaby....

beetroot you've just reminded me - I miss bluewater and yo sushi (although hasn't the bluwater yo sushi closed down?)

tigermoth Fri 12-Sep-03 20:18:44

Food for thought, www.

We're contemplating a move out of London to the Devon countryside and coast, but not for at least 2 years. I have lived in London, and loved it, for over 20 years. I have only just got my head around the idea of moving away (to an area I know well, visited it for the last 13 years). It's taken me a long time to feel ready and I certainly don't want to leave my London friendships behind me.

I know if and when we make the move I will feel 10 years older. All the people who knew me in london as a wilder 20 something will no longer be in my life. Any new people I meet will see a middle aged mum. But that's not a big enough reason for staying here.

I am so attracted by the prospect of beaches nearby, fresh air, better schooling and smaller communities. I love taking my children out to the countryside and beaches of Kent, I like them belonging to a small school with a close community as they do here in London. If we move we'll have these things but more so, I think.

I do not want to grow old in my area of London. I wasn't born in London, and I have virtually no family here. I don't want to leave it too late to move out. I want time to establish good friendships and roots somewhere else. If I moved away from London in 15 years time, say, when I am 60 years old, it would just be a retirement move.

I am hoping that I can find work in the public sector somewhere in south Devon. The salary levels are not that dissimilar to outer London salaries. I have been looking on council websites to compare. I suspect the competition to get an OK public sector job in beautiful Devon is tough, tough, tough - can anyone enlighten me on that I wonder?

tigermoth Fri 12-Sep-03 20:20:39

yes, the bluewater yo sushi has long closed down. Oh goodness how I would miss Bluewater and Covent Garden and the South Bank to name but three of my favourite London-ish places. No easy answer is there?

beetroot Fri 12-Sep-03 21:02:36

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WideWebWitch Fri 12-Sep-03 21:07:14

There's a Yo Sushi and a Body Shop at Paddington Station! Not quite the same though, I do appreciate that.

Welshmum, I was very down on the countryside I think, reading my post back. I think atm I have to be since we're moving and I have to keep reminding myself of all the reasons we're moving (see below). I think the main one is money - I have to say, if we were better off (i.e. had no mortgage or rent and a higher disposable income) and didn't have to drive 1,200 miles a month to get ds to his dad then maybe we could overcome the other things we don't like about the countryside. I suppose were money absolutely no object then we'd be able to live part time in both - summer holidays/Christmas in the countryside and the rest of the time in a city. I could cope with all the downsides of country living I think, if it was just for bits at a time. But I do feel myself come alive when I'm in a city so maybe what it comes down to is that I am a city girl at heart? Possibly, I don't know and won't, I suspect, until we've moved. Of course we may move and regret it since I'll have to work and we'll have more money but less time but I'm hoping that the advantages of moving will outweigh the disadvantages for us.

Maybe it works if you plan it better and start off with low/no mortgage (as many people do) and you *know* you can make a decent living at something you love or at least don't dislike. Tigermoth, your plan sounds good. And if money isn't an issue and neither is the fact that a lot of the countryside is white then I can see why people love it. I can't say I'm not scared of moving at all, I am and as we stood skimming stones on the beach earlier this evening I did wonder and hope that we're doing the right thing. Only time will tell hey?

batey Fri 12-Sep-03 21:17:52

We did it 5 yrs ago, from London to Somerset. Don't regret it for a minute. Do miss close friends etc but they still visit. And now we're doing London as tourists with the kids and it's great. I can even remember all my ols short cuts. Go for it!

fio2 Fri 12-Sep-03 21:25:17

mmmm we're moving to the coast, are you telling me drugs are rife there??....One more good reason to move then

beetroot Fri 12-Sep-03 21:58:06

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Jimjams Fri 12-Sep-03 22:00:21

I don't think the competition is too bad tigermoth- I see lots advertised and I would imagine there would be quite a few going in Exeter.

Friendships. I do miss my London friends but I have made some great friends down here. I do have old friends left from school who are reappearing (lots of us seem to be slowly making our way back down here), but I have made some very close new friends down here. And the great thing is they're all oder than me so I'm seen as being young

Jimjams Fri 12-Sep-03 22:02:52

Of course although I'm in Devon I live in a city. We did look at living out in the sticks when we moved down but I am pleased we went for the city (we're pretty central as well). Very easy to get to the country and we can walk to the sea, but still all the city advantages.

I do still get caught out down here though- I popped to the newsagents at 5.30 yesterday and they were closing- it totally threw me.

bunny2 Fri 12-Sep-03 22:44:31

I'm a Londoner and love the place, always will. But we moved (via Spain) from London to Bournemouth. For us it wasnt a diffilcult decision because we were desperate to help our son who has had the worst eczema imaginable and the pollution in London made it worse. So, we gave up a huge salary (dh), long-time friends, close family etc to start afresh by the coast and I can honestly say we love it. Dh earns a fraction of what he used to earn but we have no mortgage on a big 4 bed Victorian detached house whereas in London we had a big mortgage on a 2 bed flat. We are a few minutes walk from the coast, we hire boats at the weekend, go kite flying, play on the beach etc, it is a lovely way for my son to grow up. In London we spent most of our time sitting in traffic if we wanted to go anywhere. Here I find the people are mostly friendler, the schools good and crime less of a problem. We are so glad we made the move. However, it doesnt mean we dont miss London, I often do.

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