From the Horse’s Mouth
The South West is a fantastic place to live, raise a family and do business! Then again we would say that wouldn’t we!
Don’t just take our word for it though. We asked some of our network of business contacts to tell us just why they decided to move to either Devon or Cornwall to start their new lives.
We hope that you find their personal stories both interesting and inspiring!
David Kilkelly’s story
Life in the South East just wasn’t working for us
In 2014 I moved with my wife and two children (then 2 & 4 years old) from Brighton to Ashburton in Devon. Prior to the move I had been lecturing at the University of Sussex for 10 years but both my wife and I wanted a change for a number of reasons.
Over the preceding years we had found a lot of our friends had moved to London in search of work. We had moved from the city centre to a suburban area because of rising house prices but this meant that we spent a lot of our time driving across the city and sitting in traffic to see friends. Our social network was disparate and schools were spread out across the city with a postcode lottery system meaning we had no guarantee of developing local relationships as the children grew. We felt that city living would require both of us to work long hours and involve lots of child care and we didn’t want that for our children.
We had considered a number of options
We looked at several smaller towns in Sussex but we continually found that towns were either too large and lacked community or too small and lacked facilities. On top of this the coastline was very over developed and there were only a few crowded green spaces to enjoy.
Previously, we had spent some time in Devon visiting family and realised that there was a huge amount on offer for us as a growing family.
Professionally I had decided to leave education and start a family run video production company with my wife (www.blinkback.co.uk). The economy had stagnated and we saw this as a solution for two reasons. Firstly, we wanted to steer our own ship and respond quickly to changes in the market. I saw this as vital in a developing digital economy and it was not something that I had any influence over at the University I worked at. Secondly, we wanted to build something that we could eventually pass on to our children meaning they would always have good options for their future (they might even teach us a thing or two to keep the business fresh as they grew up and we became stuck in our ways!)
Why we decided on Devon
We chose Ashburton because it was a vibrant small community with a school, post office, library, artisan food shops and even an outdoor swimming pool. Our experience of the town and its people so far really has been exceptional. We developed more friends in the first three months here than we had in the whole of Brighton after 10 years living there. The town is the perfect size for us meaning we can retain our privacy whilst still having a network of support and people to stop and chat with in the street. I was concerned that a small town might be prone to gossip and parochial attitudes but that hasn’t been the case. A lot of people in Ashburton have moved from cities in search of the same things we were looking for.
What we didn’t expect
Probably the best part and one that I wasn’t really prepared for is the stunning choice of outdoor spaces to explore. We live 5 minutes from Dartmoor and 25 minutes from the most beautiful coast line I have seen. In every direction, there is something to see and now the kids are a little older we spend nearly every weekend out and about walking and exploring the rivers, forests, moors and beaches. It certainly beats sitting in traffic to stand on a treadmill.
Being a bit of a foodie I have loved Devon’s passion for local food, we now only visit a supermarket once a month and for the rest of the time we shop locally and eat really well. Just up the road is an organic small holding where we get all our salad and veg and the Fish Deli in town brings up fresh fish every day from Plymouth, no plastic wrapping! We even made our own scrumpy cider this autumn.
Doing business in the Westcountry
The business took a while to pick up as I expected. We had to build our network from scratch and relied on savings to live for the first 12-18 months. There aren’t a vast range of national brands or high revenue businesses in Devon so most of our work is for smaller businesses at the moment.
However, we have carved out a niche working with tourism businesses and this year we launched a service called Shout Devon that embodies our love of the region and helps boost the visitor economy for the county (www.shoutdevon.co.uk). Through this work we often find ourselves out with camera on a Tor at sunrise or flying a drone over epic coastlines. It’s hard to call it work! The business community is very friendly and Devon has more small businesses than any other county meaning there are a number of networking groups and good support for those working here.
Why we won’t ever go back to Sussex
We don’t regret moving to this part of the world at all. In fact it pains us to leave the county and we always cheer when we return back over the border and see the ‘Welcome to Devon’ signs. We can walk the kids to school and we work from home meaning the car often sits in the drive way for days without being used. The kids are happy and know loads of other kids which they see about town all the time and popping in for visits and play dates is no bother. I couldn’t and wouldn’t go back to Sussex, Devon is our home now.
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