When the rat race paused momentarily in 2020, a huge number of families took the time to assess their lifestyle and acknowledged that if working from home, even if only part time, was a real long-term possibility, they could use the opportunity to move further afield.
The spike in demand for a better home/life balance resulted in unprecedented demand for houses offering the space that house hunters craved. But as the ‘new normal’ becomes reality, where in our patch offers ‘WFHomers’ utopia – close enough to commute to London twice a week but still the rural idyll that buyers want?
Having helped many house hunters over the pandemic, we’ve boiled down what we think should be the top priorities when looking for that WFH location.
We haven’t included any of our wonderful towns like Guildford, Godalming, Haslemere or Farnham in this list, as it goes without saying that they offer a lot of these tick list qualities. Additionally, in our experience most house hunters who are coming out of London or are returning from abroad, don’t want to move into the towns, for the very reason they are moving in the first place.
WIFI/ phone service
These are the most important factors if you are going to set up from home. In most villages as long as you’ve got access to a superfast broadband provider on your road or village, then you can get it installed if it isn’t already. To check out the broadband speed before you buy, we find www.broadband.co.uk helpful.
But, don’t assume that the mobile phone signal will be OK, especially in hilly or wooded areas. There are a number of websites that can check this for you by postcode, such as www.signalchecker.co.uk, and most mobile phone networks can provide you with a signal booster that will significantly improve your phone’s performance. Enabling wifi calling on your mobile device is also a good way to improve signal.
Let’s call this the ‘golden triangle’. If you do have to suddenly go back to the office for four days rather than the two you were hoping for, you are looking for some flexibility in your rural idyll.
Our ‘golden triangle’ basically means the distance from home to school/ nursery and train station, so that they can all be reached with ease if you are dashing for the train.
A Surrey option – Chiddingfold (Named in The Sunday Times as a one of the top 50 villages to live in on 12th September 2021) is picture perfect, with lovely countryside, but where it comes into its own, is the proximity to both Haslemere and Witley for senior schools and train stations. It has St Mary’s C of E Primary School and Chiddingfold Village nursery for the little ones. Elliott’s Coffee Shop, Forrest Stores for essentials, a great butcher in RG Young and Son, plus four pubs means it is a great place to live.
A Hampshire option – Crondall is a thriving, popular and attractive village. Its accessibility to Farnham, offers some of the best state schooling options in the country and is abuzz with young families, who move to enjoy all that the Georgian town has to offer. There’s Crondall Primary School village and Peacocks Nursery for under 11’s. Despite its rural location, commuting is ok too with options of going to either Bentley or Farnham itself. The fastest train line is actually to go north to Fleet, which is on the Basingstoke line. The village offers Crondall Stores, two pubs and there are lots of activities within the village for those of all ages making this a hidden gem of a place to settle.
A West Sussex option. – Fernhurst is situated just south of Haslemere, just a stones throw from Haslemere Station (55 mins to London Waterloo). We are huge fans of West Sussex in general with its rolling South Downs countryside and proximity to some of the most picturesque towns in the South of England, such as Petworth and Chichester. Being a bit further south, you are also only 40 minutes from the beautiful beaches of West Wittering, a huge draw. Fernhurst Primary School sits in the heart of the village, while South Downs Coffee Co and Fernhurst Centre and Village Café support one’s daily needs. There are three pubs in easy reach, including The Duke of Cumberland at Henley, which we love.