In January Mary and I are leaving London and moving to Herefordshire, for at least six months and maybe much longer.
We’ve thought about moving somewhere not-London for a long time although initially it was more like idle window-shopping of interesting-but-impractical locations on Rightmove. But we have the opportunity to move to Mary’s family’s holiday home, half-way between Hereford and Abergavenny, so we’re going to give living in the countryside a try. We’re fortunate enough that we’ll be able to do this without making irreversible changes — after six months or so, if we decide we don’t want to stay more permanently, we can return to London.
Obviously, it’ll be a big change. Currently our closest supermarket is a four minute walk from our front door. My gym’s even closer. Looking at this coffee map there are dozens of coffee shops within 15 minutes walk of us, and that’s only the hip independent-ish ones. There are probably twice as many branches of Pret; only this morning I found three behind the sofa.
We’ll be moving to the village of Abbey Dore which has a large abbey and a village hall but little else other than houses and farms. Our immediate neighbours will be fields, some containing sheep. The nearest shop and pub are in the next, larger, village, three miles away. There wasn’t a gym anywhere near until last month when a small one opened “only” four miles away. While my bike will be coming with us this is why I’ve been taking refresher driving lessons; we’ll definitely need a car, unfortunately. Buses are rare and it’s a bit hilly for this cyclist who’s only used to flat east-west London journeys.
I have to keep reminding myself that we’re not “retiring to the country” and a life of leisure (yet). We’ll both be working as much (or as little) as we are currently, working remotely. And lots of things that are convenient now – shopping, library, doctor, cinema, etc. – will take extra time to reach.
I’m a bit apprehensive about the downsides, some of which we probably haven’t thought of yet. But also excited about the upsides and having a change. We’ve been living in the Barbican for 15 years and — a short spell in Texas aside — I’ve been in London for 24. The Barbican’s a wonderful place to live but, as comfortable as life is, I’m in quite a rut. I don’t make anything like the most of London, which is partly due to a self-imposed budget… but then I don’t even go out and do any of the many things that are free or cheap in the city. I’m tired of everything and maybe a change is one thing I need.
We’ll return to London occasionally, probably dictated by work-related events, but maybe we’ll also make it to other, closer, cities too, making more of the country than we currently do. I’m already confused what to do about gigs that I’d like to go to in 2020.
If the result of the move is that we realise we miss London and decide to return with a renewed appreciation then that’s fine. Or maybe this won’t be right and we decide some other change might be. But hopefully we’ll love it and enjoy living there for a long time.