It’s been 8 years since I moved out of London and up to the West Midlands. Its one of the best decisions I’ve made but it was all to do with timing. I recently saw Esther from The Spike talk about ‘How do you know when it’s time to leave town?‘ and it made me think about my move out of London.
This wasn’t the first time I’d moved away from London… up until I was 18, I had lived my who life in Balham, London and absolutely loved it. Everything was on my doorstep, friends not far away and I loved the hustle and bustle. I’ve ventured out of London on 3 separate occasions and all were very different.
When it came to Uni, I applied to campus Uni’s across the country and I ended up accepting a place at the University of Birmingham to study History. I loved my time at Uni and its where I met Tim, my now husband and also one of my closest friends who I lived with throughout Uni.
After Uni, I accepted an internship in Southampton at a Big Four firm and commuted from London each day. The days were long but the 6 weeks went by in a flash and I was offered a full time position at the end. So in 2012, I packed up my life and moved down to Southampton. This was a hard patch for me and with hindsight I see that I struggled with my anxiety and having a long distance relationship. I learnt so much during my time here, but I didn’t like living in a big house with others and 6 months in, I moved to a more central location and lived with another professional girl. She made the remainder of my time in Southampton much more easier and we used to go and play tennis once a week and go out and do things with her friends if I was around at weekends.
This was a season full of professional accountancy exams and commuting up to Warrington and Leeds every few weekends to go and see Tim. I lived for the weekends that Tim wasn’t working and my travels up North and back to London. My anxiety was through the roof and I remember struggling with my sleep from the fear of exams and probably working very late. At some point my mum told me to just try to close my eyes and get some rest as that was better than nothing and I clung to that. I’m so glad I never have to do another exam in my life now…
I remember missing the variety of places like you’d get in London and disliked that it felt like there was only 1 place to go in Southampton. I loved the time spent back home. So when I failed a resit and had to leave my work, it wasn’t a hard decision to move back to London. Tim had moved in with my parents as he was on a placement in Dartford and it was like everything was falling into place.
All that being said, I made some great friends during my time down on the South Coast and still keep in touch with a couple.
Moving back to London felt like a reset. I had a new job, could reconnect with my school friends and spend more time with Tim. I mean we were kinda like ships in the night due to his shift patterns but still having each other there was a game changer. I’m glad I had a couple years in my 20s living as a professional in London. Meeting with friends after work and having everything you need right on your doorstep. Although I definitely don’t miss the commute on the Northern Line every day!
Fast forward another couple years, my exams were finally done and Tim and I were talking about what was next for us. We’d been at my parents for 2.5 years and really wanted to take that step and get our own place. We had been together 7 years and had never lived somewhere just us and we were craving that space. We loved the location of Balham in London but knew we would never be able to afford our own place. We pulled up google maps and looked at all major cities. For my work as an auditor I needed to work for an accountancy practice in a city and I wanted a top 5 firm. I remember thinking I’d love to move to Bath as it is one of my favourite places in the UK, but its location and option of work places was not ideal.
We ended up settling on Birmingham as it was fairly equal distance to both our families (mine in London and Tim’s in the East Midlands) and we’d loved our time there before. By chance I was contacted about a job and I knew it was meant to be… Soon I had accepted the job and we were looking at renting somewhere.
Fast forward 6 years and we’re now in the perfect location. We’re on the edge of a village and right by the countryside. It only takes 10 minutes to drive into Solihull and everything is very close by. We have good schools near (which before wasn’t a priority), a nice pub within walking distance, lots of different restaurants within a stone’s through, a coffee shop less than a 10 minute walk away and a playground around the corner. No way could we have afforded our house – a 3 bed town house with a drive and lovely garden – if we had stayed in London. Our overheads are definitely less than the comparative would be in London.
When you search Google for moving out of London you get hit with searches like ‘How to adjust to life in the slow lane’. Life is definitely at a different pace but I feel like its just right for me. Yes, not everything is on your doorstep but I feel like we have just enough and if I want more it’s not far away.
Both myself and Tim are now mainly working from home. My contract changed during COVID lockdown 1.0 to remote working with a base of Birmingham City Centre and I only have to go in once every month or so. This is the same for many people and working from home gives so much more flexibility. I love being able to get cosy in comfy clothes when the weather turns and being able to cook a hot lunch such as eggs benedict or halloumi fajitas. Even being able to put the washing on and get a few house jobs done makes such a difference. I am a big advocate of flexible working as long as people don’t take the piss.
I do miss some things about being in London, but I love where we are and if I want to go down to London, it’s just over a 2 hr drive or 1 hr train journey.
I think we’ll be here for a while…
Have you always lived in the same place? Did you move from London or a big city? What do you love most about where you live? Let me know!
Until next time,