Heading for the hills…

It’s been no secret on the blog that two and a half years ago our pregnancy took us somewhat by surprise. Or that we weren’t living together at the time.

Two years, one month ago, shortly before Christmas, heavily pregnant, hormonal and tired, I finally moved into the OH’s bachelor pad. We had looked for somewhere new but he had an absolute steal on rent in London’s Zone 2 and although it wasn’t exactly what we had imagined (you know, being uber realistic in our real estate hopes and dreams……) it had two bedrooms, a dishwasher (I despise doing dishes) an elevator and was close to a tube line.

At the time, the ceiling didn’t leak (that changed within the month) and there was no mould (this changed within the year). Thankfully, the property management are relatively fast acting.

Despite it’s failings, it’s actually been a good apartment – the easily wiped clean laminate flooring has proved very convenient with a baby – and we’ve actually been really happy here.

And we love East London. It’s got loads of green space, a great community, we’re a stone’s throw from Central London and the OH could be home in 45mins despite working just out of London.

Many (*cough* mainly my mum *cough*) suggested we shouldn’t stay in London with a baby. But it was the right choice for us.

None of our existing friends had babies yet and paying an arm and a leg in rent meant we could still see them easily, whether it was a quick drink after work or popping out for brunch on a Sunday with buggy in tow.

But, slowly and surely, over the past two years, reality has chipped away at our resolve to live in London.

The OH is a bit of a Country Bumpkin at heart; he grew up in the rolling hills of Surrey and always thought his children would grow up with woods and fields to explore and clean air to breath. To be fair, it’s not such a tall order.

I’m much more of a City Mouse. In fact, it’s a running joke in the family how ‘un-country’ I am in my Vivienne Westwood coat and red Hunter wellies tramping through the field walking the in-laws’ dogs.

Little Miss, however, seems to take after her Daddy. When we visit the family, you can see how happy she is running in the garden with so much space to explore. When we went to Whitstable, she was in her element. Even at just three months old, when we went to France, she was happiest when she was outside amongst the trees – in fact, it was the only thing that stopped her crying some days.

As much as it pains me to say it, it’s been clear from the off, Little Miss isn’t a City Mouse. She’s a Nature Girl through and through.

So as my unemployment drags into a second year; as we started to question the quality of life we could provide for Little Miss living in London vs. outside the M25; as we started to feel uneasy about her being on the tube everyday wondering how much pollution she was breathing in; as we started thinking about schools; as we started to take a hard look at how much we actually made the most of ‘the London lifestyle’ these days whether because we couldn’t afford that awesome new restaurant this month or because we were just too knackered… our house hunt started to head further and further out of London.

The nail in the coffin was when the OH’s employer announced they were moving the office to further out of London into deepest, darkest Hertfordshire in early 2016.

The weekend before Christmas, we were visiting my mum and decided to look at a few houses to see what we could get for our money.

You know when you walk in somewhere and it just feels like home? Well, quite unexpectedly, that happened.

It was a cute little terraced cottage, opening out onto a garden, a big, open kitchen (very important to us), two bedrooms and third teeny, tiny, box room we can use for a study. (We have a study – I officially feel like we’re moving up in the world.)

So at the end of this month, we’re leaving our first little family home and we’re leaving London.

SONY DSC

Little Miss already unpacking her changing bag and making herself at home in her new room.

We’re moving to a small town in leafy Hertfordshire (thankfully not the one where I spent my tween and teen years – that would just feel like too much of a backwards step for me!) with a little high street and a playground, plenty of young families and a lovely, old-school little movie theatre.

I’m really excited. The OH, despite his natural affinity for the countryside has some stronger reservations about us leaving London given we’re only 27. He’s worried we’ll lose touch with our original friends, become those people, and I have my own worries too. But I have a feeling what we’ll gain by living somewhere we’re happy in, that fits with our family rather than our family fitting it will make us happier in the long run. The rest will come out in the wash – it always does.

We’re not going super rural. There’s a good train link into London and the house isn’t isolated by fields. But safe to say I probably need to invest in a more appropriate coat for weekend welly walks .

But I’ll be damned if I’m giving up my red wellies.

Find our favourite family friendly East London haunts on Foursquare. And don’t forget to check out our growing list of favourites in leafy Hertfordshire too.  

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12 thoughts on “Heading for the hills…

  1. Tim says:

    Exciting times! Sounds like Little Miss will love it – and her new room looks enormous compared to her. (Bet she’ll soon fill it up, though.)

    I was always a London boy growing up but I ended up taking my first job out in Hampshire and regularly doing triangular shuttles 2-3 times a week for a couple of years between Andover, Oxford and London. (It was a good job I love driving!) Five moves later, we’re an hour from Paddington by train and 40 minutes from the M25 by car, which satisfies my need to get into London (relatively) easily, we’ve got a house that is twice the size of what we could afford in London and our kids can play on the street in front of our house without worrying about traffic (which is worth its weight in gold, well almost).

    Do you lose touch with friends? Yes, to an extent. Some of that will happen naturally anyway (and, of course, you’ll make new friends). But you find a way to stay in touch with the people you want to stay in touch with. The only thing I’ve noticed is that people who live in London tend to be less likely to venture outside the M25 than you are to venture back inside it. But that’s not insurmountable.

    Maybe you’ll just have to invest in a second pair of wellies? 🙂

    • amiecaitlin says:

      I think we just feel a bit more apprehensive as we’re only 27, which already we miss out on quite a lot, despite living in London, given we have a baby and less money than our friends. And knowing what a trial we consider going out of London ourselves for a visit somewhere, we know the likelihood of visitors…… But we’re hopeful! x

  2. moderatemum says:

    Super exciting. We moved from Whitechapel to Brighton when the sprog was born and even though Brighton is a vibrant town I was all, Waaaaah – where am I gonna get a good balti! Now I’m bugging my husband to look at villages! It didn’t take me long to adapt (and ASDA do great curries)

  3. chloebridge says:

    Seems like we have quite a similar story – I fell pregnant just as I’d turned 25. Moved in with boyfriend a few weeks before our son was born. My priority was to stay as close to ours friends as possible. I didn’t want everything about life to change overnight. We’re now five years down the track and have made a life in the little part of London we settled in. My eldest is at school and we have friends here, so we’re staying. But we just as easily could have chosen to move out of London (although would have been a big commute for my OH who works central). It hit me when my eldest was about 2 that the friend thing was nice far less important. You still make the time to see each other, and if you live further away it may have to become more planned, but it generally means you spend more quality time together.

    • amiecaitlin says:

      Hi Chloe, thanks for taking the time to comment. It does sound similar! And I agree, what I’ve been saying to the OH is that already a few of our friends have fallen by the wayside because our time is more precious now and so we only see the people we really want to anyway. In theory, it will be the same once we move.
      The area we’re in isn’t good for schools & with the OH’s office moving, East London was just no longer viable unfortunately, so our hand has been forced a bit. But hopefully it will be fine

  4. Rachael says:

    Exciting news! I grew up in Hertfordshire too and the town you describe sounds just like my hometime! I’m very curious…. I understand the apprehension about moving out of London but Hertfordshire is only a short train ride away and the trains run later than they used too! Good luck for the move and your next big adventure. x

  5. Terri Brown says:

    Hope the move went well, I am bit of a country girl at heart but do it in style with my pink hunter wellies! Hope the move went well and you have settled in nicely.

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