Advertisement

London leavers: 'My £550 a month house in Suffolk costs less than a room in a Hoxton flatshare'

 (Sutton)
(Sutton)

In his old life Tom Sutton’s long working week was spent chained to a desk.

At weekends he found himself commuting out of town for some fresh air and headspace.

Today Tom’s office is the beach.

He is his own boss, gets real job satisfaction, and has the freedom to spend plenty of quality time with his two year old daughter.

Before the pandemic Tom, 34, a civil engineer by trade, was working as a project manager for a property developer and specialising in big office developments.

“It was not my complete passion,” he said. “There was a lot of stress and deadlines.”

Tom and his daughter Noa at their village home (Handout)
Tom and his daughter Noa at their village home (Handout)

Tom was sharing a flat in Hoxton with his sister and her partner, paying £800 a month for his room.

On the eve of the pandemic, with rumours of a lockdown swirling, he made a spontaneous decision to go to Cromer, Norfolk, to stay with his dad.

“I had a choice of hanging out in Shoreditch Park or the beach, and I chose the beach,” he said.

“I started thinking about what would make me happier.”

Tom has long loved the active outdoors life, spending his downtime out climbing, running, or practicing yoga. He was also facing a career crisis.

“I had looked at all of the more senior positions and I didn’t want any of them which was quite worrying,” he said.

“I started thinking about what would make me happier and I decided I’d like to be a mountain guide.”

In the event the decision was taken out of Tom’s hands.

Tom has set up a portable sauna business (Handout)
Tom has set up a portable sauna business (Handout)

First he was furloughed from work. With time on his hands he began working on converting a camper van, a long-cherished ambition, and when social distancing rules relaxed he began travelling around the country.

At a retreat in Wales his life changed when he met his partner, Kayley Wells, 28. Their daughter, Noa, is now two.

“I am much more content than I used to be.”

The itinerant life of a mountain guide was clearly off the table and the family now live in a two bedroom house in the village of Palgrave, on the Norfolk/Suffolk borders.

It costs them £550pcm.

With a big garden and open fields beyond it is the perfect spot for a dog, and Albus, an eleven week old golden retriever joined the family in February.

Albus the golden retriever puppy is the latest addition to the family (Handout)
Albus the golden retriever puppy is the latest addition to the family (Handout)

Meanwhile Tom has done a complete career pivot.

He knew he wanted to spend more time outdoors, and that he wanted to do something which would promote wellness and happiness, and came up with the idea of converting old horse boxes into saunas.

He set up his own company Sauna Box, and used his engineering skills to build three mobile saunas which he takes to the beaches at Dunwich, Sheringham, and Cart Gap at weekends.

He also offers corporate retreats, with an emphasis on wellness, takes the boxes to festivals in summer, and designs and sells saunas too.

“I am much more content than I used to be,” said Tom.

“I do still have stresses, but it is different. My work is my own, it is lovely to be working on something you really believe in, and I can be a really hands on dad to Noa which is what I always wanted,” he added.

“If I had stayed in London I wouldn’t be able to have dinner with her every night.”