If you've read a bit about us and wondered how we got where we are, here's a little bit more of our Cupsmith story, as told to Life After London, a website that helps people move out of London.
We swapped smog for smug when we upped sticks and left Putney in July 2013. We’d been living in London for as long as we could remember, and we had our first baby, a boy. We both carried on working, we had a nanny, we spent most Saturdays at London farmers markets (not a farmer in sight) and we used Sitters on a regular basis so we could trip the light fantastic. Until one day I looked at my little boy scooting up Putney high street, dodging pedestrians, me on red alert for potential dangers which seemed to surround us, and I thought ‘enough’. We realised we didn’t want our little boy to grow up in London, we wanted him to run in fields and be able to scoot freely and to his heart’s content. We were also done with farmers’ markets that sold sushi. We wanted farmers’ markets with grubby potatoes instead.
Choosing an area
We chose the Farnham area because one of our oldest friends lived there and she said her neighbours were selling their house. We did the all-important ‘Commute Calculation’ that confirmed Farnham was within 45 minutes of London and the station was a 4 minute scooter journey (car parking at the station would have lightened our bank balance by over £1500 a year, ouch), so Farnham got a tick. And then having looked at about 10 houses in a 10 mile radius, we plumped for the one next door to our friends. And this proved to be the best decision we could have made. Moving to an area where you already know someone, makes the move out of London so much easier. It can be a lonely time for whoever is left at home with the kids, while the other commutes back to London every day. So having a friend nearby is my top tip for choosing where to live. Yes it’s important how many minutes it takes to commute to Waterloo, how much car parking costs etc, but I’d put being near a friend as the most important.
Choosing a house
First up, there’s no dream house. Yes, there’s an old Georgian rectory with roses rambling over the porch and cows in the fields behind. And yes, there’s a house in walking distance of an incredible school that Ofsted rates ‘excellent’ year after year. Oh and yes, there’s a house overlooking the village green where you can watch cricket in the summer and make cakes for cricket tea. And we’ve even spotted plenty of houses in all the right shades of Farrow & Ball but with just enough left to do to make your mark (and maybe some money too)… But the big point is that there isn’t a house that meets ALL of those moving-to-the-dream-country-house criteria. Moving out of London is all about compromise! We had a list as long as our arm of things we were looking for and what we ended up with is a far cry from that piece of paper. But if we’d stuck to our list we’d have waited another ten years and needed a lottery win to fund it. And in the meantime our son would have still been scooting up Putney high street, dodging traffic. So my other piece of advice is to throw out your list of must-haves and go with your heart. Choose the house that makes your heart sing, no matter what the colour of the walls.
Our biggest surprise moving out of London has been the opportunity for work and new business. Even though we’re only 45 minutes from London, we’re in a desert when it comes to an exciting food, and culture scene. So if you’ve always dreamed of running your own business, opening a studio, doing something creative, then Surrey could be just the place for you! There are opportunities aplenty for new businesses, and that’s what’s incredibly exciting about this area.
In our case, we set up Cupsmith, our coffee roasting business, when we couldn’t find a deli or shop selling really good coffee to make at home every day. And as much as we really missed the brilliant London coffee shop scene, what we craved now was that heavenly first cup of coffee in the morning, sitting at the country-kitchen table we’d dreamed of for so long. So Cupsmith was born. We now sell online – with regular orders being sent off as far as the Isle of Mull and the Scilly Isles - and in retailers throughout the area.
My husband has finally given up his commute to London. We wear wellies, drink coffee, watch the clouds go by and thank our lucky stars we found life after London.
My top 10 tips for moving to the countryside
- Ditch your dream house wish list. (After all, if someone lived in that heavenly-sounding house why would they ever want to move?!)
- Prepare for it. I don’t know where it comes from when you move to the country, but it just does
- Practice talking about the weather. People in the country talk about the weather a LOT
- Yes, you can relax, the baby-sitting service runs outside of London
- Yes, they actually exist in this country. Goodbye light pollution, hello big, beautiful starry night skies
- Eat sushi a lot while you’re still in London. When you move you’ll be enjoying country pubs, pints and suppers with friends, not sushi.
- A dog. The time to get one. (Helps keep your mud quota up too)
- When you make your move to the country get ready to breathe and slow down. Look at the glorious countryside around you. Let go of stress and be inspired!
- Never underestimate the opportunities outside of London. If something doesn’t exist, start it!
- Buy more wellies. You can never have too many when you live in the country.