Social life outside London

This topic contains 11 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Claire 9 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #1846

    Fiona
    Member

    For those who have made the move, how long has it taken to establish yourself and your family into a happy, comfortable social scene? Is it indeed important to you? How do you spend your days? Working in a job, alone at home but happy doing it because: you like housework; or you’ve got animals, gardens, vegetable gardens, have bought a farm; or are self-employed; or out and about going to the gym/classes/activities; stuck in to voluntary work; socialising in a coffee, playgroup Wandsworth kind of way; or indeeed any other way one might spend one’s days? Are your husbands making friends with other people? Is it important to them? do they actually want to? Have you embraced the dominant activity around you, be it horses or sailing or rock climbing or church activities? At what stage of one’s family development would you say is the best to make the move, or is it entirely subjective? Are there any tips you could give to those who are new at it or indeed thinking of making the move?

    #1866

    Coral
    Member

    It took us about a year to get to know lots of local people and now we’ve been here 18 months I can’t believe how settled we feel. When I go into town I often see people I know and I enjoy stopping for a random chat. That never happened in Muswell Hill! It helps having children to introduce you to other people. I’m currently on maternity leave but otherwise would never be at the school gates so that’s definitely helped things along.

    #1889

    Vicki
    Member

    I have to admit that the first 6 months were difficult. We had no friends, we moved to a rural area which doesn’t even have a shop, so it was a huge shock to the system. We missed the busy hub of Balham! However, after 6 months, we started to make friends. I found a playgroup full of like minded mums, many of whom had lived in London before. Previous playgroups I’d been to were full of teenage mums, and mums who had obviously grown up toegther, so I felt like a spare part! We also started to visit the local pub, which helped us feel part of the community. We are now at the point where we would never even consider moving back to London. The peace and quiet is wonderful, people really care about each other. Whenever my husband is away, neighbours will drop in just to check I’m OK…I think the main tip I have is that you have to throw yourself into community activities. We are now busy helping organise the village fete, fundraising for the local school etc. and we’ve met lots of people this way.

    #1898

    Fiona
    Member

    This is all very interesting. People might want to know where people live. Would people feel comfortable mentioning their county or nearest town? Or perhaps saying whether they are hidden away down a country lane in divine seclusion or amongst the hubub of the high street in a village or town.

    #1953

    Helen
    Member

    Hi all! I live in Kendal, Cumbria and am on the outskirts of the town close to the fells. My little girl goes to a wonderful rural school and the great think is that the mums there are mostly like-minded and from this I have made some really good friends. I work from home so its not easy to make friends through work which is what I have often done before. My thoughts are that you can get as involved as you want to. There are often local projects that need help, or the PTA also, if you like sport, walking, etc don’t make excuses join your local group or team. One cautionary word is try not to go in like a bull in a china shop you will just end up rubbing people up the wrong way. In Cumbria we are called an out of towner and they don’t like big heads coming in and telling them how to do things – they need to get to know you first! I do miss London sometimes and go back for a fix every couple of months. However I would never move away from South Cumbria. The people are friendly, the views are spectacular and there is so much to do! We go to the climbing wall or visit a friends farm to help feed the lambs, we go to the county shows, beer festivals etc and best of all we go walking on the wonderful fells in the Lakes which is on our doorstep. Its a wonderful life for sure!

    #1954

    Sally
    Member

    Hello! I live in Kent (just outside a small village near Tenterden). We’ve been here for 8 years and it’s been a very positive move. But I will confess to having had about 18 months/2 years of the ‘silent scream’ in my head – a sort of what-have-we-done feeling…. If you have kids, then the key to it is getting involved through school. I also learned to be brave – approach people at the school gate, at the village fete, in the pub – and just start chatting. Ask them questions about the village, things to do, places to go. I also took a deep breath and just invited people over – either for a coffee or supper (not randomly I hasten to add – after perhaps meeting someone at a bbq or spending time chatting when at the play ground). A colleague at work described moving to the country as ‘two years of ghastly dinner parties and then you work out who your friends are’. I think that’s spot on! Good luck everyone.

    #1955

    Sally
    Member

    Should have said – if you volunteer for a few committees or helping out at village activities you’ll be entrenched in the community before you know it. I felt I had finally made it into being accepted when the local farmer’s wife told me – when hearing we had moved from London – ‘Ah, but you’re obviously one of the right type as you’ve got involved’. Dread to think what she says about those who are busy or away working and frankly don’t have the time or energy to sign up for civic, village duties!

    #2376

    Carol
    Member

    As a diretor of The County Homesearch Company Wales we assist people to find houses in West Wales and, as such, spend a lot of time helping people settle into the area; introducing them to people, sending them details of events they may enjoy etc. If you do not have the advantage of having used a homefinder to introduce you into an area and are struggling to settle, to quote the American comedy songwriter Tom Lehrer “Life is like a sewar; what you get out of it depends on what you put into it”. Certainly in rural areas like West Wales you will be welcomed with open arms into the area and get a huge amount more fun out of life if you join in and contribute to the community. Most villages have village halls in which varied events are held from fundraisers like pudding nights and table top sales to badminton, keep fit or dance classes. Go and join in – there is bound to be something you will enjoy and it is the best way to meet people and find out what other activities take place in the area. Get involved in community projects in the area – these may involve getting some shopping for an elderly neighbour whilst doing your own or walking someones dog when they first come out of hospital – these people are likely to be a fountain of information on local people and places and you will be doing a good turn at the same time as integrating into the community – a win/win situation.

    #2389

    Emma
    Member

    We moved to Hampshire nearly six years ago, the first amongst our friends to move out of London and to a county neither of us had grown up in. My husband commutes to London daily, so getting established in the area was primarily down to me. Our first child was born six weeks after we moved in and this was definitely a huge catalyst for very quickly meeting people and a natural ice breaker for introducing yourselves or people to approach you. We have found village life so unbelievably friendly in comparison to life in London. However, it is important as the lady above has mentioned ‘ what you get out of it depends on what you put into it’. We have involved ourselves in village, school and rural activities and have attempted to say ‘yes’ to any invitation or suggestion. It is important to do things perhaps you would never imagine doing when you were in London and perhaps pre-family. A week into living in the countryside, we found ourselves at the Harvest Supper in the village hall!! It is also important to not concentrate friendships within just your age group. We have felt extremely fortunate to become friends with elderly neighbours who have been a great source of help and advice.

    #2482

    Sarah
    Member

    I moved down to Tunbridge Wells in Kent 2 years ago. I already had some old school friends in the area and my parents so I thought it would be a breeze but the first 6 months were pretty tough! I did loads of ironing for want of anything else to do ! – most unlike me!! I have 3 kids who were 3,2 and 1 when we moved so met some other parents from nursery/school etc but it took a good 18 months to feel settled. The clincher for me was starting up my business (women’s fitness/bootcamps) which has been fab as it means I meet loads of like minded women all the time. A word of warning though not to sign up to/join/volunteer for absolutely everything which is what I did and I am now rushed off my feet and trying very hard to extricate myself from class rep duties, PTAs, book clubs, charities etc ; ) I’d be interested to know if anyone else’s husband has been of any help in making new friends – mine has been useless!

    #2484

    AHW
    Member

    I’m another Tunbridge Wells London expat and didn’t know a soul here when we moved 4 years ago – I’d say it took 6-12 months to feel like I was making friends. However, it’s the sort of place where loads of ex-Londoners move to, so there are always ‘newbies’ and most of us who’ve made the move know how hard it is, so I find it a very friendly and welcoming place. Having young children helps – I used to introduce myself to people that I heard chatting in the park and who I thought sounded nice, made an effort with my neighbours, went to playgroups, and then found friends through the nursery and church, NCT coffee groups. I agree with Sarah though – I feel slightly over committed! Once I resigned from my London commute, I over compensated, and have said yes to everything so am now involved in loads of school, community and church things – I’m also on the committee trying to bring a Free School to TW so am flat out at the moment! My husband is a bit of a misanthrope, so I was never relying on him to introduce me to friends here!

    #2520

    Claire
    Member

    We moved to St Albans where we already had 1 friend. Most of our social life in London was between ourselves or work colleagues which slowly diminished for me once our son was born as I was responsible for nursery pick up!
    My 1 friend here in St Albans introduced me to her friends and I met a few random people through online groups which started to meet up (Natural Parenting, Baby Led Weaning forum).
    Now that my son is at school, my social life is picking up with meeting mums in the playground, coffee mornings and of course children’s play dates!
    I don’t think I would have made friends so easily if I didn’t have the child card to play – my child wants to play with yours etc.

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