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Another 'Shall we leave London?' dilemma...

(33 Posts)
PhoebeLaura Sun 12-Jul-09 21:27:46

DH and I have lived in London for 10 years and have been talking about leaving pretty much since we arrived. Our dream was always to move to the countryside, ideally around Oxford or Bristol, where we would have space to bring up children. Now we have a DS and because of the nature of DHs work it is really now or never if we are going to go (otherwise he will be too specialised and senior and we will really have to stay).

So, what I would like to know is are we naive to think that life in the countryside will be nicer, more relaxing, easier and provide a better quality of life for us? Has anyone left London and regretted it? More specifically, have you found that commutes are shorter or is it just a case of spending the time sitting in traffic instead of on the tube? Are working hours really shorter or is that just a myth that us Londoners like to believe.

I know you can't really answer without knowing our exact situation but I'd love to hear any experiences or thoughts. My brain is spinning and I just can't work out what I feel about leaving now we are facing it as a real possibility.

goldenpeach Sun 12-Jul-09 21:53:39

There have been a number of threads about this, if you search the forum. We left London nearly a year ago and realised that where we moved was too small for us. So we are relocating to Oxford or Cambridge. Unfortunately the market there is difficult and we have been gazumped twice. I was quite shocked to see that although prices in London have dropped, prices are quite high in several counties (we have been looking in beds, warks, lincs, cambs and oxon).

If I looked at it from the property side of thing, it's cheaper to move back to London. There are bargains to be had in several parts.

One thing has helped us is that we moved into rental, so we can now relocate again easily, except that we don't seem to be able to find anything decent and when we do it's snapped up at asking price or above.

BikeRunSki Sun 12-Jul-09 22:22:03

I left London when I was 18 and I have never looked back. DS is 10 months old, we live in a small village (about 2000 pop), great countryside, 3 towns within 10 miles and easy motorway access to 3 major cities within an hour, all of which provide job/gig/exhibition/shopping etc oppurtunities. Apart from my mum being nearly 300 miles away, and California, I couldn't think of anywhere I'd rather live.

To answer your practical questions -

I am a civil engineer and have always worked for civils consultancies in their regional head offices in Leeds/Sheffield.

It takes me about 40 mins to get to work.

Public transport is a joke! The only thing I miss about London is the avaialibity and extent of public transport. But I was bought up in Clapham Junction, so maybe I am spoilt!

I have no concerns about schools, or any other aspect of bringing up children here.

Elibean Sun 12-Jul-09 22:23:23

PL, will watch your thread with interest...we've been idly talking about leaving London since forever too, and are about to exchange contracts on our SW London home and move into a rental. I have family in Oxford, and we're wondering.....

Mammina Mon 13-Jul-09 10:43:20

Am about to do it so will let you know! Not going to the country though, for me personally that would be too much of a jump.

Agree with goldenpeach about prices though - sold our flat for a lot less than the already reduced asking price, but had to pay slightly over the asking price for the house we just bought shock. Depends where you go though I think

bathtime Mon 13-Jul-09 11:33:10

PL - We are going through the same thing!

Are you thinking of going fully rural?

I wonder how much is about the grass being greener elsewhere. I can imagine missing lots of aspects of London, but I think it probably is the right move. We had thought of going to another large town (Bath, Oxford, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge), as we are sure that it would be too big a shock to go from London to village life. But now I'm wondering if it would be just swapping one urban lifestyle for another? Is it better to go the full hog and go a bit more rural?

I wonder if people who move from London to another big town find it a worthwhile move?

My worries about going for a more rural area are - keeping the kids entertained when they're older, having to drive everywhere, less variety of people to hang out with...

I am driving myself crazy with these sorts of thoughts. We need an entire section on here for people leaving london!!

And why is it that everywhere I fancy is expensive with small gardens and tricky school catchment areas?!

Elibean Mon 13-Jul-09 12:57:07

I have the solution. We all move at the same time, to the same area, thus solving at least one of the problems of people to hang out with grin

lljkk Mon 13-Jul-09 13:21:38

I meet a lot of people who have moved where we live (small town in rural region) and they still commute 2-4 hours a day. They say this is entirely fine (shock / hmm ) as they were used to that much time commuting when they lived in London anyway.

And I think they are NUTS: how much quality of life in the countryside do you get to enjoy when you spend so much time in the car/on the train, etc.??

So that is the comment I have to make, be sure that the commute you set yourself up for is sensible.

PhoebeLaura Mon 13-Jul-09 17:45:20

That is exactly what I suspected lljkk, it would be just crazy to leave london and still have a huge commute.

Bathtime, we just don't know whether to go for middle of nowhere, village or town. We've always thought village but I'm panicking that living in a small place would be too lonely so I suggested a town or small city. DH thinks we might as well stay where we are if we are going to do that and he has a point. I completely share your concerns - we have had a vibrant busy life for the past decade and although things have slowed now we have DS at least I know the buzz is there if I want it.

It's so hard decide but having thought again overnight I really do think that leaving London would improve our quality of life even though future earning potential would be seriously reduced. You only get one life and I really would hate to regret staying in the city.

I like your suggestion Elibean grin that would solve the problem!

GrendelsMum Mon 13-Jul-09 18:07:21

I think city life is ideal for children and teenagers - so many incredible arts opportunities, cultural activities, etc. And what are kids supposed to do in a village miles from anywhere? Drink, take drugs and get pregnant. My husband and I were adament that children are better off in a big city.

But selfishly, we prefer to live in the country... and so our children will just have to take their chances. grin

LaurieFairyCake Mon 13-Jul-09 18:26:15

IMO and feel free to disregard, you either move somewhere that has it's own individual identity (Cambridge, Oxford, Bath, Sheffield for example) or you move to a village near enough to a large town or city that you can benefit from it's amenities.

I live 25 minutes outside London, so commutable and yet close to countryside/village life. I benefit enormously from going into London for the day and yet here in Hemel Hempstead there are lots of things to do for children. St Albans, Tring, Berkhamsted, Amersham are all nicer than where I live but have a fantastic quality of life and you can still get into London in half an hour. And there are so many lovely villages 5-10 minutes from these towns.

And it's 25 minutes to Ikea Wembley wink.

I have lived in places with its own identity, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Middlesbrough hmm and it's good too.

Have you really sucked the marrow out of London, really enjoyed your time there?

if I moved it would be Brighton I think as I hanker for the sea but again it's close enough for a day trip to London.

Tambajam Mon 13-Jul-09 19:00:59

I would go for an alternative city nearby or at least be in a decent market town. I grew up in rural rural and drugs and alcohol were huge problems.

HerHonesty Mon 13-Jul-09 20:17:07

specifically, i dont think working hours or commute make a difference, it depends on what sort of job you do and where you choose to work or commute to.

in some ways my week is sort of the same as when i lived in london bar a much better commute - but the weekends are wonderful. lived out of london for 5 years and every friday night still feels like we are having a "weekend in the country" iykwim.

i am a much happier, relaxed person and in my experience its because you have to change down a gear, you simply cant fit in a million and one things like we used to in London, its just not possible, so you relax and dont cram your life with stuff. On reflecion it was just endless rounds of shopping and meeting people and always being late/stuck in traffic/broke/hungover anyway! because there are always people around in the village, on the green, in the pub, therer is always someone to chat to, just dont feel the need to organise our social life in the way we used to.

But i do worry about teenagers, but all the ones round here seem very happy, there is a very vibrant cricket and football club, and we are not that far from towns... well maybe, we'll see.

its a myth about property unless you are interested in new builds. the period detached houses that one dreams about in the country are v. expensive!

goldenpeach Mon 13-Jul-09 21:39:02

Rural life might be good in summer but dreary in winter when less events and the weather is too cold to stay outside for longer than a brisk walk.

We are in Rugby, which is a small town. Rugby is a lovely town, very commutable to London (50 mins) and lovely schools, Coventry is nearby...

But everybody seems to drive, sometimes I feel weird walking to central shops (one mile each way). Public transport is okish but the bus is not frequent. We are using the car more, although my partner has to be around as I don't drive. Cycling is a bit scary as cars go fast on roads.

I miss the cosmopolitan buzz and the fact you could be 'eccentric' or individual without being stared at. So Oxford and Cambridge sound better and they will be more work opportunities for us both.

HerHonesty Tue 14-Jul-09 07:22:25

i disagree about winter (ish)... my village go into overdrive in winter organising weird stuff like wassailing

bathtime Thu 16-Jul-09 15:58:39

phoebeL - any further with this? I keep getting really keen on the idea - I think we might end up doing a lot of recces this summer!!

goldenpeach Thu 16-Jul-09 16:14:21

As in other thread I recommend reading Escape from London and Guide to commuterland (can order from library if they haven't got it).

Herhonesty, you're lucky, in most places winter is dead time, except for a few days around xmas.

HerHonesty Thu 16-Jul-09 21:18:29

oh but i am nowhere near an ikea :-(

Spidermama Thu 16-Jul-09 21:26:00

I moved to Brighton after 17 years in London. We loved the idea of the countryside but actually I'm a towny.

Without wishing to be rude there's more than a grain of truth in the image of country folk being curtain twitching, parking-space-obssessed, get-orf-moi-laand, busy bodies who've never seen an avocado before.

HerHonesty Thu 16-Jul-09 21:37:58

yeah, sorry, forgot to say, we all suck straw here.

kiwibella Thu 16-Jul-09 22:01:38

we finally made the move from London last year after "talking" about it for two or three years. The main push for us was property - we could not afford a house in London and were rapidly outgrowing our two-bed flat.

I miss the buzz of London and I miss the opportunities. However, my kids are happier and settled. School is amazing for my dd1 (13) and she enjoys her short walk up the road. Unfortunately, most of her friends are a journey away in the surrounding areas so I'm spending a bit of time ferrying her around but once she has a bike she will be much more independent.

The commute to London is easy and comfortable. More-so than our commuting days in London. We do have to travel to the near-by cities for anything major but these are all reachable within an hour.

I have found it more difficult to make friends up here. Mums are lovely and chatty at playgroups etc but we haven't broken into any cliques or groups. Maybe once dd2 starts pre-school and has her own friends? Part of the problem is that we are still spending a lot of time going back to London for social events so we aren't here every other weekend etc.

I am so pleased of the move we made as it has really worked for our family life.

goldenpeach Fri 17-Jul-09 18:59:14

kiwibella, if you socialise in London, you are still in London!

The key to make friends locally is to volunteer, join a group and/or participate in the life of the town. I find the nct worked wonders for my move as I got in touch with the branch before I got here and got the list of socials, so I was at an event days after the move.

We are relocating again after nearly a year here but I will do the same again (volunteer and join groups).

DuchessOfAvon Fri 17-Jul-09 19:16:16

We left London a year ago - 4 weeks before the birth of second daughter. We now live in Leeds and are about to move into our new house, having rented for a year.

We will live 4 miles from the city centre as we did in London. The difference is that here we will live in a 4 bed house with a garden and there it was a one bed flat on the second floor. Here, we are 3 minutes from the nearest cow, there it was 45 mins before a sighting of any animal life other than urban foxes or the free view of the warthog at London Zoo. Here the schools are good and we no longer have to have the agonising London conversations about catchments. People talk to me and the kids in supermarkets and shops - and its usually pleasant. People are just not so ANGRY. And there are still art galleries, theatres, good restaurants etc.... just not quite the range but - hey - London stuff was always expensive and usually sold out in advance anyway.

Downsides - cycling is harder as the traffic moves faster and isn't so used to cyclists as in central London. Roads are in really bad repair. The playgrounds aren't a patch on those where we were in London. Oh - and bar curries - the take away options are woeful.

We miss friends but we don't miss London. It was great when we were both earning and had no kids. Now that I'm SAHM and we have two biting our ankles, we had to leave.

Good luck with whatever you decide!

glastocat Fri 17-Jul-09 19:46:47

Do it. We left London when J was 18 months, and have never looked back. I loved London when it was just me and my husband, but the shine rapidly wore off when I had a kid. We moved from a one bedroomed flat in the suburbs to a lovely four bedroomed house in Cork (ok, so we moved countries too). We moved to the outskirts of Cork city, and we are now twenty minutes drive to the city centre, twenty minutes to the countryside, and best of all, twenty minutes to the beach! My commute was an hour and a quarter each way before, now its ten minutes, so I have two extra hours every day. There are disadvantages, people can be cliquey, but luckily some of our London mates visited us and loved it too - and moved over too! Unfortunately the arse is falling out of the ecomomy, but that is happening everywhere, and we are both lucky enough to still be working. We are still renting, so hope to pick up a cheap house in the near future ( we have a deposit, thankfully we saw the way the market was going so didn't buy). Anyway, I adore it, and the few times I visit London I can't imagine living there again, here if the weather is fine we just fling the tent in the car and drive to West Cork which is one of the most gorgeous places in the world in the sunshine. Anyway, we took a risk movine ( we came over with no jobs arranged - I had PND and was desperate to escape). But its worked brilliantly for us. And now I'm talking about moving proper rural, but I wouldn't have done that straight out of London - the culture shock would have been too much! Good luck whatever you decide. smile

nkf Fri 17-Jul-09 19:50:39

I would have thought that smaller cities/big towns are very different to London. Really rural sounds awful to me apart from weekends and holidays. But then I hate driving on a daily basis. But there are lots of very civilised manageable places in the UK.

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