We moved from Balham to Streatham Common around a year and a half ago. It was a simple choice really based on the size of house we could buy, but frankly a couple of extra bedrooms and a big garden for a couple of extra miles travel seemed worth it.
The compromise of course was familiarity and amenities, however a year and a half on we couldn't possibly have made a better decision. The people in our neighbourhood tend to be that little bit older than us as it tends to be populated by people who have had their families and then moved to fit them in, rather than us who are planning to do it, but decide to set up camp now.
Our opinion was if we kill ourselves financially now, by the time we have numbers 3 and 4 (haha) then it won't be quite so painful. Anyway, we've got to know a lot of the people in our area and I can honestly say they are the most interesting bunch of oddballs I have had the pleasure of meeting in a long time.
The one uniting thing seems to be that they have all moved out of flats or small houses in Clapham, Balham, Battersea, Ealing, Chiswick and the more affluent areas of town in favour of unfashionable outpost Streatham, the other thing that struck me at the weekend was that they are fantastically proud under-achievers.
Living for so long in Balham and going out in Clapham and Wandsworth Common a lot, you get the feeling there is constant ongoing sense of disappointment. No one seems to have enough round there. Everyone works a million hours, earns a squadrillion pounds in the City and are currently digging out the second basement level for the 3rd Latvian Au Pair and her partner who's going to be the on site handyman.
Everyone's got a Bugaboo that was customised at the Aston Martin factory for their new born children. VW Touareg's, LandRover's and Porsche Cayenne's are the cars they choose to plough young children over with and the only way they can one up on the car front is by buying the nanny a rare VW GTI one off to run around in. The unhappiness is tangible, but funnily when you're part of it, you don't notice it. Well actually you haven't got time to notice it.
But Streatham Common, well different story all together.
We were at a party just recently with some neighbours; an Old Etonian who corrects his French Wife's french grammar; an ex-marketeer turned political speech writer in the Northern Ireland Office, who had recently had a speech read out which contained some extraordinarily wingy propsals which no one had checked because they were all too hungover, meaning he'd committed a minister publicly to £50m of spending that hadn't been signed off centrally; a doctor who'd given it all up to be a concert violinist; the head of one of the London borough's child protection units who was planning to bomb a developer's house (very seriously).
It was an absolute hoot, everyone was working just as hard as they needed to, to get by. There was a complete absence of converstion about, house prices, how the Poles were incredibly hard workers (and such good value), your job and much more about - the best way to get an Aerobie to fly through the crook of a tree at 15 feet high, how the best way to rid yourself of pigeons is to fill balloons with hydrogen, float them under bridges and then shoot them with an air rifle and last, but not least the art of never underordering from a local take away.
I think I've finally found somewhere I'm comfortable.