Back To Derbyshire – Our Reasons For Relocating
You may recall that back in November I published a rather soppy ode to Berkshire, and all the things we’d miss about the place. I mentioned then that I’d discuss our reasons for relocating in a future post and, well…here it is. Almost six months later. I’m really good at time-keeping, honest.
There were a few main reasons for relocating, and I’ll discuss all of them here. But, first I’ll start with some back-story. Because we’re nothing without some back-story, huh? (Also: strap yourself in for some poor quality Instagram photos…I barely have any good quality ones of us as a family, bah).
Both my husband Neil and I “originate” from Derbyshire. We didn’t go to school together, but our friendship groups did cross-over for a period of time. I wrote about our origins as a couple here for What The Redhead Said, but in a nutshell: I went out with his friend, he went out with mine, we didn’t see each other for 7-8 years, then BANG! we got together. Not exactly love-at-first-sight, but we were blissfully happy once we got there.
The only problem: Neil lived in Reading. He’d gone there for university and stayed afterwards. I went to visit lots, and he came to visit me lots, but long-distance is AWFUL. I was also in a hideous job at the time that was sucking the life out of me. So, fairly soon I began applying for jobs in the South. The rest followed naturally – I got offered a great job, I moved in with Neil, a few years later we had our son TD, bought a house, and got married. I switched careers, and we both got on with our lives.
Except, the whole “getting on with our lives” thing was a bit difficult. We lived in Wokingham, an amazing town and borough for families…with a matching price tag. The average house price in Wokingham over the past year has fluctuated between £450,000 and £500,000. We were incredibly lucky when we bought our house and snapped it up just before prices boomed in 2014. Between buying in 2013 and selling in 2016, our tiny house increased in value by £65,000. That’s what Wokingham is like.
We were a young couple, both with well-paid jobs. And yet, MAN, we struggled. Money was constantly tight, always stretched. Our son was in full-time childcare, costing around £1200 per month. Sometimes, that would mean my entire salary went on his childcare. I know that childcare doesn’t cost quite that much in other areas of the country, but again: that’s what Wokingham is like. Council tax charges were eye-watering, especially because our house was classed as one band higher than other identical houses on the street (we appealed, but they wouldn’t change it. Gits.). Travel prices – commuter trains for my husband, petrol costs inflated by constantly sitting in traffic – were awful. And Going Out Anywhere was always expensive.
I don’t mean this to be a Woe Is Me type of post – we constantly knew and appreciated our relative wealth. We lived in an amazing place, and had juuuust enough money to do so. But we never had holidays. My husband and I had a honeymoon solely due to the extreme generosity of the family of my oldest friend. We never had dinners out, or couple “dates”, because we just couldn’t afford them, or a babysitter. My son’s birthday and Christmas presents were exclusively bought from second-hand sales. Even though our family unit logged a combined income of well over the national average and we knew we were ‘rich’, it still wasn’t enough to help us live “comfortably”. We knew what we had, we appreciated all we had, we knew how privileged we were…but when it’s your own personal experience, that constant “treading water” feeling becomes draining.
Despite the money struggles, I never considered them as reasons for relocating. I adored where we lived. I had great friends, and a job that I loved. My son loved his friends, and was happy. And I thought I was happy. I thought we were happy.
But…was I? Were we?
I was poorly, a lot. I loved my job, and put my All into it, but I’m a person who denies their stress levels, and it would make me ill. I’d catch bug after bug after BUG. There was rarely a month where I didn’t have something. A good 3-4 times per year I got tonsillitis, and probably about the same amount of stomach bugs. Add in many general colds, a couple of bouts of flu, and one dose of hand, foot & mouth. The worse thing about it was that my job didn’t pay me when I had to take time off sick. So, I’d force myself to go into work (because we needed the money, because of all of the above, etc, etc), and then get more ill. And end up taking more time off. And earning less money, and getting more stressed, and bla bla bla.
Plus, my husband and I barely saw each other. We’d cross paths briefly in the morning and early evening, juggling childcare drop-offs and pick-ups, and bedtime duties. Weekends were 48 hours of trying to get as much housework as possible done whilst also entertaining a toddler. Occasionally we’d manage a day out, or have friends to visit, and then pay for it the next week as we did washing loads at 11pm and exhaustedly flicked at the dusty bathroom with a baby wipe.
There was just no Time. No Time for a relationship, no Time for Being A Family. I’d see other families that we knew through the NCT taking their kids on amazing ski trips, or holding huge parties at their huge beautiful houses, or enjoying day trips into London, and I’d want to cry. How did they have the time? How did they have the money? And how much of this struggling would it take until we did too?
It didn’t help that both of our families were in Derbyshire. We’d make the trip from Berkshire to Derbyshire once a month or so to see people, and then return a day later, crabby and exhausted. For the first time in my life I began to get migraines from the sheer effort of those trips and the travel. And, despite us coming to despise those trips for all of their hassle and energy-zapping, we all missed our families.
We massively felt the absence of having family members nearby. TD didn’t know what it was like to drop by and see his grandparents, or to go to theirs for dinner. He didn’t know what it was like to meet them for a walk, or be spoiled rotten every other weekend. My husband and I had managed to get through early parenting and the toddler years by ourselves, but TD becoming a Proper Little Person was a whole other story.
And oh, we wanted another baby. But I have PCOS, and have done for many years. The constant work and the constant lack of money and the constant household duties and the constant tiredness meant that Looking After Myself fell by the wayside, and so getting on top of the PCOS seemed to be an insurmountable challenge. We kept trying for another baby, and failing miserably. And, occasionally, we’d have huge OH GOD WHAT episodes where we wondered just how on EARTH we’d cope with a second. Two lots of childcare? Two children in our small house? No family around to help out? MORE baby/toddler germs? MORE housework???
It all came to a head in April 2016. I had a particularly nasty chest infection that turned into pneumonia, and was told by the doctor in no uncertain terms to STAY OFF WORK AND RELAX for at least three weeks. Those three weeks…despite being so poorly, they were bliss. I managed to do the housework during the daytime. When my husband got home, we could spend time together. As part of the “gentle exercise” the doctor recommended I take each day I’d pick TD up early from nursery and we’d wander down to the station to meet his dad off the train. And at the weekends, because there weren’t huge piles of STUFF to do, we all played together.
Those few weeks were magical. I started seeing all the proper, solid reasons for relocating. And so, one night I said to my husband that perhaps it might make more sense for us as a family to move back to Derbyshire.
It was like a floodgate opening. He’d wanted to relocate for years, but didn’t push the idea because of my job. We excitedly started talking, and planning. We drew up mental, verbal, and finally physical Pros & Cons lists, just to make sure that our reasons for relocating were leading to The Right Thing. All the reasons for relocating that we’d been bottling up for years were flowing out, and shaping into one very clear solution: We Needed To DO It. For our family life, and for our relationship. For ourselves, and for our son. And, finally, for our finances and for our future.
And it wasn’t just reasons for relocating that were coming out. There were also some very solid reasons for me to give up work entirely. I wouldn’t be able to do my job in Derbyshire, and there wouldn’t be anything similar around. I could have more time to look after myself, my health, and our house, and spend more time with our son.
Everything flowed together into one huge solution to every single issue that we had.
Instead of struggling for money, we could pay a chunk off our mortgage, get a bigger house for far less money in a much cheaper area, and reduce all outgoings.
Instead of being constantly exhausted and barely spending any time as a family, we could be relaxed, see each other far more, and have a house that was pleasant to be in.
And, instead of worrying about the future and anticipating the rising costs of EVERYTHING, we could relax into trying for a second child, confident in the knowledge that Help was at hand in the form of our families nearby.
So, we did it. We realised that the reasons for relocating would result in a far better quality of life, and we DID IT! We put the house on the market, and I quit work, and six months later it was DONE. Derbyshire. We were Back.
And yeah, while it’s not been COMPLETELY hearts & roses (I miss Berkshire so, so much), it was 100% the correct decision. Life in general is so much better. I am so much better. I’ve only been poorly once since we moved. Once, in almost 6 months! We have more money, and more freedom, and more love all around us. TD loves his new home, and loves seeing both sets of family so much more. He adores his new huge house, his new huge garden, and his new bedroom that is finally an actual bedroom instead of a glorified cupboard.
We are all so glad that we finally decided to consider the reasons for relocating, and began to listen to them. We now live close to our parents (but not too close, ha), in the middle of gorgeous countryside, and are far, FAR more happy than we have been in years. And yes, we do realise just how privileged and fortunate we are to be in the position where we could do this.
Obviously our life is not everyone else’s life, but. BUT. If you are in the same situation that we were – far from family, in an expensive area, run-down, stretched out, exhausted…consider it. Consider relocating. Even if you love where you live, as I did. You never know – your reasons for relocating might lead you to proper, full-on happiness.
This is the first post in a series about our relocation! Next up will be How We Found Our Perfect House, complete with tips and a download. I’ll update back here with a link when it’s up!