Locating to UK (London) on the horizon. Where to live from a cyclist's perspective?

After months of interviews, my girlfriend got a job offer. We’re very excited about living in the UK (these opportunities don’t come often after 40 so might as well take it!) so she’s gonna be accepting it this week. It’s such a big opportunity that I don’t even give a sh!t about my work. I think they’ll be cool with it since I’ve worked remote since 2016. I’m just not worried about it even if it means lowered salary.

Now! We both dislike the “city life.” Traffic, loud noises, big crowds aren’t our thing. We love nature.
Obviously as a cyclist, you know where my priorities lie.

If we were to live within 30 minutes or so away from the city, where would you recommend that has nice hills, minimal traffic, great sense of security and quiet?

I’m spoiled by all the hills and mountains around me in San Francisco Bay Area. I think that’s not a common thing in the UK? If it is, where would that be? Or just in general, where are the best spots for a cyclist to live if you like climbing a lot?

Thanks in advance!

Find a place near Richmond Park. You should be looking around the borough of Putney or more directly in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Wimbledon also works as well so do look there too.

Very easy to then get to the Surrey Hills where you can get your climb on. Lots of cyclists in this area as well so it’d be very easy for you to find a club.

Also, here are some sites to generally look for flats to live. Rent is high just to warn.

https://www.rightmove.co.uk/

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Thank you so much for that!

Yeah, honestly we expect London / around to be similar to what we pay over here in California :rofl: :smiling_face_with_tear:

Plus here is that cycling insurance is cheap (british cycling) and you get access to the NHS so your health insurance is covered.

Its definitely much more compact living than what you are used to in Cali. But cycling is huge here so you should be able to find a tribe pretty quickly.

Good luck on the transition. Feel free to ask away if you have any other questions about moving over.

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Where exactly in London is your girlfriend’s job? Makes a huge difference to where is palatable to live with the commute time.

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Do you guys have to get a Visa? You bringing a car (don’t, cars are WAY cheaper in the UK). You can purchase converters for those US appliances that aren’t dual voltage. For instance my CPAP needed a converter (and was fried in just over a year) my sons computer did not (just US-UK plugs). Cable, internet, cell phone plans are cheaper, food is cheaper. Pubs and restaurants are not as good as in the US (lol English breakfast) but ready meals and food purchased in stores is a lot better there than here.

Toilets are hard to get used to as is not having a nice big clothes drier or a washer big enough to do more than 2 shirts and maybe a pair of socks at a time. Fridges are teeny-tiny but my wife and I loved walking to the store every day, we miss that.

UK folks aren’t fans of Americans. We tried to be low key and lay low.

We loved trains and the convenience of the underground. London is an amazing city. My wife and I just loved to walk around. We’d take the tube to Kings Cross station and just walk down to the sites,

We lived in a village up near Peterborough. East Anglia is a nice area.

I loved driving there! Took to it almost immediately (hardest part was parking lots for me). The cycling was meh…but holy shit if you can get to the continent!

No clue about living near London. The “hills” are different there. We found the UK drivers to be more cyclist friendly than in the US but less pedestrian friendly there than here in the US weirdly.

I bought a couple bikes over there and they have left hand back brake right hand front. I’m so used to it now that I told my LBS to leave it at my last tuneup (here in the states).

Cool places to see and travel to. Roundabouts up the ass. I’m so good at then now I feel like I need to hold personal classes for the people in my city that are new to them.

Good thing about living in the city is you can look down your nose at the little people from the NORTH. The smugness will be intoxicating I’m sure. The English countryside was our favorite treat. Big cities kind of blur together…but then again I’m white trash so you’ll be fine. Although we LOVED Edinburgh.

Everywhere you go there’s either a piece of “something” famous or a massive amount of people were killed/hanged there etc. It’s so awesome, lol. Let us know after you toured your 612th church your first three months there. Catalogue them by century or something.

It’ll be an adventure for sure. RyanAir for the MTFW. Pick the cheapest fare for the month and go, memorize the rules (charge for everything but the recycled air you breath) pack your little backpack and enjoy.

My boys found a little kitty, a British Shorthair he’s the most amazing pet we’ve ever had. He’s the best thing we have from the UK. We’ll never go back but it’s an interesting place for sure.

Good luck and safe travels!

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This is critical…… London is massive and could take 1.5 hours to travel east to west so really need to know office location before answering. Putney/Wimbledon etc as above are nice but still busy. You might find that somewhere like Ascot, Sunningdale, Virginia Water, Weybridge areas are better, if you want to be away from the city but still c.30/45 mins on a train commute (to Waterloo)

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Very close to King’s Cross station so I assume she’d be taking the met… ahem… the tube to work.

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If you don’t want to live in the city and prefer more of a village / town lifestyle as a priority, have a look at places north of the M25 such as Cheshunt, Ware, Hertford etc. much quieter and c.30 min commute on train (not tube but still frequent eg 4 trains per hour)

That said, as newcomers to the city I think you will be missing out a little on the London vibe/culture but depends what’s important to you

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Love it. We moved in a 400sq ft apartment from 2 separate houses when we met. Bought a house 3x the space but never “filled it out.” I have always been sort of a minimalist (I’m originally from Turkey. Moved to Los Angeles and then LA to SF which meant I’ve learned quickly to “downsize” and the value of being mobile :smile:) She’s really into that lifestyle too. Hoping we can adapt!

Honesty with pandemic I haven’t been riding with anyone. Once a week, long ride with a friend. Rest has been indoors. So it’d be a big bonus to meet new people there and get some rides together. I feel CA is so separated that even if I meet a few people either they or I move somewhere else and we lose touch completely.

Anyway pretty excited! Thank you for the replies!

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Any of the towns above have multiple cycling clubs, you will quickly meet new people

If you stay central, kings cross is v close to Regents Park and you get tons of cycling groups there (it’s a pan flat loop but v scenic and cycling friendly)

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Haha thanks for all the info. Food sucks in most places for us as we’re vegan. But I heard London is pretty vegan friendly. But we’ll figure it out. All I know is the opportunity retire somewhere else than the US is pretty exciting. Being one accident away from bankruptcy, illness or anything like that here is the worst feeling ever. So in comparison a complete new culture etc doesn’t make me too anxious.

Btw I can see the UK or europeans not loving Americans. I was treated way better in Switzerland and France than my girlfriend. But it doesn’t take much to change people’s minds… Hell, in parts of the USA I’m sure I would be treated like crap. And if not, what you gonna do. Move on and live life :blush:

Gotta say though I’ve lived in the US for 18 years and have not been in a pub that I even remotely enjoyed. So a little surprised by this comment.

Oh I’m over city vibe and culture. I’m from Istanbul. I’ve had enough city showed in my life as I can take until I was 21 :joy: As long as we can choose to be there it’s good enough. Just like SF. I don’t go there for months (though just 20 mins away) but nice if you wanna visit for a couple hours for night out / lunch / cultural activity etc

What a great opportunity way too few Americans get to experience. You’ve already been given some great advice. As an American who lived in west London (Chiswick) for a few years before moving to the continent, allow me to add on.

For location, given that it seems like your girlfriend will be working somewhere in London, some things to consider. Transportation was mentioned. Depending on where she is working, I’d be sure to be near a tube stop (Chiswick and Richmond are good candidates on the west side, see reference re access to Richmond Park above and Surrey, including Box Hill etc, I’ll return to this) or a rail station if her office is near a train station in the City. I’d suggest accepting that you’ll want easy access to London for the sights, theater, food (there’s a good Chinatown), museums, etc. Depending on where you are, she could also cycle to the office. There’s also the option of living farther away and taking the train in, this takes me to the next point, food. ** Just saw your girlfriend’s office will be close to King’s Cross, so she could plan on taking a train into the City, but read on for considerations. Do pay attention to transfers getting into / out of the King’s Cross (or which stop she ends up using), at least be aware.

You could get out and into small villages, but an advantage of say Richmond and Chiswick is the variety of restaurants for dine-in, take-away, or delivery, a variety you won’t have in a smaller village. Regardless, you’re likely to have a good Sainsbury (think Ralphs) or Waitrose (think Pavilions, not quite Gelson’s… considering you’re coming from CA these should resonate) to walk to, which is also a consideration for a location. I’d pick a place you can easy walk to the market, including butcher and bakery (and pub and cafe), which won’t be that hard. Also, know that you’ll be shopping for groceries a good three times a week because things are fresh and without the preservatives in US foods. I “joke” there’s no need for a large refrigerator in a UK home because, well, the food doesn’t keep as long. No Costco runs… Honestly, I’d caution against moving to a quiet village as your first stop because of the increased need to drive, variety of services, etc. Your mileage will vary, but considering the desire to enjoy, there are great options to be outside the City while also enjoying easy access to it and other access afforded by access to the City as a hub.

This segues to why we picked Chiswick, which may or may not be helpful to you. At the time my wife was working nearly at Oxford (ie way outside of London) and had to drive, and this put us outside the “bubble” of London track (or at least on the edge) with the tube (District line) easily taking us into London or Heathrow. We were very close to Turnham Green tube, had a large park steps away, great options for food and entertainment (Westfield mall at White City for movies), easy for cycling and running, and yet it was quiet.

To hype Richmond, you have access to the Thames and the tow path, the park (which for the early riser is closed to cars until I forget when), and rides south. You can easily pedal far afield or hop the train with your bike to get farther afield. You also have great outdoor areas along the Thames for lounging and eating during the warmer months. From Chiswick, it’s an easy pedal or walk to pubs and restaurants along the Thames in both directions. (I preferred living in Chiswick than Richmond which I visited often, FWIW.)

Hopefully, you’ll be able to do a visit to get a feel for whatever place you want to live in, including food options, pub (great beer, great food, great relaxation… if it’s the right place), park options, access to cycling, access to London or elsewhere. An advantage of being near London is access to Eurostar and training it to the continent. Pop over to Paris (or Disneyland Paris!) or elsewhere. Or take a train to the North or the West, hop over to Ireland, or a just as easy flight to Spain, Majorca, Italy, Switzerland, etc.

Saw your comment about retiring somewhere… I’d suggest looking at Spain as well. :slight_smile:

Sorry for the ramble, I could probably clean it up, but trying to get this to you before getting out. Happy to share more here or PM.

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Love and appreciate all of this insight, thank you!
I, ofcourse, have a one track mind and think “where to ride” but these are great considerations I don’t think about amid all the “new routes” excitement. Sounds like there’s good balance and you can have a bit of both though!

What’s great is that her work has an insanely good relocation plan and they let her stay in different places until she decides to settle. So we’ll be able to get a feel for a few neighborhoods before committing.

Like you said, I’ll probably prefer somewhere we can live comfortably (stores, close enough to culture / activities etc) and I’ll figure the cycling part. Taking train to ride somewhere sounds excellent. And my biggest dream is to meet up with my friend few times a year and ride france, italy, switzerland etc as you mentioned.

Also retirement / Spain… SIGN ME UP :slightly_smiling_face:

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Another plus for London is being able to get to LHR in 20 mins and fly to Zurich, Amsterdam, Rome, Spain, south France all within 1-2 hours for £100. Tons of culture and different countries closer distances than LA to SF!

As above, I would go Chiswick, Richmond etc first instance and then you can decide whether to venture out to the quieter towns

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quickly but I figured this was important… i think you mentioned appliances & whatever. check if anything you want to take – mixer, tv, whatever – can take 220-240v. Most likely it can. (The TV most definitely… ) and don’t bother with adapters, just change the plug unless you’re certain it’ll go back to the states with you, which it sounds like… nah. The variety of things in terms of cooking stuff I find to be greater in the UK, or at least some thing that were “premium” in the US are everyday in UK & Europe.

With regard to vegetarian, I’m not vegetarian but I enjoy a good veggie meal and that wasn’t hard to find. Also, where we lived, we had two storefronts that sold veg. You have a butcher that sells meat and we had two storefronts that specialized in veg. Awesome. Seasonal stuff and tasty. One store had, and I counted, seven distinct varieties of carrot at one time.

Also, don’t even consider bringing a US car over. It’ll just be a hassle. You’ll have great options in the UK, if, that is, you even want a car. You may be fine with public transport and with hourly/daily car rental for when you need it. And roundabouts are awesome, truly. On cars, you’re likely to find yourself in a narrow street, made narrower by parking on one or both sides. You’ll get good, one hopes, at driving with mere inches of space on either side. The bus driver are certainly good at that. Also, car insurance… covers everything and they pick up the car and work with the garage. A whole lot of things will blow your mind and you’ll find the US system of doing so much is antiquated. Anyway…

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Oh I’ll be fine. Here’s a delight from my hometown. Our major freeways are 2 lanes wide :rofl:

image

Honestly we’re not planning on taking anything with us but clothes, our dog and my bike. I might ship the kickr bike as well but we’ll see. Might sell and re-buy over there.

We’re eventually gonna rent our US house but not at first. My plan is to sell my truck, use the money to update our bathrooms and get the house rent ready. We’ll figure out the rest slowly. We’ll leave her car here for me when I’m in town. Over there, I don’t
even know. most likely get a car eventually but not at first.

In the first year, I’ll be doing a lot of back and forth cause I’m a year away from citizenship in the US so I have to live here 6 months out of 12 at least (doesn’t have to be consequent 6 months). Plan is to use time here to sell or store our furniture and rent it out before permanent move. We really don’t need to take much “stuff” though. As mentioned we don’t have much and would love to keep it that way.

My girlfriend lived off the grid for 3 years with no internet and watched stuff on dvd’s on her work laptop before she moved in with me. We have 2 of each utensils, 2 glasses and 2 plates and bowls in the kitchen.

Yep, we’re a weird couple.

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I’m definitely mostly stoked about this. Not just for cycling opportunities but travel too. Our whole life revolves around working until summer time off from work to go visit my family in Turkey for a week then jumping to a different place in Europe for couple of weeks. Being able to do that on a weekend versus waiting all year is literally worth it alone. Also lifelong friend who’s also a cyclist recently moved from our hometown to Germany so I can NOT wait to setup some bike trips with him.

From what I understand in the OP, I think that Richmond would still be too much of a city destination. It has a big park, yes, but there’s basically one circular road in it and that gets boring after a while. To get into actual countryside you do still need to ride a fair distance.

If you want “literally 5 minutes to rolling countryside” but also commutable to London, I’d take a look at the dark purple, grey, and light pink lines on this rail map. Dark purple to Horsham is Surrey, light pink to Sevenoaks is Kent, grey is kind of in between. Both are amazing places to ride with the North Downs, Kentish villages, and Surrey Hills, where the Olympic road race 2012 was held.

Eynsford, for example, on the pink line, has a viaduct, a roman villa, a castle, a lovely tea shop, and amazing scenery like the image below. Plus it gets you straight into London Blackfriars in about an hour which is then just a really quick change to get to King’s Cross / St Pancras.

In fact all of those lines will take your girlfriend to King’s Cross with one easy change at most. So you could just look up the journey times on Google Maps or www.nationalrail.co.uk and see if any of them look like they hit the sweet spot between commute time and quiet location (I’m not sure you’ll hit a 30 minute commute from a properly lovely rural area, but only you know how best to prioritise).

I’ve been riding these areas for years so any questions feel free to DM.

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