Life Outside London – We Ended Up In…Petts Wood, Kent

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.

 

Petts Wood, Kent

 

Where have you moved to?

Petts Wood, a small town just inside the M25, close to Orpington and Chislehurst.

Where did you move from?

We lived just off the Caledonian Road – just up the road from King’s Cross in central London and walking distance from Islington.

Why did you leave London?

Money! We loved where we lived, but once our daughter started moving it quickly became apparent we needed more space (and fewer stairs – we were in a first and second floor maisonette so had stairs going both up and down from the living room). Sadly you need to be a millionaire to buy houses in Islington or King’s Cross, so we decided it was time to move South.

How did you choose your new location?

I’d grown up in Croydon and had always liked Bromley – a slightly greener version of my home town! We didn’t technically choose Petts Wood, however. We’d had an offer on our flat, and the buyers wanted to move quickly. We spent a day looking at properties in Bromley, hadn’t found anything and were feeling pretty demoralised. At about 3.30pm my husband had another look online and found a house that looked nice in Petts Wood. We’d never heard of it but decided to go and look as it was only a short drive. Luckily the estate agent was able to show us around; we saw it later that day and loved it.

Petts Wood - Photo © Marathon (cc-by-sa:2.0)
Petts Wood – Photo © Marathon (cc-by-sa:2.0)

How long before moving did you start looking?

We moved about three months after we started looking.

At what point did you think about schools and childcare?

Honestly – we didn’t. The estate agent told us about a nursery in the area when we viewed the property, which was the one my daughter ended up going to. She also said all the schools were lovely, which was good enough for me. My daughter was only nine months old when we moved and schools can change a lot in a few years so I didn’t see the point in getting too caught up in all of that.  

What did you do about work?

The one thing I did look at was train lines. Petts Wood has trains going to Victoria, London Bridge, Cannon Street, Waterloo, Charing Cross and King’s Cross so it’s pretty well connected and meant my husband and I can easily commute to our jobs.

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

The woods. I love having that on our doorstep. When I was on maternity leave second time around I spent a lot of time exploring that and the country park.

1930s house in Petts Wood - Photo © Ian Capper (cc-by-sa:2.0)
1930s house in Petts Wood – Photo © Ian Capper (cc-by-sa:2.0)

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

I was really worried we’d be moving somewhere frightfully middle class and I’d slowly lose my mind…! But it’s a lot more diverse than I expected (although some of the stereotypes of suburban living are definitely alive and well…!).

What do you miss about living in London?

Really good coffee and interesting restaurants on every corner. We’ve slowly found some lovely places to go, but we were definitely very spoilt for choice where we lived before and I miss that.

Have there been any downsides to the move?

I’m very conscious that my children aren’t growing up somewhere as culturally diverse as London, so we have to work harder to expose them to all the amazing things that would have been on their doorstep had we stayed in London. I’m also a hard and fast lefty so leaving Islington for a Tory stronghold has been a bit of a shock…!

What are your top three tips for moving with children?

  1. DO NOT MOVE THE SAME WEEK AS YOU GO BACK TO WORK AFTER MATERNITY LEAVE!!! Obviously we didn’t intend to, but that’s what we ended up doing and it is an experience I never want to repeat.
  2. As soon as you’re in your new house, sort out your children’s bedrooms. Once they’ve got a place to sleep everything else will feel a lot less stressful.
  3. Don’t invite guests over too soon. Moving with kids takes a lot longer and you will still be unpacking months (years…) later. Give yourself a bit of time to get sorted.

 

Station_Square,_Petts_Wood_-credit_stacey_harris
Image credit: Stacey Harris

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

Moving to the ‘burbs isn’t the end of the world! On a more serious note, don’t worry too much. Find somewhere that you can afford and that you like the look of, but don’t get too caught up on one area. Instead, work out what’s really important to you. For me it was a bit of individuality (I love that no two houses on the road I live on look the same), and being close enough to a town centre that I still felt like I was living somewhere with a heart and soul. There are loads of towns inside the M25 that fit that brief, and wherever you move to you’ll end up loving because it’s where your family is.

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

Facebook is a good place to start. Try https://www.facebook.com/Petts-Wood-Gossip-797003536989695/ and https://www.facebook.com/pettswoodmums/ for an insight into the area.

Any regrets?

I still miss Monmouth coffee on tap. But other than that, no.

Petts Wood: the basics

Petts Wood Photo © Ian Capper (cc-by-sa/2.0)
Petts Wood Photo © Ian Capper (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 www.mumroll.com. 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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