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Visiting Rochester

Spendin a day in Rochester, Bumpkin BettyCan I let you into a little secret? We’re thinking about leaving London soon.

I know! The city I’ve made my home for the last eight years, the city I met my Husband, the city we started our life together in, the city where our friends are, the city where our work is, the city where our entire network is built, the city I love. There are many reasons for our decision, but ‘because we want to’ isn’t necessarily one of them. It’s bitter sweet, but in my heart I know it’s the right decision for us long term.

London is an amazing, all consuming, ever changing, wonderfully creative place to live. But it’s also expensive, hard edged, competitive and exhausting. It’s hard to move forward here, difficult to make a life, tough to make your mark. When you’re young that’s ok, you put up with that side of it because the rest is SO good. You don’t mind living hand to mouth, never being able to save and spending all of your earnings each month because you want to soak up every last bit of the creativity and excitement and buzz. You don’t care if you live in a tiny room in a flat with five other strangers, you happily put up with no garden, no storage and no privacy, because it’s worth it. You learn so much, you meet incredible people, you push yourself and you have opportunity on your doorstep.

Then before you know it, you’ve been in the London bubble for nearly a decade of your life and things seem a whole lot different. You’ve met someone, you’ve got married, you’ve started your own business and your priorities have changed. Suddenly a tiny one bedroom rented flat with no garden and no storage isn’t enough. You want more. You want a home office that isn’t in your living room, you want to be able to paint a wall without having to plead with your landlords first, you want somewhere to store your burgeoning shoe collection and you want a bit of green outside to hold a BBQ in. Saving money every month is now important, living hand to mouth has become frustrating and you feel like you’re stuck with no way out, while everyone around you moves forward. You realise you’re spending less and less time actually enjoying all of that creativity and excitement and buzz, and more and more time trying desperately to make a home and save for the future. You’re ready to make a life. And sadly London is an increasingly difficult place to do that.

I know it is possible, and many people do buy a house and start a family and make a life here, and honestly if we could we absolutely would but the reality is, for one reason or another, it’s just not possible for us. And frankly the constant struggle to try is making us both really unhappy, so the right thing to do is to move somewhere where it is possible, and take the pressure off of ourselves a little.

Anyway we’re hoping to make the move by the end of summer, and for now we’re not planning to go too far. As much as we both love the idea of upping sticks completely and moving back to Scotland (hello affordable rent!), that’s a pipe dream that wouldn’t be all that sensible right now. With both of our careers and networks London based, for now we’re looking at commuter towns that can offer us a better way of life.

Why am I telling you all of this? To be perfectly honest I’m not sure, I had planned to make this a simple photo diary post and suddenly I’m pouring my heart out (people constantly tell me I’m far too honest, let’s hope our landlords don’t read this hey?). I guess as a heads up that you can expect a little more UK travel on the blog over the next couple of months while we use any free weekends we have to visit some of the locations that are interesting us.

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May Day in Rochester

On Monday we decided to take a little day trip to Rochester in Kent. It’s not an area I know well at all, but after seeing the lovely Cat make it look all kinds of pretty on Instagram after she moved there last year, it was somewhere that was on our radar and seemed worthy of a day out to explore.

There’s a direct train to Rochester from Kings Cross St Pancras which takes only 35 minutes so it’s a great option to get out of the city without travelling too far. In no time at all we were pulling in to the newly regenerated train station and making our way to the high street to pound those cobble streets, go in search of a good pub lunch and marvel at the sights. As it was May Day, the small town was a lot busier than we’d imagined it would be and there was plenty going on – from outdoor street food stalls, to live music and Pagan dancing.

Rochester bridge, Bumpkin BettyRochester castle in spring, Bumpkin BettyTop UK Lifestyle Blogs, Bumpkin BettyTop UK Lifestyle bloggers, Bumpkin Bettysights of Rochester, Bumpkin bettyRochester park, Bumpkin BettyRochester Harbour, Bumpkin BettyBut while the colourful bunting was lovely (maybe that’s there all the time?) we were mostly interested in doing what we always do when we visit somewhere new – wandering the streets, taking photos and getting a feel for the place (as well as a little ogling of estate agent windows for future reference) – and perhaps the throngs of people out on a sunny day made it appear slightly different than it normally would.

Because honestly, it was lovely. The sun was shining all day which definitely helped – blue skies can make even the drabbest of towns look good. But there was nothing drab about Rochester – it was bright, vibrant, with a real sense of history and full of quirky corners.

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I kept repeating the same phrase over and over as we walked through the pretty cherry blossom lined streets, ambled through the lush green park and snapped the statuesque castle; ‘What’s the catch?’.

Rent is affordable, the train into London is fast, you’re near the ocean and there’s an abundance of dreamy locations for shooting blog posts (ahem – definitely a top priority for me!).

Bumpkin Betty guide to Rochester, Bumpkin BettyMini guide to Rochester, Bumpkin BettyPink cherry blossoms, Bumpkin BettyWhere to go in Rochester, Bumpkin bettyRochester city guide, Bumpkin BettyArchive by Alexa, Bumpkin BettyCherry blossoms in Rochester, Bumpkin BettyIt was mighty windy (another reminder you’re near the sea) so maybe that’s the reason Londoner’s haven’t descended on it just yet. And we did leave having not yet found a pub we could happily call our local (the pub lunch we settled on was pretty disappointing) which let’s face it, is definitely a deal breaker. But hey, this town’s definitely got potential.


Have you visited Rochester before? As a Scot, I’m still fairly new to a lot of English towns so if you have any recommendations do pass them on!

 

Amanda @ Rhyme & Ribbons ·

We are in the exact same position, and have been doing the exact same thing over the past months. I’ve been in London for 6 years and Sam nearly 15 and it’s just not working for us anymore. If it was financially viable to stay here we absolutely would. We LOVE the area that we rent in. But paying most of your earnings to rent every month is not a long-term plan for the future. 🙁

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Jaclyn ·

It’s so frustrating isn’t it Amanda? I’m so glad we’re not alone though, sometimes I feel as if we’ve done something wrong as everyone I meet is buying houses and totally fine. Please tell me more about the areas you’ve looked at as we are a bit clueless! xx

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Emma ·

Ooh, Rochester really does look lovely 🙂 One of my best school friends lives in London and last time I visited, a couple of people asked “so are you thinking of moving to London?” and my answer was, politely, absolutely not! It had vaguely crossed my mind late last year because my boyfriend was considering a job in Guildford, but I’d only made it as far as thinking it’d probably be easier for me to find a job, and nice to be close to major airports! I enjoy visiting London and going on the Tube (lol, I’m a Scottish country bumpkin too, trains are exciting) but it all feels like a fun game to me, I can’t imagine how exhausting it would be to live there!

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Jaclyn ·

Hey Emma, thanks for your comment. Haha that’s so funny, that’s exactly what I used to say too and then I moved here ‘temporarily’ for an internship and never left lol! Rochester was lovely but perhaps a little too quiet for us after living in the big city for so long, we’ll see! xx

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Laura ·

I really, really know how you feel! I love London so much but it’s depressing how I really can’t see how buying a house or settling down here could ever be an option.

I’d love to move out somewhere like Bristol, Norwich or Brighton (though I think Brighton is getting a bit expensive now as well!). My only worry is that we would have a trouble finding jobs as our current ones feel very London-based.

I really look forward to seeing what other cities you visit and reading your musings on moving out of the big city – it might serve as a bit of an inspiration as well!

Laura // Middle of Adventure

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Jaclyn ·

Hey Laura, oh I’m so glad we’re not alone! We like the idea of Bristol too – seems like there’s lots going on! Brighton is lovely but still pretty pricey as you say. Jobs are a factor for us too (which is why we need to look at commuter areas for now) but sometimes I think you just have to take the plunge don’t you and hope that everything works out… I’ll try my best to document as many towns as I can! x

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Angela ·

Oooh, it does look lovely! I have daydreams of moving out too, because you couldn’t have written it any better- it was all fine and worth it in our twenties but now, we’re ready to make a life. We’re okay, for now, but long term, I’m not sure if it’ll work for us either! I am definitely okay with leaving…husband, less so!

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Jaclyn ·

Hey Angela, It’s good to hear we’re not alone on this one but you’re totally right – it’s going to be hard to leave for sure. I’m kind of the same as your husband to be honest, even though I grew up in the country I’ve got very used to big city life!

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Chloe ·

Wow! I’m completely sold on Rochester, it looks so beautiful – you definitely need to move there!

Sometimes my heart aches for London and I still miss my wonderful friends and all of the adventures there are, but at the same time I have never regretted my decision. I had to get out! As you say, unfortunately it just makes financial sense. My friend stayed and her tiny one bed flat in Croydon cost double the amount of our three bed house in Newcastle! It’s so sad that hard working Londoners are having to settle for less than they should or are being forced to leave the city.

Looking forward to seeing where you find next, but pretty sure I’ll stay Team Rochester!

Chloe x
newgirlintoon.co.uk

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Jaclyn ·

Hey Chloe, Rochester definitely was lovely and very pretty but it was also pretty small and it seemed as if there wasn’t that much to do which is what is worrying us at the moment. I guess being only 35mins from London you could still socialise in the city but a few more pubs/cafes would have helped… the rent is really affordable though so it’s hard to ignore that! Interesting to hear you used to live here too and made the decision to leave, and even more interesting to know you didn’t regret it! Having more space and cheaper flats is definitely appealing and I’d love to move to a completely new city but our main concern is losing our clients and work that we’ve spent a long time building up. It’s such a catch 22 isn’t it? xx

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Michael ·

I’m in a similar boat with London. I love the place but I think for the sake of moving forward with other things I want to do with life it hasn’t got much more of a future for me. Good luck with wherever you move next! I’m thinking Edinburgh for me.

Mike
http://www.thebeardedbakery.com

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Jaclyn ·

Oh I’m so jealous that you might move to Edinburgh!! Glasgow is our first choice and to be honest I think in a few years that’s where we will head but right now our work is so London based that it wouldn’t make sense for us which is a little annoying! Look forward to hearing how you get on if you do make the move!

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Kelsey ·

Ahh you summed up my London thoughts completely. I did 7 years there and then moved out for a more mellow and slightly greener life. We thought about Kent too for a while, stuck with London a little longer and then moved back home to Devon.

I miss a lot about London I really do, but I love visiting it without the pressure that was once there.

Happy house hunting!

K.

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Jaclyn ·

Oh Devon is just lovely Kelsey, I can totally see why you’d be drawn back there. Did you find the move difficult after 7 years in the city? It’s such a big decision – I know long term it will be the best thing for us but it’s still a huge adjustment and would such a big lifestyle change. Why is change so scary?? x

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Thoughts?