My garden in summer
comments 34

In which I think about moving house

The above is my garden, on a good day, in the days before I was working full time.

On Sunday morning I went to check out the area around a house in town that I’d seen on the internet.  I’ve been thinking of moving out of the countryside and into the town for a while, partly due to LD #2’s wistful sighs of “If we lived in the town, we could…” But for other reasons as well, such as I would love to have no garden.  My garden is huge, about 30m (90ft) long.  At the moment it looks like this:


Garden aka a shaggy wilderness

Because I’m working full time and when I’m not at work, I seriously resent anything that takes my energies away from writing, family or friends.  I am sitting inside the house resenting it.  In return, it is sitting there making me feel bad.  We are in deadlock.

I’m in two minds.  I love living out here, but I would love to go back to living in the town soooo much, especially after seeing this house.

So, here are the reasons for wanting to move to this new house:

1) It’s next to a chip shop

2) I wouldn’t need to use the car as much, if at all, as the house is near the station.  I’d be fitter and less polluting.

3) No garden.

4) Be able to meet more and different people locally.

5) Be able to drink when I went out.

6) Be about 30 minutes closer to London by train.

7) Close to coffee shops and nice pubs.

8) Gas central heating!  I like my wood burning stove, but if you don’t have gas, heating is more expensive, whichever method you choose.

9) Great for the girls to be able to go places with their friends, and explore London and Brighton without needing me to give them lifts.

10) Near the gym for me and athletics club for LD#2.

11) House looks really beautiful from the pictures.

Possible disadvantages:

1) Next to a chip shop.

2) Grade II listed.  I swore I’d never live in a listed building again… however it seems that most property in the middle of Lewes is listed.

3) Not sure I could live in that crowded an environment.  What if I hate it?  As I drove around investigating on Sunday morning (wasn’t actually able to park!) I noticed rather aggrieved notices between neighbours regarding rubbish pick up.  As opposed to when I went out in my village this evening and two neighbours were helping clear up after the bin men had made mincemeat out of another neighbour’s lawn edging.

4) Might actually have to give up the car as there only seem to be 5 parking spaces for about 50 houses.  Which is a bit scary, but in another way seems like a bit of an adventure.

5) Nowhere to go for a nice relaxing run in the evenings.

6) No free bus to school for the girls and further away from ballet lessons.

7) I would really miss my wood burning stove, now I have actually got the hang of operating it.

8) Would need to get a bigger mortgage to move.

I went for a walk this evening to think about things.  It’s so beautiful in my village, and it’s impossible to describe the sounds and the stillness in the evenings – all you can hear is birds.  It makes me ache thinking of not being here.  But I also ache thinking about the idea that I’m missing out on another life while I’m living here .  And I wonder if I’m really running away from something else in my life, or whether I’m truly pulled by something I want.




  1. Maria

    Your village sound idyllic. I understand you being in two minds about moving. Are you in a hurry to make this decision? If not then take your time so that you are happy with the final decision.
    You’ve got a beautiful garden.

    • I am not in a hurry, but I am impatient! For good or bad reasons is what I have to figure out… I must say I tend to get fixated on the suitability of a solution and in this case it is because I worry that I will not get another chance of a house so central and so cheap – I think the price is due to it being next to a chip shop. Which of course raises other (sensible) questions. I worry that my kids will miss out by not having a town life when they are the right age for it. I worry about being disappointed.

      Anyway I guess I will just have to go and see the house. The kids might hate it and realise they love the quiet life after all.

    • I know and the key is sometimes we have to be brave and take the best we can and make a decision (or not)!

  2. Jennifer

    Okay – here’s my two cents. I moved from the REMOTEST place on earth – PEI, Canada, 7 years ago. We lived WAY out in the country. There were only 4 towns there anyway on the whole Island. One was the capital and it had 35,000 people. The other three had less than 2,000. We moved to Bangor in Maine which has around 35,000 people except on the weekends when all the Canadians come down to shop! 🙂 Anyway the noise drove me nuts for about a month. I wasn’t driven nuts by the opportunity to GO somewhere without thinking about it over and over and by the friendly people. Of course, we moved from the US to Canada and back to the US so it’s different, I know. But the country is the country – and I’m definitely a city girl, I really am. Once I got used to the fire trucks and sirens all the time – hey I’m cool. So shoot, if it wasn’t for the bigger mortgage, I’d say go for it. But you would know if you could cope with the $$ and how worth it would be to you. It sounds like you love the house and I would kill to get rid of the car. Nasty things always needing gas and work and stuff. And for goodness sake – GAS??? How cool would that be?

  3. There will always be pros and cons – doing a list and weighing them up is very sensible. My biggest problem would be the chip shop!

  4. Lewes! I remember some lovely gardens and a very very steep lane. And oddly enough, a man walking around with a parrot on his shoulder.

    Anyway, good luck with your decision. I’ve never ever lived in the countryside or even a small town. Singapore is just ridiculously crowded so sometimes I am glad to be living in this not-small town in the US, where things are a bit quieter but maybe sometimes too quiet!

    • This house is just above probably the very steep lane you are talking about. Ie the steep lanes go from station/Southover area up (steeply) to the High Street and this house is just above it. There are some houses for sale on the very steep lanes and remembering what happened to those roads in the icy winter I think No Way!

  5. Hmm, it’s a tough one but I do understand your resentment with the garden – especially at this time of the year when everything is burgeoning before your eyes. My sister is about to move to a new house with very small (postage stamp size) garden for the very same reason. When the children were small it was lovely to have a big plot to roam in but now most of them have gone, sister works full time and the garden just bears down on her. It will be interesting to see how she copes with less space outside but I think that with all things considered, she and her husband have made the right decision.

    • I was just reading a Miss Read Thrush Green novel before bed (because it puts me to sleep), and a the young widow (who would, in this novel, be, played by you) was in exactly the same position, no time to tend the garden. This being a novel, her problem was elegantly solved by the handsome retired bachelor next door with time on his hands and a total devotion to gardening, and luckily for her, also a total devotion to his bachelor-status despite his infatuation with her beauty and charm….

      Too bad life doesn’t work out like a novel. Decisions are so much more difficult in real life, when there’s no novelist-intent-on-writing-a-happy-end, who will step in and push the story to the just-right conclusion.

      You have, however, wisely asked the important question about what’s going on….”I wonder if I’m really running away from something else in my life, or whether I’m truly pulled by something I want.” Pursue the answer to that, and I think you’ll also discover the right the answer to the moving house question.

      In the meanwhile you could also post an advertisement seeking a passionate gardener with nothing but time on his/her hands who wants more garden space to play in, and work out some kind of deal with him/her…. 😉

      • Sigh – I don’t know about running toward or away from. I know I am quite excited about the idea… but then that is not always a good thing either… there is such a thing as bein carried away…

        I like novels with a happy end that has been brought about by the protagonist’s own making by the way! That is very me. I am disappointed if the story is pushed towards a conclusion.

      • That’s exactly why I admire you, and believe in you. You have an amazing ability to look at both sides.

        It won’t be easy to figure out which way you ought to go, for you, for your daughters… but you’ll find the right conclusion. Trust wisdom–and trust me when I tell you that you know a lot about what is wise, and what isn’t.

        Patience is the key. (and sighing, is a sign of patience)–

        you’ll do all right!

    • That is *exactly* how it is with me – the large garden was lots of fun for the children, even if it was a bit wild and less than tidy. We would just have to be sure that the are totally ready to leave it – LD#2 was doing hand stands with her friend in it the other day.

  6. I have these same debates with myself sometimes: I love the peace of the country but I love the lifestyle you get when you’re in the city. On the whole, I think I’d choose the city. I just love being able to walk everywhere and the idea of living car-free really appeals to me. Just make sure you pick a nice part of town. That makes a huge difference. And try to find out as much as you can about the neighbours first.

    • I’ve just emailed someone I know who works in that street to see if he thinks there might be any hidden drawbacks to living there – the house is remarkably cheap for that part of town. The car-free thing is interesting – I was reasoning things like: the person who moves in here has to be use their car less than I do… and I really do have to be car free… and I wonder if the current occupier has a car… and it could be that if all those things line up, I could really personally make a difference to my carbon emissions. I know it’s not a deciding factor, but for so many years now I’ve had to succumb to using the car in order for my kids (and me) not to lose out on life, it would feel nice if I could reverse that.

      • Yes, I know what you mean. I’d like to be car-free once we move to Aberdeen and just hire a car when we feel we really need one. Many cities around the world are adopting car share schemes too. That might be worth considering.

        Ideally, I think I’d love a town house and a country house 😉 We’re not rich enough for that though.

      • I think that would be a good idea.  I think I could save up to 4K a year not having a car and even after train and bus fares I think the occasional car hire would work out.  Giving up the car feels a bit like giving up a safety net… although LD#2 has a friend who lives in Lewes and the family doesn’t have a car and seem to manage fine.


  7. Great post – I totally understand the feeling of being torn between two lives. Living in Norfolk, I love the countryside but often wish I was living in a city like London. But with plans to travel from next year I also keep feeling like my life in Norfolk is not for me and that I need to be out seeing the world. Part of me does always wonder if I’ll always be a grass is greener kind of gal who is always looking for the next adventure – perhaps staying in one place just doesn’t suit me in this time of my life. Moving sounds like a great adventure for you and your family and I’m sure as long as you had each other you would be happy. Don’t feel like it would be the end of your time in the more rural village, you can always go back. Wouldn’t you regret it more if you didn’t give it a go?

    • There was a part of me in the past that had been through a lot of turmoil and clung to the stability that this village offers. Now I am beginning to realise that I am still young and I haven’t had any adventures yet… but I could! You are right, I am only talking about moving 9 miles away! I can still even play a part in this community if I want to and come back if I want to.

    • Sorry, silly phone! I know you’ll do a full assessment before making any decisions and come up with what’s best. The Lewes house sounds fab, although being next door to a chip shop would be a massive con for me. The smells really do linger!

      I wish I could move closer to the sea, but it’s just not going to be possible for the foreseeable future!

      Good luck, and keep us posted 🙂

  8. Just to play devil’s advocate – could you not take the money that you would be spending on bigger mortgage and hire a gardener just to mow the lawn and tidy up every now and then? Good luck with whatever decision you make. X

  9. Ah the pros and cons. You know, I do relate to your resentment of the garden. Last year I trimmed mine back because it tormented me so. (from my lack of “having the time” to tend to it) What I have arrived at, in my life is this: I love all aspects of my life. There is just not enough time to enjoy each one of them.

    Could be your problem too. You have a lovely place. Maybe just go into town more often. (If you can find a parking space) I make it sound so simple, when I know it is very hard.

    • A problem with living out of town is not being able to drink when I do go in. I am not a big drinker, and I have got used to it – I like to think I am equally at ease having drunk or not. But I like the idea of being able to pop into a local that has more than the owner and his dogs in the bar, and be able to make new random friends. But I know it is not as simple as that either! Moving house is very stressful!

  10. Ahh…Lewes eh?? Well, you know how much I love Lewes. Oh Denise, I do understand your dilemma. When my kids were young we almost moved out to the country (this was in the States obviously) but in the end we didn’t as we would have had so much driving back and forth to do. It’s different now.
    I will say this though, when it came time for me and my ‘new’ hubby and Aspie D to move house, we thought we didn’t want a garden anymore. We didn’t want the work. But we ended up with a garden, not too big but big enough for somewhere to sit in the warm, summer evenings (haha!!) and of course my summerhouse! We patio-ed it all so minimal upkeep which helps. We realised how much we would miss having an outside place. Still, if you have a small patio that would be enough.
    Also the car thing. Neither of my boys have never had cars, living down there, the parking for one thing is a nightmare and they either walk or get the train or bus. It works great for them. I didn’t have the car when I was in Lewes for 2 weeks and thought I would miss it but I didn’t, I got a good walk in every day and loved it. Different though when I have to take Aspie D to all her appointments and living here in Somerset having to go back and forth…
    Do you think you are running away from something? Where you live is beautiful, that can’t be denied. Yet, I can see the attraction of being in town for so many reasons, all of which you list here. Maybe it’s time for a change for you and your family. Maybe time to wait a little longer…Big decisions…wish I had the answer for you…

    • I’ve asked three Lewesians now and their answer has been unanimously “Lewes is a great place to live!” Of course they are biased, but it’s encouraging.

      We would have a very small patio area. I’m nervous about missing lying on the grass on a hot sunny day… on the other hand that is a very very small proportion of the year we are talking about! And Southover Grange is about 5 minutes away.

      We used to have lots of appointments too and I remember having to keep on top of braces, dentist, and podiatry! but LD#2 is just about to finish with her braces and that will be the end. Hooray!

      It sounds like you felt you made the perfect decision about the house/garden you currently have.

  11. Oh my! What a dilemma! I think this isn’t ultimately a head choice, but a heart choice. Probably you need to go with your gut instinct, but sometimes it’s hard to hear that. I reckon one morning you will wake up and just KNOW. (Incidentally, the garden would drive me crazy too – I like mine to look nice-ish but am hopeless at doing stuff to it, so, I know how you feel about that. We live round the corner from a chip shop and it is very useful!)

    • You don’t look like you’ve ever eaten chips in your life! This morning at the station early I felt really excited and thought I would love to do this every morning. The idea of living in a town makes me feel young again, as I always lived in cities and towns until I was 21. But is this feeling just a bid to recapture a life that has gone? It’s hard to tell.

  12. Such a pickle :S Just reading about all these pros and cons makes me feel so torn between the two options, and if it makes me feel this dramatic I can’t imagine what you must be going through! That being said, it sounds more like you’re looking for an adventure, rather than somewhere else to live in specifically. Maybe the thrill does not have to be one coming from living in a new environment. But what do I know. To be honest though, your current neighbourhood sounds amazing…but at the same time, I guess living in a bigger town would be more practical…such a dill pickle, really.

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