Fear of relocating to the country (FORC)

The trend for migrating from town to country is slowing, and while much of this can be attributed to economic events and political uncertainty, Linda Jeffcoat of Stacks Property Search believes there is also a growing reluctance to make the big move due to practical and emotional fears such as social exclusion, lack of culture, and limited facilities.

Linda Jeffcoat says, “Families from London have a desire to move to the country, especially as children reach school age, but they are increasingly nervous about the shape their lives will take in rural communities.

“The fears our clients most often talk about are:

  • Fear of making the wrong choice of location
  • Whether they will find new friends with similar outlook, and be able to make a satisfying social life
  • If all members of the family will find things to do that make them happy
  • Whether the partner who is left alone in the country will be lonely while the commuting partner heads back to London for work
  • Whether the partner most in charge of child care will feel isolated, especially when pre-school age children are involved

“These fears are rational, but sometimes there’s a perception that the country is a much more frightening place than it really is! And that it, and all the people who live in it, are the same. The best way to deal with FORC is to do a lot of thinking and self-examining before looking.

“General geography is usually an element that buyers have decided upon – influenced by commuting times if necessary, other family members, friends, or historical connections. But after settling on an area, buyers should think hard about what kind of level of rural will suit them best. There’s a world of difference between living in the middle of a field miles from anywhere, and living in a vibrant market town.

“The following is a general guide to the different rural options:

Full Monty rural:

“The equivalent of jumping in at the deep end – off the high board. For those who have a large noisy family and love the great outdoors, or for those who seek privacy and solitude, a house in the middle of nowhere with sheep as neighbours, and only the sun, stars or moon as ambient light, this is a great choice. There are huge advantages – a good-sized plot, no need to worry about upsetting neighbours with noisy parties or hobbies, parking space galore, often lots of options for extending or developing, and space to grow things and keep animals.

“But however romantic the idea feels, figure out how you will feel about always getting in the car to go anywhere, not having anyone within shouting distance, and for just how many hours of the day it’s dark in mid-winter. Access can be tricky too – your family may have a fleet of 4x4s, but visitors may be reluctant to make a trip up a long track in inclement weather.

Village-lite:

“Buyers looking for a slightly less hard-core version of country living may look towards a hamlet or small gathering of houses, probably a church, but no pub or shop. Roads will be better and there will be a small community to become involved with. When it comes to demographics, not all hamlets are equal. Some may be very rural with families who have lived there for generations, others have become sophisticated London satellites – often driven by a nearby commuting station. The smaller the village, the closer the relationship tends to be between residents, so research well and seek out introductions before you commit yourself to get the measure of the place. try and get an introduction to gain an understanding of how the community operates.

“An edge of hamlet home can be a good compromise – most of the advantages of the-middle-of-nowhere, but with some potential for interaction.

Full-fat village:

“Start adding a shop, pub, possibly school and other facilities to a hamlet, and 1,500 residents or more, and it becomes a proper village. Land will only be available if you’re on the perimeter, and it will come at a large premium. Gardens will be smaller, parking may be harder to come by, but you will have ways of becoming involved in a new life – all the things that come under the heading of ‘community’ – societies, clubs, gatherings, neighbours who will want to get to know you (and might think it’s acceptable to turn up on the doorstep without prior notice).

“Like hamlets, villages tend to have a dominant demographic, so while some will be young with lots of families, others may be largely occupied by the retired, or some of the more picturesque may have a high proportion of weekenders and Airbnb’s.

“A huge advantage to a village with a school for young families is ‘walking to school’, and immediate friendships for both parents and children gained at the school gates. But remember, if you send your offspring to private school, this won’t apply!

“One of the great advantages of living in a sociable village is finding that you make friends with a much wider range of people than you would generally come across in a typical London life.

Market town:

This is urban-country, it’s more anonymous than a village, people are unlikely to turn up on your doorstep uninvited, you’ll be able to have a coffee without someone joining you at your table, and there will be a variety of shops, bars, and facilities. But you will have to work harder to make friends, there’s a greater pressure on services which will be growing if there’s a significant amount of development on the outskirts.

“A good market town can be a lovely thing, but sometimes London migrants think it’s a good stepping stone to a deeper rural experience. The danger of this is that the next move will be harder – you will have adapted to a manicured form of country living, and the muddier version will require a whole new level of adaptation.

“So whichever version you choose, take the plunge, but examine your inner self and decide which variety suits you best. You won’t find London life in the country, but you’ll find a different life, and it has a lot to offer.”

Stacks Property Search, London office: www.stacks.co.uk /  +44 (0) 207 458 4155 / london@stacks.co.uk

Ends – 

    • For more information, jpgs and interviews, contact Amanda MacCaw, 01386 700068 / 07977 238175 / amanda@wildmaccaw.co.uk

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