The Calling of the Country

  If you haven’t come across Cupsmith yet you should meet them!  Not only do they serve great coffee, tea and the most delicious hot chocolate, but they are lovely people who made the move out of London. Luckily for us they have shared their experiences (and even better pop by Instagram and you can be in with a chance to win a gift from them.) Real Story We’d been living in London for as long as we could remember, and we had our first baby, a boy. We both carried on working, we had a nanny, we spent most Saturdays at London farmers markets where there wasn’t a farmer in sight.  One day  I looked at my little boy scooting up Putney high street, dodging pedestrians, me on red alert for potential dangers which seemed to surround us, and I had suddenly had enough. We came to the conclusion we didn’t actually want our little boy to grow up in London, we wanted him to run in fields and be able to scoot freely and to his heart’s content. We were also done with farmers’ markets that sold sushi. Instead we wanted farmers’ markets with grubby potatoes. Choosing an area Initially we looked at the Farnham area because one of our oldest friends lived there and she said her neighbours were selling their house. It seemed a good solution particularly once we’d done the all-important ‘Commute Calculation’ that confirmed Farnham was within 45 minutes of London and the station was a 4 minute scooter journey ( by avoiding taking a car we’d be saving £1500 a year on...

Real Story – New Build in West Sussex

Although our website is called Life After London there was never anything intended to exclude others moving from different areas, the key is we are here to help with any move and I'm delighted to share Octavia's story of their move.  It's especially interesting because she left an area many aspire to move to, and moved into a new build, highlighting some of the issues that you might want to consider. Forewarned is forearmed after all.    The search for Good Schools We moved to West Sussex in January 2016.  We’d been looking for a while and were concentrating our search on 3 very different areas, all with one thing in common: good schools!   Hot House Rejection We moved from Bucks / Berks borders, in Bourne End, near Marlow, where prices are astronomical and outstripped our finances, and schools are 1) excellent if your child gets into the grammar system, or 2) mediocre at best.  As we weren’t keen to “hot-house” our children with tutoring, and would rather rely on their natural abilities to enable them to achieve their best, whilst maintaining a healthy balance of school and leisure time, we decided to move away from this system.      The Golden Hour with friends Another criteria was that we wanted to be within 1 hour of London, oh and we should know someone who lives or has ties to the area we chose.  Our short list was: Winchester, Cambridge, and Horsham and we viewed houses in all these locations.  We were beaten (in sealed bids) to a house in both Winchester and Cambridge, so we elected for a...

Real Story of Leaving London—Where is the Right Place?

It's all too easy to get hung up on the area you think you want to move to but as Chrissie reminds us not to close our eyes to opportunities in different counties...whilst also keeping in mind some of the critical factors. Just over four years ago, we decided to put our flat in Clapham North on the market in preparation for a move out of London. Originally we had looked at Salisbury as an area, but it didn’t quite ‘fit us’. We then looked at Dorset but couldn’t find the type of house we wanted, so we border hopped into Somerset. It’s a county I know very well, and we both liked it so house hunting began in earnest. Where to go As my husband and I are both freelancers it didn’t matter where we lived, but there were still things that were very important to us. We needed to be fairly close to either the A303 or the M5 so that we could get back to London for work. We also needed to be reasonably close to a mainline train station and amenities like shops, a post office, a good doctors and veterinary practice. Internet Connections The other thing that was top of the list for us was connectivity. Because we work from home, we needed to find somewhere that had good broadband, preferably super fast. Sadly the West Country is still lacking in superfast broadband and we had to discount a few areas of Somerset because the broadband was so poor or super fast wasn’t expected to be rolled out for a while (in some cases years). We...
Moving to our holiday destination

Moving to our holiday destination

How many of us have been on holiday and dreamt of moving to that place....well here is an inspiring story of someone who did it and started a whole new business because of the move out of London. Holidays turn to real life We came to Norfolk for a holiday in October 2005 and I spent a week at a seaside hotel, sitting in the bay window of our hotel room, or sitting on the beach, listening to the sea and planning my life. All Summer I had become more and more desperate to leave my job and had spent nights working out how on earth we could afford it.  After 16 years in the law, the stress was getting too much for me. I had achieved everything I wanted – partnership, trips to Hong Kong, working on multi-million pound deals, but now I wanted time to be with my son; I was fed up of missing his school plays, and fed up dealing with internal politics. During that week in Norfolk I decided to give up my job. Apprehensively, I chatted to my husband, and he said “That’s great – I will give up my job as well”. I knew I wanted to run a business but had no burning business ideas, so after discounting a number of business ideas, including running a seaside café, a dog grooming business and a B&B, I Googled “Franchises” and found The Best of. The business suited both my husband’s skills and my own. We decided to buy a thebestof franchise and it was a case of where in the country we...

Fluttering Hearts–When You Just Know It’s Right

Wow! It was two years ago that we made the decision that the time had come to escape the madness of London and move to a life less hectic, with more space and a better lifestyle.  It only took roughly 3 months from start to finish but in that time the key question needed answering – where to? It was a chicken and an egg situation (only there were several eggs in the equation). Three components were competing for top priority – the house, the school and the husband’s commute.  All equally important and needing serious consideration.     Highlighter Pens and Post It Notes This seemingly impossible conundrum however, all fell into place over time through using large scale maps, colourful post-it notes and highlighters (so much fun in WHsmiths)  to colour code the various key parts of our move, i.e.trains stations with regularity and length of travel, motorways, schools to be looked at etc.  We narrowed the area down by looking at feasible commute distances and potential schools for our 2 boys, then ages 3 and 5.  The boys and I spent most of June and July on the M3 – cruise controlling on the 50 mph speed limit.   We must have viewed 50 plus houses, each of which had their facilities tested by one or both of my boys – got a bit embarrassing – but a great way to find out about dodgy pipes.     Finding the dream home It is true that you don’t know what you are looking for until you find it. Prior to stumbling across the house we are in now,...

Things to Remember–A Real Story of Leaving London for Saffron Walden

    I've known this family for quite some time - they've been regular and active members of Life after London as they've explored their different areas and plans so it gives me so much personal pleasure to be able to share their experiences with you, now they have made the move.  They have so much good advice to share as they had more than their fair share of 'experience' during the whole process - tips such as getting your house on the market, focus on what you want to achieve, get to know your estate agent - all such great things to remember.  May I introduce the Family May....   So we’ve finally done it.  We’ve actually made the move out of London to Saffron Walden, with three kids (aged 7, 6 and 2) in tow and after almost three years of “shall we, shan’t we?”, including two aborted attempts.  It all started, as I’m sure most of these things do, with a casual flick through Rightmove just “out of interest” to see what we could get if we sold our slightly cramped terraced house in Chiswick and made the big move out.  Georgian Dreamers Turns out you could get quite a lot, and we stumbled across a gorgeous looking Georgian farmhouse in the middle of Norfolk.  It ticked all the fantasy house move boxes:  beautiful, massive, lots of land, outbuildings, a small lake, cows in the field next door. And a tennis court.  Yes, a tennis court.  My wife grew up in Norfolk so we thought we might as well have a look at it, in the...