Saturday, 17 August 2013

Not Moving On...

We have just returned from a week's 'holiday' in the North East of England. "Why the quotation marks around 'holiday'?", I hear you ask. The purpose of our break was two-fold - one, to have exactly that, a holiday, and two, to seriously investigate the Newcastle-upon-Tyne area as an early, pre-retirement, life-change opportunity. Recent events have made Mandy and I question how sustainable our current lifestyle and commitments are over the next few years.  Saddled with a draining mortgage and other outgoings (all of our own making, I hasten to add) which require us both to work and earn no less than what we're currently earning until 2020 at the earliest, coupled with some health issues and work uncertainties, have made us wonder how long we can keep going like this.

So we have started to investigate selling up in the South East, paying off the remaining mortgage and, as cash buyers, relocating somewhere else.  Not downsizing yet - we still have two young adults in further education - but relocating to find an equivalent family home without the burden of a monthly mortgage repayment hanging over our heads.

Anyone who knows us will be aware that Mandy has been studying for the last three years to become a Transactional Analysis Psychotherapist. The plan was for her to stop working as an IT Training Manager within the next couple of years and start practising as a Counsellor/Psychotherapist either from home or rented studio wherever we ended up. We have holidayed in the North East/Northumberland area and loved it. We wondered if the more urbanised Newcastle-Upon-Tyne area would fit the bill. I will still need to work and be able to get to National Rail and Airport locations for work travel.

So we booked a week in Newcastle, with the intention of spending three days investigating areas that had been recommended to us, talking to estate agents, and touring around where likely property was suggested.  Then we would have a few days off and just holiday on the wonderful Northumberland Coast and surrounding areas...

And now we're back home.  Long story short... We're not moving to the North East! Everywhere we liked, the estate agents - kindly - suggested that our anticipated buying power was insufficient for us to achieve our objectives of housing equivalence, urban transport, convenience, culture etc (in other words, Brighton up North!). Everywhere we looked, we ended up travelling further out to large 70s, 80s or in some cases, 30s(!) residential estates, with no centre, soul, or decent public transport links.

Now, this is not, I hasten to add, the end of the world.  We currently live in a fantastic area, which satisfies all of our work, living and family criteria. Emotionally, we have no desire to move. We would love to retire and live out our time in Brighton and Hove, if we can.  The burden is the mortgage.  The imponderables in the equation are our continued health and our ability to work and earn the living required to keep that whole ship afloat.

Call it niaivity, call it 'Southern' arrogance, we honestly thought that we had started to see some light at the end of the mortgage/work tunnel and that our 'selling power' in the South East would give us the wherewithall to maximise our 'buying power' elsewhere. On this experience, it would appear that we were mistaken and will have to rethink our plans.

However, let me put the question out to you, dear reader, who may live in or know well other areas of this glorious country of ours which might 'fit the bill'.  Where else should we consider for our life-changing move? We make great neighbours! All suggestions welcome, so please comment. Thanks.

All that said, we spent the remainder of our holiday, doing just that - having a holiday!  And we had a great time, spending time in Newcastle and Gateshead, walking the Northumberland Coast at Druridge Bay, visiting the Beamish Open Air Museum and the National Trust's Wallington House and Gardens.  See some photos here.


  1. Niall, I feel your pain, I had a similar rude awakening when we were considering houses in my other half's native midlands. That said, you're coming from the positive/negative position of moving from Brighton, which is many people's idea of a transformational living destination! Keep looking.

    1. And there's the rub Lee - neither of us really want to move from Brighton - and neither do the two young adults either! We continue to review our options, as they say. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and to comment.

  2. Have you considered looking around Sussex? We plan to stay in Sussex but get out of Brighton at some stage too. We spend a lot of social and family time in the Uckfield area where house prices are lower than Brighton for example so that is a possibility. Hastings has some charm still too.