If you’ve been following our story so far then you’ll know we are planning on moving to The Lake District in the next 12-24 months but are having a little difficulty in finding the right location.
‘A little difficulty’ is probably an underestimation. A lot of difficulty is a more accurate description.
For those of you who haven’t read about our trials and tribulations here is a very short summary:
We have saved hard and lived very frugally in order to be able to retire early and live a life of financial freedom.
We have always wanted to move to the countryside, away from the south coast of England and have spent the past 3 years trying to find the right location.
When I say location I don’t mean a specific village or town. I mean trying to narrow down a location to something less than an entire English county!
Because we won’t be working when we move we are not bound by commuting distances. Nor are we moving to be closer to family.
Which is why we have found it more difficult to pin point where we want to move to because, in all honesty, we could move anywhere.
If you’d like to read the previous installments then check them out below:
Having saved for so long and gone without things in order to achieve financial freedom it is a little frustrating that this next stage is not that simple.
My friend MERJ hit the nail on the head when she commented that there was “more slog work required for FIRE…it’s not all numbers and savings and everything falls into place”.
She is absolutely right! Saving money and living frugally have become habits that feel natural to me.
I like being frugal with my money. I like the fact that I leave a lighter footprint on this earth because I use less resources.
But traipsing up and down the country to try and find our ideal FIREplace location is not that much fun.
I am very conscious of the diesel we are using to drive around. Not just for the monetary cost, but also the environmental cost.
The long distances are tiring whether you are the driver or the passenger.
Motorway driving is boring and small country lane driving is stressful (for me).
And yes, there is the frugal me who is looking at the cost of these quarterly trips and calculating how much our indecision is costing us.
Add in the fact that we seem incapable of making firm decisions quickly and you can see how it can get frustrating quite quickly.
The silly thing is, we previously managed to buy a house ‘accidentally’ very quickly without any planning or proper research. We viewed it, having previously dismissed the village and made an offer an hour later.
So we can make decisions quickly, just not this time. Which might not be a bad thing really. After all we are hopefully talking about our forever home location.
Doing Things Differently
This time we decided to do things a little differently. To be much more focused on location hunting and have a plan and route mapped out before we went.
By being more focused we hoped to cover a bigger area and ensure we remembered the places we really liked.
It is also different this time because we have a deadline which we are now working to. I do love me a good deadline/target, and have not intention of failing this one.
The target is to have our house ready to be marketed by 31st March.
With that focus and the DIY involved, some done, plenty still to do, it meant that this trip was possibly our last one before our house goes on the market.
Miles And Miles Of Country Roads
The journey up to Penrith was amazingly uneventful. For the first time in many years, we did not encounter an accident on the M6.
There was one on the opposite carriageway so what I said still holds true – there is always an accident and ensuing tailback every day on the M6.
The roadworks were also uneventful. It looked like our day was going well!
And thus it continued. Using our walking maps and the post codes of properties currently on Rightmove we clustered areas to research and drive through.
We covered 2 different clusters on our drive up day and a further 3 the following day.
We had intended to split the searching up over the week but decided more focus was needed on location hunting in order to actually achieve something concrete this time.
After all, this could be the last time we visit The Lake District before we are ready to do actual house viewings!
Our return journey totalled 660 miles. We actually covered 1250 miles. That is a lot of little country road driving.
Thankfully the country roads outside the national park are a darn sight better than many inside it. Another reason I’m not keen on living inside the national park – those roads.
Mr2p And His Spanners
I know you want to know whether Mr2p threw any spanners in the plans as he is wont to do.
Yes, is the short answer. But the longer answer is that he threw a potential spanner in but we have a wider choice of locations as a direct result of this spanner.
We had planned a walk on the Tuesday but as per last year snow got in the way of our plans. So instead of a walk Mr2p suggested we drive to Alston.
Alston is not in The Lake District and only just in Cumbria. It’s England’s highest market town being atop the North Pennines.
The journey to Alston was lovely – snowy outlook and fabulous snow covered fells. If there is one thing destined to get Mr2p loving an area it’s snow covered hills.
Getting out of the car Mr2p dropped his little spanner – “I could live here”. Seriously?
Alston is a 30-40 minute drive to the edge of The Lake District so completely outside of the area that Mr2p had previously said he was willing to live in.
On the other hand, I’ve thought more practically, are we really going to be doing long, big walks 5 days a week? Do we not get more for our money that much further out?
Coupled with the fact that 12 years ago I had said I wanted to move to Northumberland and the Pennines, Alston hits the mark for me in many ways.
Having had a further drive, walk and Rightmove research Alston has not only made our shortlist, it is currently at the top of mine.
Mr2p was obviously on a roll that day. After Alston we drove over the North Pennines and down into Brampton.
And guess what? Mr2p loves Brampton, in fact it’s nigh on his number one choice.
Brampton is not in The Lake District, it’s nowhere near. In fact it’s north of the North Pennines and east of Carlisle. So not in our search area!
What We’ve Learned
Good weather is key to a successful search.
You don’t need hot weather but having clear skies and an absence of dreary rain or low cloud makes location searching much more precise and true.
Areas we had previously dismissed on a dreary, rainy day have made it back onto our short list.
Being focused and structured in how you approach things really can make a difference in what you get out of the experience.
We have a much clearer idea of what we like, and more importantly, what we are willing to compromise on.
There will always be a compromise when you have a limited budget so understanding this is going to be a big help.
Where Are We Now?
The key features of what we are looking for in a house have not changed that much. Previously they were:
- the countryside
- big landscapes
- very large garden (or land!)
- a slower pace of life
- good broadband
- a double garage/large workshop/outbuildings
Now they include access to a village with a pub, shop and ideally a community hall or something similar.
What are we willing to compromise on?
Realistically we know now, and accept, we will probably have to compromise on a bit of most things.
We are unlikely to get land, we might be lucky and get a large garden.
We are willing to compromise on location in order to get more for our money. The more being garden/land/outbuildings.
Previously being very near to the national park and it’s fells was felt to be a priority. Now it is less so.
We are more realistic about what our new life might include.
Nice idea to be walking the fells every day but probably not likely. Therefore location to the fells is not so key.
We have a shortlist! Well actually it’s quite a long list but that is a good thing. It gives us more flexibility and more choice.
Given we are on a limited budget, having flexibility in areas gives us the potential to get more of our key wants.
The shortlist is mainly centred around Penrith and the Northern Fells. West of Wigton, up to Dalston, across to Brampton, Alston and down slightly south east of Penrith.
Of course if a property came up in our price range in Keswick, with most of our wants then we would jump at it. Realistically though it isn’t likely to happen.
Special mention to Kate who made us revisit the Northern Fells after describing it so positively.
Escape To The Country?
So am I going to need to fill out that application for the Escape To The Country TV programme?
Of course I am!
We might have honed our list and got a much clearer idea of what we think we want and the areas we think we would like to live in.
But Escape To The Country has a good track record of getting serious buyers to look and think outside the box. And that could be a good thing in our case.
So here’s hoping that Brexit or the prospect of it doesn’t kill off the UK housing market and we achieve our 31st March target.
I’ll let you know!