“Oh, you’re brave!”
That’s the response most people give when I tell them we have just relocated, to a small town where we do not know a soul. But there is not a single part of me that was worried about moving away from where we had both grown up, where both of our families still live. Maybe I’m naive, or maybe I’m just more chilled out than your average Joe, but 40 miles is only an hour in the car, right?
Anyway, now seems like an appropriate time to share some top tips that might be useful if you’re considering relocating. It’s been a long, old slog to get here but now we’re in and settled I wouldn’t change a thing!
Do your research
This sounds obvious, and should go without saying, but you just cannot research enough when buying a new house, let alone when considering relocating. Our biggest problem was actually working out where to look as we didn’t have a particular area in mind so we started by researching the trains that went into London within an hour, along with their season ticket prices. This helped us to rule out a lot of places as there was no way we were going to pay more for a train ticket than we do for our mortgage!
And while our children are still young, primary schools are at the forefront of our mind but we did have to keep reminding ourselves that they will be teenagers one day!! We ruled out a couple of places which were just a bit too remote and would end up spending our 40s chauffeuring teens to and from their mates’ houses. Things like Saturday jobs, or nights out, would have been pretty much impossible as they got older too.
Never underestimate the power of Facebook when considering relocating and researching moving home – local groups are where you’ll find out what the hot topics of the town are (and mostly, what people are whinging about!). I also joined these groups to find out more about local playgroups and classes too, so I could be assured there was lots on for families. Council websites are great too for finding out about relevant plans in the area, such as new developments popping up.
Visit, visit and visit again
Ultimately, the best research you can do is the visit the area on different days, at different times and see how you feel about it. Weekend traffic and parking can massively differ to weekdays and nobody wants the surprise of their street being the hangout for White Lightning guzzlers once they’ve already moved in so try and go for a drive or stake out after 8/9pm too!
Look at houses you don’t like
It seems like a waste of time, I know, but you’ll really learn what you definitely want in a house and what you can put up with or change. What we thought we wanted when we first started looking was something very different to what we ended up with! We visited so many different areas (and, going against my own advice, some I hadn’t even researched) and realised that when we fell in love with an area or house, that other things didn’t matter so much. There was a compromise in the end of the commute to work but everything else (such as house prices and locality to the beach) massively outweighed this. We had to keep in mind the quality of life our children will have growing up.
Remember that it doesn’t have to be forever
Even if you’re searching for your ‘forever home’, if the worst happens and you end up buying a house that you fall out of love with, or in an area that isn’t quite what you thought it would be, it’s not the end of the world. Although location is a tricky one to fix without moving again, near enough anything else in a house is changeable. Pinterest is definitely your best friend when it comes to finding clever ways to use the space you have. And nuisance neighbours might move on, so be inventive and you might just be able to make it work.
Go with your heart
If you’re not excited by the house from the first viewing, the second viewing or all those conversations where you plan out where to put stuff and changes you’ll make to the decor, I’m not sure you will ever love it. A couple of times throughout our very long search I felt tempted to just settle. But settling for a house that didn’t have the space we wanted, or wasn’t going to give us the lifestyle we wanted for our children, would have not made move worthwhile. We held out and actually ended up going for a house that was far from our original checklist. But it felt right. We knew living here was the right decision for us.
I am pretty certain that there is not a house on this earth that is EXACTLY how you want it, where you want it and more. So if you’re looking for that perfect home, that you don’t want to do any work to but you also want to add on your own stamp to, (oh, and is well within budget!) you might need to compromise. But the important bit is working out what that compromise will be.
We compromised on the ‘doing work’ side of things. We now have a big task ahead of us but have a solid home, in a place we love, with the space we need and oh so much potential. So go back to basics and write a list of all the essentials. For us, it was space to work from home, walking distance to the stations, room for the kids to play and a decent sized garden. Then make a list of those things that would be nice but that you could live without and go from there.
So if you are considering relocating, take your time and research. It will all work out eventually. And if you’re heading to Essex, check out some of my posts on the local area.