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How do I decide between Bristol & London (Hither Green)?

(106 Posts)
BipBippadotta Thu 02-Jun-16 14:22:54

DH and I are at something of a life crossroads and need a big change. We are moving from our London neighbourhood which has bad / sad associations for us, and want to find somewhere we can have a nice quality of life, which for us means:

- more space (ideally 4 bedrooms)
- nice walks / parks / woodland nearby
- not an eye-watering commute
- minimal depressing urban scumminess (fly-tipping, drunk men fighting in the street, etc)
- access to friends / like-minded people
- a couple of nice pubs / restaurants nearby

*NB - no children (can't have them) so schools are not a consideration.

We have our eye on a huge, lovely house in Hither Green / Lewisham. It would be the house of my dreams, if it weren't near the scumminess of Lewisham High Street, hostage to a station where trains are few & far between, and impossible to get to from N / NE London, where most of our friends are. This place suits our budget if we sell up.

A more radical option we've been considering is moving to Bristol. DH can work remotely, and my job is portable. We could just about afford to buy a good sized period house in Montpelier, and hang on to our London house and rent it out. We've got our eye on a nice house on a little wonky street with a lovely view. Needs a bit of work (which we wouldn't immediately have cash for).

We can't for the life of us decide what to do & are trying to balance what would be a sound financial decision with what will bring us pleasure.

Pros of the Bristol plan:
- near lovely countryside
- can live somewhere nice & away from hideous London squalor
- can have a rental property in London which is a good long-term investment

- only a couple of friends there
- further from airports (my family lives abroad)
- lower earning potential if we change our current contracts
- will be quite skint for a while

So I suppose what I'm asking is:

- is Bristol as nice to live in as I imagine it will be?
- is being a landlord a massive faff / worth the payoff?

If you live in Bristol, do you like it? Is it easy to make friends there (if you have no children & work at home)?

If you live in Hither Green / Lewisham, are there lovely aspects to it I'm missing?

Help me decide!

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Thu 02-Jun-16 14:42:42

Hither Green / Lewisham wouldn't strike me as the leafiest part of London by a long way.
Do you want 4 bedrooms because you want a home office? 4 beds for two people is seriously limiting your options.

Have never been to Bristol so can't comment at all on that but no-where in your post have you listed anything that London has to offer on your wanted list other than easy access to airports I suppose so why not leave?.

whois Thu 02-Jun-16 14:58:24

What is your budget? What kind of house do you want?

4 beds for two people is seriously limiting your options.

Maybe they just want the space! One bedroom for sleeping in, one for a dressing room, one for a study and one for a spare room for friends/relatives who come stay.

ScoopyDoo Thu 02-Jun-16 15:04:40

Bristolian here, but moved in my late 30s and didn't really have contacts here. Made friends really easily because I put myself out there, joining interest groups etc. I wouldn't say it is harder or easier in Bristol than in any other city, but there always LOTS going on here, which is why I love it. There's a festival of some description most weekends over the summer. Great local music scene, good theatres, small independent cinema, good food, evethything that for me makes a city great, and because of its size it always feel more doable/accessible than London. I'm outdoorsy, so easy access to hills (Brecons) sea (Gower, Devon, North Cornwall, Dorset) and good local walking are also important to me.

Montpelier is very vibrant and near Gloc. Rd, walkable into city centre etc. There are some lively areas nearby, like St Pauls and Stokes Croft, which have a bit of a reputation but would not put me off personally. But your description of scummy high streets makes me think you should be clear about what's near you.

As you don't need to sell, could you rent for a few months here and get the lie of the land? It may feel less of a 'jump' then.

ScoopyDoo Thu 02-Jun-16 15:11:53

Meant also to say, the property market in that part of town, Montpelier, St Andrews, Bishopston etc etc is fast moving. Friends who have sold recently have in fact sold to people like you, who get more for their money than in london and have moved here for a better lifestyle and/or in anticipation of the electrification of the railway making a London commute feasible (though still hellish). Makes things very difficult for locals trying to buy something in budget. But am telling you because it seems there are lots of people in your situation making the move.

I did it years ago, though I also moved jobs and work in the city. It was a big move for me, and have never regretted it.

BipBippadotta Thu 02-Jun-16 15:12:15

Well, London has friends. And more (/more lucrative) work. Hither Green has a couple of parks. Certainly leafier than where we are now (Walthamstow). You have to walk about 40 minutes before you come to anything green that's not a tiny children's playground.

Ideally we'd like a study each & a spare room, but we'd take a 3 bed house if it genuinely had 3 bedrooms. Estate agents will often call something a '3 bed' when what they mean is that it has 2 receptions, so you could put a bed in the dining room.

lifeistooshort Thu 02-Jun-16 15:12:16

Bristol is fab and would tick most of your boxes. With your criterias, you would probably love it and it would be a distance from the bad memories

I wouldn't look at Montpellier thought as it is a bit dodgy and there used to be quite a bit of scummyness/drunken fights.

On your budget though you could get a really nice house in better parts of Bristol (St Andrews, henleaze, Westbury, along Gloucester Road etc..) .

Good luck with whatever you decide

Marmitelover55 Thu 02-Jun-16 15:13:24

I live in Bristol and love it. I'm not far from Montpelier (which is a bit more trendy/edgy than where I am).

It is a great city to live in with lots of culture on your door step. Gloucester Road is fab for local shopping and is, I believe, the longest mainly independent shops high street in the uk.

There are lots of lovely cafes/bars/restaurants and different areas for shopping.

St Andees park is nearby and you also have the downs and Ashton court estate nearby.

I have children and don't work from home, so can't comment on that aspect, but I have always found people to be friendly and welcoming. There are lots of us who aren't from Bristol originally - I stayed in after university.

I also can't comment on being a landlord, although I have literally become one myself this week due to a bereavement.

Good luck with what ever you choose smile.

BipBippadotta Thu 02-Jun-16 15:27:12

X-post there - thanks, Scoopy! We know Montpelier pretty well, and Stokes Croft & St Paul's are positively idyllic compared to where we currently are in London.

Really glad to hear you've enjoyed it. One of the things I really like about Bristol is that there is so much going on, whereas the bit of Lewisham I was looking at has nothing around it at all, just terraced houses for miles. Certainly no interesting restaurants or pubs you could just pop to at the drop of a hat.

Whois Budget to stay in London is £720k; budget to buy in Bristol is £420k (would involve a bit of fancy re-mortgaging of current place). We'd like something character-y, not new-build, definitely a house not a flat.

It does make me feel like a douchebag to be considering cashing in on London & making things harder for Bristolians. I know how pissed off I was when cash buyers from Stoke Newington / Hackney kept snaffling houses I wanted when we first moved here. Gah.

Thanks, Marmite - really pleased to hear from another one who enjoys Bristol! And I'm very sorry to hear about your loss.

MindfulBear Thu 02-Jun-16 22:23:44

We have friends and family in Bristol. I would move there if I had your flexibility with work. It is a lovely place. Great vibe.

Why don't you rent yiur place out and go rent in Bristol for 6 months or so. See if you like it, check it works for your lifestyle and then buy?

You would make new friends soon enough and I've found most of my London friends eventually move out anyway so no point staying in London for them. They go every which way so only see them once or twice a year - wherever we live!!

carrie74 Thu 02-Jun-16 23:54:37

Ha, we moved from Hither Green to Bristol years ago! We now live in the countryside outside but commute to Bristol.

I really liked Hither Green, it had a real sense of community, we were friendly with our neighbours, and it was quick and easy to get into town.

But we've never looked back from leaving London (other than selling our house and now weeping at the gains that could have been made if we'd kept it on...). We left to bring up a family (we had a v young baby when we moved, and now have 2 children). We've made some amazing friends, mostly via the children, but I don't think that's essential as long as you actually are prepared to make an effort to get out there. My work is a bit transient, and because of that, I find people make friendships quickly and stay in touch - Bristolians are v laid back and generally happy to go with the flow, welcoming everyone.

Do you know Bristol? You may want to get to know the city before buying, but Montpellier is popular with the hipsters I know.

EdithSimcox Thu 02-Jun-16 23:59:37

Hither green is nice but if you want access to NE London from SE you might want to look on the overground - much better connections. Brockley, Honor Oak, even Forest Hill. Leafy, nice pubs, great communities.

AddictedToCoYo Fri 03-Jun-16 00:13:07

We have our eye on a huge, lovely house in Hither Green / Lewisham. It would be the house of my dreams, if it weren't near the scumminess of Lewisham High Street, hostage to a station where trains are few & far between, and impossible to get to from N / NE London, where most of our friends are. This place suits our budget if we sell up.

This is not the right house for you. Just read what you wrote. I can't see a single good reason for you to go there except that you can afford the house but if that's the only thing that counts then there are many places far nicer than Hither Green to consider.

Why do you have to go as far as Bristol? Can't you consider somewhere much nearer your friends and with easier access to London but still cheaper and less urban, like the Kent coast?

whois Fri 03-Jun-16 00:59:01

What about Leytonstone - £720 should get you a nice period terrace 3 to 4 proper beds and it is close to Epping forest and lots of parks. Commute on central line.

CharminglyGawky Fri 03-Jun-16 01:30:07

I would choose Bristol over London any day! I grew up in Bristol and although I now live the other end of the country I plan to eventually move to hopefully a village near Bristol.

I know very little about living in London but Bristol is vibrant and busy but also has the bonus of so much lovely countryside right on your doorstep.

Obviously I don't know where your family live but Bristol airport is international and quite busy, you could easily fly from there to anywhere in Europe and possibly if you need to go further you could get a connecting flight rather than having to head off to a London airport (although it is quite easy to get to heathrow from bristol either by train or coach).

concertplayer Fri 03-Jun-16 07:59:42

cariie74 I love Clifton in Bristol Could be for them? Do u agree?

BipBippadotta Fri 03-Jun-16 08:39:00

Whois Leytonstone's really good in terms of transport - but just up the road from us so isn't really enough of a change. Plus it's so overpriced compared to HG, in terms of space and environment. Saw a nice house there for £700k but on a desperately grim street, right next to some sort of weapons amnesty drop-off box. It's that sort of thing that's making us want to leave London. £700k to live next to a bin full of knives in a dimly lit street that's still a 20 minute walk to the tube!

HG at least has the advantages of being prettier and cleaner. But there's just not a lot there.

I think we feel like we need quite a radical change, hence Bristol rather than say somewhere in Kent. Also want to live somewhere that feels a bit vibrant with lots of things to do - Kent seems good for families but I struggle to think what we'd do on a Saturday night that wouldn't involve trains into London. At least in HG we'd be near Greenwich, South Bank, etc & in Bristol we'd have lots of fun things on our doorstep.

I guess it's a choice between 2 decent options. I think it's a matter of whether now is the best time to leave London or not - we will do eventually. Really glad to hear from someone who's lived in both places - and doesn't regret the move!

kirinm Fri 03-Jun-16 10:10:36

I moved from Bristol to London two years ago. I moved because I wanted to get away from an ex - Bristol felt small and I was uncomfortable about bumping into him - and I had a new DP. We are just about to buy in New Cross.

Although it isn't our short term plan, long term I see myself going back to Bristol. It's a great city to live in (horrific traffic though). I like the Montpelier area. If you are sick of London, presumably moving to a Borough you don't seem keen on isn't going to suddenly change your mind.

Bristol is constantly voted one of the best cities to live in. Not everyone can be wrong. House prices are shooting up though. Our broker is in Bristol and she's seeing lots of places go for over asking.

My family and friends are all still there. Your post has reminded me that I really need to go and visit!

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Fri 03-Jun-16 13:24:26

Maybe they just want the space! One bedroom for sleeping in, one for a dressing room, one for a study and one for a spare room for friends/relatives who come stay.

Jeez - no need to jump down my throat !
No issue with that at all just trying to establish if 4 bedrooms is a requirement or a house that has three bedrooms and a study nook is likely to be acceptable, that's all. 4 bed houses in London command a pretty huge premium. If the reason to have 4 beds is to supply a home office x 2 then the OP may be open to alternative suggestions.

And, my understanding of the first post is that 2 home offices is a requirement if they work outside London but not necessarily if they work in London as they may travel into the office on a PT basis at least ?
So if the OP only wants to live in a leafy part of London with a budget of circa £700k then it's achievable but the 4th bedroom might have to go?


Not that leafy but naice part of Lewisham and the floor plan lends itself to two lower ground floor offices?

Only three beds but direct access to a beautiful park, a cellar and an unconverted loft. In budget, short taxi or bus ride into Greenwich or Blackheath. Nice new gastro pub a short walk away in Charlton

Meets none of the visual appearance criteria [it's period but Span not Victorian] but has three beds, modern layout, garden office/den, is within an extremely naice leafy area with Blackheath village 5 mins walk away.

BipBippadotta Fri 03-Jun-16 13:43:17

Yay, I love it when people do my house hunting for me. Not much idea what Charlton is like but crikey the houses are big! That one on the park is amazing. We could have a dog! <off to research Charlton>

C2H5OH Fri 03-Jun-16 13:55:36

Bristol is a great place. If you are making a major life change, I would recommend renting somewhere first, to make sure you choose the right area. After a year in a new city you'll find out where you actually want to be. I visit it regularly for work and pleasure but don't in all honesty know which are the best areas to live.

It's lively, interesting and has great rail connections to London.

My DH and I both work from home most of the time and we have ended up sharing an office (2 kids, each in their own rooms now). It works remarkably well. We have fuck-off internet and we can share 'coffee runs'. It's still much quieter and calmer than being in a normal office building! And if we both need to make critical conference calls at the same time, I just pick up my laptop and headset and work in a different room for a bit, just as you would when you are travelling around. My children have decent chairs at the desks in their bedrooms ;).

SoHereItIs2016 Fri 03-Jun-16 14:02:24

I've lived in both HithervGreen and Bristol and in my opinion there is no comparison- Bristol each and every time!!!

Westcountrygemini Fri 03-Jun-16 14:12:46

Am a Bristolian, work from home 2 days a week, London office 2 days a week. Have been doing this forever and still live in Bristol cause, well, it's awesome!

Any ways, I know you said Montpelier but wanted to also throw a curve ball of Southville into the mix as, from what you've said, you might enjoy living there too and it's a bit cheaper. For instance;

Next time you come down maybe go to North St for brunch or dinner, see a performance at the Tobacco Factory or go to the Sunday farmers market and check it out as an area?

If you are serious about coming to Bristol remember that property prices in BS8, BS6, BS3 etc., are rising all the time and, like a pp said, the good stuff tends to go for over asking. Get in and buy what you would like whilst you still can!

Westcountrygemini Fri 03-Jun-16 14:14:44

And another one:

kirinm Fri 03-Jun-16 14:24:37

I'm going to big up Totterdown too if Southville and Bedmi are being thrown into the mix grin

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