Real Moving Stories from Life After London

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Life After London

Hello to Hertford

It’s so interesting when people move to different places and Carla shares an insightful personal article on the journey from Bow to Hertfordshire with some great advice for anyone looking to do the same.

Real Story – Escape to Oxfordshire

Escaping from the stress and hustle of London is a common dream. This young family decided that it was time to unwind and struck out for South Oxfordshire. Here is their story, plus their sage advice for finding the right patch of dream countryside for you.   Living in London? My husband and I both grew up in the countryside and longed for city life as soon as we could possibly get there. After meeting at University in Bristol, we headed for the bright lights of London as soon as we graduated. We never looked back… until we had our first child at least! When life after London isn't happily ever after Five years into city life we were young parents-to-be. We were not yet on the property ladder so we took the plunge and moved to my hometown in Kent and rented a lovely house within walking distance of the busy commuter town Sevenoaks. We had a handful of friends there, a convenient commute for my husband to get to work and parents nearby for support. What could be better, you might say. Well, we went from two city-dwelling professionals to one sleep-deprived commuting professional and one young, overwhelmed first-time mother, whose friends were all trailblazing in the city at the start of their careers. The sudden change was quite the shock and certainly not the recipe for the ‘good life’ that we had imagined. We felt completely isolated and as if we had moved away from everything we enjoyed. Life back in London Back to London we went, after 18 months, managing to buy a small house and vowing never to leave our beloved London again! We...

Real Story – Dorset Diaries

Dorset Diaries' young couple, the spaniels and the horse have moved to Dorset, signing their London house away whilst on their honeymoon. Now they and their chickens are loving life in the country. We asked Jemma to take time out from egg gathering to tell us about the move.   A New Start Being a couple that has always yearned for more, we took a leap of faith in 2017, mere weeks after getting married, and moved to Dorset. We are what you would call an ‘outdoorsy’ couple. The husband is an avid angler, spending most weekends under a brolly or tucked away in a bush in pursuit of some ancient carp or another. On the other hand, I have always kept horses and find great enjoyment in training and working our two spaniels. You could say that a move to the country was always on the cards. We found ourselves no longer needing to live in ‘Commuter Belt’. Our careers had taken us in unexpected directions. We didn’t benefit from the easy commute into Town or from the extensive network of motorways that living in NW London brought. The things we had to compromise on in order to live close to Town just weren’t worth it anymore… The only benefit left became clear when our little 3 bed suburban semi was valued. A total ‘ca-ching’ moment!! In the 4 years we had lived there the little darling had doubled in value…admittedly we had put a small second storey extension on it but it was still returning a very tidy profit!! It opened the door for our ‘escape to...

Real Story – Canada to Wales

I met Mikeila Li on Instagram when I asked  for information about moving to North Wales.  Her response was so heartwarming I didn't just want to include a short quote but instead thought her wise words would resonate with lots of people.  Moving to a new area, from a different country, newly married - it makes me quake!  Mikeila has clearly thrown herself into life in Wales and her advice is very sound.   From Canada to North Wales I was born and raised in Canada. I grew up in British Columbia, which is, in my opinion, the most beautiful of the Canadian provinces. To the coast of the Pacific ocean, to the tip tops of the snow-covered mountains, BC has all a nature-lover could ever hope for.    My husband Tony, is a engineer. He was born in China, but moved to Canada when he was 11.  Soon after we were married, he was given the opportunity to do his masters and PhD in physics through the University of Huddersfield. The university has a little lab in a building owned by Glyndwr University, in the St Asaph business park in Denbighshire, North Wales. So, we decided to move there at the beginning of January 2017. Neither of us had been to Europe at all before this.  Tough times to start The first five months or so in Wales wasn't great. I was extremely homesick, and lonely (missing my young siblings and all our family connections back home)  I was only 20 and both of us felt very lonely, and very set apart from everything we had ever known. We...

Real Story – Country but connected

Alex's story is one which is all too familiar - the need for space, the easy commute, the requirement of decent schools.  We are always asked where people should go - and Buckinghamshire certainly hits the spot for many.   Country But Connected Two kids. Central London. Yearning for more space. Needing to commute.  We’re such a cliché, it’s nauseating but clichés ring true for a reason – they’re the well-trodden path that many of us find ourselves facing in the journey to a happy little ever after. My husband and I had always been South West Londoners.  Much to his chagrin, I still regularly attempt a "Sarf London accent innit", which is no mean feat considering I’m from Melbourne and my “Sarf London” was well-heeled Clapham but God loves a trier, I give it a bash.  After moving to London, meeting a fella and moving out of my various lovely flats in Balham, we set up shop in his bright sunny flat Betwixt the Commons (yes, the estate agents make it a proper noun with capitals and all) in Clapham and got hitched, only to find I was up the duff a few months after the wedding.  Hubby was on gardening leave from a job and I got home from work to find he’d put the flat on the market, bought a family car and had a list of houses to visit that weekend.   I’d barely peed on a stick and he was living by the mantra “time waits for no man”.  We moved into one of the oldest houses in Clapham, a 3-storey, 3.5 bed with a...

Moving to Lewes

Why did we even leave London? We made the move from Stoke Newington in London to Lewes, East Sussex two years ago now. Ours isn’t a story of growing tired of London, of finding it too busy or feeling fed-up with the grime, crime, noise or air quality. I loved London – and I still do. Addicted to London I’m sure I was addicted to the capital, stepping out of the front door was just like getting a top-up of that buzz, the amazing energy of a place that is always changing - new faces, new places popping up (and closing down), constantly feeling like things were ‘happening’ all the time and that we were right there. In fact, I have to admit that I was once one of those people who would wrinkle my nose up about the idea of leaving London… why would anyone want to leave one of the best cities in the world? I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would rather be. I often used Stewart Lee’s brilliant sketch about moving to the countryside as validation for my feelings, but of course, I’m so ashamed of those feelings now – of being so dismissive of something I frankly had no idea about. When two became three My partner Will and I lived in a two bedroom apartment with our two daughters (at that time aged 6 and 3) We knew we wanted a third child but soon realised we just couldn’t afford a bigger place in Hackney. We had a choice - move our children out of school to another cheaper area of London or just...

The Calling of the Country

If you haven’t come across Cupsmith yet you should meet them!  Not only do they serve great coffee, tea and the most delicious hot chocolate but  they are lovely people who made the move out of London.  Luckily for us they have shared their experiences (and even better pop by instagram and you can be in with a chance to win a gift from them.

Real Story – New Build in West Sussex

Although our website is called Life After London there was never anything intended to exclude others moving from different areas, the key is we are here to help with any move and I'm delighted to share Octavia's story of their move.  It's especially interesting because she left an area many aspire to move to, and moved into a new build, highlighting some of the issues that you might want to consider. Forewarned is forearmed after all.    The search for Good Schools We moved to West Sussex in January 2016.  We’d been looking for a while and were concentrating our search on 3 very different areas, all with one thing in common: good schools!   Hot House Rejection We moved from Bucks / Berks borders, in Bourne End, near Marlow, where prices are astronomical and outstripped our finances, and schools are 1) excellent if your child gets into the grammar system, or 2) mediocre at best.  As we weren’t keen to “hot-house” our children with tutoring, and would rather rely on their natural abilities to enable them to achieve their best, whilst maintaining a healthy balance of school and leisure time, we decided to move away from this system.      The Golden Hour with friends Another criteria was that we wanted to be within 1 hour of London, oh and we should know someone who lives or has ties to the area we chose.  Our short list was: Winchester, Cambridge, and Horsham and we viewed houses in all these locations.  We were beaten (in sealed bids) to a house in both Winchester and Cambridge, so we elected for a...

Moving to our holiday destination

How many of us have been on holiday and dreamt of moving to that place....well here is an inspiring story of someone who did it and started a whole new business because of the move out of London. Holidays turn to real life We came to Norfolk for a holiday in October 2005 and I spent a week at a seaside hotel, sitting in the bay window of our hotel room, or sitting on the beach, listening to the sea and planning my life. All Summer I had become more and more desperate to leave my job and had spent nights working out how on earth we could afford it.  After 16 years in the law, the stress was getting too much for me. I had achieved everything I wanted – partnership, trips to Hong Kong, working on multi-million pound deals, but now I wanted time to be with my son; I was fed up of missing his school plays, and fed up dealing with internal politics. During that week in Norfolk I decided to give up my job. Apprehensively, I chatted to my husband, and he said “That’s great – I will give up my job as well”. I knew I wanted to run a business but had no burning business ideas, so after discounting a number of business ideas, including running a seaside café, a dog grooming business and a B&B, I Googled “Franchises” and found The Best of. The business suited both my husband’s skills and my own. We decided to buy a thebestof franchise and it was a case of where in the country we...

Fluttering Hearts–When You Just Know It’s Right

Wow! It was two years 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, motorways, schools to be looked at etc.  We narrowed the area down by looking at feasible commute distances and potential schools for our 2 boys, 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 must have viewed 50 plus houses, each of which had their facilities tested by one or both of my boys – got a bit embarrassing – but a great way to find out about dodgy pipes.     Finding the dream home It is true that you don’t know what you are looking for until you find it. Prior to stumbling across the house we are in now,...

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.

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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