If you’re keen to leave your urban lifestyle behind and start afresh in the sticks, you’re not alone. In fact, ditching the city has become a popular trend. But is it the right decision?
Are you thinking of leaving city life behind for a fresh start in the countryside? You won’t be the first. According to a study by the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence, an estimated 700,000 people have left London to live in the countryside in early 2021. Young people are also contemplating moving out of the capital. A survey of over 1000 Londoners by The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) found that 55 per cent of 18-34-year-olds are more likely to move to the countryside.
But not everyone is happy about their decision. A recent article in The Telegraph highlighted how some people have found living in the countryside challenging for a whole host of reasons. Some found that school places are hard to come by (with some schools in the countryside already at full capacity). Others have been daunted by the impact the extra commuting has had on their lives.
Others are missing the energising vibe and anonymity of London life and the convenience of jumping onto a bus or tube in minutes. Some are struggling to adjust to the concept of a village community where everyone knows everyone’s business.
Jane Entwistle moved from London to Buckinghamshire years ago, then moved back again. ‘My husband and I fell for the idea that we could afford a much bigger house with a garden for the price of our London flat,’ she recalls. ‘I realised as soon as I moved in that it wasn’t the right environment for a journalist, especially a music journalist. I seemed to spend half my life bombing up and down the motorway to go to gigs or see friends.
Crochet in the countryside
Jane adds: ‘By contrast, the village had a Wives Group where you could win a prize for the “Best Hand Crocheted Coaster”! After six miserable years, I fled back to Camden Town –alone. My ex and I have stayed friends. I live in a much smaller house, but it felt like home from the first day, and Buckinghamshire never did.’
It’s clear that moving to a new area and having a complete change of pace and environment is a huge decision. So here’s some key things to think about before you move out of the city…
Can you cope with a bigger property?
You may want extra space but if you end up with a bigger house and garden, are you confident you’ll be able to maintain them? Can you afford the likelihood of higher heating bills, and will you be able to afford any maintenance work that needs doing?
What about schools in your local area?
If you have kids, you’ll need to know they have somewhere to go when you move and also ensure that the school that they end up attending can meet or improve the standards of their current education.
Can you manage a longer commute?
Even if you spend some days working from home, if you have to jump on a train and face a long commute it will not only be tiring but also mean less time at home. Is that workable for you? Train fares will also be more expensive further out.
Is your employer on board with your new location?
Make sure your employer isn’t about to demand you return to work full-time – you may have worked from home for the past year or so, but do they want you to be back in the office? Will they be happy with a flexible working arrangement for you in the long term? A survey from the Office for National Statistics revealed that only 24 per cent of employers intend to maintain the current level of remote working in future. None of us knows for sure how long the hybrid model at work will last.
Will you fit in somewhere else?
Are you likely to make friends quickly? Do you struggle to socialise? Will you feel like you ‘belong’? Nicola and Bruce Sawford moved from their country home in Milton Keynes to Cornwall after their children left home, then realised it wasn’t them. ‘Cornwall never quite felt like home,’ says Nicola. ‘There’s something about it feeling like it’s not quite reality. We’ve now moved back to Milton Keynes, and we visit Cornwall at Christmas, but I wouldn’t want to live there again.’
Can you stay connected?
Remote parts of the countryside can be known for dodgy phone signals and poor Internet connections. If you’re working from home, or keen to keep in touch with family and friends, it could be a real problem.
Have you really given it some serious thought?
Once you leave urban life behind, it will be expensive to move back again if you decide that country life is not for you. In reality, you may not be able to afford to move back to your old area if you realise you’ve made a mistake. A spokeswoman for JM Chase Property Search & Acquisition describes the cost of moving as ‘astronomical’.
A spokesman for Rightmove says he expects more people living in rural areas to be a continuing long-term trend, but is it right for you? Take your time to make what is clearly going to be a huge decision.