Real Stories moving back to Devon

Moving Back to Devon - Our Story

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Childhood Memories

I was lucky enough to have spent my childhood in Devon, in a lovely house on the outskirts of Exeter overlooking the Haldon Hills. As a family we spent every weekend exploring the coastline, the moors  (Dartmoor and; Exmoor) and the many woodland walks and nature reserves in between. Family holidays were spent a little further afield in Cornwall where we honed our surfing and water-skiing skills around Rock and Polzeath.

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At school along with many of my friends I took part in the annual Ten Tors event, the Duke of Edinburgh scheme and learned to sail on the Exe estuary with the CCF. As a teenager I enjoyed a lot of independence and the relative safety of the area spending summer holidays at the beach travelling by train or cycling to Woodbury Common for a picnic with my friends.


After ‘A’ levels I went to Australia for a year out and met my future husband whom was from London but who had been to boarding school in North Devon. We had a lot in common from our love of the beach and watersports to many of our favourite places in Devon.

London and the Commuting Life

After graduating from Warwick University I moved to London to work as did most of my friends from school and uni. I enjoyed several years working in London and living in Battersea, West Acton and Ealing Broadway. When my husband and I decided to buy our first house we decided on St Albans as it was an easy commute into London for work but was surrounded by countryside which we were both craving.

Househunting again

Roll on 13 years and two children; I decided that I desperately wanted them to enjoy the childhoodimage3 (2) and lifestyle that I had benefitted from in Devon so we started our search. It took two years and took in three counties (Devon, Somerset and Dorset) before we were in a position financially to move back to the Westcountry. With two children in primary school we first investigated areas with good grammar schools (Poole, Bournemouth and Colyton before deciding that proximity to family, the beach and good links to London (air and train) were the overriding factors for us. My husband travels a lot for work but the head office is in East London so he needs to be in town for 3 nights a week at least. We looked into the travel timings and worked out he could travel up from Exeter on a Monday morning and back on a Thursday night, working from home on a Friday.


Exeter and the surroundingsDevon

Having settled on Exeter our house search took us to some lovely villages to the west (Newton St Cyres and Bradninch) and both sides of the Exe estuary (Cockwood/Starcross and Exmouth) before we decided to centre our search on 3 villages Woodbury, Exton and Lympstone. We looked at a huge range of houses from beautiful Devon cottages with the proverbial roses around the front door to barn conversions and Regency style villas in Exmouth before settling on a modern home in the village of Exton in July 2014.

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Location, Location

We are fortunate enough to be half way between the city and the coast, have brilliant travel links via the local trains and buses yet are only 15 minutes from Exeter airport. We have a much larger house with all the space and rooms we had hoped for including a fantastic open plan kitchen/family room as well as a formal living room and an enormous playroom for the kids. As well as parking for 7 cars, some amazing views of the estuary, a fantastic local pub and easy access to the East Devon cycle route.

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Our children are both enrolled at an excellent independent school and for very little more than we were looking at for one child in London. The cultural life in Exeter is brilliant there are three theatres, three cinemas not to mention RAMM (The Royal Albert memorial Museum and Art Gallery) which won museum of the year in 2012. Further afield so many National Trust and English Heritage site and a really exciting local restaurant scene which includes all the well-known chains as well as some amazing independent eateries using locally sourced produce which is obviously super fresh. There are pop-up restaurants, country Gastropubs and even a floating river cafe plus hundreds of idyllic spots to barbecue or picnic.

Creating memories

But one of the best things about our new life has to be being 5 minutes away from my parents, the wonderful community and our amazing neighbours. Last summer we didn’t bother going abroad we invested in a 2 seater kayak and an inflatable SUP and spent some wonderful days exploring the beaches, rivers and estuaries around Devon. Even in term time we’re only 10 minutes from the beach so rockpooling or an evening on the water are genuine possibilities.

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Having my parents and some wonderful neighbours (now very dear friends) close by has meant that I can juggle managing a home with running my own business and still manage to attend all the important school activities such as sports fixtures, school plays and concerts and after-school playdates. When I have a few hours to myself I run on the beach or meet up with a friend to walk the dogs. I haven’t regretted a single thing about relocating back to Devon and my children are noticeably happier and healthier with every day. I can’t recommend the lifestyle enough!

Where will you go?

If you or your relatives are thinking of embracing Life after London and are considering Devon and would like some advice please do not hesitate to get in contact with me via or via the website

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1 Comment

  1. Hi there – thank you for sharing your story Belinda! I am in a similar position, i.e. I grew up in Somerset, but now live in London – but with a 15 month old baby, I am desperate to move back (to be close to parents also!).
    However, I don’t think we’re quite there yet due to my husband’s work. Accordingly, we are also considering St Albans in the meantime. Would you mind letting me know your thoughts on the place, and how you found living there? Thank you so much! Rosie


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