“We had to com­mute at first to make it work – but it paid off”

Woman & Home - - PERSONAL STORY -

MONA AND ANDY STYLIANOU, BOTH 42, MOVED TO HERNE BAY IN KENT THREE YEARS AGO. MONA IS A PSY­CHOTHER­A­PIST AND ANDY RE­CENTLY SOLD HIS HAIR­DRESS­ING BUSI­NESS. THEY HAVE SIX CHIL­DREN,

AGED BE­TWEEN TWO AND 22.

MOV­ING TO THE SEA WAS A DREAM OF OURS. ANDY’S FAM­ILY IS GREEK BUT HE HAS AL­WAYS LIVED IN LON­DON; I’M FIN­NISH AND MOVED TO LON­DON AGED 18 – I GREW UP BY THE SEA NEAR HELSINKI AND AL­WAYS WANTED TO LIVE BY THE WATER.

THIS IS A SEC­OND MAR­RIAGE FOR BOTH OF US. WHEN ANDY AND I FIRST MOVED IN TO­GETHER 11 YEARS AGO, WE RENTED A BIG HOUSE IN LON­DON TO AC­COM­MO­DATE MY TWO DAUGH­TERS AND OUR YOUNGER SON AND ANDY’S TWO SONS, BUT TO STAY IN

THE PROP­ERTY MAR­KET, WE ALSO BOUGHT A SMALLER IN­VEST­MENT PROP­ERTY TO RENT OUT.

OUR ORIG­I­NAL PLAN WAS TO MOVE TO BRIGHTON BUT AF­TER LOTS OF RE­SEARCH VIS­IT­ING AR­EAS, WE SET­TLED ON HERNE BAY. WE BOUGHT A HOUSE THERE BUT THE RE­AL­ITY OF COM­MUT­ING WAS HARD. I’D LEAVE THE HOUSE AT 5AM AND GET HOME AT 10PM BE­CAUSE I WAS TRY­ING TO CON­DENSE FIVE DAYS’ WORK INTO THREE. I WAS EX­HAUSTED BUT I KNEW IT WAS SHORT-TERM AND IN SUM­MER I COULD

SPEND THE DAYS I WASN’T WORK­ING AT THE BEACH, WHICH MADE IT BEAR­ABLE.

WE HATCHED A TWO-YEAR “TRAN­SI­TION PLAN” WHILE WE FOUND WORK LO­CALLY. ANDY HAD BEEN RUN­NING SEV­ERAL HAIR SA­LONS, WHICH HE’D IN­HER­ITED WHEN HIS FA­THER DIED, BUT

HE IS A TRAINED CHILD PSY­CHOTHER­A­PIST SO HIS PLAN WAS TO FIND LO­CAL WORK WITH CHIL­DREN AND SELL THE SA­LONS.

LAST SEPTEM­BER, JUST OVER TWO YEARS AF­TER WE MOVED, I STARTED WORK­ING LO­CALLY FOR AN NHS-AF­FIL­I­ATED COM­PANY. MEAN­WHILE, ANDY GOT A JOB WORK­ING WITH CHIL­DREN IN CARE.

IN THOSE TWO YEARS AN IN­CREASE IN PROP­ERTY PRICES MEANT WE COULD SELL OUR HOUSE AND BUY A SIX-BED­ROOM, NE­GLECTED GRADE II-LISTED TOWN­HOUSE THAT WE FELL IN LOVE WITH. WE ARE NOW SLOWLY TRY­ING TO BRING BACK TO LIFE. WHEN IT’S FIN­ISHED IT WILL BE OUR DREAM HOUSE. I HAVE TO AD­MIT I WASN’T VERY RE­AL­IS­TIC ABOUT OUR MOVE. I IMAG­INED THAT WE’D MAKE FRIENDS RE­ALLY QUICKLY BUT HAV­ING TO START AGAIN AND FIND LIKE-MINDED PEO­PLE IN YOUR FOR­TIES IS EAS­IER SAID THAN DONE, ES­PE­CIALLY WHEN YOU ARE BUSY AND WORK­ING. WHAT CHANGED THAT WAS OUR LIT­TLE “KENT BLESS­ING” – OUR DAUGH­TER, ANNI, WHO IS NOW TWO. SHE WAS UN­EX­PECTED BUT I’VE MADE LOTS OF FRIENDS THROUGH BABY GROUPS. AND THERE ARE SO MANY FAN­TAS­TIC THINGS ABOUT OUR LIFE HERE: WE’RE THREE MIN­UTES FROM THE BEACH, THE SENSE OF SPACE IS RE­ALLY WON­DER­FUL AND EV­ERY­THING WE NEED IS WITHIN WALK­ING DIS­TANCE, IN­CLUD­ING A FARMER’S MAR­KET OP­PO­SITE. THE BEST THING

ABOUT OUR NEW LIFE IS PICK­ING MY

SON UP FROM SCHOOL AND GO­ING FOR A QUICK DIP BE­FORE DIN­NER!

MONA AND ANDY’S TOWN­HOUSE, BE­LOW, IS THREE MIN­UTES FROM THE BEACH AT HERNE BAY

MONA AND ANDY WITH THEIR FAM­ILY, AGED FROM TWO TO 22

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