Life Outside London – We Ended Up In…Penistone, South Yorkshire

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.

Penistone, South Yorkshire


Where have you moved to?

We relocated to Penistone, a lovely market town just outside Barnsley in South Yorkshire surrounded by rolling fields and moorland.

Where did you move from?

I’d lived in Bromley, South London, for my whole life up until the point we moved when I was 18 (I had my first child at 16).

Why did you leave London?

When my fiance and I decided we wanted to get our own place together with our daughter we knew we had some big decisions to make. The main reason for moving up north was house prices and the general cost of living. It became very clear quite quickly that we just wouldn’t be able to afford to rent a house anywhere near the capital. Also, things like school place availability and the fact that neither of us really wanted to live in a city anymore played a part.

How did you choose your new location?

This was probably the easiest part of the process. My fiance grew up in Penistone and then had moved around a fair bit as his Dad is in the Army, but he still had close family living here. We had visited Penistone several times together and I fell in love with it so it just seemed like the right decision for us. We did look at other surrounding areas but with it being a market town, having a large supermarket, a train station, several good schools and plenty of things to see and do we knew it was the place for us to build our new life.

Penistone Photo © David Ward (cc-by-sa:2.0)
Penistone © David Ward (cc-by-sa:2.0)

How long before moving did you start looking?

For us it all happened quite quickly. We came up with a plan of things we needed to do before moving but we found a house to rent very quickly. The whole process took about two months.

At what point did you think about schools and childcare?

Our daughter was almost three when we actually moved so nurseries and schools were at the forefront of our minds. We had already been to look around the local schools when we moved in and knew right away which one we wanted as our first choice.

What did you do about work?

Luckily, as we were so young and just starting out on our own, neither of us had a career to think about – it was just a case of finding a job that would pay the bills until we had made the big adult decisions about our career paths. I decided to take some time to be a full-time mum to help our daughter settle into our new life and her nursery and my fiance found a full time job at a local pub.

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

This is a tricky one to answer because I love everything! One of the best things is the community spirit; every year there are celebrations – Santa comes to switch the lights on at Christmas and hands out presents to all the children, a huge bonfire and fireworks display for Guy Fawkes night and a Mayor’s parade and Gala day in May! Our children love to get involved with all of these activities and they know all their friends will be there because the entire town takes time to come together to celebrate.

South Yorkshire Canal - Photo © Neil Theasby (cc-by-sa:2.0)
South Yorkshire Canal – Photo © Neil Theasby (cc-by-sa:2.0)

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

The weather! If you’re moving up north, especially to a rural area, be prepared for a huge change in temperature and weather. The summer is beautiful here, we have some great weather and it gets extremely hot. Anything either side of that though can be pretty extreme; I’ve done the school run in waist-deep snow more than once and when it does snow it usually sticks around for a few weeks at least. The bigger towns surrounding us seem to do OK during the colder months but we’re very high up in Penistone and you can definitely feel it.

What do you miss about living in London?

Not a whole lot in all honesty! I can genuinely say this is the perfect place for us, although I do feel like we’re a bit out of the loop sometimes and I miss the energy and fun that comes with living in London. Central London, especially, will always hold a special place in my heart – it’s such a beautiful, vibrant place – but I would never swap our breathtaking views and getting stuck behind a herd of cows on the school run for the hustle and bustle on a permanent basis.

Have there been any downsides to the move?

The only downside I can think of is childcare availability. My fiance drives but I don’t, and a couple of times when we been considering our childcare options all of the nurseries and childminders have limited spaces which fill up very quickly. Obviously we need it to be somewhere close by with me travelling on foot or via public transport so there isn’t a great deal of options for us. Luckily I have managed to find a job that allows me to work evenings-only, so we don’t need to worry for now, but I would advise researching this kind of thing thoroughly before making any decisions.

Photo © John Fielding (cc-by-sa/2.0)
Penistone Railway Viaduct – Photo © John Fielding (cc-by-sa/2.0)

What are your top 3 tips for moving with children?

  1. If possible, use professional packers. They don’t always pack like you would, but when you’re moving house and especially relocating, having somebody else do that work for you is a Godsend! If not then I would say start packing as early as you can – even if it’s just a box a day, and get rid of anything you don’t need or aren’t using anymore. Fewer belongings means less unpacking at the other end!
  2. Keep one (open) box aside to put everything in that you’ll need in the few days leading up to your move and the few days after. That way you can easily grab these items whenever you need them and they won’t end up lost in a ginormous pile of boxes right at the back of the van!
  3. Get help from whoever you can, however you can. Especially the pizza guy! Just give in and order a takeaway – at least on the day you move. Trying to find all the things you need to make a meal when your kitchen is a giant fort of boxes is no fun so don’t feel bad about cutting corners until you’re settled and have the most important stuff unpacked.

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

Do it! As long as you’ve done your research and you’re happy about the location just go for it. There will always be that little voice in the back of your head that says ‘but what if it doesn’t work out?’ That’s completely normal but it doesn’t mean you have to listen to it. It’s a very daunting, overwhelming thing to relocate your entire family to somewhere you’ve never lived before but it could be the best decision of your life!

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

We have a fantastic website where you can find pretty much anything you would like to know! Penistone Round table organise and fund most local events and they have information about all of that here

Penistone: the basics


Yorkshire Dales – Photo © Ian Greig (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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