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Bringing up children in London? vs a naice town in the north?

(74 Posts)
MaryHays Mon 12-Dec-16 17:58:51

We used to live in Walthamstow: I adored it. Had all the DCs there; spent 5-6 very happy years putting down roots. We moved last year to a city in the north, to be closer to DP's work (even further up north), closer to DP's parents (also in the north), and so we could give the kids a bigger house, closer proximity to countryside, and a more relaxed upbringing than in London. I grew up in a city of a very similar size to the one in which we now live, and had an ace time as a teenager: it felt very non-threatening, but with enough going on to keep me interested. I wanted the same for our kids.
BUT, over a year later, and I'm desperately unhappy here. I miss Walthamstow terribly: not just all my friends, but everything that London, and E17, had to offer. I miss Epping Forest. Having big useful shops really close by on the North Circular. A million different playgroups. Pop-up restaurants. Child-friendly pubs. The South Bank. A million and one different options for a night out. Hampstead Heath. There isn't really anything like that going on where we currently are. I particularly loathe winter here. Everything shuts early; it's dark from 3pm; there are no compensations, like London's child-friendly pubs in which you can huddle around a fire.
The rest of the family are happy here, though. DH likes being closer to work, and to his parents. The kids like their new school & nursery. Everyone likes having a bigger house. But they were also really happy in London (apart from DH's commute). So we're - tentatively - contemplating a move back, but not until the end of next year. I feel very conflicted about suggesting the whole family move again, to accommodate me. But I have tried very hard here.
But if we move back, it will be for good. The last year has been horrendous - I've been so unhappy - I couldn't face yet another move after returning! But I'm still anxious about raising kids, in the long term, as they become teenagers, in London. I'm worried they'll be exposed to more bullying, violence, drugs etc than where we currently are; and that trying out drunkenness etc for the first time is very different in a city where there are more people wanting to take advantage of girls' vulnerability than where I grew up/where we currently are. I also worry that we wouldn't be able to offer them as much space in the house as our current location. BUT London has so much to offer kids and young adults, too, on the flip side. What are your thoughts about raising kids and teenagers in London? Would we be mad not to just stay put? Or is London amazing for teenagers?

Highlove Mon 12-Dec-16 18:35:57

I'm really intrigued to know where you've moved to? Is there really that little going on? And everything shutting early in winter - it sounds odd and not much fun.

We moved up north from North London five-odd years ago. It's great - smaller city but still enough to do, very close to stunning countryside, big house and garden. I do occasionally miss London but for the DCs I've no doubt it was the best move. It has the benefits of being somewhere small enough that you know lots of people but no weird small town mentality. And still a decent enough amount of culture. Alright, not as many restaurants etc on offer but still enough if you really hunt them out. But we have also made a huge amount of effort to make new friends here and to really put down roots, and it does feel like home now.

BikeRunSki Mon 12-Dec-16 18:41:55

Where have you moved to?

MaryHays Mon 12-Dec-16 19:00:31

We're in York. I know that lots of people love it here. But the area we're in feels quite soulless. It's hard to get around: infrequent buses; roads constantly jammed with traffic. I do cycle the kids around on a huge cargobike, but it's a bit cumbersome to push around town. I found it quite nice here in summer. But the winters are so grim: the cafes that can accommodate our huge buggy all seem to close at 4pm; Railway Museum closes early. Soft play etc is a drive, and the traffic's always dreadful. DH and I have found a few nice bars, but I do find it pretty boring and conservative in general. The thought of living here for the next 16 years, until the kids have left home, makes me want to scream! Maybe I'll get used to it. I don't know.

albertcampionscat Mon 12-Dec-16 22:23:58

York is lovely, as is Walthamstow. So whichever one you decide your kids will be growing up somewhere good. Does it help to reframe it that way? It's not disaster vs disaster, it's good vs good and you need to work out which particular form of good would be better for you.

RitchyBestingFace Mon 12-Dec-16 22:31:19

I don't think children are more at risk of those things you mention in London than in York. IIRC there was a study that London teenagers are less likely to experiment with illegal drugs. I don't think that London children are more likely to get raped or bullied either hmm - those are pretty odd reasons for not moving back.

waterrat Tue 13-Dec-16 18:28:11

I think the point about them both being good options is very helpful to remember. Essentially there is nothing intrinsically wrong with either York or Walthamstow. So its just up to you.

I don't think big houses matter. I think kids can get into drugs etc anywhere and often will do so more in boring places.

Cpuld you go slightly to the edge of Walthamstow. .ie Wanstead ?

throwingpebbles Tue 13-Dec-16 18:32:34

Have you gone to lots of effort to settle in? In my experience it takes a long time for somewhere knew to feel like home.
York is lovely but a bit unexciting yes, Leeds/Newcastle probably better if you want somewhere more bustling. But you can be in either pretty fast from York...

museumum Tue 13-Dec-16 18:32:37

Yorks not a real city though is it? It's not urban at all. Move to Leeds or Newcastle or Manchester or edinburgh.... where does your dh work? Is he really going to commute from London to somewhere north of York?
I wouldn't like to live in York TBH but I also think quality of life can be a lot better in the north than in London.

AHolyGuacamole Tue 13-Dec-16 18:35:07

I love York, but there's no way on earth I'd live there for the same reasons you've stated. Also the fact it's rammed with tourists constantly would make it annoying to live there. My DP works in York but we live in Leeds and it's a short commute on the train. Leeds has everything you've been missing! I'd do a lot of research and see if you could possibly move somewhere more suitable but still close to where you are now.

HandbagCrab Tue 13-Dec-16 18:36:58

Why not hop on the mw and go to Leeds. Timewise it's probably similar to getting round London. York is very gentrified, so might not offer everything you're looking for. I'd take advantage of your location and spend lots of time in Whitby and Filey and pop down the A1 to Yorkshire Wildlife Park - it's amazing!

prettywhiteguitar Tue 13-Dec-16 18:38:39

What sort of thing are you interested in ? Have you met any like minded people?

Just over a year is not that long to get to know somewhere. Which bit of York are you? The areas are very different to each other.

throwingpebbles Tue 13-Dec-16 18:43:12

Outskirts of Leeds was perfect as a teenager. We had a train route in so I had plenty of independence. But the schools were pretty trouble free and it was a sheltered upbringing in that sense. Culture and nightlife was 20 mins on a train.

Msqueen33 Tue 13-Dec-16 18:44:09

I think life can be a lot different in terms of culture and people up north to down south. I lived for five years in Yorkshire and there's a different way of life. It's a lot more chilled and relaxed and sometimes I'd feel very southern and out of place. I adore the north though and as much as I like York I wouldn't live there. It's more a tourist spot. Depending where your DH works I'd look at Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool or Newcastle. I'd love to go back north.

DorotheaHomeAlone Tue 13-Dec-16 18:44:45

I don't know York but I did grow up in London very happily. It was an excellent place to be a kid and even better as a teenager. We went to gigs and shopping and hung out at each other's houses mostly (just like teens everywhere in guessing) but having great public transport and being walking distance from school gave me great freedom and independence compared to my non London peers. We also went to galleries, concerts and museums a lot as a family which was great and we're d posed to lots of different people and cultures. I'm raising my kids here so obviously not too scarred!

juneau Tue 13-Dec-16 18:48:39

There is no right answer to this one OP. But in all honesty I think it takes more than a year to settle somewhere. Looking back, our last move from large city to smaller one took me several years to put down roots and feel truly happy. It's up to you whether you want to uproot everyone again, but it probably will get better if you give it some time. Good friends are not made overnight. Roots are not put down in a year.

Penhacked Tue 13-Dec-16 19:00:09

I agree you have probably bit found your friends yet and that is the real problem. We moved from a busy northern city to a tiny tiny village in another country. You ant compare really because we are living a totally different life with different pros and cons. Buy for sure what has made us feel settled is good friends. It took three years and working at it a bit.

MaryHays Tue 13-Dec-16 19:03:20

I've met quite a lot of people here. I made a lot of effort, going to playgroups, running clubs, book groups, feminist groups. I set up a babysitting circle and met a few people through that. I go to things at the university and get chatting there. And I have met a few people whom I really like. But nothing like the friendship network I had in London. But it's not so much the people here that's the issue: it's York itself. Touristy, twee, impractical, conservative and really boring. DH works in Newcastle: he'd been commuting from London for 3 years when we moved up here, and he is prepared to do it again. And TBH he could get a job further down south. In retrospect we should definitely have moved to Leeds. But I don't know if I've got the energy to start up again somewhere else completely new. I sort-of feel that either we make a go of it here, or we move home.

Msqueen33 Tue 13-Dec-16 19:07:14

If you're miserable I'd make the move sooner rather than later. Newcastle could be a good bet.

prettywhiteguitar Tue 13-Dec-16 19:18:29

I think you sound like you've given it a good go, I lived in a very rough poor area for ten years so York seems like heaven to me ! Plus there is a good supportive art scene which I enjoy.

There are no rules to what you do but if you move again maybe renting is a better option so you can get to know the area you really want to move to ?

oldlaundbooth Tue 13-Dec-16 19:22:14

I'd just move back to London if I were you. You obviously miss it so much.

DameXanaduBramble Tue 13-Dec-16 19:26:48

Go back, life is too short.

Manumission Tue 13-Dec-16 19:32:18

E17 to north of York. That's not a commute, it's a pilgrimage! Don't you like your DH? shock

GeorgeTheThird Tue 13-Dec-16 19:35:36

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. But it will be hard for a marriage to survive with a commute like that. Be careful what you wish for.

MaryHays Tue 13-Dec-16 19:41:15

We lived with him doing that commute for 3-4 years before we moved. We survived. He doesn't need to go every day, and for 5 months of the year he doesn't really go at all. I did ask him not to apply for the job; and when he got it, I did ask him not to take it. But there weren't many jobs in his sector at the time, so he felt he had to. It would be totally possible for him to start applying for jobs closer to London. Our relationship was a helluva lot better before we moved, to be honest. We don't really do anything here, especially in the winter.

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