31st December 2015. That’s the date that I officially parted ways with the capital after more than a decade-long love affair with her. In the space of a few frantic months; myself, my wife and Darcey the dog sold up in South West London and moved lock, stock and barrel to the sunny south coast…
As appears usual in cases of upheaval the trigger point for committing to the move was not one single event but the culmination of a perfect storm of personal circumstances.
On the push side of the equation I was, at the time, no longer working “in town” as my previous agency’s satellite office in Soho had closed and I was enduring an almost 4 hour daily commute to the Aldershot HQ. For those of you reading this who haven’t experienced the “joys” of commuting, keep it that way. For those who have/do, just make sure it is worth it. Life is too short! Here endeth the only sermon you will hear from me!
After 18 months of commuting drudgery I came to repeatedly ask myself, and anyone who would listen to me, the question why we lived in the capital at all? We were no longer regularly consuming the smorgasbord of cultural delight that central London serves up on a continual basis – My dancing shoes in particular were starting to gather dust as the clock moved inexorably towards the big 4 0.
Then there was the London housing market to consider. Prices had, in my opinion, started to plateau and if we ever wanted to trade up within the M25 to a house with an extra bedroom and bathroom we would be faced with not only paying a ridiculous amount over the odds for such a property but also we would be committing to an even larger mortgage.
The pull factors were similar to many who have followed the well worn path of the Southbound M3 / Westbound M27 (desire to start family, closer to partners family / the beach / the New Forest, smaller mortgage etc.). Furthermore my father had recently passed away which unsurprisingly shone a great big spotlight on all aspects of life (please refer to my earlier comments on commuting!)
That is not to say that the decision to leave was an easy one. I had a concern that leaving London would be viewed by others as a lack of ambition on my part. I also had to factor that my earning potential for the foreseeable future would have to be revised. My wife also had reservations. Not only had she built a high-end mobile beauty business servicing the affluent suburbs of the SW postcode but she had also immersed herself in community life on our street – even going so far as organising summer parties and carol singing for all our lovely neighbours.
However, as is normally the case in the rich tapestry of life, compromises were agreed and we undertook our grand journey south…
Fast forward to the present day and our lives have settled down into something approaching normality.
As well as still travelling to London to see her key clients my wife has started a dog accessory business, trained as a sports massage therapist and set up an agency to supply emergency staff cover for beauty salons across Bournemouth.
I’ve chosen the ever growing Dorset tech hub over dogs and have just finished my first full month with Createful. Already I feel privileged to have joined a group of fun and talented individuals whose skillsets combine to help clients such as LV=, Animal and Fairline Yachts build both amazing customer focused apps and responsive websites.
The last month at Createful has been a heady mix of trade shows, meetings, conferences, “networking” events and tender responses.
It has also involved getting intimate with a Mac when all you have ever known as a life partner is a PC…
My formative observations on the core differences (& similarities) between the media world of London versus that of Bournemouth & Poole will be a recurring theme of future blogs. I will try not to sugar coat opinions by writing pieces that may be more suited to the Visit Dorset tourism board. Conversely, I will not belittle those who have chosen not to sample the London life and have instead built their careers and businesses in the surrounding area.
If these observations contribute in any way to the talent retention conversation which is currently being aired by representatives of education, public sector, industry and associated trade bodies such as Silicon Beach, Silicon South, and Digital Horizons then they will be worthy pieces to write.
If you have your own personal experiences or observations on the great London / Dorset debate I would love to hear them so please feel free to tweet us
Also if you do see a big Irish guy with a bit of a rubbish beard at the next Meetdraw etc. please do say hello as I’d love to hear your story and how you got into the wonderful world of digital in this beautiful part of the world.