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As a young highflyer, Andra could never have imagined a life outside of London. After being given an opportunity through work, to explore a new part of the world, she packed her bags and ventured to Newcastle Upon Tyne. Having always thought of herself as a Londoner, Andra now lives in Newcastle full-time with her partner, and tells people that if you come and visit, you will never want to leave.

Relocating

We moved from London so my partner could continue with his medical training here in Newcastle. I was already working at Ryder in their London office, and they gave me the opportunity to join their team in Newcastle on a short-term basis. I saw the opportunity to develop my skills and explore a new part of the world alongside my partner, so I packed my bags and off I went.

Before we moved, I knew very little about Newcastle and the North East in general. It seemed like a long way away and very different from London, almost too different.

I always saw myself as a Londoner, attracted by its cosmopolitan quality, so I moved back to Ryder’s London team when the secondment was over. However, after a year the draw back to the North East was strong – I missed the lifestyle, especially having the coast and countryside on my doorstep, so I returned to Newcastle.

Living in Newcastle

We’re now living in South Gosforth, it’s a lovely family-orientated neighbourhood with fantastic public transport links on our doorstep. Once we visited the area, moving here wasn’t a hard decision to make. Our local park is very close-by, and the local running club have weekly sessions there, as well as other activities. I have no excuse not to join in!

There’s a fantastic pub round the corner from us called The Brandling Villa which we visit regularly. They do excellent food and are dog friendly, they even have a menu just for four-legged friends; we’re hoping to get a dog of our own soon to take with us.

Public transport and connectivity were a big factor when deciding where we should live, as we don’t have a car and like to regularly meet up with friends across the city. The choice of Metro stations near South Gosforth is great, and it’s only an 11-minute journey in to the city centre.

Finding a house to live in had its challenges, with the housing market becoming quite competitive due to the pandemic. Like a lot of other people, we had a new found appreciation for a place to live with outdoor space, but we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of space you can get for your money in the North East as opposed to London.

Since moving to Newcastle, I have concluded that my original perceptions were right, in the sense that Newcastle is very different from London. But not in a bad way. Beautiful countryside is within an arm’s reach, and you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing beaches and places to do water sports, which I love. Northumberland National Park is also nearby and is good for cycling, and the Lake District and Scotland are very close and great for walking and climbing day trips or weekends away.

The Geordie people are so welcoming, everywhere I go I am greeted with a smile. As an Eastern European by origin, I was raised with Latin culture where people go to great lengths to ensure everyone feels welcome and that good times are had. Geordie culture isn’t too far from this, and Newcastle really does feel like home to me.

Working in the city

I work for Ryder Architecture which is an international design practice with offices in Newcastle, London, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Vancouver and Amsterdam.

I was already part of the team in the London office and was then able to move to the Newcastle on a six-month technical secondment, which is a great testimonial to Ryder’s continued passion to upskill their people. After I returned to London and then realised that I wanted to set up full-time in the North East, they were very supportive, and I was able to transfer back to the Newcastle office.

Most days I walk to work, it takes me just under an hour and it’s such an invigorating start to my day. I walk through the park which is a lovely scenic route, and it energises me for the day ahead. It’s also the perfect running distance for me, so I’m hoping to make this my new habit when I’m back in the office full time.

If the weather is bad, it’s only a 10–15-minute journey by Metro or bus to the city centre, so I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to my commute.

What are three pieces of advice that you would give to a prospective Geordie?

I would advise everyone to venture past any preconceptions they have. If I hadn’t done that, I never would have moved to Newcastle in the first place or be living the life I am now.

My second piece of advice would be that you don’t need to be in metropolitan areas such as London, to have an incredible and successful career.

As a young highflyer, I used to never be able to imagine a life outside of London. But I can’t reiterate enough just how valuable getting outdoors and having a connection to nature is to your personal wellbeing. Living in the North East gives me a lot of opportunity to do this, with fantastic coastline and countryside very nearby.

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