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Our life relocation: London to York

Most of the posts I’ve written on here about buying a first home assume that you’re already settled in the area that you’re looking to buy in. Of course, that’s not always the case and certainly wasn’t for us. Before getting on the ladder up in York we had to relocate from London which meant a load of change, including new jobs.

It was a fair amount of hassle, but has proven so worth it. It’s allowed us to buy a lovely house in a great neighbourhood with a sensibly-sized mortgage. If we’d stayed in London, it would have been a studio flat in the stabby part of town with a humongous mortgage.

I reckon a lot of people find themselves in our position in their 20s/30s so hopefully our story will help some of you guys with your life moves.


London life

After uni, Haz and I both moved to North London for work. They were no doubt some of the best years of our lives. However, it got to the point that we were spending more time playing Scrabble than going out and making the most of what London has to offer and spent most weekends driving far away to see family and friends. On top of this the rent was a killer, annual flat move a ball ache, and we never really saw ourselves settling there. Cue some adult conversations about what to do with our lives.

Absolute tourists

Where to relocate

Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh – there are loads of areas of the UK where we’d love to live. But York was where the pin landed. I’m from York so have family there and know how lovely it is. Haz is from Ipswich which is a good 4 hour drive away but she’s always been a big fan of York and somehow I persuaded her to make the transition from southerner to northerner.

York is a pretty expensive place to live so it may seem like an odd choice, given that being able to afford a better home was top of our list of wants. Yep, it is certainly expensive for the north, but is nothing compared to London. Trust me, I spent about 2 years constantly on Rightmove.

Work

Neither of us had jobs that could be transferred up north so finding new work was definitely the biggest challenge we had in our life relocation. We couldn’t move without jobs so this was our top priority.

Haz has worked in universities for several years which she really enjoys so it made sense for her to apply for jobs at unis in and around York. I was a bit more awkward as I worked at the head office of a car manufacturer and none of these are based anywhere near York. So I spent several months pondering what to do with myself.

I was going to have to change industry but didn’t want to go back down to the first rung of the career ladder. I half-heartedly applied to a couple of jobs and became frustrated with how few jobs were coming up in and around York that A) appealed and B) I thought I had a chance of getting.

Then, one day, a job alert came up on LinkedIn for a product manager job at a building society. This job really appealed as I was already working as a product manager and am a complete nerd who’s really interested in the housing market. When I got the call to offer me the job I tried to play it cool but as soon as I put the phone down I went mental.

Haz is apparently the most employable person on earth as she’s got pretty much every job she’s ever interviewed for. A few weeks after I was offered my job she got an interview for a role at a university and sure enough, got the job so we cracked open the bubbly. We were really lucky to have got jobs with start dates just 2 weeks apart. Time to start planing the move.

The move

We were living in an unfurnished flat which meant that we had a hell of a lot of gear to take north. After shedding some of our stuff on Gumtree, we hired the biggest van we could and prepared ourselves for one of the least enjoyable days of our lives. We’d considered paying for a removal firm to do the job but assumed it would cost hundreds of pounds given that we were moving 4 hours away. The van hire only cost £50 for 24 hours so we must have saved a shed load by doing it ourselves.

The move took 16 hours and was absolutely knackering. A personal highlight was getting the sofa down the fire escape from our 2nd floor flat… But it all worked out in the end. A few goodbyes with friends and colleagues and that was it, see ya London.

Buying our first place

Having moved up and started our jobs, the final piece of the puzzle was to get on the ladder. Being able to stay with my family whilst we house-hunted was a massive help. If you have the option to do this then I’d definitely recommend it as it gave us flexibility for the move-in date of our place and meant that we could save really hard for a few months before moving in. Having some cash left in the bank when you move into your first home is a huge help

I won’t go into much detail here as I’ve written about our house buying journey already so have a browse if you’re interested in the ups and downs of the 3 months we spent buying our place.


We’ve been up in York for a year now and we bloody love it. The process of getting new jobs, moving up and buying our house was pretty intense but we’re so glad to have done it. We’ve settled into jobs that we enjoy, got ourselves a lovely little house and welcomed a furry fella to the family. It won’t be right for everyone, but if you’re thinking of relocating to settle down then I can’t recommend it enough.

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Getting on the ladder

Choosing where to live

Once you’ve bought a house there’s endless things you can change about it, but location ain’t one of them. Some people are lucky enough to know exactly where they want to be which is great. For Haz and I, this wasn’t a luxury that we had as all we knew was that we wanted to be in/near York. After that, it was pretty much a process of elimination which actually worked really well.


#1 | Decide how far you’re willing to commute

If you commute to the same place most days, the first thing to do is decide how far is too far. For me, I was willing to commute up to an hour for the right job whereas Haz was fed up of her long London commute so wanted a sub 30min drive. There’s loads of commute calculators online that will help rule out places that are too far from work like Zoopla’s.

#2 | Decide what you want to be close to/far from

Now you’ve got a rough perimeter based on your commute, it’s a good idea to jot down stuff that you want to have easy access to. Being the geriatric 20-somethings that we are, the key stuff to us wasn’t so much bars and clubs but village life. On our list was a pub, corner shop, and good schools nearby for our future offspring. Of course, a generally nice vibe was on the list too, ideally with plenty of semi-detached houses for us to choose from. Once we’d marked off all the areas that didn’t meet these criteria, there was about 8-10 villages within 5 miles of York on the list.

#3 | Reccy time

Once you’ve got down to a relatively sensible number of options it’s time to get out and about. Comparing multiple places on the same day is massively helpful. We spent 3 or 4 hours driving around to get a feel for different areas. For some, it was immediately obvious that the chance of getting shanked was too high a risk. For others, there were pleasant streets but nothing to write home about. And then, there were 2 or 3 gems that we could absolutely see ourselves living in.

#4 | What’s affordable

Now you have a shortlist of favourite areas, hop onto Rightmove/Zoopla to check whether you can afford your dream house in these areas. In our case, the top 3 villages turned out to be amongst the most expensive in York – woo! We lobbed the main criteria for what we wanted in a home into Rightmove (3 bed semi, garden, off-street parking) and it looked as though we could just about afford this in the areas that we wanted but it’d be tight. If this hadn’t been the case we’d have looked a little further down the list to see what we could afford.


Once you’ve got to this stage, you’ll have a shortlist of 3 or 4 areas that A) you’d be happy to live in and B) you’d be able to afford your ideal home in. Whilst it’s worth doing some decent online research on things like crime rates, it’s easy to go overboard and end up being put off everywhere. Just because janet_1977 posted something negative about one of your favourite areas on mumsnet.com doesn’t mean you should discount it.

Next steps are to make pals with a few local estate agents and get viewings booked in!