Want to move – but unsure where!

This topic contains 10 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Laura 4 years, 11 months ago.

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    Hi there,
    We having been having the ‘shall we move out of London’ discussion for years – but can never seem to find somewhere to move to! (My husband has always been much more keen than me to move) We have 2 children aged 9yrs and 6yrs, and it’s now getting to the whole secondary school issue, which is pushing me more towards moving, as our local secondary isn’t that great. I am a part-time music teacher, so I can look for another job (though I do love my job here so it would be a wrench). My husband works partly from home, 1 day a week in Paddington (they also have offices in Reading) and the other days he travels to meetings, often in Canary Wharf and Manchester.
    We have family in the West Country and Wales, and friends who have moved out to Surrey and Berkshire, so I have always thought we would move west. I do like living somewhere with a bit of a buzz – but would like to live closer to the countryside. We have considered Bristol / Bath, but if feels like a very long way for the commute… Anyone got experience of this? Also, would it be very difficult to get the kids in to schools?
    We have also considered Lewes as my husband has a sister there – I love the vibe of Lewes, but it is obviously ins’t west of London at all! Any advice greatly appreciated – apologies for the long post!


    Dear Laura,
    We will find some more specific thoughts but have you found this very handy link for commute times?



    Hi there. We moved West from Wimbledon ten years ago and currently live in sleepy North Dorset. The commute time to Waterloo from Gillingham Station is two hours, but Bath is 45 mins drive away and there are some great market towns closer. Lots of great schools as well, away from hot-house atmosphere we found in London.



    Hi Laura

    You could look at places such as Goring-on-Thames, Pangbourne, Henley, Marlow, Maidenhead. I think all of those have direct trains to Paddington and Reading and aren’t too small. If you want somewhere with a buzz, think carefully before moving anywhere too small. I wouldn’t rule out Bath/Bristol if you are truly a city person.

    You need to get a feel for the places and then see which best ticks the boxes, for schooling, housing stock, things for teenagers to do, can your kids get jobs there when they are older or do they have to move away – it may not matter.

    Cue lots of weekends away or driving around!

    Best of luck,




    Hi Laura
    Yes, that big “where to” question. In terms of Bath/Bristol, I would say that is a very long trek by road or rail to any of the places you mention that your husband needs to travel to. Perhaps the thing to think about first are the places where your husband needs to travel to regularly, and the various train routes involved and what station(s) would enable him to get to all those places relatively easily/quickly.

    Didcot Parkway station provides easy access to Paddington, Reading and also Manchester (for the latter he would change at Oxford). For Canary Wharf he could change at Reading or Paddington for Crossrail (once it opens – via tube from Paddington in the meantime). The downside is that Didcot itself is not very pretty and somewhat downmarket, although the surrounding countryside and villages are lovely, so you’d probably want to pick one of the surrounding villages within an easy drive of Didcot Parkway. This might not provide the sort of “buzz” you are after! You would also need to watch out (like many places in the SE) for through traffic or imminent housing development, which could impinge. If you end up being interested in the Didcot area, ask for more detailed advice at that point for the villages nearby that are the best bets. Your catchment area for secondary schooling would most probably be in Didoct (but it might be Abingdon or Wantage, depending on which exact village you went for). Secondary schools in Didcot (one boys, one girls) are reasonable but not fabulous – girls better than the boys. There will be an additional (mixed) secondary school opening this Sept, so that will give more choice. The Wantage secondary school also regularly takes pupils from outside its catchment area in the Didcot direction and has a good reputation. I live near Didcot, which is why I know about this area in some detail. Didcot Parkway to Paddington is 45 mins by train. Didcot Parkway to Reading is 12 mins. Oxford to Manchester is about 3 hours by train (direct service on CrossCountry line, which also stops at Reading).

    Reading station is on the same line as Didcot Parkway, so you can get to all the same places, but it’s 12 mins nearer London. However, you are less likely to get a seat in the morning rush hour than you are from Didcot Parkway. I haven’t lived near Reading but I think, like Didcot, it is surrounded by some nice villages. Reading itself is not very attractive. You would also need to check how congested it is to drive in and park at Reading station. There are also some stations on the slow line between Didcot Parkway and Reading (for connections from Reading) which are worth looking into – e.g. Cholsey (near a lovely town called Wallingford), Goring & Streatley and Pangbourne.

    Maidenhead is another possibility. The trains from there connect easily to Reading. But it is a more expensive housing area because it is closer to London. I’m sure it has “buzz”.

    I think it might be difficult to travel from Lewes to the places your husband needs to get to regularly.

    Hope this is helpful.


    Belinda Aspinall

    Message from a member

    Bristol and Bath are great cities to relocate to from London, both have their own identify, Bath is a well-known World Heritage site and Bristol is a hub for all things creative and is home to many emerging scientific and technology companies. Housing in both cities is full of options for a family with two children from period properties to modern housing developments, there is an excellent selection of both state and private schools in both areas. From a transport point of view, trains regularly run from Bristol and Bath every 30 minutes to London Paddington with a journey time of 90 minutes, due to be reduced when the electrification of the line is completed. The countryside surrounding Bristol and Bath covers the Local Authority areas of South Gloucestershire, BaNES and North Somerset, all of these have excellent links to the motorway network giving easy access to the M4 to London and South Wales and the M5 to Cornwall and the North.

    Hope this is of help to you.

    Kind regards



    Belinda Aspinall

    Another message

    Basingstoke’s secondaries aren’t brilliant, but trains and facilities are and it’s relatively cheap, so you get lots for your money, Easy train to Reading. Alton has better schools.


    Belinda Aspinall

    We moved to near Bath about five years ago which I think works well as we have the countryside and the city not far away. There are quite a few good villages within about five miles of Bath. Also there are some very good secondary schools including Ralph Allen and Beechen Cliff. Train times are going to be much faster after the electrification soon so probably just about one hour ten minutes to Paddington, and Reading is even closer of course.


    Michael Edwardes | Director




    Laura you sound quite confused if you should or shouldn’t leave London.To help a bit in working it out here is an idea followed with some practical advice on how to tackle things if you decide to move out.

    Big sheet of paper and list down all the great things about living in London and then all the bad things. Which list is the biggest? This could help focus your thinking

    Next another list. Note down all the things you think you might gain by leaving London and all the things you think you would miss. Again the physical size of those columns could be helpful to focus on a decision.

    You can take all the advice you like, at the end of the day the decision will be yours and your husband/partner.

    It is an expensive business, which involves considerable personal upheaval and so needs careful thought. My experience of having been a Surrey agent for nearly 40 years, is that I do not know one of the hundreds of people I have dealt with that moved out of London,who has moved back. Quite a few moved again within Surrey several years later as their needs changed.

    One slightly safer route financially and less disruptive personally, could be to rent for a while. Choose an area you like and rent for a year and see “how it is”. It would probably still need to be somewhere that you and your husband /partner could stay in the same jobs and commute to, but it would be a way of sampling “Life after London’ without a full fat commitment.

    If you do decide to move and Surrey is on the cards, GUILDFORD is a very popular choice for people wishing to move out of London but still need a buzz.It’s quite civilised, great shops, restaurants,pubs,theatre a cathedral and really easy to get back to London, and access the motorways and the airports (Gatwick and Heathrow each about 35 minutes drive)

    As for the order try in how to go about a move here are a few tips.
    1. establish your Motivation, Needs and Timescale for a move.
    2. If these really check out, next, find out accurately how much you will have to spend on your next purchase. This information could well determine where you will search and ultimately move to.
    3. To do this, have several valuations of your existing property (assuming you are intending to sell it to buy) The real value will likely lie in the middle somewhere so chop of the lowest and highest. 4. Then seek proper independent mortgage advice to find out just what you can borrow. I say independent as that will give you a comprehensive sweep of the multitude of deals out there.Going back only to your existing lender gives you only their offering.
    5. Armed with the math,look around various areas to see what that will buy you. Does it allow you to buy what you need/want? If the answer is yes, visit those areas and see where gives you the best “feel factor”.
    6. Next, if the timescale is determined and it’s say within 6 months, place your existing property on the market now and see if you can find a buyer (ideally before going out and finding something you fall in love with, as this is the wrong way round as you will be under pressure from the off)
    7. In choosing your selling agent, don’t be tempted to go with the agent who quotes the highest price or the lowest fee necessarily. Choose someone who impresses you with their communication,knowledge and personality. test them on their negotiating skill. Ultimately it’s this that will end up putting the most money into your bank account at the end of the transaction.The company should be visible in your price sector demonstrating good selling success.

    8. In order to be in as much control of the process as possible,especially if at any stage things need to be expedited, at the same time as you put your property on the market,instruct your solicitor to prepare the conveyancing paperwork.If you are a leasehold property this is absolutely vital, as the information required by a buyer’s solicitor regarding management and maintenance can take weeks/months to come from the management company or their agents, acommon log jam in getting an exchange of contracts on leasehold properties. And again for leasehold properties,check out too how long your lease is.Less than 70 years or so, may well cause a lender for a buyer an issue and so you may need to extend it before selling

    9. With a buyer secured, you are now ready to go hunting but also negotiating. Your strong buying position may not get you thousands off an asking price,(it could if the property you wish to buy is owned by someone in a hurry!) but it might put you at the head of the queue if there are several people interested in the property you might like to buy.
    10. When you agree a purchase,instruct your solicitor, apply for your mortgage and I would strongly recommend that you have a building survey of some description done, to be sure you are making a sound investment structurally. You don’t want any nasty,expensive surprises after you move in. Many people make the mistake that a mortgage valuation is a survey. It’s not.

    Those basics will give you the best chance of having a smooth, cost effective transaction.
    If you want any more help feel free to contact me acd@curchods.com. And if you are coming to Surrey I have 19 estate agency offices to help you.
    Good luck



    Hi Laura

    To throw another suggestion in the ring, how about Horsham in West Sussex? The commute is about an hour and a half to Paddington and the secondary schools are good. Although you’re surrounded by the countryside and only half an hour from the seaside, Horsham is a busy market town, not too big but with a growing restaurant culture and there’s a cinema and theatre, bowling, sports facilities etc and a new cinema complex is planned. Lewes is pretty easy to get to and there is plenty to do locally but you’re not too far from London if you want to see friends. It’s a pretty friendly town (with John Lewis, Waitrose etc etc) where prices for a 3 bed house start just under £300,000 and nice 4 beds are still under £500k, or there’s a brand new detached 4 bed within walking distance of the shops & station currently on the market at £750,000 so it depends on budget but it’s a lot less than London! If you want a real country home for your children to grow up in, you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice in the surrounding villages and hamlets.

    Good luck with your search and if you’d like any more info on Horsham or West Sussex areas, I’d be happy to help. I moved near to Horsham from Guildford about 10 years ago and when I go back I’m really struck by how urban & built up it is, the traffic is a nightmare – but the train lines are pretty good!




    Thanks so much for all replies… I think Andrew you are right – I am confused as to whether leaving London is right for us… My husband is really really keen and always has been, and I am more reluctant. I think I will follow your advice and write down lists of what is good about living in London and what is bad, and what we would gain from leaving London, and compare them!
    Thank you Jane and Bridget also for your advice – some new places to consider.

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