It's all too easy to get hung up on the area you think you want to move to but as Chrissie reminds us not to close our eyes to opportunities in different counties...whilst also keeping in mind some of the critical factors.
Just over four years ago, we decided to put our flat in Clapham North on the market in preparation for a move out of London. Originally we had looked at Salisbury as an area, but it didn’t quite ‘fit us’. We then looked at Dorset but couldn’t find the type of house we wanted, so we border hopped into Somerset. It’s a county I know very well, and we both liked it so house hunting began in earnest.
Where to go
As my husband and I are both freelancers it didn’t matter where we lived, but there were still things that were very important to us. We needed to be fairly close to either the A303 or the M5 so that we could get back to London for work. We also needed to be reasonably close to a mainline train station and amenities like shops, a post office, a good doctors and veterinary practice.
The other thing that was top of the list for us was connectivity. Because we work from home, we needed to find somewhere that had good broadband, preferably super fast. Sadly the West Country is still lacking in superfast broadband and we had to discount a few areas of Somerset because the broadband was so poor or super fast wasn’t expected to be rolled out for a while (in some cases years). We also needed a property that had some kind of annex or outbuilding, as we needed that extra space.
Somerset v Devon
By chance in January 2015, when doing another house hunt in Somerset, my husband pulled a ‘wild card’ out of his pocket. The house was in a village just over the border in Devon. It wasn’t far from the motorway and it was close to a mainline train station. There was a small town with good amenities either side of the village, and Taunton and Exeter were both a half hour drive away.
I wasn’t convinced, as I had my heart set on Somerset, but after viewing the property we looked at each other and both knew. We had found the house we wanted to buy. The house had everything we wanted, the village was lovely, and the location ticked all the boxes.
Moving took almost a year, including three estate agents, and a complaint to the financial ombudsman to complete the process. Everyone knows that moving house is stressful but nothing could have prepared us for the amount of stress we went through. We did a lot of research but, however much research you do, it will never be enough. Many factors impacted us, including a changing market after the massive price rises in London last spring, the Scottish referendum and the General Election. After being told last year that we would sell the house in a few weeks we became quite despondent, and weeks turned into months, but we persevered and got there eventually.
Who helped our move?
We used some excellent firms to help us move, Conveyancing South West were a brilliant conveyancing firm and we don’t know what we would have done without their excellent advice and help. Our removals company, Wotton of Tiverton, were second to none, courteous, considerate and very professional. Both companies are based in Devon and for us, this turned out to be a much better option than using companies from London, especially as completion was delayed by a day and we ended up in a hotel overnight, not knowing when completion would actually happen.
Living our Life after London
Now we sit in our garden that overlooks the Grand Western Canal, listening to the birds singing. We watch the swans lazily swim past with their cygnets. House martins, swallows and birds of prey swoop overhead. We know that all the stress and hard work was worth it. 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. We’re so glad that we made the move, and even though there are things we’ll miss about London, our quality of life is so much better, and we know that if we need it, the City is only a train ride or car journey away.