The call of the wild - why we're moving out of London
I’ve been itching to share our news with you for weeks but haven’t wanted to jinx it (anyone else a bit superstitious about these things?!) But we have now exchanged contracts on our house so things have suddenly shifted from possibility to reality, and I thought it was high time I let you know that we will, very shortly, be moving from our home in South East London to the countryside of South Gloucestershire.
It’s been a little while coming, this move. For at least three years R and I have talked about leaving the city, and for me at least, the question has always been about when and not if. But it’s really only since the arrival of Nye that we have properly started thinking about what we want our next 5 years to look like, and where we want to base our little family. For me, who grew up in small town South Wales, the decision has felt like quite a natural one. Although I adore many things about London and have loved living here for the last 8 years, honestly it has never truly felt like home to me, and I think I have always known that I would someday leave. The pull of the countryside, the familiarity of the place I where I grew up and the proximity of my parents have always been (and remain) good reasons to leave and I think I knew that they would eventually win out over the excitement and opportunity of London life.
For R, the decision has been harder. He is a born and bred Londoner and has (apart from university) always lived here. His work and (some of his) family are here, he feels emotionally attached to this city in a way that I never have. In addition, he is a more cautious, risk averse person than I am, far less likely to throw caution to the wind and just go for it than I am. It’s fair to say that it has taken him longer to get here than me.
But get here we have! And so, in a few short weeks we will be swapping our compact terraced house for a cottage in a village with a view of the green, and fields and woodland surrounding us. Our London home has been such a special place for us - a literal labour of love and the scene of many milestones in the last few years. The place we brought our new baby home to! We will miss it dearly. But our immediate neighbourhood and London in general has started to feel stifling and over the last year, we have found ourselves increasingly craving open space, fewer people and the ability to reach proper rural countryside easily. I spend almost every day in our local area, and have walked the tracks of our local parks so many times I know them by heart. Nye’s favourite thing is to be outside and I long for him to be able to get out into nature every day, to see sheep and fields, and birds, to feel the change of the seasons. I want him to feel rooted in nature, to understand the simple pleasure of being among trees and streams and forests, of being free! I want him to gain a love and appreciation of the natural world, just as I did growing up. It calms me and inspires me and as I have got older, I have yearned for it more than I ever thought I would.
Of course we will miss many many things about London (I’m trying not to dwell on them!). But the truth is we don’t take advantage of London’s attractions nearly as much as we should do, and we find ourselves driving out of London several weekends a month in search of muddy fields, wild woodland and fresh air. I guess what has happened, gradually, is that what we want from our life has stopped matching the place we live, and so the time has come to try to adjust that.
Like everything, there will be compromises. R will carry on working in London and so will probably be away for two to three nights a week, which will be a new challenge. We will have to make new friends, find a new community and I will have to establish my work in a new area. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little anxious about it. The fact that my parents will be closer is comforting, and I know that the support they will provide will make our lives easier and richer. And I am grateful that we have the choice to make a change, that a new way of life is open to us. I am acutely aware that not everyone has the same choice. Yes, there is sadness in leaving somewhere that has been so kind to us, that is so wrapped in happy memories. But I also think it’s important to leave while this city is still a positive place that we can look back on fondly, rather than a place that we have stayed too long in and come to resent.
I feel, instinctively, that this is the right thing for us, and more generally, that change is something to be embraced, that life is short and you have to grab opportunities and not worry too much about what life will bring. So, with that, wish us luck, and here’s to our new life in the countryside!
Now, tell me, have you made the move from city to countryside? And how has it worked out? Any regrets?!