Today marks my one-year anniversary of moving out of London. This time last year, we packed up our lovely flat, loaded everything we owned into our car and drove 40 miles west into a leafy suburb.
Living far away from the cosmopolitan limelight might not be the dream life for everyone. In fact it’s definitely not the end destination for us (we’d very much like to move into a more rural area). However a year on, we are still pleased that we made the transition.
Here are the pros and cons of living outside of a city.
1. Peace and tranquillity
We used to live in Central London and our flat was situated in a complex with amazing amenities. Everything was super convenient. If I wanted to go and visit Buckingham Palace, it’s a 5-minute trip on Uber; if I wanted to work out then the gym is a 2-minute walk in the same compound; if I didn’t fancy cooking then there are 5 gourmet restaurants and gastro pubs within a 10 minute radius.
Cities attract people (that’s the definition of a city), with people comes activities and with activities comes vibrancy and prosperity. However the downside with living so centrally in an Alpha ++ city was overpopulation and with that came noise and air pollution.
None of this happened in my new place.
We now live in a leafy suburb that borders with the countryside (a 5-minute drive). There have been some immediate changes:
- We swapped the London concrete jungle and car honking for endless greenery and birds singing every morning.
- We planted our garden (yes we actually have a garden now as supposed to a useless balcony on the ground floor) with many shrubs, trees and herbs, creating a natural habitat that attracts birds and animals.
- The air is fresher, water cleaner and there’s little artificial noises.
- I bought a WaterRower and ditched the gym. Who wants to exercise indoor when you can do it outside staring at your own paradise!!
Better scenery, purer air and natural sound combined with being so close to nature has improved our well-being tremendously as we both feel relaxed and calmed at every second. This translates directly to increased happiness. We are genuinely happier with our environment than a year ago.
2. We have more space
House prices in London, like most global first tier cities, are supremely expensive, especially after the Great Recession (thank you quantitative easing!). With the same budget, by definition our living space has increased hugely compared to before (by 48% to be exact).
Small living space has been associated elevated stress level in animals and humans alike. I experienced this first hand when we had a guest in our London flat previously, where it became impossible not to bump into each other. There wasn’t anything wrong with it apart from it simply felt stressful. So more space was definitely a nice welcome, especially when a front and gear gardens were thrown in.
On a practical side, confined living space encouraged people to go out more simply because our desire to be freed. I suspect this contributes to the vibrant leisure industry in mega cities where the average living space, by definition is less. Frequent entertainment can be very expensive as I can attest after 4 years of doing so in London.
On the other hand, there’s simply less temptation (or opportunity) once you be started living in the suburb. Our nearest decent pub is a good 15-minute drive and going for a night out becomes a planned operation rather than an act of spontaneity.
Furthermore the increased living space and improved living environment makes it more tempting to stay indoor than going out. I’ve definitely noticed my leisure and entertainment spending fell significantly since the move.
3. Travelling is much more expensive
Living in the suburb means I have to rely on trains to go to work in London.
I feel I sound like a broken record every time this topic comes up but trains are freakishly expensive in the UK. The annual ticket which I buy costed me £3,000 ($5,200) last year! That’s a big shock to the system considering my commuting expenditure was zero whilst living in the city (I cycled everywhere).
I really hated the idea of forking out three grand in one go for the privilege to get to work so I got myself an interest-free credit card so that I could pay them in monthly instalments. Brought some peace to my heart.
So if you want to move to the out of the city but still work there, definitely factor commuting cost into the equation as it can quickly add up.
4. Commuting is a double-edge sword
Everyone I’ve spoken to hates their commute. They didn’t just use the word “dislike” but a simple and raw hatred.
My commute has always been different.
When I lived in London, I absolutely loved my commute where I could get onto my racing bike, cycled with speed for 30 minutes and arrived at work refreshed. It was literally a gym on wheels.
Since moving out, I started taking trains which on most days is a 20 minute journey. It was quite boring initially but soon I found a way to use it constructively, through writing! This led to the creation of the WealthyBy40 Blog as well as a novel.
I still have to cycle from the station to my office and it’s a longer distance than before, so the added benefit is that I could ditch my gym membership.
However there were occasional days when train got delayed and the journey became a chore. That I disliked. However when viewed on the bright side, it simply meant more time for writing!
Thankfully Mrs WB40 works from home and doesn’t commute, so none of this affects her. She could just rest in the beautiful garden listening to birds singing.
Overall we really enjoyed the move into the suburb. Our next aim is to go further afield to the rural English countryside.
For those stressed out city dwellers, I highly recommend the move because it definitely enhances our life quality.
Have you moved? Are you contemplating the move? Would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment away.