Leaving London: why one family left the Peckham-Dulwich borders to ‘try before they buy’ and rent in Dorset

·3-min read
The Paterson family have adopted a ‘try before you buy’ approach to their move out of London  (Handout)
The Paterson family have adopted a ‘try before you buy’ approach to their move out of London (Handout)

Uprooting your life in London is a huge decision. To give themselves an exit strategy in case things went wrong the Paterson family have adopted a “try before you buy” approach.

Rather than sell their four-bedroom London house, which is on the borders of Peckham and East Dulwich, they have rented it out.

The income is covering their mortgage payments, freeing them up to rent a house while they give living by the sea in Dorset a trial run on the basis that if they didn’t settle in they could just go home.

“We wanted to be absolutely sure we were doing the right thing,” said Ginny Paterson, 49. “We wanted to have a fallback. We also wanted to be on the spot if we did decide to sell up in London and buy a new house, because it makes viewing properties so much easier.”

Renting gives the family flexibility to go to house viewings in future (Handout)
Renting gives the family flexibility to go to house viewings in future (Handout)

Ginny, her husband Fraser, 53, and their two children Amber, nine, and Leo, seven, had been kicking around the idea of moving to the seaside for the last four years, partly so that making a move wouldn’t come as a shock to the younger members of the family.

Last year they decided to take the plunge and on December 29 — a date chosen because it would be easy to book a removal van — the family left the capital for Parkstone, a suburb of Poole. The house is a 25-minute walk to the beach and is also less than five miles from Bournemouth and a half-hour drive to the New Forest.

Dorset wasn’t the family’s first choice. Ginny’s initial instinct was to move to Brighton, for its vibrancy and city vibes, but Fraser vetoed the idea because of the pebbly beach. Poole is quieter but it has three miles of sandy beaches, plus opportunities for sailing, windsurfing, and even sand polo at upscale Sandbanks.

The family’s temporary home is a “huge” four-bedroom house with the ultimate luxury: a garden that is actually too big for their needs. But renting a family property in this kind of popular coastal location isn’t a budget option and they are paying £3,500pcm. And, because they are renting their London place when they come to sell they will be liable for Capital Gains Tax.

Fortunately the expense has not been in vain.

“It only took us a couple of weeks to realise that we had made the right decision,” said Ginny. “As soon as we saw that the children were settling well at school we knew.”

Ginny, formerly a banker but currently a full time mother, and Fraser, a business manager for a bank (who commutes to work in London around one day a week), won’t be house hunting right away, however.

Their London house is let out for a year, and they are taking the time to really explore the local area so they can decide precisely where they want to live. When they are ready they have a hankering for a contemporary house, with lateral space.

As well as beaches and glorious countryside, the family is busy exploring their local area, discovering new favourite pubs and restaurants. “There is all of the usual stuff too, cinemas and bowling, and the children would be at the amusements every day if they could,” said Ginny.