My family and I relocated to Totnes some 12 years ago and bought a 3 generational home with my mother, Diana, within walking distance of the town and all its amenities. When we moved in we participated in an article for SAGA Magazine about 3 generational living and I thought it would be interesting to see what has happened since then.
The house we moved to needed a lot of work and we were unable to move in straight away. My wife, Nicki who is the practical one, organized a team of builders and project managed the whole renovations to make the house suitable for a young family and my mother. Little did we know that apart from putting central heating in we would need a new gas main and electricity supply but after the work was finished we had a perfect home. We eventually cut down about 14 pine trees in the garden and this brightened up the whole house and gardens which my mother has made beautiful.
I thought I would go through how the move has affected each member of the family:
Jago is out 13 year old son but when we moved in he was 3 and started to go to Rainbow nursery which was a short walk away off the high street which he loved and made friends immediately and is still in contact with them now. From Jago going to this nursery we met parents from Totnes and started to make a group of friends for play dates and socializing ourselves. It was one of the things we were worried about when moving to a new town but we should not have as we all had our children as a point of reference and were often in each others houses on play dates. As Jago grew we chose a lovely Church of England Primary School in Berry Pomeroy, Nicki actually cried when we went on a tour as it looks out over rolling fields of sheep and cows, a far cry from Battersea where we once lived. It is a small school which suited Jago as he is an August baby, so was the youngest in the class, and he thrived there and I became a Parent Governor to help out.
As he went through the school we started extra tuition for him as we thought he would have a chance to go to Grammar School and he took the exam and got a place in Churston Grammar Eventually we decided that he would better suit a smaller school with more sports as he is a keen tennis player and chose Stover School in Newton Abbot where he is now. Getting to school could not be easier as the school bus picks him up and drops him off just down the road which is short walk from our house. He has settled in well and has a great group of friends and regularly sees them both in term time and holidays.
Outside school Jago has a great life and one that is much freer than he could have had in London. He often is out with his mates cycling and this summer we have bought a Stand up Paddle Board and drop him down at the river with lunch in a waterproof bag so he can explore and swing off ropes into the water with his friends. We have avoided the beaches this year because of COVID but there are beaches just 10 minutes away and we seemed to have spent a lot of time at the Waterpark in Paignton this year. As Jago is into tennis he often goes down to play at Totnes Tennis Club, a really friendly relaxed club but also attends South Devon Tennis Academy for more formal training.
Although I am obviously biased, Jago has become a confident, open minded boy and has the freedom to have fun on the beaches, river and the beautiful countryside surrounding Totnes
When we first moved to Totnes I was commuting to Exeter by car to work at Knight Frank in the city centre and although everyone talked about the traffic jams it was nothing on travelling to Canary Wharf when I was in London. Although I chose to drive it is only a ½ hour train journey from Totnes mainline station and this is the way most people travel. As a part of my job I travelled extensively all over Devon and Cornwall and the links once you get to the A38 (10 mins away) are excellent. Travelling around these beautiful counties I sometimes had to pinch myself when having lunch overlooking the ocean that I once worked in Canary Wharf. When I do go to meetings in London I took the train which takes about 2 ¾ hours into Paddington.
About 9 years ago my department was closed so I decided to start on my own and created, alongside my colleague Gail Streatfeild, Chartsedge, an estate agency. We had already built a home office in the garden and we started the company from there which worked perfectly. The company is now in its 9th year and although this year has been tough it is going from strength to strength and we are now concentrating on selling houses in Totnes and the surrounding countryside.
When we moved to Totnes Nicki was working as a PA to the MD at Bovey Castle, a 5* hotel on Dartmoor. She worked 3 days a week but this was flexible and gave her time to spend time with Jago who now was a toddler. Once the hotel was sold and Jago started school Nicki started her own business called Bespoke Devon, a high end holiday let property management business and with a lot of hard work now it is a great success managing over 35 properties in Devon with 7 teams of cleaners. Day to day she liaises with the holiday letting agents, guests and clients to make sure the properties are kept at the highest level and cleanliness giving the owners, the majority of which live many miles away, peace of mind. She started the business at home but has now moved to premises into Totnes which she can easily walk to.
Miles mum had been retired for some time before moving to Totnes and has really made a home for herself here. She started researching our family ties to the area and found that we have ancestors going back to 1830 buried in a local church. She is a regular church goer and attends Berry Pomeroy Church . When Jago was in Primary School and being a former teacher she was often to be seen at school helping the children with their reading. She joined the Local U3A group and was an active member organizing trips to various National Trust buildings and other historical and interesting places in Devon. Living in a 3 generational home means that she is greatly involved in the family and is a great help to Miles and Nicki. Her relationship with Jago is great as she sees him every day and has been a taxi driver to him and his friends on trips to the beach play parks and cinema. She often travels back to London to visit family and friends and the train service from Totnes station is perfect for her.
People always ask us if we miss London and we all do in some way. However we do enjoy the pace of life in Devon and the location of where we live means we can be in the open spaces of Dartmoor or on the beach within ½ an hour and that is something we did not have in London. Also Nicki and I have managed to practically get rid of our daily commute and this gives us much more time to spend with family, friends and having a better quality of life. Having been in Lockdown due to COVID we really have had time to appreciate what type of lifestyle we have and have been very fortunate to be able to enjoy our garden and the beautiful countryside on our doorstep.
It has not been all rosy and normal life gets in the way as it does everywhere but overall we have made the right decision and our family life is happier, healthier and stronger for it.
If you are thinking of making the move to Totnes or the surrounding villages please contact me with any questions you have.
Miles Kevin, Director
01803 505115 firstname.lastname@example.org