Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Meet the lifestyle blogger who swapped city life for a move to the country (and the lessons she learned along the way)

sara orla and me blog.jpg

Have you ever dreamed of packing up your city life, driving down to the countryside and starting over among rolling hills, endless sky views and lungfuls of fresh air? Tube chaos replaced by country lanes, office blocks traded for tree-lined moors, and no more city hustle or bustle. It's an idyllic vision - but is it realistic? 

Just over a year ago, former speech therapist turned lifestyle blogger Sara Tasker did just that, with her partner Rory and young daughter Orla.

She’s been documenting the entire move on her blog Meandorla.co.uk, and now exclusively for Stylist.co.uk, shares her thoughts here on what it’s really like to pack-up and move to the country as a thirty-something professional.


18 months ago my fiancé and I, lifelong Manchester dwellers, relocated to a tiny village in the Yorkshire hills. It was a move prompted by a lot of things; the birth of our daughter, changes to our jobs, my ever-growing itch to escape the house that he'd bought with a previous partner.

Mostly, though, it came from our craving for space and a little more green than the weeds between the pavement cracks. Our red-brick terrace house looked out only on more red-brick walls; the only wildlife we ever was our neighbour's staffy snarling in the yard.

It's a dream for a lot of us, but we found most people were saving their plans for later in life. We didn't want to wait: why spend the next decade dreaming when we could make it a reality?

We spent every weekend escaping to greener landscapes, then driving back home again. Why not wake up where we wanted to be?

 

even on a rainy day, Dream House is dreamy 

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

Ever-anxious and over prepared, I searched for stories from people our age who had already made the move. I wanted to know what to expect - the pros and cons, but I found very little information.

Over a year later, I've got the inside scoop. So for anyone dreaming along similar lines, here's how it really goes...

Property is more affordable

We quickly realised that the further and longer you're prepared to travel to get to a city, the more house you get for your money. The more remote the location, the more affordable the property - but a car is pretty essential. Our search area grew wider and wider, until the dream houses became within reach.

 

a little look around this dream house of ours over on the blog. Link in my bio

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

The cafes aren't the same

Though most have finally left the instant coffee behind, you're unlikely to find a chai latte within a 20 mile radius of our home (I'm including at our home in that, as I have zero idea what a chai latte actually is). I still haven't found anywhere where it feels OK to work on my laptop all day. The new deli-cafe that opened near us had to install two formal tables with tablecloths and chair covers at the request of their older customers who dislike the bistro style. It's just... different.

 

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

 

Saturday mornings forever {taken with #samsung #nx3000}

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

The phone reception's crap and the WiFi is slower

At first this was a negative: my first few weeks were spent hiking to the top of the nearest hill to receive text messages and check my voicemail - but now I've grown to love it. If it's really important, people can email me. I've fallen out of love with being at everyone's beck and call, anyway. Though a faster Netflix speed would always be nice...

There are fewer options

Having lived in nice, gentrified areas of the city for so long, it was easy to take the sheer availability of everything for granted. Of course, where population is reduced, so is choice: from education styles to types of cheese to takeaway standards, your options are limited. We still haven't found a decent Chinese; we drive half an hour for handmade sourdough bread. Both of these things are outrageously first world problems.

 

This is how you make The Best Toast Ever on an aga. Having mine with a cup of tea at bedtime 

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

 

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

You get to know people

I was worried about how this would happen - making new friends as an adult can be surprisingly difficult - but out in the sticks people seem to be a lot more chatty. Within a month we knew most of the village on first-name terms, something we'd never achieved with even our nextdoor neighbours in the suburbs. We're invited to parties and barbecues and fetes. There's a proper sense of community.

 

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

There are like-minded souls

The very same things that inspire and excite us about the place we live appeal to other people like us, and you invariably cross paths. I'd found and teamed up with two brilliant creatives within my first year of living in Yorkshire; this simply didn't happen when I lived in the city. That's not to say there weren't plenty of them there, of course, but when the pot is larger, perhaps it seems less imperative to look.

 

Bookshop on the moors. Possibly a mirage.

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

It takes time to fit in

It took well over a year for the owners of our local pub to stop glaring at us mistrustfully whenever we went in. Occasionally now they might even smile.

 

Full of the joys of spring, so to speak .Thanks for brightening up my Monday, @boden_clothing! #bloommonday

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

 

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

It's colder

Without all the buildings and pollution to cozy up with, temperatures tend to be 1-2 degrees cooler in rural areas. This means more snow, colder winds, more pronounced seasons, and draughty old houses. There's a reason everyone has a fire or a wood burner in the countryside, and it isn't just because the log pile looks nice by their front door. That said...

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

 

but first, (& second, & third...) coffee

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

Snow isn't a problem

In the city, snow spells disaster for commuting and public transport, so I expected - perhaps even hoped -  to be snowed into our steep hillside village in winter. Sadly, this looks unlikely to happen - though it snows a lot more, the authorities are prepared and employ local farmers to plow and grit through the winter months. All the same, I'm keeping a stash of tinned goods, Famous Five style, just in case.

 

Snow, & other Januaryness up on my blog. Mwah! x

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

Wellies become everyday footwear

I also bought a practical raincoat, something I'd previously managed to avoid for 30 years.

 

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

It feels safer

There's a spot in the river where the village children all swim on sunny days. They camp unsupervised in the forests overnight; play at the playground without a watchful adult standing by. And it does genuinely feel safer - while running in headphones after dark in the city filled me with fear, up in the hills I feel comfortably alone. That's entirely my own perception, of course - but the fact that friends and DHL deliveries struggle to find us helps add to the feeling that we're safely tucked away.

 

/ running through spring, with summer's hand in reach /

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

 

from the weekend, in @boden_clothing #bodenbyme

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

You get better at making from scratch

When a quick pizza or bottle of wine is a whole car ride away, it's often easier to make do with what you've got. My bread machine gets a lot more action, and even the bendy carrots in the fridge get a look in from time to time. Still, sometimes the wine is worth the drive, of course.

 

'dontcha wish your girlfriend could bake like me...' 

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

Attitudes can be a little archaic

There's less diversity in rural areas and sadly that means some attitudes have yet to be fully challenged. We overheard enough casual racism in one village we visited to strike the whole area from our house-buying list. In the end, we found a hub of glorious liberalism to live near, but even now I'll sometimes hear a snatch of  conversation that takes me by sharp surprise.

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

 

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

I love the city again

Whereas before, any free time was spent racing to somewhere open and green, now I quite enjoy a day whiled away in the Big Smoke's cafes and stores. I suppose it's that typically human desire to want what we don't have, but it isn't a negative - I felt so burned out with the city when we left, and it's nice to have some love for it back. I think for me, a big part of that joy is knowing I can leave it behind, drive into the hills and watch the sun set from my window seat over the valley. It's the best decision we ever made.

 

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

 

do not disturb (unless you have pancakes)

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

 

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

 

A photo posted by Sara (@me_and_orla) on

Related

ThinkstockPhotos-200321167-001.jpg

Airbnb now offers entire tropical islands for rent

Fisheman_rt.jpg

The world's 10 most remote destinations

7. Porthminster Beach, St Ives, Cornwall.jpg

Behold Britain’s 10 most breathtaking beaches

Travelmum.JPG

This mum took her 10-week-old baby travelling around the world

backpacker.PNG

How this woman's broken engagement changed her life for the better

(sorcha murray) suzy parker new zealand.jpg

What career? Meet the 31-year-old woman who backpacks the world

clara bensen kyoto.jpg

Meet the woman who went travelling with a date she'd just met

Row Like a Girl cross the finish line of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge L-R Lauren Morton, Bella Collins, Gee Purdy and Olivia Bolesworth CREDIT BEN DUFFY.jpg

The inspirational women who rowed 3,000 miles across the Atlantic

304_tablet_feat_single_lifestylechoice_inline_v1.jpg

A single woman explains why she’s much happier on her own

More

Find yourself a hotel deal with Mr & Mrs Smith

20 Oct 2017

See red in Koh Samui

Stylist heads to Thailand to experience one of the most spectacular swimming pools in the world

by The Stylist web team
17 Oct 2017

You're more likely to get better service on a plane if you sit here

We've got all the in-flight seating tips you could ever want

by Megan Murray
16 Oct 2017

These are the 10 happiest places to live in the UK

Is it time for a change of scenery?

by Susan Devaney
11 Oct 2017

Discover a Costwolds bolthole with museum-worthy art

Stylist finds Artist Residence Oxfordshire more than lives up to its name

by Amy Adams
10 Oct 2017

The 10 dreamiest (and most expensive) streets to live on in the UK

We should have started saving about ten years ago

by Megan Murray
04 Oct 2017

Discover the real Rome that lies beyond the silver screen

Stylist goes behind the scenes at the living film set that is Rome

by The Stylist web team
03 Oct 2017

Seriously hip hotels you need to follow on Instagram

From a rock’n’roll hideaway in Texas to a futuristic glampsite in Devon

by Anna Hart
28 Sep 2017

Step between the scenes of Australia’s artsy second city…

Melbourne shuns beaches and boardwalks for coffee, culture and creativity, finds Stylist

by The Stylist web team
26 Sep 2017

This is how to book an NYC shopping trip with Sarah Jessica Parker

Sex and the City fans, this is not a drill

by Megan Murray
26 Sep 2017