San Diego County to be precise. We’re swapping Cadbury for Hershey, coriander for cilantro, mobiles for cells, nappies for diapers … and it’s terrifying, but wonderfully exciting too! We needed this. After 33 years in London, this city just doesn’t feel like home anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate London. I love London. We’ve been through a lot. It knows all the secrets of my younger years. I’m always going to carry a torch for its seductive bright lights and while I know it can still offer a good time, I know that right now it can’t offer us the future we want for our little family.
Nationalities aside, if London were a man, it would be someone like Hugh Hefner. Think about it. Always looking a little distinguished and dapper, he’s knows how to throw a party. He’s fun, swanky, expensive…but also shallow, fickle, selective and seedy in many areas.
He’s not looking for anything serious though, and in the back of your mind, archived under ‘denial’, you always know deep down you have a limited shelf life with Hugh before you get upgraded for a younger model. As soon as the kids come and the boobs sag, you’re screwed!
Recently I feel like I have been living in a one sided relationship with London – it’s all take, take, take. I rarely get to spend any quality time with him and we’ve been moving further and further apart for years…
I’ve got as far as Zone 6, on the very edge of Greater East London. Still hanging on to Hugh’s coat tails, refusing to accept my exile. But it’s time to let go. I recently read that the peak London-leaving age for women is 34, so I am almost bang on target – a walking mid 30’s cliché post marriage and a couple of kids.
The husband and I didn’t exactly do things in the sensible order. That nursery rhyme needs to be more detailed,you know the one – first comes love, then comes marriage… THEN we advise saving for a deposit and buying a home, before that baby in the carriage. We’ve never been able to successfully save for a deposit with kids coming so soon after marriage, so we’ve always rented.
After years of living in small outer London flats with two kids and increasing rent prices we’ve finally got to a point where we can think about buying a family home (with help!). We certainly can’t afford in the city, and if we stayed around the city borders, we knew we’d have that inevitable compromise. Itty bitty affordable living spaces in decent areas. Or half decent places in the terrible parts.
Add that to salary-cancelling childcare costs, a long and tedious work commute, crappy weather, plus a serious lack of step free access across the city and we’ve realised that the struggle just isn’t worth it! It’s not home, it’s just plain exhausting.
Our little Harrison’s health challenges this year was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It forced us to get off the London hamster wheel, take stock and reassess what would be the best lifestyle for our family.
We’ve set our sights on my husband’s home town in the USA, with the perhaps naive assumption that you can find a better work-life balance, schools, and better value / sized family homes where there is year round sunshine. With Harrison needing more of our time and Maia due to start ‘big school’ next year, now just seems like the perfect time to make the leap. And hard as it is to leave those we love, we’re lucky to have the selfless support of our families both sides of the pond.
It’s taken me years to accept that London and I are over, but now it’s ok. I get it. It’s the circle of city life. Now London and I can just be like exes on good terms – friends that reminisce every once in a while about a crazy youth, over an overpriced fish finger sandwich and glass of white. It’s not the very end of me and London, just the start of a beautiful long distance friendship. Plus the start of mum vs mom, my brand new blog. Welcome!
Find out more about me, my family and the new blog here