Real Moving Stories from Life After London

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Life After London

A School in the Country

I recently read a great article about super commuters and how far people are prepared to travel to work and it made me wonder – how far do people travel to find the right school?

Sussex and Great Walstead

This post was kindly written to tell us more about Great Walstead School in Sussex   After years spent exorcising energy from our lively, young sons on Clapham Common, it was a relief to make the decision to move to the country.  In our typical Victorian home we had exhausted plans and money creating that unattainable, extra bit of space to house the ever increasing number of prams, buggies, bikes, scooters, wellies and coats etc.  Weekends involved expensive, un-relaxing excursions into town, surrounded by crowds, in order to entertain small children.   Trips to the country were cut short by returning before lunch on Sundays in order to avoid hours of tailbacks on the roads home. We decided to move to mid Sussex with its easy commute into London by rail or road with Gatwick located less than quarter of an hour away by train.  The rural, un-manicured countryside around mid Sussex leads to the historic hills of the Sussex Downs.  Just beyond lies Brighton with it diversity of independent shops, beachlife and up to date culture, such as touring West End plays.  Local Lewes (a historic market town) offers its own currency, entrepreneurs and an alternative yet designer lifestyle. Having found our new house we set about choosing a school.  In London I was used to the rush of enrolling my boys in playgroups before birth and the dictatorship of every decreasing school catchment areas .  We asked locally for advice and everyone came back with the same name “Great Walstead”.  I visited the school prior to moving.  On arrival I drove past the open playing fields, cricket...

Moving as a Pensioner

Moving when you're older can really impact your opportunity for creating a new social circle.  We've got a guide on how to make friends when moving and we cover the subject.  We know that lots of people want to move out of London later in life but are some what daunted. But you are not alone. One of our County Contacts here at Life After London dropped me a note this week and wanted to share her experience with you.  I think her advice is fantastic, research is key and so is getting involved with lots of different groups. "When you move house as a young mother, your social circle tends to come from the school gate. When you move as a pensioner, this is not available to you. I can recommend joining the local sports centre - I now chat to people whom I see regularly because they swim at the same time as I do. I have also made acquaintances at bus stops. The availability of public transport may influence your choice of area - country buses can be hourly, as opposed to London's every ten minutes.  I also recommend the local social network Streetlife - I have become a Primary School Governor through a request on Streetlife and I now read with young children at school too. The more rural areas have village halls and community centres which are great places to become familiar with horticultural societies, history groups, the WI. I opted for a semi-rural community - village hall, hourly buses to town (pool, library and shops), active conservationsists and most importantly for me, daughter within...

Leaving London for West Sussex

After much deliberation and endless discussions, my husband and I finally decided to bite the bullet and move out of London with our two small girls aged 15 months and 2. The first question was where?

Leaving London for Surrey

Moving to a new area is never easy, especially if you don’t know anyone to ask the questions to the answers you really want to know, which are no doubt more lifestyle related. You can only glean so much through internet research. You take a big risk falling for a house but not knowing the area at all.

Real Life – London To Wiltshire

My advice to anyone thinking of moving out of London would be to commit and go for it! This might sound familiar, but my husband and I could never agree where we wanted to live.  I had grown up under endless African skies so the African continent was beckoning. Likewise my Scottish husband was yearning for the Highlands where he spent his former years.  And here we were feeling somewhat stuck in London (although enjoying ourselves!) but with no obvious place to go. Like many of you our family was growing and the desire to move away from the city, and find the space and lifestyle we so yearned for our children, was playing on our minds.  We were finally spurred into action when we realised our eldest was just over a year off starting school so we started to explore our options.  I had also started my own business so suddenly we both weren’t tied to London for our careers. My recommendation to those thinking of moving would be don’t spend too long thinking about it. It all happened so quickly for us and we ended up in Wiltshire, a place neither of us knew. We thought we would rent but, while doing some home improvements, we realised that selling might also be an attractive option.  We identified (all recommended by friends) several places where we might want to live close to schools and set-up alerts on  It started with just looking at rentals and then we added in to buy. Despite having concerns about the commute for John from Wiltshire, and being hesitant about adding Wiltshire...

Real Stories – staying in London

Staying in London isn’t quite the story you might expect on a website all about moving out of London.  That said I started this site so you can do your research and considering staying in London should be something you discuss – to be sure you’re making the right call to move.   I asked a friend of mine to write this piece, she’s kindly shared her thoughts, not to convince you, but perhaps to open up a different idea. I hope you enjoy it, and if you've got a story to share about your move, or your return or your plans to stay in London we'd love to hear from you.   Why I still live in London by Kate Mawley It’s funny, I always imagined I’d end up in the countryside, with chickens, an asparagus bed and a permanent supply of homemade elderflower cordial. I hadn’t imagined living long term in London but that’s exactly what I’ve done, am still doing and am loving! All around us our friends have slowly but surely fled the nest.  I’ve lost count of the amount of ‘leaving London’ drinks things I’ve attended.  I’ve drunk cocktails, laughed and cried with many friends – some of whom can’t get out quick enough, others are dragged kicking and screaming.  Funnily enough it’s usually that lot who are most likely to become the ‘you must move to the country pals’ soon after, disbelieving that anyone should want to remain in London, said in that tone of voice that implies one is doing something dreadful considering actually living here. But live here we do, and we...

Moving out of London – real experiences – what the move teaches you

My experience of moving out of London is probably not unique but it did lead me into building my business and  has thrown me well and truly into the deep end of schooling! For those, that like me thought you could pick your dream house with the proceeds of your London house sale, think again.  In reality you are getting a larger parcel of land and a larger footprint  but due to the nuances of desirable areas and schools the competition is extremely high.  House prices  in this part of the A3 do not fluctuate wildly  (apart from the bidding process!)  and demand is always outstripping supply. Finding the perfect location is fraught with difficult decisions led by schooling, commutability and finding the environment we envisage ourselves living in now and in the foreseeable future. I followed the natural rhythm of South Londoners and  it was our intention to head down the A3.  I have always been of the mindset that you are either in or out of London and  I have never really got the point of moving halfway as in my experience  most people then decide to be brave and move to the countryside  a couple of years later, very often wasting money in the process. With the unenviable task (with two toddlers) of digesting all the statistics of state and private schools in the area plus train timetables, finding the best villages,  pubs, local amenities and so on we finally settled in the area around Farnham and Haslemere.  Here we found beautiful countryside, villages, pubs, great leisure facilities, good access to the coast and very commutable...

Real Life Experiences – leaving London and moving for Norfolk

How many of us have been on holiday and dreamt of moving to that place....well here is an inspiring story from someone who did it! We came to Norfolk for a holiday in October 1995 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 could live. We couldn’t afford to live in London without our salaries. I decided that for the business...

Real Life Experiences – Returning to London from Scotland

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...

Moving Back to London from Wiltshire

Many of our blogs are about real life experiences of those who are or who have moved out of London.  It's not that I want to convince you to stay but I do think you should hear both I'm delighted to be able to share this real life experience - with huge thanks to the lovely lady who has shared her story. How We Left In 2003 I was 9 months pregnant and fainted a couple of times when out walking the dog.  My husband goes away often for work and sometimes for a week at a time.  We went to Scotland for New Year and it was so liberating just opening the door and letting the dog out into the garden.  I had always loved the city and never really thought about leaving London but what with my best friend leaving for Wiltshire and having a baby, Jamie being able to be based anywhere within reach of an airport I thought that maybe I could do this country move. Jamie did all the searching for houses and narrowed it down to 3.  I went to look and really wanted to buy not rent for bringing up my newborn.  I fell for a chocolate box house, chocolate box village and not far from Marlborough. So off we went at the end of June 2004 to Wootton Rivers, Wiltshire.  Harry was 3 months old. The Settling in Phase The sun was shining and we had a sweet thatched cottage in a village with .75acres of a garden.  On day one Jamie had to leave for the 5 days and...

Moving out of London – commuting experience

I'm delighted to share this story, from a real life person who has done what you might be considering  Their thoughts just might come in handy as you consider your own situation.   If you have a story to share please do let us know. The important things about a move out of London with thanks to V Green for her thoughts. Length of time and distance An hour and 20 min each way seemed an extremely long time and very daunting when our London commute was only 40 mins door to door at the most. Apart from the practical implications there was also a concern about being far away from the children, if an emergency arose as opposed to being only a 15 minute taxi ride away when living in London. I could not ever imagine staying up late in London and getting the train home.  I was scared of the unknown and what it would be like to get a late train home. In actual fact they tend to be relatively busy and secure. Costs The additional cost of the train ticket and car parking which lead to having to readjust the overall living costs and personal budget. The extra expense has led to less treat money! Commuter Community I had no idea there would be a community feel, familiar faces on the platform resulting in some new train buddies which makes the 45 minute train journey whiz past.  The friendly ticket office team help with the sense of community. After a few months it becomes the routine you cannot imagine life before the commute.  It’s a...

Moving house tips

Moving house is probably one of the most stressful things to do, although exciting it requires a lot of planning, packing and unpacking. Here are some tips for a smooth move, to avoid much of the stress and enjoy your new place.

Choosing an area

I've met loads of great Life After Londoners since starting this website and none more fab than this lady.  We met in her final few months of life in London and I've watched her journey out of town.  She's now a successful writer with columns in various publications but I'm very grateful she took the time to jot down some of her thoughts on choosing an area.  Here for you to enjoy are the thoughts of Margot. ********************* Moving out of London was something that we had planned for a long time but when it came to the crunch, it was much harder narrowing a location down any further than a county.  So many people we have met since we moved have asked us how we ended up in a tiny hamlet in rural Hampshire, where we knew no one and had no family nearby.  The answer is a simple one - we stuck a pin in the map on Basingstoke station and drew a search area the size of a 10p coin.  We spent all our weekends driving round different locations and scoping out houses. To rent or to buy – that was the question?  Chasing agents about new properties coming on to the market, going to see houses that were way out of our budget and in the wrong location on many occasions – just some of the weekly chores we undertook to help us narrow down our search area somewhat.  Rural or semi-rural?  Living in a village or on the outskirts?  Was there a local shop and/or pub?  SO much to think about but all vital...

Sunday Times – Best Places To Live

I don't quite know how it's happened but the best supplement ever about choosing where to live has appeared without a mention of know it's a shock - what a glaring omission by the fabulous team at the Sunday Times.  Whilst recovering from the shock I have realised it by no means lessened the overall brilliance of the article. (as an aside for those who don't know me very well I hope you'll realise this is all said in jest -  I am not so arrogant as to assume we should in included!) For those of you trying to find a place to live it gives you bite sized information on loads of different places.  With sections about living on the coast, the Midlands, the Lake District and Wales it also looks at broadband issues, where is best for commuters and even better best for Romance.  London I might tell you rates on top of the best places for singletons but Manchester and Bristol are hot on its heels. Next week will be part two which will include a section on the best places to live if you want to be near the UK's best state schools - not to be missed for so many of our readers.  It will also cover the great outdoors and the best-value postcodes.  All in all the whole piece has taken huge amount of research and offers some great insight.  I will be rushing out to buy the second part next Sunday! Meanwhile they have devised a great quiz for those looking to move.  I can't hand on heart tell you to...

New Home New Beginning?

Guest Blog: New Home – New Beginnings For a lot of households, there comes a time when your home becomes a bit of a squeeze. It could be your growing children are filling the house with toys and noise; causing clutter and making the rooms seem smaller. Or perhaps a burgeoning business means a home office would be preferable to the kitchen table – if only to keep butter off all the paperwork! Or it could be, that maybe your home was just too small to begin with – first time homebuyers often outgrow their “starter” homes, and an increased family size is the main reason that people need to start looking to get a larger home. If you’re faced with these common problems, then it might be time for you to move home - they do say that the grass is greener on the other side. People often want what they don’t have – and long for bigger, more expensive homes, and maybe that time has come for you – the time when you need to think about moving house! So, you’ve now made that big decision that we all make at some point in our lives, and as great as it is to move, it can also be a highly stressful time. There are a lot of things to ask about before the big move – such as; what to consider on moving day, how to prepare for it, as well as what to think about at the other end! To help make moving an easier transition for you and your family, here are a few things...
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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