Real Moving Stories from Life After London

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Life After London

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?’

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.

London to Devon

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...

Cooking and moving to the Countryside

I've just been introduced to a lovely lady called Poppy Fraser.  Poppy kindly shared her moving story with us.  I'm particularly excited because Poppy has a book called 10 Minute Suppers for Children. I don't know about you but sometimes I find myself so bored by the children's repertoire the thought of this book fills me with excitement.  I had planned to make her raw banana flapjack but as soon as I buy bananas in this house they are eaten so instead I've shared the recipe with you, but I'm hot footing to check out the other recipes.  In Poppy's own words..... I left London 6 years ago with my 2 elder boys knowing that I did not want to bring them up in the big smoke and wanting them to go to an amazing state school in the country. I grew up in the Highlands of Scotland so being in the country is where I am happiest, and I started thinking about where would be a good place. I had spent time in Dorset over the years, and had always felt so happy down there. It is an unspoilt, beautiful part of the country were life is very unspoilt, egg boxes being left on the side of the road with honesty boxes etc. I looked at Ofsted and searched for schools that had been awarded outstanding status. I found the school before I started looking for a house. The school was very impressive and they had a place for my 3 year old who would be starting reception 6 months later so after that place was secured, I looked...

Leaving London Not Quite the Dream

I recently met Helen on our Facebook page.  She promised to share her story and I'm delighted to be able to share it with you now. I left Highgate Village (N6) for Royston on the North Hertfordshire/Cambridgeshire border on the 31st July, 2013. Having lived in London since 1982 (came from Northumberland to college) it has been a big culture shock. I doubt that I would ever have left London had I not been widowed in 2011, met a man from this area and been seduced not just by him, but by the open space, ease of parking and house prices up here compared to London. It's only forty miles away, but a completely different world. I do like Royston and the community spirit is wonderful. In a very short time I knew more people here than I did in seventeen years of being in Highgate (all those rich Russians and Kate Moss in their mansions), but oh how I miss London and I think that I always will. It's a short hop on the train so hardly in the sticks, but now I feel in a sort of limbo-world, neither a tourist nor a resident. I miss that feeling of being part of a big adventure that London (for me) brings, or seeing that an exhibition or play is on and just nipping into the West End on a whim. Now, despite the short distance, I've got to sort out someone to look after the dog! We have a lovely big house, a massive garden, I can always find a parking space at Tesco and people are so...

Real Story of Leaving London for Devon

This is our Life after London, and it’s just wonderful. Devon is a beautiful county; the green rolling hills go on forever making you fall in love with it. It is rich with history, the locals are so welcoming, and there is so much to see and do in such a short distance.

Making Plans to Leave London

One of our members shared their story with us and we thought it might be interesting as we feel sure there are others in the same or similar positions. You never know if it might be handy for you to talk to each other…and hear of similar experiences.

Staying in London

A guest post from a Londoner, a reminder that moving out isn't for everyone...... For as long as I can remember I was going to live in the countryside.  Born and bred a country girl my London days were spent kicking up a storm, having a blast, safe in the knowledge that at some point I'd be growing veg and wearing wellies all day long. The perfect house Children came a long and the property portals got busy sending me a daily update of properties in our chosen area and then it happened...the perfect house landed in my inbox.  A rush of childcare organisation and a high speed drive down the M4 landed us at said perfect house.  Stereotypical roses around the door and acres of garden and a football pitch, room for a pony and a vegetable garden to make Abel and Cole jump for joy.  Even better it was within our budget with room for improvement but liveable in right from day one.  The discovery of the perfect local village school just 5 minutes walk away signed us up for certain. We drove back to London holding our breath; this was it - what we'd always dreamt of...nothing could be more exciting. So why did we both have sleepless nights?  What was holding us back?  Were we fearful of change? Commitment phobes? Or were our instincts telling us something important....? Two years on Fast forward two years and you find us the happiest we've ever been and we're living in London.  We have no football pitch,  no room for a hamster let alone a pony and the only...

Staying in London

We have plenty of people emailing us to say they’ve used our site to do the research but have decided to stay in London.

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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