London leavers: how one family moved from Penge to a seven-bed sea-view house in Eastbourne post-divorce

·2-min read
 (Abby Nelberg)
(Abby Nelberg)

Living by the sea has been a long-term dream for Abby Nelberg – and one she finally achieved late last year.

It was not so much the pandemic which prompted the move to the south coast but family circumstances – she and her husband are recently separated, and she needed to find a new home for her, their three primary school-age children, and their dog, Hoi Polloi.

The family had been living in a five bedroom Victorian semi-detached house in Penge since 2014, and Abby’s initial plan was to take her share of the proceeds and made the short move to Beckenham, where she would get more value for money.

“We got an offer on the house as soon as the first lockdown ended,” said Abby, 43, a freelance head-hunter. “My budget would only have bought a two, maybe three bedroom terrace, and as it turned out there wasn’t anything on the market at that time.

“I work from home, we have a dog, and some cats, and space is quite important. We had in the past talked about moving to the coast, and I started looking. Somebody mentioned Eastbourne, and here we are.”

The family house in Penge sold for £890,000 and in October Abby was able to buy a seven bedroom Victorian semi detached house with sea views for £580,000.

“It is ridiculous what you get for your money down here,” she said. “It is crazy – crazily nice.”

The biggest headache of the move was finding schools for India, nine, Bertie, eight, and Delphi, five, but after much emailing and phoning of dozens of local schools, and a lot of stress, places were found.

“The children are flourishing,” said Abby.

The house is close to the station and when lockdown eases Abby will be able to get to Victoria Station in an hour-and-a-half.

The beach, meanwhile, is a 15-minute walk. “We go there every single weekend and, when we were home schooling, in the week too,” said Abby. “In a month’s time I imagine we will be going straight from school to the beach and having chips by the sea for our tea. It is just wonderful.”

The only downside of the move – apart from the fact that there are still boxes to unpack – is that Abby is missing her London friends. “You can’t make friends with other parents at the school gates when you are all a meter apart and wearing masks,” she said.

“I have made friends through the dog though, and of course things will change by the summer.”

Despite this, Abby is delighted to have left London behind her. “We have swapped a what seemed perfectly fine, for a life which is immeasurably better,” she said.

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