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Honest feedback on moving from London to the countryside (or just somewhere slightly more rural)?

(40 Posts)
Bitzer Thu 19-Apr-12 11:11:59

It's the old moving out of London chestnut. DH and I live in N London and on the whole love it, particularly the following things:
- our house (we've spent a lot of time working on it, converting loft etc making it suitable for working from home, which I do...)
- our immediate environment: good friends, a decent primary (well, I think so, DD1 starts there in Sept), lots of nice bars/cafés, which probably sounds a bit shallow but DH and I really enjoy that aspect of the area when we get the chance to go out together on our own
- it's close to DH's work

But every few months we start to feel guilty about the fact that the kids (4 and 2) don't have a garden to run around in, and we get fed up with the fact that we have to navigate a fair amount of traffic to get to a big green space. Then there's the noise, congestion, dirty streets etc, all the usual stuff - and we start to think we should get out of the city at least while the kids are young.

But, DH works in the city and works v long hours - at the moment, if he's working til 11, he get in a cab and be home in 10 mins (or walk home in half an hour) whereas if we went anywhere that involved a train journey he'd probably end up staying the night in London on a regular basis and we'd see a lot less of him. So, it would in some ways be quite a sacrifice and I just don't know if it's worth it.

Obviously nothing's perfect and there will always be pros and cons but just wondered if anyone had done any of the following:
- moved out of London and loved it (and if so why?)
- moved out of London and hated it (ditto)
- had experience of a DH/DW working long hours in London and then having a biggish commute
- stayed in London and regretted it later

Not expecting a straightforward 'this is what you should do', just interested to hear about other people's experiences. Want to do what's best for kids but not if it will be detrimental to relationship between DH and I.

Thanks v much in advance for your thoughts. Have to go and read a v boring doc but will be back in an hour (just in case you post and I don't respond straight away)

Goodwordguide Thu 30-May-13 20:00:54

We moved out two months ago to a small rural town and so far are loving it.

Pros -
- space, space, space - our new house is three times the size of the old one and everything just seems so much easier in a biggerplace - mealtimes, bedtimes etc, we are more relaxed as a family and O think it's beause we're not on top of each other all the time. Te children are outside all the time now we have a bigger garden.
- schools - noone talks about school places here! Whereas it was the main topic of conversation amongst the London parents - so, so dull.
-it's quieter, greener, safer, prettier - being able to go on long cycle rides from the house etc is great. Our walk to school is now a five min stroll through a park/field whereas before it was a 25min trudge along the South Circular.

- big house = big bills.
-less culturally diverse.
- most stuff is within walking distance (library, leisure centre, schools etc) but for other stuff, the public transport is inevitably rubbish compared with TfL, which means more driving.
- no impromptu, free trips to the big museums or the South Bank Centre. We do visit London for this but it's now more of an effort and much more exhausting.
- we lived in a very 'nappy valley' area so stuff like childcare/children's activities etc were very plentiful. There's less of that here.

Commute is long but it was in London (we're both in the City but lived in SW London). it's fine mainly beause DH goes very early so comes back early - he's actuallyhome earlier than he used to be in London. And it's one train that is half-empty so you always get a seat. I'm part-time but also start early and finish early. Commute is hellishly expensive though. However, if your DH works late, that would be an issue.

Juniperberry79 Thu 30-May-13 12:23:34

DP and I moved from London to countryside a year ago and love it. However our main motivation for moving is that we are both very outdoorsy (I horse ride and DP cycles and runs a lot). We moved because living in the countryside fits in with our lifestyles and interests better than living in London did.

The commute to London for work is hard but from where we live always get a seat so can read/work/sleep on train so it's not all that bad. It was hard in the winter though doing a long commute in the cold and dark. In my opinion it's about making effective use of the time on the train rather than seeing it as wasted time.

The only other negative (n addition to the commute) is that some of our friends from London have been quite reluctant to come and visit / stay which has made me question a few friendships. However others love our quiet country house and come to stay with us a lot which is great. Also I rarely feel like going into London at weekends (partly as I do enough commuting mon-Fri and secondly I want to spend my free time in the countryside) so I have to make myself go in occasionally to catch up with friends which can feel like hard work (ie doing a 3.5 hour round trip into London and back on a Saturday to meet a friend for a coffee).

We do also have to drive most places but that doesn't bother us but can see it might bother some people.

Other than that I love it, love our garden, lots of space to walk, run, cycle, ride, peaceful and quiet and we have a town 10 minute drive away if we do want cinema/shops etc.

Billan Fri 24-May-13 00:58:08

We moved out (well to Zone 5) about a year ago but neither of us regret it one bit. The extra space that we could afford makes a real difference and the toddler loves being in our little garden.

EldonAve Tue 24-Apr-12 20:36:19

It is hard
We are contemplating moving out (we already live in the suburbs as it is)
I want more space but I'm not sure I want to leave London

Bitzer Tue 24-Apr-12 14:01:01

Haven't been able to post much in the past couple of days but just wanted to come back and thank you all again for your really helpful feedback.

twoterrors after much consideration, I think we've reached the same place re the decision to stay in London. We'd be sacrificing an awful lot to move and think you're right about the impact on DH's time with the kids. Thanks for your thoughts.

twoterrors Tue 24-Apr-12 08:25:22

I don't fit into your four categories: we have stayed in London and never regretted it! Given your DH work, I think you have a lot to lose in terms of family life. And for older children, it is just fab - mine are teens now and just starting to scrape the surface of what London can offer them and their oyster cards. They are more independent, and were independent younger, than some of their friends that made the move. I'd try to move within London to be near a lovely big park that can then be your garden and also provide you with sports/socialising/cafe etc. Get out at weekends to all that lovely countryside on the train. My DH works long hours and with the best will in the world it affects his relationship with the kids. Friends are really important if you are holding the fort on your own too, and as your dc is about to start reception, you'll make more.

cestlavielife Fri 20-Apr-12 22:31:52

look at mill hill (on thameslink to city) barnet - a few stops up the line he commutes to work on.
if you have house in highgate then by moving a bit further out but still within taxi range you will get your garden etc

bananasarebeautiful Fri 20-Apr-12 20:07:47

Ah, I love the beaches of East Lothian! Does the commute not put you off though?

bigkidsdidit Fri 20-Apr-12 20:02:37

Well where we are now isn't where we want to be - temporarily renting.

We want to move to east Lothian, just past haddington smile

bananasarebeautiful Fri 20-Apr-12 19:11:26

bigkidsdidit-can I ask whereabouts in Edinburgh you are? we are trying to find somewhere to buy but not sure of areas...

bigkidsdidit Fri 20-Apr-12 17:37:20

We've just moved from Tooting to Sxotland. Working in Edinburgh but living in the burbs and will be moving further out soon.

Good things - my god, the space! We have a playroom, swings, a veg patch coming on. DS is always running about. Children play in he street. People are nicer. No tube to work (the very best thing). Village schools are great. I love that DS is outside all day long except in very bad rain. I'm getting fitter.

Bad - if it's someone's birthday I have to wait till the weekend to buy a card because mon-fri I don't go past a shop shock. Also for top up shops etc. I haven't had a decent coffee in a long time. DH doesn't see DS awake mon-thurs (but has negotiated a four day week which is great- much less pressurised outside London). I don't know what's in fashion sad

I love it - definitely the right decision for us smile however this is slightly different as we are only 30 mins from Edinburgh so we can do museums / shopping etc at weekends which is important to me.

fossil97 Fri 20-Apr-12 16:25:00

Could you move in your area to nearer a park, or to a smaller/tattier house but with a garden if its that important? Can you drift out to suburbia, where it's cheaper to live? Sign your DD up to some sport activities?

We moved from London to a village but live on a busy road so the children probably aren't any closer to the park than you are, and have to be driven or escorted there. DS is currently on the Wii! But on the plus side the village has a small and outstanding school which we were in the guaranteed catchment for.

It's a big thing to move away from your friends and circle (also important for raising a family) unless you have got a real firm reason, if it's just a vague wishing for green fields and chickens you will soon be bored and disappointed in a pretty cottage with its Aga and roses. Especially if the children's dad is commuting 3 hours a day or away overnight - does that really outweigh a garden? We both moved our jobs so were not dragging back to London.

So in a nutshell, we moved out, we do 80% love it but there have been pro's and con's. But you have to make decisions in life and make the most of them!

Bitzer Fri 20-Apr-12 12:24:14

Jux BTW, your comment about the bus was a real wake-up call! I v rarely drive because public transport here where we are is so good and I completely take it for granted

Bitzer Fri 20-Apr-12 12:20:21

Had family here yesterday afternoon and evening hence going quiet.

Thank you all so much for your response, really appreciate the honesty (!) and thoughtful tips.

Jux you see, I lived in the country during my school years, absolutely loved it up to the age of about 11 and then couldn't really understand why my parents had left London. My mum found it really hard to settle there and they moved back to London as soon as I left home so I can absolutely understand where you're coming from.

Grendelsmum I think it's a v good point re the time spent with DH. And if he wasn't up for the idea then we wouldn't even be talking about it. What it comes down to is the fact that part of both of us feels that it would be really healthy for the kids to be somewhere (if only for a few years i.e. until secondary school) where they are physically exhausted by the end of the day (DD2 in particular is really physical and is at her best when she's been exercised to her full potential if you know what I mean), and can have adventures without us breathing down their necks. Yes, there are great parks here but we have to be with them all the time and I do remember from my own childhood that some of the best experiences I had were when I was able to run off with friends and explore without being chaperoned. But the question is whether the benefit of having that would outweigh all the other things that we'd miss if we left where we are now. At the moment we change our minds every 10 mins, it's ridiculous. But, all the response on this thread are helping to clarify a few things in our minds...

Jux Thu 19-Apr-12 21:21:10

We moved out 6 years ago. I am bored out of my brain. Nothing happens. Yes, it's very nice that I know every shopkeeper in every shop, every stall holder on every stall in our 2 times a week market, yes it's nice having a garden (remember though, it equals more work unless you can afford a gardener), the house is bigger than anythign we could ever afford in London, dd could wander alone around town at the age of 8 which she wouldn't have been allowed to do in London BUT IT IS SO SO SO BORING.

There is no real public transport so you can't go anywhere. We have a station but most of the friends I would like to visit live in places without stations. I can get a bus to one of them . It goes at 11am on Monday and comes back at 6pm on Tuesday. I kid you not.

I can see green fields from my windows, but they all belong to farmers so I can't go much closer to them, even if a bus ran anywhere near them (and I didn't have to cross the A30 to get to them.

The town is small and rife with gossip. If a couple of people fall out then the whole population take sides.

THE FOOD IS FABULOUS. Fresh, local, seasonal, and if you really want strawberries in winter you can go to Tesco like you do anywhere.

It is cheaper for us, as our council tax is about the same, but we now have no mortgage. We have a 4 story Georgian town house as opposed to a 2 bedroomed flat.

Can you tell I'm a tad frustrated here? grin

DH loves it, and dd does mostly, but wants a better choir to sing in, and a couple of other things which will come later for her wherever she is.

GrendelsMum Thu 19-Apr-12 20:19:04

I grew up in a city and loved it. There were so many opportunities for a teenager, the culture, the theatre, the musums, the art galleries, the poetry readings, the cinema, the mix of people, the free festivals ... just loved it.

There are advantages for kids to both town and country life, so why not go with the town life that allows your kids to see so much more of their dad? Surely ultimately, spending time with their dad is the important thing.

FWIW, DH's cousin has just resigned from his job as he couldn't face the late-night commute back from London to their country home any more, and DH's best friend went through a period of feeling quite pissed off that his wife 'got to stay at home' with the kids in the lovely country home she wanted, while he spent 3 hours a day on the train. He resigned too, and they're now much happier though with a much smaller income.

herhonesty Thu 19-Apr-12 14:14:29

i thought i would never leave london but then was dragged kicking and screaming by dh and job. now when i go back to london I cant wait to get out once i have had my coffee and material fix. other than that, traffic (even in "leafy" well healed suburbs), aggression, lack of space, materialistic outlook are terrible. also, for all the talk of diversity in the city, people tend to live and hunt in packs more than you think. I have a "richer" (in terms of backgrounds,jobs etc) group of friends in the sticks than i ever had in london. (the only codicil to that is that they are all bar a few "white")

I think there is actually much more spontaneity to living in the country than there is in the town - mainly because you cant rely on "paid for" activity like cinemas and coffee shops etc. I'm not sure if this just my take but i feel that my sisters children have very "over scheduled" lives, whereas country lives are possibly more fluid, creative, dependent on people more than provided activities - but that's just my perception.

also worth bearing in mind there are massive shades between urban and rural - so we live in a rural village but i would never move somewhere i couldnt walk to get milk and papers and have a pub within walking distance.

That said, you wont really get a unbiased response on somewhere like mumsnet. people are very defensive about the choices they have made.

jennifersofia Thu 19-Apr-12 14:07:19

We moved out from central London 2 years ago, and really enjoy it. I was the main instigator, as I grew up in a rural environment and really wanted the access to more green and a smaller community. Our children were 2.5, 8 and 10 at the time, and very settled in a school we liked with good friends, so we had to think long and hard about it. We started by drawing up a list of things we wanted (size of town, type of schooling (eg. grammer or non-grammer), political environment, landscape (flat / hills), cultural environment, public transport/ train links and so on) and then got a good map and drew a highlighted circle around London of all train journeys that were 1hr from London. We had decided that a 1 hour each way commute was the limit we were prepared for my dh to have to make.
These are the reasons why I think it works:
- I do not work in London, so I can cover home related things (sick child pick up, play dates, school meetings, etc)
- Dh can walk to work from the station that he arrives into in London, so no tube journey as well as train journey. He can also walk to station from here.
- We both wanted to go somewhere more green. Don't think it would have worked if we were only doing it for children.
- We thought very carefully about what sort of place we wanted - for instance I knew I didn't want to spend loads of time ferrying dc around, and wanted somewhere the dc could socialize independently when they were older so we picked a medium sized town.
- We decided on what we wanted to compromise on - we decided that enjoying the local community/ environments / neighbours was really important to us - we live in a fairly expensive town where we can't get much housing for our money, but we do like where we live.
- Dh did fairly long hours before, so we were used to not seeing him at bedtime, etc.
- We found that being farther away (1hr) means that dh always gets a seat and can work on the train as opposed to closer (20 min) where there is a sardine cram of commuters.

These are the things I find difficult:
- I miss abundance of free museums / workshops for children / indoor spaces on rainy days.
- I do most of the parenting in the week. We always talk about things in the evening, but it can feel a heavy responsibility.
- Dc glom onto Daddy on the weekend, which is lovely, and means I get a bit of a break but can be emotionally intensive for him.
- Things are more expensive. Lots of opportunites for children, (sports activities / afterschool things) but can't always afford them.
- can be slightly middle class / precious
- Don't see London friends as much as we would like.

Things I love:
- countryside and walks from doorstep.
- Access to sea on a train (20 min)
- find it easier to make friends and get involved
- bumping into friends in town
- quieter
- cleaner
- 'motivated parents' of children in dc classes (95% as opposed to 50% in London)
- Feels much safer, and more relaxed. Happy to let my 11 year old wander around town on her own.
- Can easily go to London for things I miss, and then come home again.
- In an area that is beautiful to look at. Wasn't true of where we were in London.
Hope this helps!

DialsMavis Thu 19-Apr-12 12:54:44

UGHHH, Piccadily from Northfields at 7.40 am, with my face squashed into someones stinking pit has been my journey to Uni this year. Then in the afternoon, people have the temerity to get that tube out to Heathrow with their huge suitcases and excited pre holiday chatter. There should be a law against it smile

smalltown Thu 19-Apr-12 12:46:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WannaBeWildCosMyLifesSoTame Thu 19-Apr-12 12:37:23

DH and I lived and worked in London when we met but we now live in rural Bedfordshire. Funnily enough we moved to Enfield as a first step and that worked for a while but eventually we followed the train line out and ended up here - first in a small town with a train station and now in a little village that's not very near anywhere!

I love living in a village, the school is good and we can walk to it. DD has lots of friends and can play out with them in the same way we did when we were kids, it's a very safe environment. I like the community feel (although that's getting less as more people move into the village which I think is the same in many places). There's beautiful countryside right on our doorstep - no need to get into the car to go for a walk/run - but within 1/2 an hour we can be in a town with all the facilities we need. ( I would like a supermarket a bit nearer but online shopping mostly takes care of that). Sometimes I miss the buzz and excitement of London but when I go there a weekend is enough at the most, I am always ready to come back to my quiet little corner of the world.

Until recently DH was a London commuter. He HATED it. Wasn't quite so bad when we lived in the town with the station but when we moved here he had to drive to the station, catch the train, walk to work and then repeat it all on the way home. Worst was when they increased the cost of parking at the station and put yellow lines everywhere so you couldn't park on the side of the road or whatever. He ended up getting a scooter because it was free to park (and we resented paying for a car that just sat at the station all day) but that only worked in fine weather. The whole thing just became miserable - he was out of the house 12 hours a day and was tired and stressed when he was here. The trains are often delayed which is something else we hadn't take into account but it's a big factor. In short I would think VERY long and hard about taking on a big commute and try to look at it from all angles before making a decision.

Another thing to consider is your DCs - I grew up in a very rural environment but we moved to a small town when I was in my early teens because if we hadn't my parents would have spent all their time ferrying me around. I can see us having to do this when DD is older - with after school stuff, clubs a couple of nights a week plus a social life and maybe a part-time job I think I will be spending my whole time in the car if we don't rethink but I've got a few years yet!

If you can afford it maybe one of the nicer commuter towns like Hitchin or St Albans (off the top of my head as those are in this area but there must be lots more) would be a compromise?

DialsMavis Thu 19-Apr-12 12:36:35

We have recently moved to London from Bournemouth because of the commute. DP did it for a few years and we had no family life. He has very late finishes and early starts and due to where he is based in West London the train wasn't an option. So it was 2 hours exhausting driving/sleeping on friends sofas in town. He was always exhausted and I was resentful about doing everything at home alone and jealous of the fact he got to go to the pub and have lots of takeaways. What really hammered it home for both of us, was when he was seeing more of our friends DC during the week than he was of our own!.

The petrol costs were also so ridiculous that even though our rent has doubled, we are not that much worse off. We don't live in town though, we are out in Ealing, so have lovely parks and a decent garden (always feel a bit of a fraud, when friends come up to stay and see how suburban it is round here, they are expecting the bright lights!). I know that many feel the burbs are the worst of both worlds: still expensive, but without the pros of living centrally. But, on our meagre budget it is working for us so far.

Curlylox Thu 19-Apr-12 12:35:17

We lived in Enfield for many years but once we had dd we decided we needed to move further out. We (I) did a lot of research, as had to take into account as well as a budget, schools, etc the fact we both work in London, however I work part time. Eventually we decided on Hertfordshire and we love it. Very green, near to a local park, not far from the station either, the commute is good have a choice of faster trains and not had many problems on the line either as compared to when we lived in Enfield. That train line is notorious for problems. We have days out in London too which we love but it's oh so nice to come home. I won't bore you anymore smile

Bitzer Thu 19-Apr-12 12:18:28

Columbia - missed our post, soz. Thanks for the feedback

MegBusset Thu 19-Apr-12 12:17:38

We lived in Enfield for seven years and loved it. Eventually we wanted more space (and a smaller mortgage!) and moved to Norwich which we love. DH still works in London but only two days a fortnight (the rest of the time in Norwich). I wouldn't have moved this far if he had to work full-time in London though we do know people who commute every day.

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