“Renting getting you down? I moved back home and have no regrets”

Written by Anna Bartter

With the cost of living crisis taking hold, moving back to a hometown is more appealing than ever, writes Anna Bartter.

There’s something special about a hometown. Most of us call the place we grow up home, regardless of how many places we have lived since. A hometown conjures up comforting images of Friday night football games, hanging out with friends and everyone knowing your name, not to mention the fact that you can get a house (with a garden!) for the same price as a London postage stamp.

With the cost of living crisis really taking hold, a new report from Pocket Living shows that 27% of 25-45-year-olds living in London are planning a move out of the city in the next year, with the figures for the 30–34-year-old age bracket rising to 31%.

Regardless of whether you’re renting or are looking to buy, there’s no doubt that the capital is a pricey place to be. And with research from the US showing that a whopping eight out of 10 young people move back to within 10 miles of their hometowns, this trend looks set to spread across the pond.Could now be the perfect time to return to your roots? 

In my early 20s, when it became clear that I’d never be able to afford a city pad, the pull of home was strong, and my then boyfriend and I moved back to my hometown. Never having been financially savvy or wealthy enough to have bought in London, we moved into a sweet Victorian semi with a tiny garden, and it immediately felt like home.

With rent prices soaring across London, reports say that a quarter of tenants are considering leaving the city to improve their quality of life, and for me, the ability to go for a run through my local woods and be at the beach in under half an hour is priceless. 

There’s no doubt that moving home isn’t for everyone, and my friendship group is equally split between those of us who love living back home, and those who are happiest as far away from it as possible.

It can feel a bit like a time warp, living so close to where I grew up. My daughter attends the same school that I went to, and sitting through parents’ evenings in the hall I last set foot in while taking my maths GCSE is weird, to say the least.

Family walks are punctuated by tales of where I had my first kiss (much to my kids’ dismay), and don’t get me started on the plastic slide at the local leisure centre – yep, it’s still the same. I can’t get through a trip to the supermarket without bumping into someone from my tutor group, and if you happen to have had a school nemesis, well, you may not want to move back. 

All this aside, the advantages of living back in my hometown far outweigh the negatives. While you do have to be careful who you talk about and how you talk about them (a good motto for life, regardless of where you live), it is a privilege to feel part of a community.

Parenting expert Nina Spencer agrees that sometimes there really is no place like home: “I couldn’t wait to move away from the village I’d lived in all my life; I hated it. I had next to no friends and there was nothing for teenagers to do. So aged 18, I ran away to Skegness. 

But when I was 23, a letter came though my dad’s letterbox from my childhood crush, who wanted to go for a drink with old friends. The rest is history: I moved back to my childhood hometown, and we had our own family. 

Since having a life-threatening birth complication I’ve come to appreciate small town life. I love the support from the ladies in my local cafe, the people who stop me to ask about my four children and the community that I’m now a part of.”

There is a powerful sense of belonging in Nina’s story, and it echoes my own. In the 10 years I lived away from home, I struggled with depression, anxiety and loneliness. As soon as I had my first cup of tea in our new (old) house, I knew I was home.

Psychotherapist Roxy Rhodes describes the psychological importance of a hometown: “Hometowns are often important because of the deep sense of connection and feeling of roots that being in them brings about. Things there seem familiar, comforting and nostalgic – in a way that new places simply can’t. The feeling of walking down an old street and remembering which friends used to live there or knowing the places that have changed brings a sense of belonging. It’s a feeling of being part of the history of a place; you know the cultural rules, such as the local accents, understanding phrases that would seem alien to an outsider.”

Life is transient, and Rhodes says that “we cherish a sense of belonging – it makes us feel safe and secure, which is one of our basic human needs”. 

With all the other turmoil in the world right now, why not find some solace in your hometown? After all, as the saying goes: “The nice thing about living in a small town is that when you don’t know what you’re doing, someone else does.”

Images: Getty

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