A month or so ago a reader got in touch to ask about our experiences of moving from London to Bristol. He asked for an honest pros and cons of moving – what’s better, what’s worse, how have we found the adjustment?
It’s around two years since my husband saw the house i’m sitting in. So, if you’re considering moving to Bristol from London, here’s my honest list of things to consider.
Firstly, if you’re lucky enough to be in a position to buy, either by selling your London home or just not having enough deposit to get on the ladder there, here’s the thing: Bristol property is still cheaper than London, but there are areas where it’s almost comparable, and the market is probably faster, or as fast. Houses and flats sell in hours. Open days and ‘best and final offers’, the nail-biting blind bids, are popular. It’s hard trying to view houses from a different city. I would suggest taking a mid-week holiday and viewing as many houses as you can. Be brutal, be on the estate agent’s backs like rats on cheese, and show willing. Property near good schools sells better than anything else.
The above is a few screenshots from RightMove of what’s available in some price brackets, big and small. If you’re selling a two bed in 1-6 in London, probably all of them are within your mortgage grasp though!
On the subject of schools – I’m afraid the situation here is as fevered, if not more, than it is in London. Research the ones you like the look of and speak to people about the admissions process. Secondary schools, for many, are more of an issue.
There is a big, big North/South divide in Bristol which people just don’t mention. It’s not a positive or negative thing, but it does exist. In very general terms, property is cheaper south of the river. BUT – this is changing fast because in the areas near to Temple Meads (Southville, Bedminster, Windmill Hill, Knowle, Totterdown) you can walk to the station, and when the track gets upgraded and you can get to London in just over an hour, well, that makes it more commutable than some parts of Surrey, for example. The traditional North Bristol areas for families (Cotham, Redland, Bishopston, Horfield etc) are not as close to the centre, but all easy to get to a centre office from. Public transport is ok, driving can be tough, there’s a lot of traffic in Bristol, it’s comparable to London for that.
Bristol is hilly, there’s no denying it. It makes for beautiful views, great skylines, and a lot of houses with steps up to the door, or steps into the garden. If you want a garden, don’t be fooled into thinking they are always bigger here. Some of the most pricey houses don’t have anything more than a courtyard. Strange but true. In terms of parking, you’ll be lucky to be able to park on your street, especially on terraced roads, although it’s better than London. There are some resident’s parking zones.
Bristol has ‘villages’ just like London. It has more green space and, drive in any direction for 20 minutes and you are in open countryside. You’re in Devon and Wales in an hour and Cornwall in two. You’re 2 hours from London by train and, actually, I regularly drive to central London and on a good day, you’re there in 2.5hrs tops. In other words, you can go back easily and tempt your friends to visit you quite easily too. Oh, and there’s an airport, so you can still go on holiday to most places in Europe – but you’ll need to go to London to fly to other continents.
Evening Igers! 👍 Today's Photo of the Day features a lovely seasonal shot of Stokes Croft taken by @r_enderby. Thanks Rebecca for this great work and everyone who keeps tagging #igersbristol 👏 ・・・・・・ Chosen by IgersBristol moderator @bristoljj #igers #igersuk #igersbristol #stokescroft #ninetreehill
(A great way to see Bristol is the Instagram hashtag #igersbristol)
Children’s services are good. You have a few hospital choices to give birth in. We don’t have as many children’s centres any more, due to cuts, but we have many, many more baby and child cafes, more available playgrounds (think having a few to choose from each week rather than just the one nearest your house). I’ve not had a problem finding an NHS doctor or dentist, and both are good. We’ve got everything London has which you might currently think of as being unique: a carnival (St Pauls), a natural history museum, a science museum, many outdoor music festivals, a big waterside scene with many things to do, musicals, theatre, etc. There’s a big focus on food, and coffee, and drinks here.
What do I miss? The tube. The Evening Standard. Everything else I miss is just memories of life pre-children – nights out, Soho on a Friday night, The City on a deserted Sunday, dodgy Stockwell nightclubs, beers after work on hot pavements wearing a bad skirt suit, dodgy taxis, all-day hangovers, packed parks, the noise of trains.
Why did we move? We had jobs to come to, we wanted to buy a house, not a flat, we wanted to be away from the pressure of the home counties young family scene, and nearer our favourite coastal counties. The shorter commute means Tibbs sees her father most evenings, which is a huge deal for both of them. Personally, I wanted any kids we have to grow up wanting to go down to London when they’re ready, like I did, and get the most out of it, rather than grow up in it and be underwhelmed by anywhere else, or worse still, live on the fringes of it and still not really experience it (personal opinions here, I realise this is not how it is for everybody!).
Bristol is a great alternative to London for raising a family. There are of course others (am biased but Manchester is wonderful too).
If anyone else has any advice for people considering the move, please do leave a comment.