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Help with making a big decision? Moving out of London or not..

(32 Posts)
waivering Sun 07-Jun-09 21:01:00

We're really really stuck on this question and would love to hear from other people who've been through it either way. Also, maybe there are people who know how to approach this decision making process?

Ok, we are quite happy in our patch of London, but:
- we have a smallish, quite nice house which we have outgrown with 3 kids and we would like somewhere bigger. We can't afford bigger in our immediate area and aren't wild about the areas just beyond which we can afford. We can get more for our money in some areas out of London.
- Our primary school is good, our secondary school choices are poor in that we aren't really guaranteed a place anywhere and our choices range from bad/improving, ok-ish, good but may not get in, v good but def won't get in unless we move 300m away to an area we're not wild about.
- through the kids we have made some local friends who we like and could see more of if we made the effort,
- have a few old friends who we hardly ever see because they're in other side of London.
- Husband's job is very much London, he hates thought of commuting 5 days week, but we figure he could do 2 days from home whilst looking for something else.
- I've never seen myself living all my life in London, I'm not from London and sort of ended up here, in the way that people do.
- Will miss lots of the good things about London
- We can't see ourselves in a village / rural (even though that seems idyllic at times) so we're thinking of a few towns where a couple of London exiles might be happy and have researched the schools thing, which is still difficult but oddly offers better choices, get nice houses but not with huge gardens.
- We have a couple of years before we need to think about secondary schools, but the dilemma is this. It almost feels silly to be thinking about moving out of an area that we do like now when we don't need to. It's not as if we're unhappy here but I wonder if it's better to make move when kids are younger as you get to meet other parents when kids are young and I've heard that doesn't really happen so much when they're older.
- What should we do? How do we go about making this decision? I keep looking at nice houses and almost feel like putting offers in, but then think we're not ready. How do you know when you're ready?
- Anyone else been here?
-Sorry this is so long, but if I make another pros and cons list I'll go mad!

blithedance Sun 07-Jun-09 21:03:26

What sort of place did you grow up in/live before?

sushistar Sun 07-Jun-09 21:07:02

OH MY, I could have written this post myself! We're a bit behind you, in that we just have one ds and another on the way - but we want 3 kids, and our small terrace will be squashed! I too wonder whether it's better to move now when kids are young, as I think it will be easier to make new friends at this stage in our lives.

One option we've talked about is taking 6 months out - renting out our London house - and traveling with the kids (dh is a boat fanatic so we might lease a boat!) and then reevaluate our lives a bit to see what we really wnat. DH's work will allow a 6 month unpaid sabattical, buit without mortgatge (if the rent covers that) we could use savings and pick up odd work here and there. Sometimes I think you need to get out o0f a situation before you see it clearly.

Having said all that I don't know if it would happen! If we did leave london we'd go to the west country where my family are - either Bristol (less scary) or Taunton (very scary!)

blithedance Sun 07-Jun-09 21:16:16

oops, phone rang as I was typing.

We moved for two reasons (was pre-dc's) - to set up a business and be nearer family and countryside generally. I got a job first and then we moved to an area that suited all our journeys. It is hard work putting down roots and it helps to have family nearby/a job already secured. Living in a strange area with DH commuting long hours can be lonely.

But there again I'm the sort of person who likes to have everything organised in life, I'm not the type to just up sticks and take any risks!

waivering Sun 07-Jun-09 23:00:32

Thanks, I was sure we're not the only ones! I grew up in an area which was a bit isolated but suburban about 10 miles from a city. So I don't really have country life in my background - we've thought about what kind of area would suit and I think a small city/big town would be best for us. I think if it was a village or rural I would be just too scared to do it.
It's just how do you decide if it's right to move at all. I can imagine us staying in London or being somewhere else. The moving out option will mean much less job choice.

ILoveDolly Sun 07-Jun-09 23:05:23

The choice doesn't have to be urban/rural. Most of the places you might move to in commuting distance have large towns where you will find all urban conveniences. But also maybe more friendly and a bit cheaper then London in terms of cost of living.

My husband grew up in London and loved it but I can't imagine managing teens in the city.

Chunkamatic Sun 07-Jun-09 23:09:34

Surely if you're undecided then trying to pinpoint an area is your first step? That way you can start to build up a picture of what life would be like, what job opps there are, social-life etc etc. You could even strat to spend a bit of time there as in weekends/day trips and stuff. I would find it hard to draw up a proper pros and cons list against london and x place, because you wont really know what x place has to offer?

We are in a position where, like you, we know we will need to move out of this house at some point, could be soon or could be later, and there are a couple of potential places that we have already been to for a drive out or to spend the weekend. I think that way you will start to imagine your life there and be able to decide whether a move feels right.

HTH, probably not it's a bit garbled!

Joe90 Sun 07-Jun-09 23:13:28

We had to move for my husband's job last year with children in year 10, 7 and 6, only the child who managed to get 3 weeks in a primary school here has settled well, please please move while your children are still primary age if you have any choice in the matter, I wouldn't wish what we had to do on any one!

lockets Sun 07-Jun-09 23:19:08

Message withdrawn

waivering Sun 07-Jun-09 23:40:40

Chunk - we do have a small city in mind, with another 2 places as possible alternatives. The places we've picked all feel like they could be right for us. It's just mentally committing to it feels huge. We've been to see houses and can really imagine it all, but I don't know how you make the big jump.
lockets - your situation sounds similar. Good to hear it's working for you.
joe - your comments make sense - although a 7 yr old (and the younger ones) might feel the disruption I'm sure they're more flexible and quick to make new friends.
sushi - go for it, wish we had that freedom!
thanks again for all your replies and reading my long rambly post (shows my state of mind...)

littlestarschildminding Wed 17-Jun-09 10:24:14

I could have written your post waivering..

We have 2 ds and a small terraced house in London with a patio garden. Hubby works in London and that isn't something we could change.

We are looking at moving to surrey...we will get a bigger house with a bigger garden and hopefully nicer schools for the same cost as this house.

We aren't particularly tied to this area.No family here. But have some good friends here and the ds are settled in school. I am also a cm so means big upheaval for me. I 'like' this area but find the school choices VERY poor and we wont ever be able to afford a bigger house in this area. But at the same time we aren't unhappy here.

Is it a case of the grass is always greener...or will I really be happier out of London?

Big decisions!!!

southwestmummy Fri 26-Jun-09 14:35:48

I moved from London area when I was 11 and found it very hard to adjust to the lack of things to do in the countryside (Somerset in my case). Also, it can be very claustraphobic in the country with everyone knowing everyone else, people's experiences and outlooks being very narrow and locals not always being completely accepting of newcomers- especially if they have obvious accents or have moved from somewhere like London (where their house sold for a good price) to buy a house that a local can't afford.
I am only speaking from my experience, but you need to look at what your kids enjoy doing and see if the same opportunitites exist elsewhere, look at public transport (it's not really a viable option here) and think about your own support network.
I am in Taunton and find it very hard to find stimulating things for me to do, to find like-minded people and to find enough for my daughter to keep her stimulated.
It is safe and pretty here, but not always what you might imagine. Perhaps somewhere like Exeter or Bristol or near to a city might be a better option.
Hope this helps.

maddd Fri 10-Jul-09 21:50:48

wow, i'm so relieved to see conversations like this. we currently live in south London SW16 and my husband can work out of the Birmingham office so we've been looking at kenilworth, warwickshire.

Looks idyllic, schools are fantastic but absolutely terrified of not meeting like minded people.

My husband is ready to go as soon as I say yes, but my gut feeling is this is too big a leap for a londoner...

anyone know the area who's moved from london?

coppola Fri 10-Jul-09 22:23:33

No, we won't be moving out of london. We have a small place but big enough for us with a garden. My dc go to an outstanding primary, we'll prob have to do a bit of working it to get them into a good secondary but judging by the threads on here that's not exclusive to london. I couldn't bear to commute for longer than an hour plus we have great friends, family and I absolutely would not want to move away from that support both for me and dh or our dc.

We grow veg, live near lots of green space, ride our bikes as much as poss, go camping a lot as well as take advantage of all the things that a big city can offer.

Mintyy Fri 10-Jul-09 22:47:07

As I always post on these threads - I moved out of London and absolutely hated it and moved back again two years later.

I was talking to friends just this week who moved from London to Sussex almost 3 years ago. The schools are better (they moved just as their eldest was going up to secondary) but that is the only thing. There house is no bigger, their commutes are longer (both still work in London) and, as they work ft, they have not made any friends in the area. It transpires that they have made the move entirely for the sake of their children. I would question whether that is sensible or rational, but at the same time admire them for the sacrifice they are prepared to make for their dc.

I don't think I'll be doing the same, though. Am willing to live in a smaller house until my dc have grown up and left home.

fruitstick Fri 10-Jul-09 23:06:04

maddd, we've just moved out of West London to Rugby, where we are renting.

Kenilworth/Warwick/Leamington area are lovely and full of like minded people (probably) but are pricey. Once you've factored in any potential pay reduction out of London you might not get much more for your money.

Rugby is not nearly so chichi but is much cheaper and the schools are great.

I miss London with a passion but am also loving having the sense of space. The fact remains we couldn't afford to stay in London and have the lifestyle we wanted. An extra £100k a year and we might have stayed grin

It's only 50 minutes into London so theatre trips etc are still possible and thank goodness the local Sainsburys has now begun to stock polenta grin

LivingLaVidaLurker2 Fri 10-Jul-09 23:15:51

It's so difficult to advise on this because it really depends on how happy you are now and what you're looking for out of life.

I lived in various areas of London between 94 and 2007. Up until I had children, it was great for me - my life revolved around work and pubs. Sadly, I had no other hobbies and I think that was my big problem. When I had children, the shock was enormous - I didn't have the social skills to go to toddler groups and make friends so I became increasingly isolated and disillusioned with London.

I moved to a village in Essex 18 months ago and seriously have never been happier in my life. I have made so many friends, I am out and about all the time, I am always busy.

I do sometimes wonder if I could have created this life in London, but I think it was just too big a pond for me.

Come to Essex!

EldonAve Sat 11-Jul-09 18:40:18

We have thought about it but ultimately this is where my friends are
A bigger garden would be nice but not enough to make me give up London (yet)

Pollyanna Sat 11-Jul-09 18:47:54

this is such a difficult question. We moved out of London nearly 3 years ago, and are still not such that we have done the right thing. Yes we have a bigger house. but we didn't get into a state primary for the older 2 and they have gone private. I have a job in london now so commute (which I hate) and dh hated commuting and moved out of London, but wants to work in London.

I do like where we live, but nowhere compares to London. I left alot of friends in London, and only recently have felt that I have made new friends.

it is such a difficult decision.

Cloudspotter Sat 18-Jul-09 09:00:20

Purely from reading your op, I would say you don't sound as though you want to do it.

I know secondary schools are important, but it seems like a very radical option, to uproot yourselves from a place you like, resigning to a huge commute, leaving friends behind etc etc.

I think living in a smaller space is something we all have to accept in London, but then at least your peers are usually in the same boat!

All in all, I would always caution against a single issue decision like that with so many other reasons going against it. We live in a small home, but we love London in every other way, and when we have seen friends move away for just the house reason, it has always been touch and go for them whether it has worked out for the best. I'm sure secondary schools must be the same.

Dizzyclarebear Sat 18-Jul-09 09:41:25

OP - you say your DH has to work in London, where abouts is his office? I say this as we are in the middle of moving out (hopefully in the next couple of weeks). My DH works by Monument, we're moving to Sevenoaks which on the fast train to London Bridge is 25 minutes (and so he just has to walk over the bridge to the office). So it's actually only adding 10 minutes each way on his journey, the difference for us is our budget in London would buy a 2 bed flat, same money is buying us a 3 bed house, walking distance to the train station and great primary schools and good secondary options.

Perhaps look where the nearest main line train station is to your DH's office and work outwards for a new area. Often, if you go a bit further you'll hit high speed links and commutes will be better than if you'd stayed closer to town.

Only you know if you're the sort of person who easily makes friends in a new area...

Shabbalicious Sat 03-Jul-10 14:27:41

I am keen to know other people's views and experience as we are now facing this dilemma. Our situation is that my dh works full time in London, I work part time in London but pretty full on, and we have 2 ds, aged 5 and 2. I heard recently that if one is going to make a big move, you should do it before your kids reach 7ish as, after that, they find it much harder to settle in. This has really focused our minds. The schools around our way are pretty bad, so our first son is in a private school. But, when ds2 starts school in 2years, the cost would move from 'painful' to 'agonising'. The only thing to do is move to an area with good state schools but, if we do that, it might as well be out of London so the boys can enjoy more freedoms as they grow up. I suppose our problem is that, if we are absolutely honest, we are nervous we would be bored in country/suburbs. I know each situation is different but am really keen to know of people who have moved out and how they have found it. Thanks.

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 03-Jul-10 15:19:21

Waivering - we were in your position 18 months ago. We left the Big Smoke and moved to Brighton (well, Hove actually wink). Have never regretted it! So come to Brighton! Joiiiiiiin ussssssss...!

archstanton Sun 04-Jul-10 21:01:01

We moved out when DS was born. However, we moved to Surrey which was a mistake. DH still commuting into Town and everything seemed so dull. (sorry!)

However, we have since moved to Wilmslow in North Cheshire and life is great. DH now commutes to Manchester and Wilmslow is a big affluent town with lots to offer including fab resturants. Obv Manc has the theatre and everything else you'd expect from a big city. DH's job was very 'London' and we were amazed how easy it was for him to work in Manchester. Although there's no denying there's a lot of bling up here there is also a lot of easy going liberalism which suits me and is something I found distinctly lacking in Surrey.

So, I'd say although you think your jobs are very London, just have a check if you could work in other cities around the country. What I've found is that Suburbia around London is too far out to benefit from the city and often too insular whereas trendy, funky suburbs around, say, Manchester are very quick into the city and much more like areas of the city if that makes sense.

If jobs need to stay in Town, have you thought about places like St Albans? Excellent schools at both primary and secondary and into London in half an hour on the fast train.

turkeyboots Sun 04-Jul-10 21:11:07

I'd second avoiding London's suburbs. Still not much house for the money and the commute is awful. We moved to between Dartford and Gravesend 2 years ago - it lasted 9 months before DH got a job offer elsewhere and we leapt at the chance to get away.

We moved west, and while the town isn't up to much, houses are great and affordable, schools seem good, I can still work in London 1 day a week (1 hour train ride)and have met more people in the last year, than I did in the last 10 in London. Which with 2 small children, is all I'm really looking for.

And to re-assure others. I moved house 7 times before the age of 18 and moved countries 3 times. Was much harder on my mum than it was on me and my siblings!

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