Changing Area Can Open Up the Possibilities
This is a great guest post about moving with older children from Sally Maseyk
We had mooted the idea of moving out of London for years.
The exact number of years became apparent when we began to register with Estate Agents and they had a record of us dating back over 10 years. Quite honestly, we had dreamed the dream-watched all the 'Escape To The Country' and even 'Four In A Bed' t.v. programmes - even recording them to watch after work!
However, we weren't brave enough to do the deed. We constantly found excuses: our twins' schooling, Family, work etc.
The years flowed by and suddenly the children and their schooling was no longer an obstacle. They had even finished uni by now.
Doing the research
The opportunity of very early retirement from our teaching and lecturing jobs meant that at the start of 2015 we had no excuses left. We put our home of 25 years, in Southgate North London on the market and started the search.
I used the forum on 'Life After London 'constantly to ask questions and even contacted House Finding Agents (although these seemed a tad too expensive ) and we decided on Kent and East Sussex as an area.
We have an apartment in the French Alps and constantly use the Tunnel so it made sense. After a year of looking, we could find nothing that even came close to our 3-storey Edwardian home in North London. We were obviously too fussy but we wanted something special and we were looking during what all agreed was a dearth of properties coming to the market.
Re thinking the area
We found ourselves changing area, looking in North Essex, South Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. Our family were happier as the M11 proved an easier journey than having to cross the Thames for visits.
Left high and dry
Originally we found a house in gorgeous Finchingfield in Essex. I loved the 30 year old house a bit more than my husband and twins. He saw that there was work to do and worse-the sellers kept asking for more money! Eventually after 4 months of upping the price and changing the goal posts they pulled out of the deal and left us high and dry. We had sold our house and our buyer was eager to move. We faced having to rent. We retreated to the Alps to consider what to do.
Falling in love
Upon our return, I remembered an email from an Agent in Saffron Walden about a new barn conversion. It was between Thaxted and Saffron Walden and in a despondent mood, I found the 3 month old email and phoned him. The barn was just nearing completion with an asking price of 650k and our budget was 600k. I hadn't realised that the extra 50k was for the prospective vendor to choose EVERYTHING inside! So it could be done cheaper if necessary.
We drove up that afternoon and absolutely and totally fell in instant love with it. We offered on it within 30 minutes, as we enjoyed lunch in the lovely local pub. We then spent 2 months choosing 3 bathrooms, the kitchen, the floorings, the lighting system etc and we moved in on 6th November 2015. We had done it.
Real life is like a holiday
It is just super. Half a mile down a farm track so seriously rural and yet our collection of buildings is a new hamlet of what will be 5 homes.
Our old neighbours waved us off and our new ones greeted us with gifts and cards. Everyone is so friendly.
Our half acre garden has a very large pond mentioned in the Domesday Book!
Life is like a holiday. I have even joined Thaxted WI. I attend Flower Club and have enrolled on Flower Arranging classes.
Thaxted is a gorgeous little village where everyone asks your name. We have wonderful restaurants and pubs and if you leave our back gate, you can be in Thaxted in 20 mins-across the fields. We are still gobsmacked when we see deer!
Saffron Walden is a dream with lots of independent shops and a Waitress and a great market twice a week.
I commuted to my school in Enfield for a month travelling on the superbly punctual train from Audley End to Tottenham Hale. The train goes straight into Liverpool Street and is excellent for trips back into town. However, the journey by car back to Enfield is around 56 mins via the A120 and M11.
We did it
We did it and as I type this, I can see so many different birds on the many bird-feeders us townies have put around the garden.
We have so many visitors because we have 2 ensuite rooms. It is quite honestly just brilliant.