Having always been a city girl, it was a big decision for my husband and I to move outside of London, but we felt that by moving outside the city we could provide a better lifestyle for our young son and baby on the way. It wasn’t the easiest of decisions to make as a number of factors had to be considered– most importantly – where??
The rest followed suit. While researching into potential places for us to move to, certain requirements were essential: commuting times and ticket affordability, schools, house prices/value for money and culture/people fit. We visited friends who had recently moved into Weybridge and fallen in love with it. It was a small town with a big heart; the houses were lovely, people had pride in their homes and the schools were good. Better still, for both my husband and I commuting into London on a daily basis, it was only a 40 minute ride into Waterloo – with options of fast trains (trust me they are lifesavers when you are tired!). So that was it. We moved in April and haven’t looked back since. It did happen rather smoothly in the end but we reviewed and explored areas, looked at houses and talked to people in preparation.
So my advice – research!
Drive around to get a feel of places and strike up conversations with the locals – they really do know best! If schools are a factor, again speak to the local community and check out Ofsted reviews. Property – see what you can get for your money in terms of size and garden, and find out the re-sale value for further down the line or if you don’t want to jump into buying. If you want to take things slowly, you should consider renting as an initial step into a new area. It will help you get a better picture of the neighbourhood and open up what other areas are perhaps more desirable. But you need to be firm on what you are looking for. Are you looking for ‘suburbia’ or ‘country life’ – there is a big difference between the two! We chose suburbia due to the safety created by having people around us (but not on top of us). Fields and rivers are a short walk away but not in our garden. Nature surrounds the house but it’s not in the house (although the spiders around here seem to be on steroids!)
How much can you afford on a monthly basis for the train and travel around London? Have you accounted for driving your car to the station and perhaps parking there on a daily basis? Do your research, as the costs can be exceptionally high and you need to be realistic about your budget – it all adds up. Having been pregnant this year and travelling the new distance, it took a little while to get used to - but again do your research. A number of train companies offer a free First Class Upgrade to Mums-to-Be if you buy a weekly or monthly train ticket. You simply send in a copy of your current ticket, railcard number and your MATB1 form (proof that you are pregnant) with their form, and they post a card you pop into your ticket holder. What a difference it made to my journey especially over summer – bigger seats, no crowds and air conditioning! And it makes me feel slightly important!
Also, how much further will you need to travel from the main station (i.e. Kings Cross or Waterloo) to your office in town? Take that into account, as working long hours and adding an extra long commute at the end shouldn’t be the reason to move out the city. It should be about reviewing your work/ life balance and ensuring you are enjoying the benefits of living outside of London. And trust me, the benefits are fantastic. Space, nature, friendly neighbours, decent kids and good schools – what more could you ask for?!!