I’m in a huge dilemma at the moment about where to live. We seem to have narrowed it down to three options, but none of them are easy: move to …
the Isle of Wight…
To give you the background, when I met my Hampshire-based husband I was living in Sheffield and was applying for jobs around Brighton and Bournemouth looking for a complete change of scenery. I had interviews lined up, but then things in my job changed and they asked me to consider staying on longer. I stayed up north for another year and during that time things moved on in our relationship so Husband and I decided to get a place together close enough to his work in Gosport on the south coast. This meant ditching my idea of living in Bournemouth or Brighton as both were a bit too far for him to commute. We rented for a while and then bought a house in Fareham (in between Portsmouth and Southampton). I never really wanted to live in this area, but the places I did want to live were way out of our budget or too far away. Fareham is a nice little market town so we felt it was a sensible and decent place to buy in. There is nothing wrong with where we live – there is a lovely little town centre with good shops, we live close to a pretty creek and nice playground for the kids – it just doesn’t feel like home to me. You know how when you’re buying a house, there is no scientific reason why you like one and not another? Well that’s how I feel here – it’s somewhere that has everything I need but the feeling in my gut is missing. I’ve never felt settled, even though I’ve been here for about nine years now. It would be so easy to stay, send our kids to school here and never leave. I have friends here. Husband’s family are all near. Being here is easy. But then I’m a firm believer that anything worth doing is hard, and if we want to all be happier we need to make it happen.
We’ve been looking into moving across the water to the Isle of Wight for a while now. I’ve been keeping an eye on RightMove for the past couple of years to track house prices there while we finish renovating our house. Houses are cheaper there but Husband would have a commute of over an hour each way (compared with five minutes each way at the moment) on a couple of ferries and a bus which would increase out outgoings. We’d still be able to afford a bigger house even allowing for the cost of the commute. It felt like it would be a good move for our family. Open spaces, great beaches, less traffic and a more laid-back way of life all round.
Only now it’s sounding like Husband’s aviation job is in jeopardy. In three years time, two big contracts at his work are ending and potentially a couple of hundred staff his niche job role could be looking for work. There isn’t really much else in the aviation industry here, so this changes everything.
Moving to the IOW would limit his commute options, so we can’t do it unless he could find a job on the island (there are a couple of aircraft places there but they probably pay less which means a mortgage company might not lend us what we’d like to borrow). Thinking ahead, if he did get an aviation job on the island and then the company laid staff off in a year or two there wouldn’t really be any other places for him to work in his industry. Given the state of the economy, lots of businesses are going under or reducing their staff, so there is potential for this to happen.
Cornwall is another place we’ve considered before. We love it there and think it would be a great place to raise our kids, although pay is lower, so we think we’d struggle to afford a home. Looking at prices, a three bed house there is a similar price to our three bed house in Hampshire, but the jobs we’ve seen have all been about a third lower than he earns here. Then when our children grow up, how easy would they find it to get a job and buy a house if they wanted to stay in the county, as we know this is a problem faced by lots of young people growing up there?
The next option we have is to emigrate from the UK to Australia. We travelled around the country for three months in 08/09 and loved it there. When we came back to the UK we looked into it, but after having the boys we decided it was unfair to take them away from their grandparents. We’ve now started looking into it again seriously. It would still be heartbreaking to take them away from their family here, but we can see so much potential in a move. Better weather, lower crime rates, lower levels of unemployment, bigger houses for the price (although I know housing over there is more expensive, you get more square footage for your buck), better pay for Husband’s job, more open spaces, quiet beaches…the list goes on. There is also a thriving aviation industry on the east coast, and Husband has a work colleague who relocated to Brisbane a few years ago who has been giving us lots of positive advice and information.
It’s such a hard decision. We feel Australia has a lot to offer the kids and it would give us the best security in terms of Husband’s work, but I know it would be hard leaving everything behind. We could be just as happy in some other parts of the UK and have an outdoor lifestyle as much as the weather allows. No single option seems to stand out to us as definitely being the right way forward.
Do we try Cornwall or the IOW to see if either would work before ruling them out, or do we just go for it and put in our expression of interest for Australia? It’s too expensive to stop once we’ve started the main application process, so we need to know we’re going to follow it through. Moving is likely to cost us £10 – £20k (flights, shipping a few things over, visa fees, rent when we arrive, car hire etc.) which will take a chunk of the equity from our house sale over here. It’s not the sort of money we could ever afford again, which means the move really needs to be one way, and one way only.
If we decide to go we will need to get our head around selling almost everything we own – and Husband and I are both hoarders so this is a HUGE task, plus we’d need to get on with it quickly because we’d want to get out there before the boys start school (they’re due to start here in September 2014, or if we went to Brisbane January 2015).
Agh. It’s all making my brain ache. I can’t stop thinking about it, but I just don’t know how we can make the decision. Husband loves all of the ideas – he just wants to keep working on planes or helicopters and wants somewhere we can enjoy the outdoors. If I said I wanted to go to Australia, he’d make a start on the application, but equally if I found a perfect job in the right part of the UK he’d put in for that too. Although I’m sure his heart is in Australia and there would always be an element of regret for him if we didn’t go. I think I feel the same way too.
Does anyone have any special decision making strategies I could use to get my head around which is the best option for us? We need to do something otherwise we’ll just end up staying here and in three years we could be in a tricky situation of having an out of work husband who can’t find a job.
Have any of you made a huge move? Or maybe you considered it but decided against it? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. What do you think we should do?!! All comments would be really appreciated. xxx