Real Moving Stories from Life After London

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Life After London

Real Story of Leaving London—The House Hunt

  Sometimes finding the right house is not an easy proposition. Jo kindly shares her story of the trials and tribulations of the house hunt.    London life My husband and I both moved to London for work almost twenty years ago, with no other ties to the city. We met through a mutual friend 13 years ago, bought a house in 2008 and married in 2014. Although we had great intentions, our house was never truly 'home'. We lived in a fabulously green corner of the capital with a relatively tight community but our jobs meant that aside from a weekend walk we never really made the most of it or joined in. Truly in a rat race rut! Our catalyst for change was paying off our mortgage in 2015.   Flexi working   Suddenly our reason to work so hard melted away and we began to resent our roles. We experimented with flexible working, but our living space and proximity to neighbours didn't make for a productive work environment - plus we were also still fitting life around work.   Goodbye work   It was another good few months of just talking about relocating before we made a definite plan. Deciding not to have children was a positive breakthrough because it helped us to agree on house style, size and location. Then came the hard part about where to move to. While we were at that research stage we did some sensible financial planning - boring but this gave us the confidence to both quit our jobs, removing our very last excuse to stay. Game on!  ...

Staying in (the M25) is the new going out! 

Going out….but not out out A year into our marriage we were enjoying a life in London, desperately trying to be cool, hip and young (ish). I worked for a design company in Soho and my husband had an enviable job in the music industry working in Kensington. We began to ask ourselves the question on how the ‘Hell’ were we going to afford to buy a flat/house in the Battersea area that we lived and loved. We started by looking at London maps that got bigger and bigger. We’d already agreed we had no desire to go north of the river so that helped to halve the map but going deeper into the unknown , the south felt daunting. Being at the height of our social whirl within our chosen professions, we were scared the travel options were going to cripple many of our relocation choices and it did. Being in the music industry, late nights were an accepted part of the deal for both of us going to gigs and socialising. We had to be able to get home all through the night and going too far from the centre was going to mean 'Taxi Hell’. We started examining the train routes closely around London and came upon the London Gatwick Airport trains that run all night. Eureka!! This Eureka moment gave us a whole train line that opened up new locations running straight out of London, whilst leaving one proverbial ‘foot' still in London that we needed for our jobs and other after hours commitments. We now had the dilemma of what kind of property we...


So if you’re thinking about making the move and want to talk to someone who’s done it in Devon get in touch, I’m happy to help.

We Bought a Ticket to Ryde

It was Boxing Day 2014 when we started to think about life by the sea. We were standing on Appley Beach at low tide with both our girls wrapped up warmly and happily jumping in puddles left by the receding tide when we sort of looked at each other and said ‘Hmmm, wouldn’t it be awesome to do this every day?’

Fluttering Hearts – when you know it’s right

Wow! It was a year ago that we made the decision that the time had come to escape the madness of London and move to a life less hectic, with more space and a better lifestyle.  It only took roughly 3 months from start to finish but in that time the key question needed answering – where to? It was a chicken and an egg situation (only there were several eggs in the equation). Three components were competing for top priority – the house, the school and the husband’s commute.  All equally important and needing serious consideration. Highlighter Pens and Post It Notes This seemingly impossible conundrum however, all fell into place over time through using large scale maps, colourful post it notes and highlighters (so much fun in WHsmiths)  to colour code the various key parts of our move i.e.trains stations with regularity and length of travel, motor ways, schools to be looked at etc.  We narrowed the area down by looking at feasible commute distances and potential schools for our 2 boy’s then ages 3 and 5.  The boys and I spent most of June and July on the M3 – cruise controlling on the 50 mph speed limit.  We visited various schools, some of which I had been recommended and some I was new to.  Josh my eldest had a couple of trial days and made it quite clear which one he wanted to go to – on to that later. We must have viewed 50 plus houses, each of which had their facilities tested by one or both of my boys – got a bit embarrassing...

City Living from London life

Rural v Urban Post London Life My husband Nick, and I lived in London, but soon after getting married decided to leave to find an affordable home where we could settle and start a family. We came to Cambridge by chance after I found a great job. We made our first appointment with a local estate agent to view some properties in the villages just outside Cambridge. It was immediately obvious that the last six years in London had determined our appetite for a city lifestyle, and we redirected our search to Cambridge. Cambridge Requirements We didn’t know anything about Cambridge. Our remit was to find a three-bedroom house with a garden, near to the shops and easy commuting distance to the station, on this last point there was no room for negotiation; Nick would only consider a short walk to the station. In hindsight I wish we had invested in a specialist relocation company, such as Move to Cambridge, as we spent many wasted weekends viewing houses that really didn’t meet our requirements. Mill Road Through our house hunting we discovered Mill Road. The area has a multi-ethnic buzz, a diverse and strong sense of community, lots of independent shops and a real vitality about it. The Mill Road area is a community in itself; indeed, it was runner-up in the Great British High Street of the Year award 2015. We soon found our dream house, without doing anything as grown up as selecting it based on schools in the area. Fortunately, Cambridge came up trumps. We had a fantastic choice of nurseries, schools and colleges, both state...

Choosing where to move after New York

Why Cambridgeshire? I am often asked what made us move to Cambridgeshire. After all, we are a bit of an anomaly: our little family consists of me, British, brought up in hilly Herefordshire (where my parents still live); my husband, French Portuguese who grew up in Paris; and our son born in New York City where we had been living, for me for over a decade. Deciding where to move?   When we decided to make the move back to England from the United States it was primarily to be closer to our families. It was also at the point of our son starting school. My husband’s job would be based in London but we knew that we didn’t want to live in London, nor could we afford to buy a family house there. We were looking for somewhere more rural where we could be involved in village life, enjoy having a garden to cultivate and play in, and generally, after the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, have somewhere where we felt we could breathe and put down roots. At the same time we needed to be within an hour’s commute of London and also not too far from a city that offered some culture, shopping, restaurants and good schools. With my husband’s office close to King’s Cross and the Eurostar connection to Paris for visits to his family, we started tracing the train line north-eastwards. First Stop St Neots At first we rented the quintessential country cottage, near St Neots. We organized everything from America – we searched houses to rent on Rightmove and used Google Earth to...

Moving to Cambridge

We had a fairly typical London moment where the weekends we spent in the countryside became the part of our lives we most enjoyed. After much deliberation, we left our jobs and headed for Cambridge feeling it was the most obvious choice as that is where my husband is from. I am from Bath and frankly it seemed a little flat! Both of us work in property and after 2 years of renting and looking around Cambridge we found our ideal house; albeit after a nail-biting competitive bidding situation.  We later discovered the owner and I were at the same school in Bath, some 35 years apart - I only wish we'd known that when writing our personal letter to him with our sealed bid. We have now lived in that house for 11 years, (surrounded by small hills!) extended twice and had 3 children. Our children cycle, play cricket and build dens in the village together. Our village doesn’t have the facilities one might seek when moving out of London but there are around 500 inhabitants with a strong sense of community and now great friends. Together we set up the village toddler group, Easter egghunts and discos, and fundraised for a new playground.   The older ones babysit and the parents share cider and honey! Sadly, our village was recently hit by a once in a lifetime freak flash flood, several homes were knee deep in water and children and animals had to be lifted to safety. The support within the community was incredible and long before emergency assistance arrived villagers came together to help one another. As...

Real Stories moving back to Devon

Moving Back to Devon - Our Story 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. 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...

Changing Area Can Open Up the Possibilities

Thaxted is a gorgeous little village where everyone asks your name. We have wonderful restaurants and pubs and if you leave our back gate, you can be in Thaxted in 20 mins-across the fields. We are still gobsmacked when we see deer!

Moving With Children and Starting Something New

Enjoy this guest post from Emma Hi. I’m Emma. A wife, mother of two little boys aged two and four and after moving house last July, I am now also the founder of the UK’s first on demand window cleaning service, Squeaky Clean. Moving is something I have done numerous times since leaving my parents house in Ostersund, a small town in the north of Sweden, at the age of nineteen. To and from England twice, to Paris and to Dubai but nothing has proved as emotional as leaving the house where your children have enjoyed their first years of life. My husband and I first met ten years ago in Stockholm, Sweden. I had quite recently moved back from four years in Surrey but after just over a year in Sweden we decided to move to Dubai because we wanted a new challenge, and some warmer weather.   Dubai to Hampshire We spent three great years in Dubai but decided that moving back to England was the right thing to do when we felt ready to start a family. We moved back to England in 2010 and bought a newly built 4 bedroom house in Bramley, Hampshire. We didn’t know anyone there but my husband knew of the area as he was brought up fairly nearby. At this time we didn’t think too much about schools etc as I wasn’t even pregnant yet, but that was one of the main reasons that we decided to move to Liss in Hampshire last year. Getting Help Moving is never easy but it doesn’t have to be that hard either. We...

Move Out or Do Up

For those expanding families who are struggling with their existing space and deliberating whether to move out or do up, here are some thoughts that might be worth a ponder.

If you've moved, or you're in the process of moving do let me know and maybe you can write about your story!
We'd love it - warts and all!  If you are worried about your writing skill I'll be happy to edit for you (although I'm no pro!) but do let me know.
In the meantime  watch this space as we build up a library of real life stories!
All the best
Belinda Aspinall Life After London
Belinda Aspinall
Founder - Life After London

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