So we left London moved back to the North of England about two years ago.
It was a pretty brave move for us after living in the big smoke and Dubai and Germany over the last ten years, but we bit the bullet, much to the surprise of everyone (esp. my shell-shocked ma and pa) and we returned to my neck of the woods to raise our kid (now kids).
Hubbie was luckily able to keep his London job and work from home, commuting in for one week every month and, as I was still selling the jewels at Rocks and Co, drove down to Leamington Spa for one night each week and crammed two shifts into 24 hours. Our work life kind of carried on as normal but the rest of our world changed pretty massively as South to North is one hell of a move! But today, two glorious years later, I’m gona tell you why we left the bright lights of London town for Northern living and why, contrary to popular belief, it really ain’t that bad oop Norf.
Lets go straight for the jugular, Reason no.1, House Prices!
This was one of the main reasons we decided to up sticks and move. Maaaaan it is expensive down south!! Let me set the scene, we lived in the lush little part of London known as Barnes (Barnes village to its residents) it’s a little slice of heaven 20 minutes from Waterloo with green parks, nice bars, cafes, cool people and a general wholesome vibe to it. You just don’t feel like you’re in London which was kind of its appeal to me. You can walk along the river Thames, have a nice brunch, see a few celebs, (oh yeah, it’s celeb-ville in Barnes….my friend saw the whole of One Direction in the mini Sainsburys one random arvo!) and then tootle off home feeling content and happy in the little bubble that is the ‘village’ of Barnes.
When we first arrived in 2010 we rented a one and a half bed flat, it was perfect for just hubbie and I and our cat. It had a little garden, a big kitchen/diner and a cosy living space. It went up for sale for a cool £250,000.00 and I almost spat my cereal out when hubbie suggested we buy it. WTF, a quarter of a million on a tiny little flat….er no thank you, we are not plunging all our hard earned saving into that!
When we left that ‘tiny little flat’ was worth a staggering £650,000.00! Yep, my BIG FAT BAD! It still pains me now, but c’est la vie and all that. Can you just imagine the price of a modest three bed place in SW London in 2016? Yep, I’m setting that scene pretty well for you aren’t I. We were priced well and truly out of the market and, as soon as our son hit crawling, we were busting at the seams in our once perfect pad so it was time to look elsewhere. Now, it’s not that we’re snobs (well..maybe a little) but we liked Barnes, all our friends were there, our social life, my day to day network, my lovely mummy friends, so we didn’t want to live anywhere else in London. Moving out to Surrey or Kent would be like starting again plus a bit of a commute for hubbie and an extra hour to my work journey.
The North began calling our name.
It wasn’t long before the more reasonably priced houses flirted their bricks at us and we were like a fat kid on cake when we saw our gorgeous period house, set in amazing grounds on rightmove. It was everything we could have wished for and more, and everything that we absolutely could not have afforded in Barnes. We offered, they accepted, it was done. We were heading home. Arrrghhh!
Reason no 2. Family.
As tearful as my goodbye was to beautiful Barnes and London and all our wonderful friends in it, nothing has ever felt more right than our move back to the North….and into the loving arms of my parents, especially my mum who sobbed when we ‘surprised’ her with our new home (literally!). We took her to view our offer-accepted-on new pad one beautifully sunny day and told her it was going to be ours. She didn’t cry when I got married or had Max, but this….man, the floodgates roared open. She couldn’t quite comprehend that after so many years away we were coming back ‘home’, neither could we really.
One of the BIIIIG plus points of being in the North IS being close to parents and the whole childcare thing. Never underestimate the power of having a Grandparent 20 minutes down the road, it’s freaking amazing! Two weeks after we moved to Lancaster, we hotfooted it to France for 4 days with all our university friends to celebrate a wedding SANS Max. It was one of the most amazing weekends of our lives. Nuff said. But whether it’s mini-break for the two of us, or help when we’ve all picked up a tummy bug or just that free night of babysitting, it’s utterly priceless. Love you Mum and Dad and everything you do (esp. Mum, when you get the ironing board out unasked!) you really do help keep our little family tickety-boo.
Reason no.3 – Green lushness
Yeah, there’s a bit of the ol’country bumpkin in us at heart and we love the fact that we’re surrounded by the green rolling hills of Lancashire and on the doorstep of the Lakes, tis pretty special. And when the sun shines (granted not that often..) there really is nowhere more beautiful than the North West.
Our house backs onto Williamsons Park which has a real Central Park feel to it (seriously) with its paths and ponds and water features. We hit up the park at 9am the other morning, it was glorious, the sun was shining, the Lake District hills were crystal clear in the background and there wasn’t another soul in sight, precious, perfect time with my babies literally on our doorstep. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Reason no.4 – Schools.
I never thought I was going to be ‘that mum’ who moved house for her kids schooling but it seems I really am. There are of course amazing schools in London, and Barnes in particular had the most beautiful little primary school (with a catchment area of 50 metres!!!!) Private schooling was something we couldn’t justify (or maybe I’m just too Northern to pay for it!) and with an ocean of outstanding State schools in Lancaster, the North ticked that box too. We’re currently viewing schools for Max and one in particular sits in the rolling Lancashire hills with a forest and an adventure playground and a massive veg patch. It’s kinda what I always envisaged for my babies and it seems like it really might be happening. There is also a kick ass boys and girls Grammar School in Lancaster that rates pretty highly in the league tables for secondary education. I wasn’t quite bright enough for it but hell, my kids will be (daddy’s brains and all!)
And finally….Reason no.5 more bang for your buck!
If you’ve ever taken a road trip from the South the North you’ll know, the further North you head the cheaper (and colder) it gets. FACT. So even though we might be basking in a few degrees less than our Southern pals, we make up for it in cheapness! Meals out, booze, cinema tickets, baby classes, coffee, you name it, it’s cheaper. I used to take Max to a music class in London, it was a tenner a time…my mum could not believe a few instruments and ‘some old rags’ (coloured scarfs to entertain the kids) cost so much and neither can I looking back. Swimming lessons were £16 a pop and a little jam scone and a cuppa would set me and my mummy friends back at least £7. Oop North we enjoy a proper big scone with jam and lashing of cream for £2.50 (The Barn in Scorton is a must for excellent scone-age!) and private swimming lessons can be enjoyed for £8 per child. A night out in London could easily set us back £200, where as in Lancaster, it’s sometimes a struggle to spend fifty quid and that’s after quaffing top-notch wine and getting a taxi home!
There you have it, the five reasons why we moved back up North, these, and more, are shaping our little world right now. However, I ain’t gona lie, I still miss the South. We had a glorious weekend in Barnes not so long ago and my little Northern heart ached for the buzz of London town. There is something pretty magical about London in the summer, a vibe that you can’t get anywhere else….even the 5:40am Heathrow wakeup call had it’s charm. But that’s what cheap train tickets what made for eh!
So, I’m signing off in my fickle way, dedicating my heart to Lancaster but keeping London as my cheeky mistress on the side…see you soon babycakes!