Moving to the Countryside from London; Why and Should we?
If you live in a city have you noticed how people left, right and centre are moving to the countryside? If you are from the countryside have you noticed that all these townies are descending on your villages?
It is like some kind of reverse industrial revolution that has, it seems, been sparked off by the onset of the corona virus and lockdowns. Homes and Property magazine reported in August 2020 that record numbers of Londoners were moving to the countryside. The theory is that the combination of no stamp duty and the recent lockdowns that made those with no outdoor space feel super hemmed in is making city dwellers feel like they need to get out.
I am a confirmed, card carrying London girl who loves a city, but when people started moving I started wondering why and we have even found ourselves debating moving to the countryside. The question is should we stay or should we go?
Should I move to the countryside?
With the current situation and working from home becoming the norm for so long it is easy to see why moving to the countryside seems more attractive and realistic now. If one or both of you have to be in London 5 days a week then living a 2 hour commute away is surely not practical or indeed good for you or the family. You just wouldn’t see the family at all really during the week and that is one of the reasons we have never seriously considered living outside of London as an option.
Our time as a family is precious and as it stands the husband can be at work in about 30 mins door to door which is amazing. He can start work early and leave the office early so we all eat dinner together each night and he is still able to have time to spend with the children during the week. If we lived further out and he had to commute that would be gone and so paying London house prices has been worth it to us.
But what now? If he can work from home everyday the question is whether it is even worth paying for our London house when we could certainly get a larger home for less money if we moved out… Or could we…
The reality is that at some point there will be a call back to the office and whilst I fully believe that this Covid-19 work from home necessity will change the way employers view working from home I don’t think it will remain the case that almost all jobs are done from home. So if we moved out now then we would still probably face a situation where my husband had a long commute even if it wasn’t everyday. With four kids needing help with homework, reading, spellings and just time with their parents we really need both of us there in the evenings.
Is moving to the countryside from London actually cheaper?
Another mark against moving to the countryside, for us, is that it may not actually be that much cheaper. The cost of getting to work would increase dramatically on any days my husband did have to go into London, we would need to use the car more so would be spending more on petrol and since we would really need to stay within striking distance of London for work purposes and for family we would be moving to prime commuter locations such as Hertfordshire, Surrey or Kent and these are not cheap…
We even looked at estate agents to see what was out there and used a mortgage calculator tool to look at how much it would actually cost to move out of London and get that huge family home that we would of course love to have. It was really useful to see how much we would actually need to spend to get that ‘perfect’ home and what the repayments would then look like.
A plus for moving at this moment in time would of course be that there is no stamp duty and I am sure that this is driving many people’s desire to move so there is potentially a financial advantage, but when using the online tools we just didn’t the benefit to be big enough to outweigh the things we would lose from not being in London.
A real positive for a move to the country would be getting the kids more space in a larger garden etc… but as the parent largely responsible for child care and logistics this would likely mean that I would have to spend more time in the car as typically everything is more spread out when you live in more rural settings. I don’t think that would be for me. I love that I can walk or cycle pretty much everywhere I need to go and that I can get a coffee less than 30 secs from my house; like I said I am a city girl at heart.
A negative for me is also around the kids and their education. With four children close together in age that is a huge commitment if we headed down the private school route and I think the sacrifices would be too huge so state education is vital and in our area there are some fantastic schools. The choices are varied and that isn’t always the case if you live somewhere more rural as there are simply fewer schools that would be logistically realistic.
Overall looking at everything and weighing up the finances moving to the countryside from London just isn’t for us. We live somewhere that is beautifully green and are surrounded by open spaces in the form of commons and even have woods to explore so it feels like we have the best of both worlds. We are close to the city and so it is busy, but it is also somewhere that you can get outside and have the kids run… Everything we need is so accessible and we have access (when covid isn’t being a menace) to world class museums, parks, historic sites and that all important coffee shop for mummy so for now at least London stays home for us.