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How has leaving London affected your family life?

(73 Posts)
alittleteapot Wed 16-Mar-11 11:02:53

Didn't know where to post this, but parenting as good as any, as part of my fear of leaving London is I know how to do it pretty well here and am scared of starting somewhere else. But DP very keen to get out of the big smoke. Wants a slower, cleaner less claustrophobic life. I need a bit of buzz in my life so thinking perhaps somewhere like Stroud could work. But am London through and through and it would be a massive leap of faith.

Interested to hear about other families who've left London and what sort of experience they've had. Can see countrylife lovely for young kids but can't imagine anywhere better than London for teenagers (but I know that's me just not knowing different.)

Pinkglow Wed 16-Mar-11 11:13:58

You dont have to move to the country, a smaller city or large town elsewhere in the UK will have a different feel to it compared to London. Are you thinking of moving somewhere within commuting distance to London?

alittleteapot Wed 16-Mar-11 11:21:20

he'd like to either move commutable to London but I dread suburbia, or to a smaller city, or go country and try for a bit more of an alternative lifestyle. I've lived in London all my life hence am a bit terrified of change though can see all the theoretical benefits and now would be the time while the children are young and we'd make new friends through them. so far I've just said no i want to stay in London but I think i have to properly consider the alternatives as my motives may be a bit questionable (ie don't know different so won't try)

ChristinedePizan Wed 16-Mar-11 11:25:30

We moved about 6 months ago and I really like it. One of the reasons I wanted to leave is because I think there is more to do in our smallish town for teenagers than there is in London - we live right by the beach and you can have fires on the beach, hang out at the beach hut etc. Go sailing, surfing, fishing, off road cycling. There's a lot more stuff to do around here for teenagers that doesn't cost ££ than there is in London.

My DS is only 4 though so I might have to get back to you on whether my vision works out

alittleteapot Wed 16-Mar-11 11:39:48

And have you made new friends Christine? How long had you been in London? It's partly the friendships I'm scared to leave behind. Plus a sense of being in the centre of the action (which is probably a bit London-arrogant and actually untrue but there we are...)

rickymummy Wed 16-Mar-11 14:08:34

Never actually lived in London, but suburbia is actually alright. We live just outside London, DH commutes to the City. Countryside on doorstep (woods just across my road), loads of local facilities, good schools, good transport links, but we can be in the West End for a night out in half an hour (subject to traffic/trains).

Friends in the "real" countryside are now thinking of moving to a city, as it just takes them ages to go anywhere - even swimming lessons/school run etc takes best part of an hour. Here, it takes 2 mins.

going Wed 16-Mar-11 14:12:29

We moved out of London for housing/schooling. Wish we had done it sooner as the lfe is better here for the whole family. Dh's comute to central London is about the same as it was when we lived in London!

GooseyLoosey Wed 16-Mar-11 14:16:36

We moved from London to a small village quite a few years ago and it is my firm belief that where we are now is a better place for my dcs to live.

There is a strong community which they are part of - lots of things like football, dance, beavers etc which they go to with their school friends.
The countryside is great - but not just for young kids. There are loads of sports and activities for a wide range of ages - not just being stuck at home on the ds.

For me its great. But I think it really depends on what you and your family value most. Work that out and then decide whether living out of London would deliver it as well as London does.

KatieMiddleton Wed 16-Mar-11 14:20:43

What about somewhere close enough to still be London but far out enough to feel a bit village-y?

I live in Richmond that seems to fit the bill. Nearby villages like Old Isleworth and Ham feel a bit more village and Kew or Hatch End have a village-y vibe but more urban. Or somewhere like Kingston or Bromley? Still London transport links but quite distinct identities?

I feel very much the same about leaving London. I'm haunted by memories of teenage years spent bored witless in country village with no decent public transport. And I've realised all the things I'd like about country living: bigger house, slower pace of life, country walks, cooking at an aga etc are all worthless if there's no-one for miles around to enjoy it with. Plus having to drive everywhere puts me right off.

ChristinedePizan Wed 16-Mar-11 14:29:10

I'm not doing brilliantly well on the new friends' front I must confess but I'm starting to get there. And I lived in London for 20 years and have left behind lots of good friends. But then some of them have also started to move out after having kids. I'm going back this weekend too (and the following one ) so I don't feel really cut off

messybessie Wed 16-Mar-11 14:30:54

We moved a few years ago and I have this debate with myself on a weekly basis.

We were going to move to a small village but, due to unforseen circumstances, ended up moving to a small town instead. I'm really glad we don't live in a village. We can walk to school, library, shop and are 5 mins from supermarket, swimming pool etc.

On the whole it's great and I am convinced the children are much better off, they have lots of friends locally and really enjoy the open space. Our house is much much bigger than we ever could have afforded in London and they have climbing frame and trampoline in the garden (as opposed to doing 3 point turns on a tricycle).

But, it is a bit of a cultural wasteland. I miss the theatre, museums, exhibitions etc (although how much I would have done anyway I'm not sure) and it is more difficult to make friends. I have some lovely friends now but it took a while - lots of people were just too dull and really not my type.

That sounds awful but it's the truth.

So fors and againsts I would say.

Hullygully Wed 16-Mar-11 14:35:24

I lived in London all my life and moved away with small dc to a seaside town when they were small. It is FAB. We have loads of friends, it's eccentric arty and mad, bbqs on the beach (on the one sunny day of the year), loads foinf on, and the best bit is that everything is in walking distance. No more travelling for an hour/worrying about transport when meeting friends. Kids can roam about too.

pipkin35 Wed 16-Mar-11 15:00:26

We're from Islington. Moved South 5 yrs ago. Really miss our friends, OH has a network up there of 10-12 guys all extremely close that he's known since he was 4. Now he has no friends of his own down here and I really feel for him - a couple of people he says 'hi' to at work. Really miss grandparents.
But, feel it is better for the DC's who are both under 5, we're by the beach etc...
I miss my 'proper' friends and don't get to see them often since most are high flyers, off travelling or haven't yet had kids, and I can't bear traveling when the kids are so small.
I really miss all the art/culture but find that with the 2 DC's I don't have the time or money I used to anyway. ;(
Both me and OH now have pretty crappy jobs whereas before jobs were well paid and fufilling but where we are is crap for work.
Swings and roundabouts...

Hullygully Wed 16-Mar-11 15:05:16

Oh, what I should have added is that when/if you move, have loads of people to stay at w/es, they tend to come anyway, and then eventually they love it and move down too. I have three old friends that have moved to my town, and my mother!

ChristinedePizan Wed 16-Mar-11 15:08:03

Oh yes - good point hully. My parents are moving here next year and another friend in a few years. Someone else is tempted too ...

onesandwichshort Wed 16-Mar-11 15:17:49

We moved out of London 5 years ago - both DH and I had been there for more than 15 years. We've moved to a town in the SW, not the middle of nowhere, but much more laid back.

Yes, we do miss our friends - although we have made new ones it's still not quite the same. But the quality of life for us as a family is so different that it's really worth it. Quite apart from what has already been said on here, it's financially very different. Had we stayed in London, I would have had to go back to work full time; here we have a reasonable house, but with no mortgage and I am a SAHM. The absence of stress is fantastic.

alittleteapot Wed 16-Mar-11 16:28:53

Thanks everyone will look closely at posts later. If we did it would definitely be after somewhere a bit arty - couldn't cope with too sedate or dull. Those who think it's better for dcs - why? and are you sacrificing what's best for you? obviously house size etc is a massive factor, but spiritual happiness the ultimate aim i guess...

Sleepwhenidie Wed 16-Mar-11 16:39:27

Marking my place, DH and I have this debate endlessly, I love where we live in London, have a fantastic circle of friends and great help with kids (paid, in lieu of family who are all miles away)". Loads of things for us and kids to do within easy reach, I only drive if I feel like it, usually it is straight out of the house with buggy to do school run, walk or get bus/tube everywhere. But you always wonder if the quality of life would be better outside far I am not convinced it would, although I am tempted by the house we could have if we moved!

ChristinedePizan Wed 16-Mar-11 18:14:58

Things I like:
The air is cleaner - the difference in what comes off my face at the end of the day is amazing!
I don't have to work long hours - going from a reasonable mortgage to almost none means my outgoing have reduced by nearly £2k a month (am no longer paying for childcare)
We spend a lot of time outdoors - I was always too scared to cycle with my DS in London but I'm not here. And we go to the beach even when it's cold.
Our neighbours are friendly - I know more people on my street in 6 months than I knew in 6 years in our last place in London.
The schools are miles better and you don't have to earn a banker's salary to live near a brilliant one.

There are downsides of course - sushi is unobtainable and there are no specialist food shops. And no John Lewis for miles shock

I am a single parent tho and this was entirely my decision - I'd quite honestly got to the point where I felt my very good salary was not going to give me or my DS the quality of life I wanted for us in London. I'm not sure how I'd feel if I were being leaned on

MegBusset Wed 16-Mar-11 20:27:42

We moved out of London in December and are much nearer a John Lewis than we used to be wink

Giant house, tiny mortgage, much better schools, beach 20 mins in one direction, vibrant city centre 15 mins' drive in the other. Local MNers very friendly grin

jassinkernow Thu 17-Mar-11 12:01:46

We moved out almost three years ago - DH was offered a job in his hometown the same day we found out we were expecting twins (so it felt a bit like fate!). To an extent, for me, it's felt pointless missing London - we were in Islington and couldn't possibly have stayed there with 3 kids and we also wouldn't have been able to afford to enjoy a lot London has to offer. That said, I do miss people, and shops, and restaurants. Swings and roundabouts...
For me, the pros:
House/garden/space miles better here than we could have dreamed of in/near London
living by the sea/in an area with loads of nice things for kids to do
streets are very safe
we're not hugely stressed about if DD1 gets into our first choice school as they're all pretty good
living close to DH family - kids see loads of their cousins/grandparents DSIL here to help out

really resented my parents for moving out of London for a 'better life' as a teenager and fear my kids will do the same
miss friends, both longstanding and the 'baby friends' with kids the same age as DD1
it is impossible to buy all sorts of nice food ingredients here

not a hugely original list, looking at it! Good luck

onesandwichshort Thu 17-Mar-11 13:58:44

To answer your question, I think it's best for DD because I am around - had we stayed in London I would have been working long hours and away and would hardly have been around. That's probably better for me too. I also think it's good for her being part of a smaller community, where we know neighbours and constantly run into people we know on the street.

I've had to give up a lot of the person I was - but as that is mostly to do with being a job-centred adrenaline junkie I think that's a good thing in the end. Which isn't to say it's been easy making the change.

ScarlettButler Thu 17-Mar-11 19:46:31

Am really interested to read all these - but whereabouts have you found good places to live? Teh beach places - are they south coast? e anglia? am thinking on these lines myself....but need to convince DH and as from the North don't know the south that well....

dikkertjedap Thu 17-Mar-11 20:40:12

We moved from London to country side also thinking that it would be much better for children. Now regret it and also don't think it is necessarily the case. DH has huge commute as trains are now a lot slower than when we moved, plus travel costs are huge and delays frequent. Also for children it is not necessarily that much better - To organise friends coming to play involves lots of driving around and lots of parents don't fancy that. Also, there are so many lovely things in London for children, theatre, museums, films, you just don't have that when you are further away. We are now looking to move back. Here, we have a huge house, gardens etc. but a large part of the year the garden is so muddy you can't really properly play in it and in London you have all the lovely parks with brilliant playgrounds. Also, although we have made some friends here, it is not the same as our London friends who are much more cosmopolitan. I would think twice before doing it, a large house (with lots of cleaning to be done!), large garden, all that countryside, it may not be what it looks like. Also, you will probably have to drive everywhere, which takes lots of time and shopping wise you will have very limited choice compared with London. Anyway, I am biased, we all love London in my family.

ChristinedePizan Thu 17-Mar-11 20:46:16

Scarlett - I'm in a town on the South East coast. I don't drive anywhere - actually I probably use my car less than I used to in London because I'm walking distance from the library, the train, a great butchers and greengrocers etc.

I don't have a huge muddy garden either - actually my garden is smaller than the one we had in London. I do have a much bigger house though and can't afford a cleaner any more so that's been a bit of a shock to the system

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