Miles is a County Contact on Life After London so if you've any queries about moving to the area do get in touch and he'll be only too happy to help.
Relocating from London to Devon
I was just booking my tickets to London for my usual Christmas catch up with some old mates from college thinking how lucky we are living in Totnes only 2 ¾ hours by train. It made me think I should visit London more often.
Many years ago we all lived within a mile of each other in Battersea South London and led an idyllic, if boozy, bachelor life. Between us now we have 4 wives and 8 children; how times have changed. Only one of our close college group still lives in South London with one now living in Essex and another in France. I would estimate that 90% of our friends from London are now living out of town.
I left London 10 years ago with my fiancé Nicki and rented a 2 bedroom period cottage in an idyllic village in Dartmoor with 2 pubs and a shop (I did not know at the time how lucky we were to have a shop). We set about making friends and I commuted to Exeter for work.
16th Century Dreams
Nicki and I married and bought a 16th Century barn conversion in the same village. At the time my wife was running a property portfolio in London for an investor, so was working from home as well as fully renovating our new home. I was working in an office environment, going for drinks after work and socialising with my new colleagues whilst Nicki was at home running the business by phone and email without 'human interaction' feeling fairly isolated..
We had Jago soon after moving into the house and after the dust settled from the building works and the chaos of a new baby we took stock. We realised we’d only made a handful of local friends in the surrounding area and didn’t feel we’d put roots down at all. People were extremely friendly but did not seem to have the same interests as us.
We then considered restaurants, coffee shops and things we might want to do with a toddler and there was nothing nearby. It dawned on us that we had made a mistake and we decided to look for different area. We had planned to live in the cottage for a long time but knew we'd made an error.
We did loads of research and discovered Totnes, which is a thriving town with an eclectic population, great restaurants, bars and coffee shops. It is also close to the beautiful South Hams coast.
At this time my mother lost her husband and was looking to come and live near her grandson and we all decided, after much thought, to buy a house together. We sold the house on Dartmoor at a loss having refurbished the house to a very high standard. We found a big house within walking distance of Totnes Town (incidentally - the very place an estate agent told us to consider when we first moved down!).
Second Time Lucky
On the second attempt we have landed squarely on our feet. We have a great group of friends, many of whom have moved from London and have a great lifestyle. We also have a baby sitter on tap and masses of things to do on our doorstep for all the family.
My wife has set up a successful property management business with someone locally and her office is in our garden. I have also started my own business which is going from strength to strength. Our son Jago is going to Berry Pomeroy Primary school which has 104 pupils and is surrounded by fields and suits him down to the ground, I am even on the Board of Governors, a long way from those boozy nights in Clapham and I wouldn’t change a thing.
5 things we got wrong
- Decided to buy too quickly without looking at other areas whilst we were renting
- Looked at the village with rose tinted glasses and failed to consider the the practicalities.
- Didn’t think about both of us with regards to work
- We didn't study what there was to do in the area. We thought we’d be happy with walking on Dartmoor and the two villages pubs but the novelty of them soon wore off and we needed more.
- We forgot you have to drive everywhere when you live in the country as there is limited public transport and taxis cost a fortune. (no Uber)
5 things we got right
- Moving to Devon- it is a wonderful county, not as crowded as London and a slower pace of life.
- Moving to a town with great facilities as well as being near the sea.
- Raising our son in fresh air, with an outdoor lifestyle and not having to worry so much about his safety.
- Making it possible for me to drop my son off to school every morning and get home for bedtime which would never have been possible in London.
- Finding the right place and therefore meeting likeminded friends and putting down roots.
Many people still ask if we miss London and the answer is truthfully no on a day to day basis. It is still the greatest city in the world and we both love visiting for fun and meeting up with friends but cannot imagine commuting and raising Jago there.
Miles Kevin is the Co-Founder of Chartsedge, an independent estate agent covering the South West of England specialising in selling properties that are ideal relocation, retirement or holiday homes. Their primary focus is to cover all aspects of residential property sales in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset with particular experience in costal and rural homes.