I never really pictured myself moving out of London, but I think we can all agree that when you settle down and have a family, your plans change. It’s not just yourself that you have to think about, it’s also your children.
My partner and I were both still living at home when we found out that I was pregnant, I then moved in with him but the plan was to always move into our own place once Arlo had been born. This wasn’t so simple for two young graduates up against the ridiculously high costs of living in London, so I’d probably say that the main reason we decided to look outside of London was because of money.
In an ideal world we would have loved to have stayed in London close to family and friends and if it was possible for us, there is a chance we probably would have stayed there. But this just wasn’t our reality.
I always loved the idea of having a home by the sea, but it was more in the sense of a holiday home- a place to escape from city life, but I wouldn’t say I ever pictured myself living there.
HOW WE DECIDED WHERE TO MOVE TO
You might be surprised to read that we visited the area only the once before setting our hearts on finding our first family home there.
I was 6 month’s pregnant on my 22nd birthday and my partner had surprised me with a weekend away. Nor me or him had ever been to this part of Kent before but we immediately had such a good feeling about it here. We loved the pretty town full of colourful streets and quirky shops, the harbour and of course being so close to a beautiful beach. I’ve always felt really happy whenever i’m by the sea- I think that has something to do with spending a couple of years living in Portugal when I was younger. But it wasn’t your usual typical British seaside or what I’d expect, watching that sun set on one of the evenings we were there, I really felt like I could have been anywhere in the world. Arlo growing up by the sea, the thought of us starting our family here, I could see it happening.
We explored a lot of the area while we were here, I remember we even looked at house prices just to get a feel. We were really surprised- so much cheaper than anything we’d seen in London.
When we got back home I really had my heart set on finding us a place there. It all felt so sudden, but so right. We were only 50 minutes on the fast train back into central London (about an hour and a half in the car) so not too far, there were lovely parks, good schools, nice shops.
We began looking at rented properties before I discovered Shared Ownership. I was so excited at the prospect of us actually owning part of our first family home, and spent most of the final part of my maternity leave researching the hell out of what it meant, if we would qualify and most importantly what properties were being built in the area under a shared ownership scheme.
What I gathered initially was that we wouldn’t really be able to get a shared ownership property unless we had a connection to the area- so either family here or work. As this was a completely new area to us I remember sort of righting it off until I saw a property come up right near the town and about a ten minute walk from the beach, and I thought I’d try my luck.
To our surprise, our interest in the property was accepted and we didn’t need to have any of these things I read up on. From going back to the area again and looking around the property to then securing our mortgage, it all happened so fast. It was great that it was such a quick turn around as Arlo was around three months and I was really excited to be in our first family home- within a couple months everything was done and we were in.
A NEW LIFE BY THE SEA
A huge change from the hustle and bustle, but one I welcomed. Ok so there is no popping to the shop in my pjs like I used to do living in Brixton with a shop under a minute away from my front door (the nearest here is about a ten minute walk). I was happy to swap tube and buses for long walks by the sea. Spending my first year of motherhood with my partner away at work every day has at times been overwhelming being so far from anything I knew or recognised, but it was a sacrifice worth taking.
I love London and I love being back there, but I always look forward to coming back to our home by the sea. If you’re interested in finding out more about shared ownership you can read my post that explains it in a bit more detail here.
Stay tuned for some of the pros and cons of leaving the city behind and some of the challenges we’ve faced.