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Moving back to London - need reassurance am not bonkers

(21 Posts)
Abracadabrakazamm Wed 07-Oct-15 15:34:37

Moved out 2 years ago. Hated it immediately though just had new baby so wasn't sure if it was lifestyle change that was the issue. But no, as still feel like this having been back at work a year part time.

Thought we would like extra space and being near countryside - we do like space! But we are in suburbia really so proper countryside not here imo.

Plus finding commute a bit stressy as we both work in London. DH 2hr round trip, mine 3hr. We have to juggle childcare to work this. My job not stressful, DH is, so he prob could do without this pressure. I do not want to give up work, and my sector mainly in London so not much chance of finding local work. Anyway, we both also miss London! Miss stuff to do, parks, vibe, everything. It's not about the bars and stuff, it's all the interesting local community stuff that goes on.

We have talked about moving back or somewhere else for past 18 months. Nowhere outside of London really pulls us to compensate for the commute even though we could get a lovely big house. But I'd just feel so empty I think. We went to see some country homes and I just felt a bit sad and lonely there. Diff if family nearby but they are not. Both families live far, and friends dotted all over London and SE mainly.

We have now decided to just move back and suck up being in a smaller space. We do have double the budget now (which if we had 2 years ago I doubt we would have left).

I am, on the one hand really excited about moving back. We chose a new but known area that has quick commute and good primaries, lots of green space and family friendly. This is the only place I've felt excited about living in.

On the other, and sorry for the waffle above, but this is where I am wanting reassurance, I am nervous about these things;
Scrum for primary school places - is it really bad? This does worry me a bit
There doesn't appear to be decent boys/mixed state secondaries. My DS is 2 - do I have to worry about this now?
Crime higher than where we are - guess this is just a factor of living in London and we take steps to help prevent it
Downsizing to a smaller space - what is doable with 2 children? We'd like to not move again for at least 5 years but hopefully more than that as I can't deal with this house moving business! We can afford a 3 bed flat with small garden. Maybe 4 bed if lucky, but then I'm not sure they are in catchment for the schools. I'd really like a dog as well but that may have to wait! We are currently in 4 bed semi with playroom and medium garden and driveway.

Generally are we being completely mad doing this as most move out of London not in!!! I haven't told my mother yet as I think she will think I've lost the plot, but she's not dying a slow death out here ??

dinkystinky Wed 07-Oct-15 15:46:40

Its important to feel happy where you live, and for it to work for all your family. A 3 hour commute (or even a 2 hour one) is not fun and moving back will mean you both get to spend more time with your family. We live in London and have 3 kids - 4 bed house, not a huge amount of outdoor space, but in Zone 2 and love where we live, and the ability to go do so many different things with the kids.

The things youre nervous about
Scrum for primary school places - depends on the area, but there is a shortage of primary school places nationally. Look on for the area and primary schools, catchment areas and distance from school that they took people in from - then buy as close to your preferred primary school as possible
decent boys/mixed state secondaries - schools will change a lot in 9 years. And you have the option to move/go private at that time too.

Crime higher than current location - I have lived in London nearly 20 years now and been pickpocketed once and burgled once. Crime happens wherever, so just take sensible precautions (you've lived in London before, you know what to do).

Downsizing to a smaller space - in terms of space, you will find life easier with abit of outdoor space (doesn't need to be huge but somewhere for the kids to play outside/dry laundry if weather nice, and somewhere to store bikes as kids get bigger).

lalalonglegs Wed 07-Oct-15 18:53:23

I don't think you're mad, it's really brave to admit that you made a mistake and decide to change (especially as people will jaw on about how could you possibly give up having a lovely house and garden for a flat and your children will all become glue-sniffers etc in London).

I think getting a school place is stressful because it is such a lottery. We didn't get one at all for our eldest (SW London) but a place at the local not-very-good school did come up before her start in September and within two years she had a place at a flipping brilliant school that we would never have got into on the first round. London does have a very fluid population and there is a lot of movement so just try and play the long game if you find yourself in a primary "black hole" and get yourself on as many waiting lists as possible. Catchment areas vary year to year so at our school last year the last distance place was 450m, the year before I think it was about 180m. You never know how it's going to work out so stay calm. I don't know what area you are moving to but there are lots of fantastic secondary schools that are mixed (although, I agree, boys-only schools tend to be a bit less attractive). Have a good look at what's on offer and bear in mind that a school's reputation can lag a long way behind its achievements.

Crime, well yes, it happens but I have lived in different parts of London more or less my whole life without any serious problems (never burgled, mugged, never had my car stolen or vandalised, never been assaulted, never had my handbag nicked). Take reasonable precautions and then don't think about it too much.

I would give up a lot of space in order to be able to have a short commute to work, I think you are doing the right thing.

babydad Thu 08-Oct-15 14:17:54

We debated moving out of London for the past 2 years since having our DS. We both work 5 days a week Full Time and do not have any family close by so in the end the commute was key, we found an area in SE London that we could afford and was a 30 min commute to our desks. This would not have been possible outside of London and it makes a huge difference.
Since moving we have also realised we just weren't ready to leave the hustle and bustle of the capital, there are so many things to do and its a great place to bring up a child. House is more than big enough for one more and so I can see us being here until the big issue that is Secondary Schools. Primary does worry me also, catchment area information makes for depressing reading.
As for crime, I have had my spare wheel stolen in nearly 10 years in London and that is it. Its all about precautions.

Come on back to the big smoke!

Needmoresleep Thu 08-Oct-15 16:59:14

My DC have loved growing up in London. Its interesting that the majority of their friends will be applying to London Universities. It's a great city and not much else compares.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Thu 08-Oct-15 18:30:18

Not mad at all. Those sorts of commutes must mean you hardly see your kids Mon-Fri and that's what stops us leaving too.

My recommendation would be to put schools as one of your top priorities as a location close to a school you are happy with will make life infinitely easier for drop offs and pick ups. It's also worth checking that there is a breakfast club/and or after school club. You might not choose to use it in the early years but I am already wondering what I am going to do for the twilight primary years when everyone is really too old for a childminder/too young for a front door key and unsupervised homework.

I wouldn't stress too much about secondary schools just yet. London children often take the tube or train to school which really does open the catchment area enormously. I've lived in one part of London for 10 yrs which has taken 2 "poor" secondary schools, ripped them down and built state of the art replacements, and turned them into "outstanding" during that time. The facilities are amaazing.

Flat or house, it is all about the storage. I'd rather have a large 3 bed flat with access to a garden and a shed for all the kids bikes and other detritus than a small terrace with a patio garden and no storage anywhere.

dontcallmelen Thu 08-Oct-15 21:24:56

Yy to pp, you are not bonkers their is nothing worse than being miserable because of where you are living, we moved back many years ago now, it was the best thing we ever did, saved my sanity & don't ever regret it, good luck.

Efferlunt Thu 08-Oct-15 21:33:44

I'm moved out and really regretted it. To be honest schools are what stop us going back, as our oldest is settled in primary here (I hate the school it as its really hard to connect with the other parents but he is very happy) our community was much better in London we had more time and a smaller house = less house work. I wish I had your courage and could go for it. Good luck!

meadowquark Thu 08-Oct-15 21:55:43

Go for it, but consider the schools. We only moved from zone 4 to zone 5 but the whole difference between London and suburbia feel. I hate my commute 2.5h round trip but I am not going back until I sort out the secondaries for my kids. Schools and school friends are so important, and inner London schools can be a bit hit and miss. So I chose dull safe suburb.
Do not underestimate the importance of schools.

Abracadabrakazamm Fri 09-Oct-15 09:33:13

Thank you so much!
I am not feeling very courageous. In fact I am bricking it. I wish I could look into future and see that we are not making a mistake. I have tried feeling happy here, but it just isn't me. And God know how we'd sort out primary school collection etc while both at work in London.
On the plus DS not in school yet so I take your advice - we will go visit the schools and pick an area with best chance of getting in somewhere we like. Thanks so much for advice on thinking about breakfast and after school clubs - I wouldn't have thought about that.
We are now actually having second thoughts about area in London as we have seen what good value SE London is with good primaries! Where we were thinking I love but it's quite expensive. We don't know this area at all hence even more scared! But will go stomp round quick - nothing like a deadline (house now under offer) to get moving.

babydad Fri 09-Oct-15 13:02:44

If you want any questions about living in SE London answered, just ask. We moved to SE London with a 2.5 year old in April. Love it.

Abracadabrakazamm Fri 09-Oct-15 19:17:37

Oh yes please! We have no clue other than maybe forest hill. I've been there before plus crystal palace and east durwich but only once. Thought all were ok - must admit forest hill just seemed like it was a busy road but perhaps I've missed something and people rave about it there. ED I think has not as good primaries is that right?
Is brockley or hop worth a look?
Is there much green space? I was nr highgate woods and ally pally before so used to lots of space. Plus hh not far. SE London feels much more urban to me which daunts me but would be able to get more space in terms of house.
And are the trains hell in the am? Need to commute to city.
Would forest hill be a good place to look or do you think other areas better?
Presuming there is lots for families to do there? And does it feel like you would be able to get to know people ok? Thanks!

CactusAnnie Fri 09-Oct-15 19:20:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WavingNotDrowning Fri 09-Oct-15 19:22:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Blueskies80 Fri 09-Oct-15 20:08:38

Forest hill, hop, east Dulwich are great places for families. Loads to do, parks, horniman museum, woodland at One tree hill or Dulwich. Great community feel. Primaries are amazing. Secondaries bit more patchy in my view but haven't don't too much homework yet and depends what youre after. Check out forest hill behind the horniman museum, great views across London and out to Kent although a steep hill to climb. Quieter feel here than east Dulwich and hop, bigger gardens too. Crime in terms of burglary can be an issue but take precautions. Good luck x

mashpot Fri 09-Oct-15 21:06:40

Check out West Norwood. Good primary school provision, not sure about secondaries though.

OffMyAyersRocker Sun 11-Oct-15 13:13:47

Re schools, dd1 school dropped from good to needs improvement from when we applied for nursery to when she started reception.

We decided to keep her there and l have to say it was the right decision. The School, despite its Ofsted report is really good.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Mon 12-Oct-15 11:22:41

What sort of budget did you have in mind excluding stamp duty? Do either of you have to commute to the West End?

nbest Fri 19-Feb-16 21:34:24

I am SOOOO pleased I found this thread. We moved out of zone 2 to the countryside a year ago with our two girls as we wanted to be near DHs work. We decided to rent rather than buy to see if we liked it and I am glad w did as we have now decided to move back to London. HOWEVER, we are really struggling with trying to figure out where to move to. I have to commute to the West End and my husband is hoping to get a new job in the city (rather than commuting out to Tring). Any suggestions would be great!

Quodlibet Fri 19-Feb-16 22:08:14

OP, Brockley is lovely, Hilly Fields and lots of local artists/creative businesses, and recently lots of young families.

I live in Camberwell and love it here - a bit closer in to Central London than ED etc, and looks less 'naice' (and hence some good value property) but it's a wonderfully friendly area with a really strong, very diverse, interesting and engaged community who in my experience rub along really well, which is the best of London in my eyes. There are loads of great small restaurants, good parks, and lots and lots for young children. Plus I can get on a bus and be at London Bridge or the Southbank in 20 mins and the west end in 35 - or in Forest Hill/Brockwell Park/Dulwich/Brixton/Peckham/Elephant/Kennington/Vauxhall in a short hop.

One suggestion - look out for flats/houses where you can put an extra bedroom in the loft? Will be best part of £50k but will earn you a good few extra years in the house.

Schools and their catchments change so rapidly I really don't think there's any point thinking about secondaries when you've got small kids!

notquiteruralbliss Sat 20-Feb-16 08:47:11

You're not at all mad. We moved from your old area of London 13 years ago and (if DCs weren't so settled) would move back tomorrow like a shot. Though given how that area has changed / gentrified, I would probably look at the SE London areas mentioned above.

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