London leavers: 'We left renting in Leyton for a £600,000 Victorian semi in Bakewell'

Homes & Property | Where to live

London leavers: 'We left renting in Leyton for a £600,000 Victorian semi in Bakewell'

Nicole Berryman and her family were spending £1,600 a month on rent in London

At the weekend Nicole Berryman and her family took a long, beautiful, walk amidst some of the UK's most beautiful scenery before heading to Bakewell – the market town which Jane Austen used as inspiration for Lambton in Pride and Prejudice – for a leisurely lunch.

“It was the kind of thing that people go on holiday to do,” said Nicole.

But for Nicole, 37, her husband Stuart, 37, and their four-year-old son Arlo, this kind of day out has been normal life since they relocated 170 miles north from Leyton, east London, to Bakewell, in the heart of the Peak District National Park.

At the start of the pandemic Nicole, a freelance communications consultant, and Stuart, a technical producer for live events, were renting a two bedroom £1,800 a month house in Leyton.

Moving to the Peak district required building a new community around their family

Nicole is originally from Sheffield and the couple had always planned to move north to be closer to her family — they just weren’t sure when.

“When the pandemic started Stuart lost all of his work because live events were the first to finish and the last to come back,” said Nicole. “We were talking about our lifestyle and our finances and decided it might be best to accelerate our move up north.”

In February 2021 the family moved into a three bedroom house in the tiny village of Birchover, in the middle of Stanton Moor, which cost them £800 a month, to give them a chance to test out country life.

Stuart loved living in the middle of nowhere but Nicole found the experience beautiful, but lonely, and a real culture shock after London. So when they began house hunting they focussed on Bakewell, some five miles away.

In August 2022 they moved into a five bedroom Victorian semi, which cost £600,000.

Bakewell's local businesses

Nicole's picks

⬤ “SUMMAT is a sports cafe and community where my husband and I have made many dear friends”

⬤ “ The Lambton Larder is a wonderful local coffee shop where they know my name and order”

⬤ “My gym is 5One Fitness in Buxton run by Stew and Charley where I've met many close friends, and Fit Missions in Bakewell is where I first started building a network in the town”

⬤ “Pizzuti Kitchen for 10/10 italian style pizzas in Bakewell and our regular for Friday evening 'tea'”

“In Leyton you could maybe have bought a two bedroom terrace for that,” said Nicole.

With its shops, cafes, pubs, and restaurants, Bakewell is much more Nicole’s style, although living in a tourist honeypot has some unexpected downsides. “It gets really crowded, on Bank Holidays and weekends you can’t actually leave town because of the traffic,” said Nicole.

Almost two years after the move Stuart and Arlo are delighted with their new life. Nicole admits to still yearning for London — its culture, restaurants, and diversity, as well as the friends she left behind.

“It takes quite a long time to build communities,” she said. On the other hand she does enjoy the slightly slower pace of life in Derbyshire. “I love London but I do also find it exhausting.”