If you are new to the blog you may like to read the first post in this series about moving before digging in to this one.
In the absence of considerations about moving to be near family, how do you choose where to go? For me my personal geography became important, dividing areas into places where I felt comfortable and places where I didn’t. This turned out to be largely based on parts of the country I was familiar with or drawn to. I have lived in the following places. Isle of Wight, Dorset, Oxford, London, Devon, Cornwall, Hampshire and now Wiltshire. I shall exclude London as we have had no intention of returning there, nor could we afford to buy anything at all central. What all this boils down to is that I feel comfortable in the south central / south west of England. Well meaning suggestions from friends that we consider Farnham or Chichester left me with a feeling of discomfort. Not that these aren’t lovely towns but they’re east of Portsmouth for heaven’s sake!
When considering your personal geography you may need to think about balancing familiarity with adventure, again really visualising what it would be like to live in X. Does it really fit with your desired lifestyle or do you just want to live there because it’s very pretty? If the latter, will pretty compensate for having to get the car out every time you want a pint of milk and the taxi fares home from your favourite restaurant? If it will, that’s great, enjoy! But be clear before you start exactly what the lifestyle changes will mean.
Cost is also a factor, would you rather have a tiny terrace in location A or a detached house in location B? Again you really need to identify what’s most important to you. In the end you may ditch some of your ‘must haves’ because you fall in love either with the individual property or a location, but do this with your eyes open rather than getting carried away by the romance of the thing. Check back to your lists to remind yourself why you wanted a particular lifestyle and, if the property you love doesn’t deliver important elements of it, think hard about what the long term impact of this will be. You may well decide to go with lifestyle compromise but at least you will be doing it with your eyes open!
Having decided on roughly the area we would consider, we drew up a list of what we wanted from our new community. Items on the list included good public transport links to London and elsewhere, a theatre, green spaces, beautiful buildings, and a rich cultural life generally. Three places stood out for us, Oxford, Bath and Salisbury. I love Oxford but it is a large industrial city and housing is expensive there and we probably couldn’t afford the sort of house we wanted in the right location. Also it’s a bit north!
We had a day out in Bath to re-evaluate it from a ‘future home’ perspective and although we like it we couldn’t quite see ourselves living there. All that Bath stone somehow felt a bit overwhelming and oh yes, it’s a bit north.
Then like Goldilocks we came to Salisbury and it was just right! Set in beautiful countryside with views from the centre of the city over the water meadows (at certain times of year you pass a field of sheep walking from our house to the station), with a producing theatre, a cinema and arts centre, and two museums. There is also, of course, that rather large building surrounded by green space which often hosts art installations, produces sublime music and is in my view the heart of our community whatever faith you have (or don’t have) – the Cathedral.
Next up, finding the perfect house – or maybe the perfect compromise! In the meantime I’d love to hear your moving house stories.