Leaving London: How one former Londoner swapped job-hunting from a flatshare in Tooting for her own business by the sea

Room with a view: Charlotte Ashcroft has left London behind for St Leonards-on-Sea (Handout)
Room with a view: Charlotte Ashcroft has left London behind for St Leonards-on-Sea (Handout)

At the start of the pandemic, the life Charlotte Ashcroft had been building in London evaporated. She was put on furlough at her job in sales and made redundant in May 2020, a “coromance” that began during the first lockdown fell flat and she was paying £750 a month for a room she didn’t particularly like in Tooting.

“Finding a new job during a pandemic was really hard,” said Ashcroft, 34. “I was going on dates and it was all a disaster. The final straw was when I got stood up by a man called Nigel, that was a real low point. It was a Friday night and I just went home to my crappy room and started googling places by the sea near London.”

Her research brought her to St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, where she realised she could rent a whole flat for the same price as her London room. Despite never having visited the area — “I Google Earthed it though, it looked nice” — she headed down for a recce, viewed a couple of flats and began packing her bags.

Ashcroft chose a one-bedroom Victorian flat near the seafront, which now costs £775pcm. She also decided to start her own business, a print management company called Candy & Co Creative Production (

“I love it here so much,” she said. “I have made some really great friends, I have the sea on my doorstep and it is a lovely place to live. I have neighbours who have been here a long time and they say that it used to be really gross but it has improved a lot. And although starting a business has been incredibly hard I have now got some amazing clients so I’m really happy I did it.”

She added: “I don’t really miss London at all. The only things I might have missed are my friends but I just make plans to see them probably with the same frequency as I would have if I lived in London.”

Ashcroft travels by train to London for meetings as often as she can, although train cancellations and recent strikes have been especially disruptive. “Both are particularly annoying given I’m a new small-business owner who survived the pandemic with no help and limited funds, only to now have to deal with travel chaos and the subsequent cancellation of meetings.”

Journeys to London take about 90 minutes when trains run as planned.