For Lucy Lucraft the decision to leave London was a visceral, emotional reaction to having her first child. And on a practical level swapping Shepherd’s Bush for Hove, in East Sussex, has been transformational too.
Pre-children Lucy worked as a travel journalist and lived in the one-bedroom flat she had bought with an inheritance received after the death of her father. Then, in quick succession, she got married, had a baby — Anais, now six — and went freelance.
“My life completely changed when I had a child,” said Lucy, 39. “I had been brought up by the sea in Kent, and I had a real urge to leave London. I didn’t want to go back to Kent, at all, but I wanted more space, and to be in a diverse city with a lot going on.”
In 2018 Lucy and her husband, Oli, 35, sold the flat for circa £470,000 and upsized to a three-bedroom townhouse in Hove’s up-and-coming (at the time) Poet’s Corner neighborhood.
The house cost £525,000. “We really lucked out because it is now worth £700,000 because of the lockdown really, the market went mad here,” said Lucy.
Oli had been working as an estate agent in London and initially found a new job in Brighton. More recently he has gone to work for a firm which offers property advice to investors, and commutes to London a couple of days per week.
Lucy’s career has also evolved. She had become more interested in podcasting and decided to make it her main focus, setting up her own editing and production company (lucylucraft.co.uk) during the pandemic.
The couple also has a second child, Edie, aged three.
Making new friends has been easy. “The kids are good ice breakers,” said Lucy. And a real difference she notices between London, where she was forever trekking all over the place to meet friends, and Hove, is that small town life is incredibly convenient.
“I would say I have a more active social life now than I did in London, where I never had any friends I could walk to meet and get a coffee,” she said. “Now its all I do.”
Unsurprisingly Lucy has no regrets about the move, but looking back there are a few things she wishes she’d been more prepared for.
After living in London for years she had grown blasphemous about its 24/7 lifestyle. It’s not easy to get a pint of milk at 2am in Hove.
And although Brighton and Hove have a reputation for being diverse and inclusive, Lucy still found her new community a bit of a culture shock. “When I moved here what I really noticed was that everyone here is basically white, middle class, and privileged,” she said.