Life Outside London – We Ended Up In…Monkstown, County Cork, Ireland

There comes a point in many a London family’s life when they pose the inevitable question: “Should we move out of the capital?” Many have laid down roots and choose to stay put, but others take the plunge, spreading the #nomumleftbehind mantra up and down the country. In this new blog series, we’ll be profiling a wide range of different areas in case you’re at a similar crossroads in your lives. From Cornwall villages to rural Wales, from the Kent coast to the Surrey suburbs, there are endless options to consider if you’re on the lookout for pastures new.


Monkstown, County Cork, Ireland

Where have you moved to?

Monkstown, a village in County Cork, Ireland – about ten miles from the city of Cork.


Where did you move from?

We were previously living in Greenwich, south east London.


Why did you leave London?

We moved for a better quality of life and no commute. Family was a huge part of it – ensuring our children would know their family, their grandparents and their cousins, being there for family (my father-in-law recently had major surgery so it’s brilliant that we can just drive to see him). We also knew that we would need help in emergency, unpredictable situations – for example when children are too ill to go to daycare or if I was unwell.


How did you choose your new location?

We initially thought about staying in the UK and moving to London suburbs. That type of move would have provided a nicer quality of life in many ways. However, in the end we decided that the longer commute would be too difficult and too much of a sacrifice, without family nearby to help. We are both from Ireland – my husband is from Limerick and I am from Cork. He wasn’t keen to move back to Limerick and I didn’t want to move to Dublin, so Cork was the one we said we’d try first.


Drombeg Stone Circle, County Cork
Drombeg Stone Circle, County Cork


How long before moving did you start looking?

We ummed and ahhed for years about going. My husband was very keen to return to Ireland for a few years, but I loved my childless, ambitious life of London. Then we had our eldest, Jimmy, and I fell ill. Our parents trekked back and forth through airports to help. When Jimmy was around seven months old, two things happened – our rental lease was coming up for renewal and my husband was coming out of contract. I had taken voluntary redundancy when I was pregnant so there seemed to be few ties chaining us to London. With four weeks remaining on our rental contract, we decided to just go for it.

It was very stressful. The good news was that we had purchased an investment house in Cork the year before (which I’d never even seen), and so we were able to move into that house.


At what point did you think about schools and childcare?

Not really until we moved. National schools are all quite good in Ireland, particularly around South Cork, so it wasn’t a big priority before the move. After we moved we checked out one school in the area in which we’d like to live. Same with childcare; we looked for creches, and now childminders, after the move.


What did you do about work?

We moved with no employment, or as my husband likes to say: “not a job between us”.  This has been a nightmare. We have found that, in Cork, locals tend to give jobs to those they know best; in other words, other locals. I moved away over 15 years ago and have lost touch with a lot of people so I’m not ‘local’ anymore. In addition to that, when you do find employment it is not as exciting, interesting or as professional as the work in London. However, the big plus is that work is not as stressful; people are kinder and more fun. There appears to be an unspoken, unwritten rule that everyone leaves work early on a Friday. On a sunny Friday, everyone leaves work at lunchtime.


Given all that, my husband has been superb and has had three contracts since we arrived, but there are few jobs in his industry in Cork. He is now looking to retrain to find work in a different industry, while I am trying to work from home for people I used to work with in London.


What’s the best thing about where you live now?

Last summer, when the schools were off, my husband left the house at 8.45am and was at his desk by 9am. We shared sit-down breakfasts in the morning, like my parents did when I was growing up. Not only is the commute easier but it is a safer existence; we don’t need to worry if we accidentally leave the front door unlocked and our family have been a superb support in emergencies. But my favourite aspect of life here is seeing green every day, seeing a full huge sky, and seeing the sea. It is very calming.  


Mizen Head, County Cork
Mizen Head, County Cork


What’s the most surprising thing about where you live now?

I love having a safe garden. I can open the back door and not have to worry. I love seeing how the colour on my son’s skin has changed being in the countryside and out and about so much. He looks very healthy and happy here. Secondly, the tennis club which my husband joined. Between that and the easier pace of life, he is much more fit and healthy.


What do you miss about living in London?

Oh God I miss my friends. A few months after we moved, just as we started to settle, I fell pregnant again and haven’t had time to join clubs or groups to make friends. We have family but sometimes I am so lonely for a good chinwag with a female friend. My husband desperately misses the anonymity of London. We bought a house recently and only told a few people. When he went to play tennis the next day, all the tennis guys knew about it. Everyone here knows everything about you. He also misses the excitement and busy throng of the capital, the nightlife and his friends.


Have there been any downsides to the move?

Yes, the huge downside is the stress of not having jobs, and the fact that jobs are less easy to come by here. My husband would say that, while he enjoys the childcare our families offer, he doesn’t enjoy the fact that they are on our doorstep – he’s much more comfortable with family at a distance. But this is something we’ve agreed to disagree on!


What are your top three tips for moving with children?

  1. When we first moved, my family helped a lot to help us settle. I couldn’t imagine doing this without that safety net. I wouldn’t move anywhere without some sort of support there already, whether it’s friends or family.
  2. My friend, who moved her family a lot, advised us to hire the removal company to pack for us as well as move. It was the best money we ever spent. It’s difficult enough to organise the move and although it was pricey, it helped enormously.
  3. If you’re moving overseas, you can never over-plan or allow too much time in an airport with children. Even if you think you’ve done too much, you are bound to have forgotten something!


Monkstown, Co.Cork - credit-
Monkstown, Co.Cork – credit-


What one piece of advice would you give to anyone considering a similar change?

Make sure you have at least one job between you before you go. Give yourself a long lead time. While it is really fun to be spontaneous and up and leave on the spur of the moment, you pay for it the other side.


Where can people find out more about life in your new location?

Any regrets?

I don’t regret leaving London but often I regret not having planned this move in a more patient way. We didn’t have a job, and while we had a house to move into, we don’t enjoy living in it and have spent the last 18 months finding our next house. In other words, it feels like we have spent 18 months finding the ducks, and soon we may be able to start getting them in a row….

Cork: the basics

Monkstown, Photo © Hywel Williams (cc-by-sa/2.0)
Photo © Hywel Williams (cc-by-sa/2.0)
This Life Outside London blog series has been expertly curated by Hayley Brockie-Dunlop from Mumroll. Follow her at Twitter @hayjane / @mumroll, Facebook: @mumrollUK, Instagram @hayjane and online at Huge thanks to Hayley for all her hard work.
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Rachel Millington is a mum of two. In her spare time, she works in PR, hanging out with people who are all a good 10 years younger and a lot more glamorous than her, which is terribly good for the self-esteem. She also volunteers for Mind & MumsAid, because she very definitely believes that maternal mental health matters. She can be found tweeting (/ranting about politics) @rachmillington and is also charting her absolute hatred and despair of the weaning process on instagram @mummyledweaning (whoever said it was easier second time around LIED).

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