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London leavers: 'there's no way we could afford anything like our £400k Edinburgh flat in London'

Chris Batchelor and  Sarah Monan met on a night out in Edinburgh (Handout)
Chris Batchelor and Sarah Monan met on a night out in Edinburgh (Handout)

Five years ago, on a whim, Chris Batchelor went on what he thought was going to be a fun weekend to Edinburgh with a friend.

But their 48-hour whistlestop tour of the city’s sights and bars proved to be life changing.

At one of those bars Chris, now 33, bumped into Sarah Monan, a trainee solicitor.

They exchanged numbers, continued their conversation when Chris had returned home to Brentford in Essex, and embarked on a long distance relationship.

Chris and Sarah began a long distance relationship between London and Edinburgh (Handout)
Chris and Sarah began a long distance relationship between London and Edinburgh (Handout)

At the start of 2021, aware that they couldn’t continue living in different countries indefinitely, Chris relocated north of the border.

The couple got engaged this summer and will be getting married in 2024.

“I haven’t looked back,” said Chris. “I have a great job, we have a flat we couldn’t dream of getting in London, and its all been amazingly easy.”

When Chris was working in London he had joined forces with his twin brother to buy a flat in Brentford.

The couple have bought a £400k flat in a converted cinema in Leith (Handout)
The couple have bought a £400k flat in a converted cinema in Leith (Handout)

To test their relationship, Sarah, now 29 and fully qualified, accepted a year long secondment to work for a London firm.

Her job came with a flat in Canary Wharf and she arrived in the capital shortly before the UK’s first national lockdown in 2020.

“It was a really good test for us, because we went from long distance to being together all the time in a one bedroom flat,” said Chris.

During this time Chris, the director of a public relations company in London, began to mull over the idea of moving to Edinburgh and began talking to local firms.

After a stint living together in London's Canary Wharf the pair are engaged (Handout)
After a stint living together in London's Canary Wharf the pair are engaged (Handout)

The stars aligned and when Sarah’s time in London was up he had secured a job with Edinburgh firm Muckle Media.

“The main difference is the journey to work,” said Chris.

“In London the office was in Old Street and it used to take me at least an hour to get there. Now I travel by tram and it takes 20 minutes, which frees up a lot of time during the day," he added.

"But the perception that work is slower and easier outside London is not the case here. Its really energetic, creative, and fast paced, which was important to me.”

Chris has found everything he loved about London in Edinburgh — except football (Handout)
Chris has found everything he loved about London in Edinburgh — except football (Handout)

Since moving to Edinburgh Chris’s brother has bought out his share of the Brentford flat and he and Sarah have bought a flat together.

The £400,000 two bedroom flat is in a converted cinema in hip Leith (an area which has been totally transformed from its old, run down, Trainspotting days).

“There is no way we could afford anything like this in London,” said Chris.

“And Edinburgh is like a mini London – there are loads of good bars and restaurants, but you can walk everywhere.”

Journeys to London, when he goes back to visit family and friends, take four hours by train (and flights are only around half an hour).

In fact the only regret that Chris has about leaving London is missing games at his two favourite teams, Arsenal and Brentford.

“I’ve fallen in love with Edinburgh, but not with Scottish football,” he said.