It’s official. After 10 amazing years in London, we’re finally calling time on city life and (next week!) will be moving out of the Big Smoke for a fresh start in the country.
It’s not that we’ve fallen out of love with London though (we’ll miss you terribly)…we’ve just outgrown it.
After having Teddy last year, our two bed flat has been getting smaller and smaller by the minute, as his raft of toys, clothes and baby kit slowly invaded every spare inch of space that we once had. Our family home was fit to burst and something had to give.
But after seriously considering sticking around in the city for another move – upsizing to a slightly bigger property in a significantly less convenient location that we could only just afford – we quickly realised that our quality of life was going to take a massive kick in the nuts if we decided to stick around.
And so, after investigating what we could afford within an hour of London (since my day job means I’ll have to commute back into town every weekday – at least until we win the lottery, which I’m assured will be any day now) we were happily surprised with what we found.
Planning is essential…but we’ve been keeping everything on track using our magnetic notice board from Beyond The Fridge
Despite my concerns, it turns out you actually can get a decent sized house, with a big garden, near good schools, pubs and actual shops – albeit out in the sticks – for around the same price as a two-bedroom London flat…
So in August we bit the bullet, put our flat on the market, put an offer on the first house we fell in love with, and have been keeping our fingers and toes crossed ever since then that everything would fall into place. And thank God, last week, it did, after we formally exchanged contracts and set a moving date.
But bloody hell, selling and buying a house doesn’t half send you to the edge and back. Nothing ever goes to plan. Everything takes twice as long as expected and costs five times more than you budget for. But with a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, you (almost always) get there in the end.
We’ll miss our lovely flat, but (sadly) we just grew out of it! But I’ve got to say, Purple Bricks has been amazing and really worked for us…
From experience though (this is the second move we’ve done in just over four years), planning, persistence and patience are key to surviving the house buying process. You need them in abundance…especially when you throw an active toddler and a totally unknown new area into the mix. Not to mention the fear of leaving all your friends, your army of babysitters, your favourite takeaways and your beloved Deliveroo and Uber behind…
But needs must. And I’m assured cheap taxis and decent takeaways still exist even outside the M25.
One resource that we found really helpful during the whole painstaking process is the brilliant www.LifeAfterLondon.com; a free website chock full of great tips and advice on what to prioritise and prepare for when considering that big move out of the City. With everything from online tools to find the best commute and local schools to recommendations for dealing with local estate agents and sticking to your budget, it contains everything you’ll need to know before moving.
It was so useful in fact that I asked Life After London‘s founder Belinda Aspinall to send me her top ten tips for this article, for any of you who are considering taking the plunge and escaping to the country, like us, one day soon!
10 Top Tips to find your perfect country pile
It needs a lot of work, but here’s our new house!
(Magnetic notice board from Beyond the Fridge)
1. Don’t get too hung up on the house when you’re first looking into moving. Location is key. There will be plenty of time to focus on your property wish list further down the line. But for now keep it higher level.
2. Keep notes, and mark up a map from the start so you don’t have to keep going over everything again. You think you’ll remember but it’s amazing how quickly everywhere blurs when you’ve researched 25 different train stations.
3. Keep in mind the key reasons why you’re moving and focus on the really important issues for you. Don’t get too hung up on your friends and where they have moved / are moving – every family has different factors to take into consideration. Ask yourselves why you are really moving and try to see the move as solving those issues rather than trying to solve every problem ever known.
5. With all schools, have a plan B. Don’t assume you’ll get a place in your local primary school just because the house backs onto the playground. Good schools fill up so do your research to check year places and the likelihood of getting a spot. Right from the start have an eye on secondary schools – you need to have some idea of where your kids will go next, to ensure there are options open to you.
6. To calculate your commute time check out www.commutefrom.co.uk. Be sure to remember to add the time you’ll spend getting to the train station and consider where you’re going to park as well!
Dreading the commute but all part of the compromise for more space…
7. Budget your move carefully. Don’t ignore the different running costs as well as commuting costs, including parking and (if required) an additional car.
8. Be prepared to compromise, just be clear on what the issues are that you can compromise on for your family.
9. Get to know the local estate agents really well. It really does pay off in the end to make sure you’re the first person they call when they value a house that you’ll love. But don’t share all your secrets with them from the outset…just make sure they know you and the family so that you’re firmly at the top of their list.
10. Do your research. Using sites like Life After London will give you access to people who’ve already done the whole moving thing. Think it all through and imagine your life a few years down the line. Don’t let the rose tinted glasses hinder the move (there will be plenty of time for dreaming once you’ve done the proper research)!
Teddy’s so excited, he’s already packed!
(Personalised family bag from the ace Marloe London)
On that note – and as our nervousness builds ahead of next week’s moving day – all that remains to be said is:
If you’re ever down in Surrey, drop me a line. Apart from my parents and my big sis, we literally don’t know anyone so need to make new friends and fast (or risk being labelled the ‘Weird London Losers’ by our new neighbours).
And for all our London friends…please don’t forget us! We have a spare room (and two sizeable sheds) so you’re welcome to come down to stay anytime.
Thanks for the memories London…it’s been a blast.