Hands-up if you play the ‘Rightmove Game’ every time you spend a weekend outside of London? Not just me then! There’s so much that appeals about leaving the Big Smoke, but yet we still haven’t been bold enough to commit and make the move out.
Here Kate Starkey aka @cheltenhammaman sings the virtues of life in the West Country:
I lose count of the amount of Mums I meet at my events who have recently moved to Gloucestershire from the capital. The relief in their eyes when they realise they’ve found a little mum community to help them acclimatise to their new lives makes me giddy every time. Just like we all need time to adjust to life as a mother you can’t expect to just up sticks to the country, swap your heels for wellies and just ‘get’ this whole new way of life.
But give it some time, and find some fellow Mothers who like fresh air but still like to party and you’ll be just fine. If you’re agonising over the decision to up sticks and live a greener life here’s a list of why you should just do it.
You’d think I’d start this list with a ‘do it for your kids’ rant. Well yes…. no-one can argue that children will live a healthier lifestyle away from the city but just like that very dull and never ending breast feeding debate, kids will actually be happiest if their parents are happy. So do it for you… do it because you want to wake up on a Saturday morning and hear the birds sing.
A few years ago Cheltenham was voted by the Telegraph as the Number one place to raise a family in the UK but the shops, nightlife, cafe culture (and the addition of CheltenhamMaman of course) means that it’s now even better. You can shop until you drop, dine at a different first class, ecclectic, or vibrant restaurant every single weekend and never get bored.
When considering where to move to outside of the capital don’t forget your needs – you may find somewhere with the lowest crime rate and best schooling but if they don’t have a Topshop…. is it really a sustainable decision?
Ok – so now let’s talk about the kids. The grass is always greener – but outside of London the grass really is greener. The air is fresher and the schools are better (and more accessible) and crime rates generally (in Cheltenham particularly) are lower. Which means your children can grow up a little freer. I’m not suggesting that you all move to a barn conversion on the outskirts of a remote hamlet you have to open a cattle grid to enter (though they do exist…) but living in a beautiful spa town or smaller city means your kids can be street wise but that you’ll sleep a little sounder at night.
There’s still Deliveroo…… ok well I actually don’t have Deliveroo in my village but Cheltenham dwellers do. And you’ve still got Amazon Prime and Ocado and all that shit that means it doesn’t actually matter that you don’t have a Mango on your doorstep. Who likes trying on clothes in those hot and stuffy changing rooms anyway, especially if you’ve got the kids with you!
Stuff to do….. This last decade the towns and cities outside of London have really upped their games. In Cheltenham we are now basically a festival hub. The literature festival brings all of the world’s great authors to town including some incredible events of the kids (many of them free!), the jazz festival sees some awesome names and parties (Laura Mvula is always ace) and the science festival just recently is a mecca for smiling children with little brains buzzing with ideas and learning. Park runs, Giffords Circus, Jamie Oliver’s The Big Feastival – it’s all happening on our doorstep and I know other towns and cities around the country have a similar packed schedule of top notch events.
Travel – the commute ain’t so bad if work needs to remain in the city. My husband drives to Swindon where there are hourly trains. Kingham, Cheltenham and Evesham all have a great service into Paddington and if it’s just you doing a trip in for some culture or shopping The Oxford Tube costs £19 and takes you straight to Marble Arch and it runs all night so you can even catch up with friends for a party. With modern ways of working most of you should be able to mix up commute days with working from home so it can be a sustainable way of working if you are smart and your employer can offer some #flex.
THE DOSH – Let’s be honest – this is the main reason you might be paying attention to this list. I know most of you really really love London. But I really really love lobster – it’s just that fish and chips are much cheaper and actually just as good.
You know you will get so much more house for your money outside of the city – you don’t need me to tell you that but just think about the kinds of properties your home could buy out here. Kirsty and Phil would be salivating at the thought. £350,000 would buy you a really lovely family home in a nice part of Cheltenham or one of the many truly stunning villages outside.
ME! (and others like me.) So organisations that connect Mums and offer events targeted to making your lives easier, helping you meet people and reminding you that it’s ok to say parenting can be a bit shit sometimes are popping up left, right and centre outside of the capital. Obviously I’m looking after Gloucestershire but checkout Mums The Word Online in Tunbridge Wells and Brighton, The Oxford Mama Club, The Parent Pause in Warwickshire, Love for the Mama in Birmingham and Social Butterflies in Bristol plus so many more up North and in Scotland.
Grrr, opinion being presented as fact is dangerous! London has actually got some of the best schools in the UK, especially for children from poorer backgrounds. The schools may not always look chocolate box perfect but the education often surpasses that provided in a more twee/country setting. It’s a shame to perpetuate misconceptions with statements like this.
I definitely plan to move my family out of London in the next few years. But I think it has some fantastic benefits to that I will miss and concern me about moving away. 1) The culture! So much to do. This is fab for me and for my little kids but I think this will be really important for older kids. Will my teenage kids living in the countryside have enough to do? 2) Accessibility. In my London neighbourhood I can literally walk to everything I need. Living in the countryside I anticipate using the car way more than we do now. 3) The diversity. My little kids grow up around such a rich mix of cultures. I think this is such a positive influence. Will being in the countryside limit this? 4) The political divide. Yes this exists in London too but I sense it’s more apparent in some rural places. Will a very different political view influence the general community I live in. I guess all this comes down to picking the right place to live. Getting the balance right. And accepting that it’s not perfect but maybe has a lot of other things that are great about it. In the meantime there is lots to love about London.
But if a sweeping statement there on schools in London.
*Bit of * a sweeping statement in there on schools in London
I usually love Clemmies lists but this one really doesn’t work for me!! Too much of a personal view and preference – not really left me with much to think about.
That’s really good feedback thank you, will definitely bear that in mind with future guest lists. Xxxx
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