We knew it was time to move out when we started to dread the evening drive back into London after visiting friends or family, which we had begun to do with more regularity, as our babies turned into toddlers.
We had always known that we wanted to bring our family up outside London but job commitment, the comfort of having a lovely network of fellow mums and the ease of everything being on the doorstep, made the decision feel really brave. We felt we needed a real reason to make the change. It came when my youngest son was 1 1/2 and my twice daily visits to the park to enable him and his brother and sister to have a run about was starting to drive me nuts. We just wanted them to be able to run freely in their own garden and away from the busy roads.
We had family in Kent and Surrey, so based our search on those areas. Although technically you could get a little more for your money in Kent, we preferred the market towns of Guildford, Haslemere and Farnham and the stunning countryside that surrounded them. So, we chose Surrey to concentrate our search.
After months of research and weekends spend driving around with a map, ticking villages we liked and crossing off places that we really didn’t, we couldn’t choose where we wanted to be, so we decided to let our London house sale go ahead and rent, so that we didn’t panic purchase.
As luck would have it, we ended up choosing a rental house in a village we’d never heard of, on the side of Guildford we’d never been too, purely because the rental was that ‘picture perfect chocolate box house’ you visualize when you move out. Also it didn’t make the move and the commute seem as ominous as you could be in Guildford in 5 minutes.
After another year of hunting, spreading our net as far and as wide as we could, we ended up in a lovely house just a village away from the rental. It was not only a beautiful cottage with all the period features we adored, but it was close to a wonderful Infant School and in a village I had made lots of friends through the toddler group. It would really take a wrench to get us out of the village now, it is full of young families, all of whom have moved out in the last couple of years and it really offers the outdoorsy lifestyle we had wanted for both the children and ourselves.
Moving to a new area is never easy, especially if you don’t know anyone to ask the questions to the answers you really want to know, which are no doubt more lifestyle related. You can only glean so much through internet research. You take a big risk falling for a house but not knowing the area at all.
Unlike London you aren’t swapping one park for another, one row of shops for another and one supermarket for another. Out in the sticks, each village has its own offering of shops, pubs, schools and even ease to get into the larger town, which of course once you’ve moved, your stuck with. If you know you want to go super rural then you’ll happily move and take the risk but if you need social interaction, have young children and want to meet other families or have older children who are mad keen on a particular hobby, access to these can make a difference to time spent in the car.
Everyday we feel very lucky that we are able to live in a beautiful part of the UK, with such easy access to London. My husband commutes door to door in 1 hour and whenever I need my ‘London fix’, I drive straight up the A3 and can be on the Kings Road for lunch in 45 minutes. It really is the best of both worlds for us and haven’t looked back.