As you’ll know if you follow me on Facebook, my family and I have recently moved house and we’ve been asked, by M&S Bank, to tell you all about it as part of their ‘Make a Switch’ campaign.

They say that moving house is one of the top 5 most stressful things a family can do which is why, when we moved house back in March, we had intended to make it a continuing thing and had been assured that the property was a long term investment for the people renting it out. However, their circumstances must have changed and we were informed that they would be selling the house just 5 months after we moved in. We were NOT happy.

 photo Where we were living before._zpscgbqxy8n.jpgWhere we lived before…

Property in the area we were living in was in very high demand and not very reasonably priced, and it seemed like we were being pipped to the post on every property by psychic house-hunters who knew things were going up for rent before even the estate agents did. We decided to broaden our search area to include other suburban areas nearby, but we both felt totally out of our comfort zone and not very happy about the idea of living somewhere we felt no connection to.

A few weeks into our search, a cottage became available out in a little country hamlet nearby. We’d visited a few years previously as there’s a lovely old pub at the end of the row which is renowned for its food and had fallen in love with the place, commenting at the time how much we’d like to live there. As I looked through the pictures on Rightmove, something clicked and knew Husband would love it too, but the obvious worry of whether they’d accept pets at the property was at the forefront of our minds. Miraculously, the landlady was more than happy to accept Chuck, so we arranged a viewing – alongside EIGHT other families!

Our thinking was that, if we were effectively being forced to move out of our comfort zone, why not do it properly? Rather than moving just one town over to live in an unfamiliar urban conurbation, why not make a proper change and potentially improve our quality of life in the process?

Naturally, we fell in love with the property on the day we viewed it – driving along the only road in and out of the village, Husband and I felt like we’d come home. And, obviously, every single other person who viewed the house loved it too, and so came the agonising wait to see who the landlady would pick. Husband and I weren’t hopeful as we were sure that someone else would be chosen above us, but miraculously, we got the property! We got the keys three weeks ago and moved in the next day.

 photo Our little village_zps4qgicspp.jpg…and where we’re living now!

The differences in our surroundings could NOT be more obvious. Previously, we were living on a bus route with noisy neighbours, people standing outside our house until the early hours of the morning drinking bottles of vodka, and rows of houses as far as the eye could see. Now, we’re living in a hamlet of less than 15 houses. The view from our living room is of a farmers’ field and the view past the back of our garden is of fields and a tiny marina in the distance, on the river. Instead of buses and boy-racers zooming past, we get ponies trotting past our living room window and since we’ve lived here we’ve seen pheasants, swifts, weasels, mice, bats and other assorted wildlife.

It is SO quiet.

 photo Behind the house_zpsa6wwlcnq.jpgBehind our house.

I feel like I can breathe again. I can think. I’m genuinely the happiest I’ve been in years.

I’ve always been reluctant to move to a more rural location, despite it being something that Husband has always been keen to do, but now we’ve done it I feel amazing.

There are obviously one or two downsides, such as a lot of extra driving to take Sausage to school and ludicrously low internet speeds, but they are things that I’m more than happy to tackle for the sake of a much nicer life for all of us. We’ve all been so much more content out here, none of us more so than Chuck who has always been The Best Dog in The World, but now he seems more relaxed, happier and like a different dog altogether. We’re almost looking forward to the cooler weather so that we can fire up the log burner in the lounge and watch our old boy warm his bones.

Living here is forcing us to be more organised, too. There’s no longer a shop on the corner of our road and the closest place to buy anything (other than the pub!) is a 15 minute drive away, so I’ve been having to make sure that I’ve got everything I need for dinner, bottles for Burrito Baby, food for the dog, etc. before I get home from the school run because nipping back out for supplies is a lengthy business!

If I’m being honest, I feel quite proud of us. It’s been a massive lifestyle change but I think Husband and I have been quite brave to make the leap into the unknown and our girls have dealt with it with a grace and resilience that speaks very highly of their strength of character. As a girl who grew up in a New Town which was built for overspill from London, I never thought I’d feel as at home in the country as I do – I’m even eyeing up a new pair of wellies for the muddy weather!

 photo The local area down by the river_zps0i60rxm5.jpgThe local area, down by the river.

If you’re thinking about making a lifestyle change or a leap into the unknown, the best advice I can give you is to think about what parts of your life are making you unhappy, think about what you can do to change those things and then go ahead and DO IT. Life is too short to be penned in by fear and, at the risk of rolling out too many clichés; the only person who can change your life is YOU. Yes, things will be different and at times they will be hard but there is genuine reward in making a change and there’s every chance you’ll be happier than ever.

We know we are.

Disclaimer: this a collaborative post with M&S Bank