Thinking of moving to west meon

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    We are thinking of moving from SW London (Streatham) to Hampshire (around Petersfield/ alton/ Midhurst areas) and have recently seen a wonderful house in the village of west meon. Its a big step for us (my husband is from Salisbury but I’ve always lived in London). Reasons for moving: this year is our only real ‘window’ due to transfer to secondary; and my husband and I are really tired of the crowds/ dirt/ugliness/ low level anti-social behaviour of where we are now – despite having a beautiful house and some really lovely friends. Our boys are aged 5, 9 and 13 (the 13 yr old will be starting boarding in Farnham in sept, but the others would be going to local state schools). My questions are:
    – are we mad? have we left it too late for our children and would we be selfishly ‘ruining their lives’ (teenage melodrama!) by moving to a village?
    – does anyone know West Meon – it seems beautiful and friendly and with an active community to us, but there’s nothing like first hand reports.
    – any knowledge of the schools – esp Petersfield School?
    – unlike so many posts, I’d be the commuter and my husband would be the ‘stay at home/ working from home’ dad – is the commute bearable?
    – of course I’m prepared for it to be more monocultural, but do I need to worry about it being too conservative/ dare I say narrow-minded?

    sorry for long post – all replies and advice welcome!



    Hi Arabella,

    I am pleased to read your question. I do not live in West Meon however I am not too far away and spend a lot of time over in Hampshire (even though I live in West Sussex). I moved to a little village on the Sussex coast 10 years ago and have never looked back. My children were slightly younger than yours but they fell into village life really easily. The thing I find that is great about living out of a big city is the cleanliness of the air and the lack of things like graffiti, dumped cars etc. I was also worried about the village life and the effects on the children however, it is a much more relaxed way of life and it is fantastic having the hills 10 mins north of my house, the beach 10 mins south of my house and a great shopping town 20 mins either east or west. I would definitely recommend the move. With regards to the commute I use the time to catch up on reading, music listening and its great to unwind before you get home.

    Sorry I can not help with the village itself but I hope that some of my comments will help you decide to move to a much more chilled way of life.




    Hi. I can’t really answer from a family perspective, but I moved to Petersfield 12 years ago from Balham. It was a scary prospect but I couldn’t cope with the traffic & hassle of London any more! I wasn’t ready to do the country life thing entirely as I moved on my own, and I still like being able to walk into town to do my shopping, and having neighbours close by (though sometimes I wish they weren’t quite so close!). I haven’t regretted the move at all.

    It’s a beautiful area, and as far as I know West Meon IS a friendly community.

    And yes at times it does feel like people can be a bit conservative and you definitely don’t get the same vibe or ethnic mix you’d find in London, but I hop on a train when I need a bit of that! Plus you’ll be inundated with friends wanting to visit anyway. And there are so many people in this area who have moved from SW London, you’d be surprised.

    After being in London where most of the people I knew had moved to London from elsewhere, it was a bit of a shock to find so many people who were born & bred (and that can seem a bit parochial of course), but it’s a very friendly area, and actually I like the fact that it’s such a mix of people here even though you could call it ‘monocultural’!

    I found a group of like-minded people in the design community around Petersfield, and there’s a lot of culture going on locally (Guildford, Chichester, Winchester…) – you just have to travel a bit to find it. But the travelling is easy and usually a pleasure!

    I’ve yet to meet anyone who has regretted moving down here from London – and there are a lot of us!

    Good luck.



    Hi Arabella,

    We lived in SW London until 12 years ago when, like you, we tired of the crowds, dirt etc. When our eldest started senior school my husband became a school govenor and was horrified to be involved when kids were caught bringing knives and drugs in to the school. Traffic had started being a major issue where we lived and the final push, if we needed one, was taking the car to the supermarket one evening (a 5 minute walk from home) and having to turn round after 45 minutes having not moved more than a couple of hundred yards.

    We found a house we liked in Hampshire, close to the Surrey border. Our youngest was 4 at the time and the eldest 12. We found schools very easily and made the move in December 2001.

    In answer to your question… you should love East Hampshire. West Meon is a beautiful place (although do check which areas were affected by the floods!) Although I haven’t found it as friendly here, as where we lived previously, I am sure that is ‘pot luck’ and very much depends on where you eventually end up. I enjoy living in the countryside and I don’t think I could be persuaded to return to the city under any circumstances. We will move one day, but it will be further away from London!

    My kids, however will tell you a VERY different story. My eldest was bullied badly at school from day one. The school refused to believe it was happening and eventually, after many broken bones, we had to involved the police. So no different to London schools in that respect. On leaving school, he couldn’t wait to get back to London where he now lives quite happily.

    Similar story with my youngest, although he was too young to remember life in London he has hated living here. He’s 16 now and at college in Guildford during the week. He plans to go to Uni in London. There is nothing for him round here.

    In our case, we did leave it too late to move the children. If you ask either of them they will tell you it has ruined their lives. Personally I love living and working here, but if I could have the time all over again, I may well put up with the dirt, the traffic, the anti-social behaviour, just so my children could have been happy.

    Oh, and we are NOT too conservative or monocultural and I think the broadness of our minds may surprise you 🙂



    I felt obliged to comment on this, despite not having children as old as yours, because the last poster (whilst being honest) paints a very bleak picture of moving with children.
    I’m sure you appreciated both sides of the story, but having read it I took to twitter to find out others stories.
    Like you, I am moving with children, although my eldest is 6. She is very very happy in her current school, is very popular and is blossoming both academically and socially. I struggle with the idea that I may pluck her from this environment and put her into another that may not work for her.
    However, for every sad story like the one above there are 10 good stories and if you are keen to move, you should look for these.
    Everyone that posted in reply to my fears last night commented on how well their children had fitted in and how much they enjoyed their life in the country.
    The bottom line is that it all depends on your children’s personality AND the children and parents of the school you move to. If they are welcoming then the transition is easy.
    Google, go on forums and seek out those that had success and then weigh that up against the the stories that didn’t fare so well and you’ll work it out.

    Good luck. X


    Debs Burles

    We moved out of Streatham nearly 3 years ago and live in Rogate now…we have a 2 year old so aren’t quite at the school stage yet but we love it down here. Yes, it’s a different way of life and we sometimes miss not being able to walk up the road to get a takeaway BUT the space, the more relaxed and friendly way of life, the starry nights, proximity of coast and South Downs certainly makes it worthwhile. There is a real mix of people here (not so much multi-cultural but certainly age/background/outlook on life/interests etc. It’s really what you make of it, and how much you want to get involved with local community life etc. But that’s also hard when you are working and have kids! West Meon is supposed to be a lovely, thriving communtiy village, but as mentioned above, DO check recent flooding there and surrounding area. If you are commuting Petersfield is a great station to go from.

    Good luck with your decision, but it’s certainly a beautiful part of the countryside here.




    Hi Arabella
    I will post a bit about the area and leave the emotional considerations out of it except for 1 small nugget. You will have a culture shock for the first 12-18 months, which if you tough it out, you will never go back, but you will need a car for evrything and your friends will think you’ve moved to a 3rd world country. Don’t worry, we have electricity and phones…mobiles are hit and miss due to trees and hills.
    West Meon and the whole Meon Valley is gorgeous, but all the villages are astride the road and therefore walking with young children is challenging. That is the main point, assess how isolated you will feel without easy walks and cycle rides. The A32 and A272 have both been badly affected by the floods as they were in 2000, so beware anything with a history. The countryside is dramatic and if you have children who are outdoorsy, you are looking at an area on the edge of the newest National Park. To enjoy the country, you need to actively hunt out its treasures which is the most daunting thing after London. There are planning restrictions though. There is fishing, sailing on the Solent, Glorious Goodwood, loads of culture, riding, challenging mountain biking etc
    Farnham has good schools, less academic than some, but more rounded with a good pastoral culture. The top performers are in the state sector, South Farnham and Bentley School near Alton. Petersfield has Churchers, with Bedales better known, but less academic, but good for creative/arty children
    The best railway service is from Petersfield, Alton is nearer but is a slower service. The only advantage is that if you fall asleep, it is the end of the line and there will be no expensive cab journeys home! Waitrose are now in both towns.
    I hope this is of use




    I’d like to thank everyone for taking time to reply … Everything you’ve said has been extremely helpful and really stimulated are thinking !




    @ Arabella
    did you make the move? if so how did it go? We’re thinking of a similar move this year and looking for advice on the pros and cons!
    do you commute from Petersfield? If so what’s it like – how is accessing the station in the morning, parking etc?
    thanks for any further info!

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