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.)
We’d been living in London for as long as we could remember, and we had our first baby, a boy. We both carried on working, we had a nanny, we spent most Saturdays at London farmers markets where there wasn’t a farmer in sight. One day I looked at my little boy scooting up Putney high street, dodging pedestrians, me on red alert for potential dangers which seemed to surround us, and I had suddenly had enough.
We came to the conclusion we didn’t actually want our little boy to grow up in London, we wanted him to run in fields and be able to scoot freely and to his heart’s content. We were also done with farmers’ markets that sold sushi. Instead we wanted farmers’ markets with grubby potatoes.
Choosing an area
Initially we looked at the Farnham area because one of our oldest friends lived there and she said her neighbours were selling their house. It seemed a good solution particularly once we’d done the all-important ‘Commute Calculation’ that confirmed Farnham was within 45 minutes of London and the station was a 4 minute scooter journey ( by avoiding taking a car we’d be saving £1500 a year on car parking), so Farnham got a tick.
We saw well over 10 houses in a 10-mile radius, but amazingly really, we bought the house next to our friends.
Moving to an area where you already know someone makes the move out of London so much easier. It can be a lonely time for whoever is left at home with the kids, while the other commutes back to London every day. So having a friend nearby is my own personal top tip for choosing where to live. Yes, it’s important how many minutes it takes to commute to Waterloo, how much car parking costs etc, but personally I’d put being near a friend as the most important.
Choosing a house
First up, there’s no dream house. There might be a house that looks perfect from the outside, or one that is ideal inside, or one that is close to your perfect school, or over looking the cricket pitch…..but finding one that hits all those criteria is impossible. But that’s the point - there isn’t a house that meets ALL of those moving-to-the-dream-country-house criteria.
Moving out of London is all about compromise!
We had a list as long as our arm of things we were looking for and what we ended up with is a far cry from that piece of paper. But if we’d stuck to our list, we’d have waited another ten years and needed a lottery win to fund it. And in the meantime, our son would have still been scooting up Putney high street, dodging traffic. So my other piece of advice is to throw out your list of must-haves and go with your heart. Choose the house that makes your heart sing, no matter what the colour of the walls.
Our biggest surprise moving out of London has been the opportunity for work and new business. Even though we’re only 45 minutes from London, we realised it was something of a desert when it came to decent coffee. We solved the problem by setting up Cupsmith, our coffee roasting business. As much as we missed the vibrant London coffee shop scene, what we craved was that heavenly first cup of coffee in the morning, sitting at the country-kitchen table we’d dreamed of for so long. So Cupsmith was born.
We now sell online – with regular orders being sent off as far as the Isle of Mull and the Scilly Isles - and in retailers throughout the area.
It has even allowed my husband to give up his commute to London - the scooter no longer spends the day at Farnham station. We spend our day in wellies, drinking coffee, watching the clouds go by and thanking our lucky stars we found our very own life after London.
My top 10 tips for moving to the countryside:
- Ditch your dream house wish list.
- Don’t underestimate the quantity of mud you’ll come across. I don’t know where it comes from when you move to the country, but it just does
- Practice talking about the weather. People in the country talk about the weather a LOT
- You don’t need to worry - there are still babysitters in the country so you will be able to go out (our beloved Sitters even operates!)
- Goodbye light pollution, hello big, beautiful starry night skies
- Eat sushi a lot while you’re still in London. When you move you’ll be enjoying country pubs, pints and suppers with friends, not sushi.
- Get yourself a dog if only to help keep your mud quota up
- When you make your move to the country get ready to breathe and slow down. Look at the glorious countryside around you. Let go of stress and be inspired!
- Never underestimate the opportunities outside of London. If something doesn’t exist, start it!
- Buy more wellies. You can never have too many when you live in the country.
If you're craving real coffee at home, do get in touch with Cupsmith and make sure you get some to cheer up your day! Who says good coffee is only in the city?