Moving out of London can be an exciting time but as Joan and Peter prove it doesn't have to be forever so don't panic! Thanks so much for sharing your story of the move out, and the move back!
We started married life in late 1980 in a small terraced house in Fulham. By 1982 we had moved to Melody Road in Wandsworth where our first child was born. With school fees looming and no family inheritance to look forward to my husband Peter was keen on making the most of the housing market. So with firstborn under my arm, we refurbished, with builders, a large semi detached house in Telford Avenue, Streatham Hill and moved in.
In the summer of 1987 we sold up and re-located to Scotland for work purposes. We lived in Scotland for the next eleven years where we bought, renovated, lived in and then sold, one after the other, two handsome Georgian farmhouses and a rather grand Victorian house with battlements and turrets on the banks of the river Tay. The Scottish years were a happy time. Plenty of space for now two boys to run amok in. There were hills on the neighbouring farm where we tobogganed in the winter, space for clay pigeon shooting and a banged up second hand mini metro that teenagers could drive round the farm tracks. The boys went to a good school, where I made new friends at the school gate and we all had a very nice social life. The roads were quieter, as were the shops and restaurants and the NHS!
In 1999 work sent us back down south again and we bought a very pretty brick and flint farmhouse south of Chichester and lived there for about three years. It was at this stage as we returned to the south that we wished we'd kept a small flat in London as entering the southern property market again was challenging! In 2002, yet again, because of work we moved to Wiltshire and settled there for a remarkably long time, a whole eight years!
We slotted into village life, hearty walks, annual Fete, the local pub where we'd meet friends and we explored Dorset and Wiltshire, such beautiful counties. During our time in Wiltshire Peter changed jobs and his new office was in East Grinstead, a geographical nightmare! Our eldest son was by now at university but our second child was still at school in Wiltshire. Therefore we bought a tiny new build in East Grinstead and the years of the great commute began.
Peter would leave for East Grinstead very early on a Monday and return late on Friday evenings. In due course our youngest son left for university so I was able to commute between the two houses. This involved very dull journeys backwards and forwards, vast expense on petrol, endless cleaning projects and carrying perishable food that I didn't want to waste in a cold box between the two properties. Both houses of course needed maintaining. In East Grinstead the boiler was very temperamental and in Wiltshire the garden needed lots of TLC and apart from that there was all the usual hassle of house maintenance and double bill paying!
After a couple of years of motorway grind, I had my great "eureka" moment. I quite literally woke up one morning and thought and decided within sixty seconds that we should return to London. Peter's job in East Grinstead would be his last before retiring. Much of his work took place in London and he regularly used Heathrow and Gatwick for business trips. Our eldest son was now working in London and the trip from Manchester University to London for our second son was a doddle compared to getting home to south west Wiltshire at the start and end of term. From my point of view the thought of returning to the city was very attractive. No more winter mud and week ends spent gardening, or should I say watching Peter gardening, it gobbles up pretty much the whole week end in the summer months. No more driving half an hour or an hour to the cinema or theatre and back home again tired and in the dark on country roads. Leaving village life behind didn't bother me either, we'd had a good time but the thought of those bright lights and noisy aeroplanes was enticing. When we left London in 1986 I had been very reluctant to leave. In 2010 I was thrilled at the prospect of returning.
We bought a house in Wandsworth that needed complete renovation, exactly the sort of project I enjoy!! With the help and advice of an excellent team of builders I had great fun creating a new home for us from the rubble!! We have made good friends with our immediate neighbours and help each other out when needed. I've even done "emergency" babysitting!! Shopping is easy, groceries can be ordered on-line and delivered and generally shopping in London is a delight, style and innovation abound, you can literally find anything and everything you could possibly want. You can join classes to learn pretty much anything you fancy. I'm always amazed at the scope of help for all sorts of problems that you can find in this city, just pick up the phone or check on line! Culture surrounds us, museums, exhibitions, concerts and we can walk to the cinema!! We do have a car but I go pretty much everywhere by bus and Peter has a bicycle which he loves using and we both now have Freedom Passes which we consider a bit of a bonus for getting older!!! We still have friends that live in the capital and we're always meeting new people too. Life is livelier and of course family and friends that live out of London often pass through. Some come to stay and others pop in. Our young grand daughter loves coming to stay, theatre, ballet and films for children are easily found also workshops, a choice of playgrounds and Wandsworth Common to cycle round. She has even made some new friends amongst our younger neighbours children.
After all those years of "moving for work purposes" I really do feel I'm home again.