It took Claire Ramsay almost a decade to slowly drag herself away from London.
Rather than pull the plaster off in one go, Claire and her husband Tristan have moved out in cautious incremental stages to make sure they were really making the right decision.
“I love London, and I had always said that I would never leave,” said Claire. “I loved being able to get into central London easily, and I loved going out.”
The problem was that she and Tristan, who runs his own animation company, Frantic, could no way afford to buy a family home in W4. So the couple decided to investigate Ruislip, in deepest Hillingdon, where they hoped they would get more for their money.
They decided to rent first, to make sure they liked the area but once they arrived they were not impressed by its high prices. “Ruislip was still quite expensive, and we felt we were not going to bet the most for our money,” explained Claire, 41.
Then Tristan’s brother moved to Walton-on-Thames, a riverside village just over the border into in Surrey. He and Claire visited, and were very impressed. So much so that in 2014 they paid £595,000 for a four bedroomed semi in the town.
All was well until 2018 when the family went on a staycation to the Cotswolds during the February bank holiday.
“It just set something off in us,” said Claire. “We just really loved being out in the countryside and we started to question where we were living.
“The problem with Walton-on-Thames is that it is not London, and it is not the countryside. It is kind of nothing. It is a lovely place, but you are not really getting the best of London or the country.
“Also, I was 34 by that point and we had three children. We were not going into London and going out like we used to. Our lives had changed a lot.”
So the couple decided to look at their options. The Cotswolds was ruled out for its premium prices, and the couple started exploring Oxfordshire.
They found, and loved, the market town of Thame, particularly because trains from the local station to Marylebone take only just over half an hour.
To make sure they really liked the area they decided to rent their Walton-on-Thames house out and rent somewhere close to Thame, settling in the village of Long Crendon in 2018.
After a year renting, they were confident they had made the right choice and bough a five bedroom, detached, post-war house in the village in 2019.
The house cost just under £800,000, while they sold their house in Walton-on-Thames for £625,000.
“We just immediately absolutely loved it here,” said Claire, who, since moving to the village, has launched a new spiced rum brand, Rockfall Rum.
“It is a beautiful part of the world to live in, people have been incredibly friendly and welcoming, and we are near a really nice market town.
“There are so many beautiful places to visit nearby, we got a dog in lockdown and go for long walks, and it also never feels busy; I can’t remember the last time I got stuck in traffic.”