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.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.