Moving to the seaside is the stuff of dreams. I often wonder what it would be like to actually live there. Sometimes I think there must be a downside but this fantastic real story tells me it's definitely worth considering.
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?’
On the way back to my parent’s house (they moved to the Isle of Wight in 2009) that afternoon we wandered past the local estate agent and couldn’t quite believe how much house we would be able to afford if we moved. A quick look on Rightmove found us a house round the corner from my parents that we absolutely fell in love with. And so started the journey….
We put in a silly offer on the house and amazingly it was accepted. The girls were offered places in the local private school, Ryde School with Upper Chine, which goes from 2.5yrs to 18 and is co-ed and offers both A-levels and the International Baccalaureate and is a lot less expensive than the London independent schools. We were expecting our third child and as I was due a year’s maternity leave, we decided to take the plunge and leave our amazing neighbourhood and friends and go and live a less hectic life by the beach. We were able to access a let-to-buy mortgage meaning we could buy on the Island while still keeping our London home and renting it out. It all seemed to be going well and Easter weekend found us in our potential new house measuring for curtains. Imagine our disappointment when the following week, the owner pulled the house off the market. Although this was a setback, it confirmed that we wanted to move for a number of reasons, not just because we fell in love with a house. We then set about doing some proper house hunting on the Island. We chose Ryde as it is near the ferry (2hrs into Waterloo), near my parents and the girls’ school and without too much trouble, found a beautiful Victorian house with a huge garden and just 485m from our favourite beach.
Fast forward a few months and we packed up our beloved house in Wimbledon Park and moved with three children (the youngest being 4 weeks old), two cats and some goldfish to the Isle of Wight. I effectively gave up a senior management role in Local Government and my husband was able to transfer his business to the Island as he works virtually from home. The grand plan was that I would work less and spend more time at home with kids as we were earning a good income from the rental on our London house.
It’s been 19 months since we moved and the difference has been amazing. We are outdoors more, less protective of the kids and the girls are flourishing in their new school. The Isle of Wight often has a reputation for being stuck in the 50’s and people associate it with quaint childhood holidays. Since moving here, we have met some incredibly creative and entrepreneurial people who have also chosen to bring up their families in this idyllic location. Who knew that the Island has some of the world’s leading high tech businesses associated with aeronautics and marine engineering? We have made some great friends through school, although I think it took my husband longer to settle. He commutes to London about once a month and having discovered the wonder that is super rural broadband, does the rest from home via Skype and screen-sharing.
The best laid plans never quite happen though do they? I quickly tired of looking after three small people all the time and by sheer luck, my dream job was advertised locally and I got it. So, we are back to two full time jobs, but I am feeling more sane and we seem to have found a way of managing it all and still getting to the beach at the weekends. I am hopeful that the longer evenings of spring and summer will mean the girls can have after school picnics in the garden or we can have family strolls along the esplanade.
We miss sushi (there’s none on the Island) but there is a growing foodiness with some amazing restaurants. We spent last summer in the garden or on the beach and grew an insane amount of our own veg.
There is so much for kids to do and without the traffic of London, we can actually get out and about quickly and the attractions are never that crowded. There isn’t that village-feel you get in the terraced streets of London here and so play dates are more complicated and parties are never drop-off as the parents like to socialise but there is space, sunshine and some of the loveliest people we have ever met. Even the winters aren’t quite as grey and we do try and get out and use the natural environment as much as possible.
I feel incredibly lucky that we have been able to make this move and that the girls will grow up a little freer and hopefully a little slower. It’s not without its challenges and we go back to visit friends in London frequently. We have a steady stream of visitors but the added space at home means we are always able to have people to stay.
If you know you want to leave but aren’t sure where to go, have a look at the little Island just off Portsmouth. House prices are brilliant, the schools are good and improving, Portsmouth is 9 mins away by hovercraft and it really is like being on holiday all the time.
If you are considering a move to the Isle of Wight, please don't hesitate to get in touch and we can talk you through the exciting future regeneration plans for the Island (www.iwight.com/regeneration) and what support is available to you if you are thinking of moving your business here (www.virtualfd.co)