Leaving London behind was our best decision

Reader’s note: This article was first published on 8th July 2019.

“When Liz got the call to say she got the new job I said: ‘Well, we’re moving then!’” explains Theo, casually. “It was as simple as that.” Three weeks later the couple left London to move to Cornwall and haven’t looked back since.

Now, two years on, they’ve found a whole new community and moved even further away from London, to the tiny village Newlyn in Cornwall.

Their one-bedroom flat is on the ground floor of a converted pilchard factory; just a short walk from the sea.

The exterior sustains many of its original features including the brickwork and the factory sign across the front of all the properties. The property has its own private entrance, set back from the road. The front door and window of the flat are both dark in colour, which differs greatly from the interior of the property.

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“When we moved, we didn’t know anything about Cornwall,” says Theo. “Neither of us had even been on holiday here before. I thought, ‘There’ll probably be more cows and I’ll be able to see the sea!” he laughs.

“Yeah, I think a lot of family and friends were really surprised that we did it,” says Liz. “They thought we’d be back in a few months, but we’ve found something more down here. More than just my new job. We’ve completely adapted to village life and we’re able to have more freedom, less financial stress and more time to explore things we’re passionate about.”

It was for these reasons the couple decided to look outside London in the first place. Having been in the arts industry for years, Liz was growing tired of the relentless pace and stress of freelancing and was struggling to find enough work to pay rent. While Theo had moved from the music PR industry into the art world himself, he too was finding it difficult to afford a studio space to create his art, whilst holding down several retail jobs.

“It was Theo who encouraged me to look outside London for work,” Liz continues. “I think for ages we were so London-centric, especially since we were both born here and lots of our friends are here. But when I made the decision, it was exciting. I applied to loads of places and got an interview for a job at a gallery down in St Ives.” It was on the long train journey home the next day that she got the call to say the job was hers.

“The only snag was that it started within a month,” laughs Theo. “I suppose we were lucky that we were living at my mum’s house at the time so we didn’t have any contract to finish up and could just get up and go.”

Both saw this as an exciting adventure, a challenge and a way they could finally move in alone together and rent a flat – something they were finding difficult to achieve in London. When the pair decided to move, Theo had moved back home to live with his mum, and Liz followed him soon after.

Although there is enough room for the two of them, the combination of light walls and wooden flooring gives the illusion that the property is a lot more spacious than it actually is. Despite having been decorated neutrally throughout, the couple have seen this as a great opportunity to add a pop of colour to each room by displaying their creative artwork and paintings all over their home.

“No matter how fantastic your parents are, it’s difficult to be fully independent when you’re living with them,” Theo explains. “It’s so much more affordable down in Cornwall compared to London – we can finally rent a place and make it our own.”

They know their neighbours, Liz teaches yoga in the local village hall and Theo can afford to rent a separate art studio down the road, having already exhibited a number of times in galleries around Cornwall. It’s the kind of countryside idyll they could never have dreamed about when living in London, but it’s something they’ve grown to love.

The pair have really made the flat their own by using patterns and textures that contrast with the original features of the property to create a very homely and welcoming feel. The exposed brickwork in the bedroom creates a nice feature wall and the nook makes a perfect secluded working area, just fitting a small desk and chair.

“It’s refreshing to have a sense of community here. They knock on the door, everyone meets up for these local events, people remember your name and we speak to all of our neighbours. I think we were both missing that connection in London and we’ve honestly found so much of it here,” tells Liz.

“Apart from the lack of financial burden because the rent is so much cheaper, we’ve just got so much more freedom to experiment and try things out,” agrees Theo. “Loads of people thought we’d be back within two months, but it’s almost been two years and we’re not going anywhere soon. We’ll just have to get them used to that eight-hour train journey!”

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