It’s been a whole month since I moved out of London to live in Hertford. And wow, the time has flown. I guess, that’s why I’m only really talking about it on the blog now.
After nearly eight years of living in London (six of which were spent living in our lovely flat in Brixton), that day that every temporary Londoner thinks about/dreads/looks forward to, finally arrived. In March, BC and I bid farewell to the Big Smoke and left London life behind us.
I know this is primarily a travel blog, but I felt it was time for a little ‘life update’ to explain what I’m doing, where I’m going and to hopefully hear from other freelance writers and bloggers (and mums-to-be) about how you make the whole freelancing / parenting / travelling thing work!
So here we go…
Why did I leave London?
The reason we left London is why most young professional couples do. We’re starting a family and it’s just too expensive for us to buy a house in London. We spent many months researching areas that surround London, where we could see ourselves living and eventually afford to buy a house. It needed to be a place that BC could still commute into London from each day and somewhere we didn’t feel too cut off from London life.
Your first move out of London – where do you go?
I spent a long time wishing I could live at the seaside. Being able to take walks along the beach and being able to look out to sea is the dream for me. So, we spent many a weekend checking out the Essex coastline and also pondering over whether we should join the many Londoners who head south to the seaside towns of Brighton and Hove.
When it came down to it, Hertfordshire seemed like the most sensible option for us. It wouldn’t be quite as far for our families to visit (who live in the Midlands and Yorkshire), London is really accessible from here (less than one hour by train) and there are lots of ‘ex-Londoners’ who move to Hertfordshire to start a family.
One of the best things you can do when you’re buying a house in a brand new area is to rent a place first so you can suss it out and check that you like the area before you decide to buy. We decided to rent a flat in central Hertford and put ourselves in the position where we’d be ‘chain-free’ if we did end up buying.
A new (and emotional) chapter
I spent so many months feeling like I’d ‘had enough’ and craving a new chapter when we lived in London. I don’t know if it was the pregnancy hormones (!) but I started to get more and more frustrated by city living. When we packed up the removal van and made the journey north from Brixton to Hertfordshire, I almost felt a sense of relief. London life had been amazing, but I was looking forward to new beginnings. The fact that we delved straight into NCT classes as soon as we arrived in Hertford also helped. Boom – all of a sudden, you have a whole bunch of potential new friends and the drastic change of scenery doesn’t feel quite so daunting after all.
But I have to admit, after a few weeks, it began to sink in that my London friends weren’t so close-by anymore, and that my London life really was over. To be honest, it still feels a little bit weird. Would we get bored living in a quieter town? Would we regret it? Would I feel lonely as a freelancer when I didn’t go to an office every day? These are all questions I’ve asked myself since moving but I always return to the same conclusion: the pros far outweigh the cons and the life of a freelancer will always come with those risks.
Plus, life never stays the same for very long, does it? We had to move on sooner or later. And the longer we spend in our new neighbourhood, the more I feel confident that we made the leap out of London at exactly the right time.
My travel writing career and parenthood
One of my biggest fears about moving out of London was whether it would affect my career. It’s a huge advantage to live in London if you are a freelance travel writer, blogger or journalist. Some of the biggest media and PR events happen in London and you are able to organise PR meetings at the drop of a hat. Plus, if you’re a travel, food or lifestyle blogger, you’re in one of the best cities in the world for material. The food and drink scene is constantly changing and it’s a bit harder to have your finger on the London pulse when you live in the burbs, isn’t it?
I wondered if I would fall off the radar as a freelancer now I wasn’t in the heart of all the action and would I feel disconnected from it all? The reality is, I’m nearly eight months pregnant so I’d started to ‘slow down’ anyway and I’m at a stage in my career where I don’t feel I need to go to every single PR event going (nor do I want to). I’ve also had to remind myself that (shock horror) thousands of successful travel writers and bloggers don’t live in London and that the whole advantage of being a freelancer is you can get work wherever you are in the world! Yes, there is life after London.
Of course, amid all the excitement that we’re about to have a baby, I have fears about becoming a mum and how I am going to juggle my travelling and writing with looking after a brand new human being (that’s kind of terrifying). But again, the beauty of being a freelance writer is I constantly evolve and change and so does the content I produce. I can find new publications who will commission the type of content I now want to write, I can diversify to different types of journalism that I can produce while still being a busy parent. And I can turn to copywriting and marketing when travelling isn’t convenient.
What will I write about on The Travel Journo?
This blog will undoubtedly evolve to fit in with my evolving lifestyle and I guess it will be a natural progression to start featuring some family-friendly travel on here. How I fit it all in around being a mum is something I’ve yet to figure out. So as I say, if there are any freelance writers out there who are also parents and would like to share their advice, I’m all ears! Leave your comments below.
When it comes to my London life, it’s actually not over! I’m enjoying being able to get on the train once or twice a week to see friends and I’ll still feature London restaurant and hotel reviews in my review section. I’m also looking forward to perhaps introducing you to the best places to eat, things to do and places to stay in Hertfordshire. Watch this space!