The Londoner Who Finally Left


The ‘Other Clemmie’ aka @mother_of_daughters was the guinea pig for me, “I’ll see how the Hooper’s get on outside London” and then see if we can follow suit and make the move.

You see, the appeal of a global city is that it lulls you into thinking it is the centre of the universe, even though clearly it’s not. It also makes you fall in love with anonimity of being one of masses, (even though of course the flip side of that can be loneliness).

If all you’ve ever known is convenience, diversity and ‘hustle and bustle’, then opting to leave them behind can been daunting, even if deep down a change is what you want.

Here Clemmie sheds light on life since leaving ‘The Big Smoke’:

  • I have lived in London all my life apart from when I went to uni in Bristol so the thought of ever leaving never occurred to me.

  • Surely there was not a world outside from the Big Smoke.

  • But as our family had gone from 4 to 6 with the arrival of the twins back in 2016, our 4 bed town house in SE London soon started to feel very cramped.

  • We had maxed out every inch of space possible, the loft was fit to burst, there was storage boxes under every bed. We kept the double buggy in the boot of the car. We were at full capacity

  • There wasn’t a village, town or county that we visited at weekends where I wouldn’t think ‘could we live here?’

  • I started playing the ‘Right Move Game’ moving the radius search ever so slightly to see exactly what we could get for our money

  • I religiously watched Location Location Location in the desperate bid that Kirstie or Phil would have the answer for us

  • We were torn between Bristol and Kent (where our parents lived) which caused a lot of arguments and heartache

  • In the end the right house at the right price came on the market for us in Kent. I loved it from the moment I stepped in the door.

  • I viewed it initially with my brother who works in property, I knew it would be our family home before I’d even seen the upstairs!

  • So after a really painful 8 months of trying to sell our house (we lost 3 buyers) we finally had an offer and in October 2017 we moved from London to the Kent coast.

  • Firstly the fear is definitely worse than the reality (as with most things I find in life).

  • I worried for weeks before we moved; the middle of the night anxiety ‘have we made the right decision?’ ‘what if we’re all really miserable and miss our friends in London

  • The older girls had to leave their primary school (the only school they’d ever known) and sobbed as they hugged their best friends on their last day, their school tops covered in signatures and messages ‘don’t forget us!’

  • But weirdly they settled the quickest. Kids are so adaptable.

  • They started at their new school 4 days after we moved house and skipped out on their first day declaring the school meals were ‘really nice’ and name dropping new friends

  • Simon had arranged to work from home 4 days a week which made our lives so much easier. Thank you flexible working!

  • I’m a people person, I need to be around other humans, I bounce of their energy and love to chat! But I needn’t worry, we met wonderful neighbours on the day we moved in!

  • We got invited to people’s houses in the first week for kids tea and Processco.  I knew we were going to be ok after that.

  • Whilst there is no comparison to London and all it’s beauty and what it has to offer there are some things which I thought I’d miss but, actually I don’t

  • There’s no Deliveroo here so after rinsing the fish and chip shop, I found myself actually cooking again on a Friday night and remembering why I love it.

  • No more Uber’s, funny how many of those I used in London and spent a fortune!

  • There’s no more just popping into town for an event that I don’t necessarily have to go to.  I’m much more selective about what I attend, and the last train means I have to leave on time!

  • The fast train into London takes just over an hour, its never delayed and I get so much work done on my commute. Sometimes it quicker getting into central London from Kent than when we lives in SE London

  • People come and see you and stay. We were booked up every weekend after we moved in and now the summer has arrived the guest room is once again in full use.

  • Your home becomes your happy place and you love spending time just hanging out. I can honestly say we’ve bought our dream family home; it needs work but I’m loving just enjoying the space and planning the interiors. Pinterest is my new obsession!

  • Small towns mean you can get anywhere really quickly. We walk as much as we can and are planning on getting bikes this summer.

  • There’s hardly any traffic, when it says it will take 10 minutes to get somewhere it really does.

  • Builders/carpenters/decorators can always fit in jobs as there’s less demand – very handy if you’re renovating like we are.

  • In fact everyone on our street seems to be doing up their houses. Most of the builders we’ve met have been from chatting on our street.

  • We have sea views from our bedroom. I still pinch myself when I see it in the morning, even on a bad day I know living by the sea has been the best decision for us.

  • The beach has become our after school hang out; our playground, an extension of our home. I can literally chuck the kids on the beach with a picnic tea and they are so happy, it seems to be the one place they never argue. There’s enough sand for everyone to enjoy.

  • You learn to love the things around you, local greasy spoon with the kids on a Saturday morning after swimming, the local bakery, the library. That old saying ‘the less you have, the more you appreciate the smaller things’ is so true.

  • We never felt we had the sense of a community in London. We were always so busy and didn’t know our neighbours but here we chat for ages on our street, in our local supermarket, at the train station. People are so friendly and have the time to talk.

  • I don’t miss achingly cool over priced coffee shops anymore but I really look forward to having my treat one when I go into London once a week.

  • I don’t even miss having clothes shops, I mainly shop online which of makes these things much easier.

  • There are of course things that are different which I’ve really noticed such as the lack of street bins and things close a lot earlier in the evenings.

  • There is also a definite lack of really good places to eat on our doorstep as a foodie I find this hard but things are changing and new places are opening up in our town and nearby towns (I’m still craving a Vietnamese or Japanese though).

  • It’s like so much has slotted into place all the things I was worried about seem so irrelevant  now.

  • I’ve met people just like us (families who have relocated from London) but I’ve also met some wonderful locals who have lived here all their lives and have the best tips on places to go and things to see.

  • I say no to so much before because the logistics is just more complicated.

  • But I feel so much calmer.

  • I shout less and I feel less anxious.

  • People have been so friendly and welcoming. I’ve chatted to strangers in the park offering tips on the best play groups .

  • People stop and say hello, people down here feel like they have more time, no one seems to rushing around.

  • And I still feel like me. 

  • And still wear red lippy.

  • And leopard print Nike air max.

  • It’s refreshing to know there is life outside London.

  • But London will always be there.   

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  • Reply Laura Pearson June 29, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    You make life seem so happy, xxx

  • Reply Trudy July 1, 2018 at 11:40 am

    Ah lovely. Think this needs a final proof read as some parts quite repetitive but an interesting read.

    Be interesting to hear your husbands take? I assume you ‘won’ the argument and live near your family not his. Any resentment or regrets from him? How do his family feel? How’s working from home 4 days a week- does he miss the human contact or enjoy the flexibility? Or both!

  • Reply Faye July 1, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    Love this, thanks for sharing your experience xxx

  • Reply Vicky July 9, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you for this list! As someone who’s about to leave London for what we hope is the right decision for the littl’un this came at just the right time – been doubting myself and questioning our decision non-stop! Good to know it’s possible to survive (and even thrive!) outside the smoke. Thank you Clemmie(s)! X

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