My husband & I wanted a new life – so we swapped our country home with pool for poky city centre one-bed flat

A COUPLE have revealed they ditched their large country home and moved into a one-bedroom flat in London.

Looking for a fresh start after their children had left the nest, Miranda Quigley, 54, and her husband decided to leave the family house in the leafy Hertfordshire and move into a smaller one-bedroom apartment in the Barbican, MyLondon reported.

After opening its doors to residents back in 1959, the Barbican Estate was hailed a "city within a city", offering almost everything one could need – a cinema, tennis courts, an arts centre, bars and schools.

Designed by architects Chamberlin, Powell, and Bon, the Grade II-listed development sits across 35-acres of ground in the City of London and was built to get people reside in the financial district after it was obliterated during the Blitz.

Now, several decades later, around 4,000 people call this estate their home in over 2,000 flats, the majority of which are privately owned.

One of these apartments is now home to Miranda and her partner, who've been living there since September last year.

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The couple made the big decision to ditch their family home with a swimming pool and garden after their children had moved out.

"We had an opportunity to change our lives and we did what most people don’t do – we moved into Central London,'' said Miranda.

''It’s an iconic part of London. I can remember coming here as a child.

''It had just opened and I remember thinking ‘I’d like to live there one day’. I feel really excited that this dream has come true."

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Although the apartments are often tiny and expensive, Miranda claimed its residents are looked after and there is also a strong sense of community – something which can be hard to find in the capital.


She admitted that initially the Barbican wasn't even an option because they ''thought it was expensive''.

''But our estate agent suggested we come and look here. Prices had dropped quite a bit because of the pandemic.

"Within 30 seconds we thought, ‘It’s perfect’. It isn’t what we were looking for – we wanted two beds and two bathrooms but it’s light, it’s bright, it’s a bit quirky.

"The service charges are really high everywhere in the City – like £5,000 to £8,000.

"Here we pay £5,000 a year but it feels like you’re getting something that’s worth paying for as all the maintenance is done really well."

But despite appearing to love their new home, Miranda also pointed out to a few things she's found ''weird''.

Given the the listed status of the estate makes it almost impossible for residents to alter their flats -for instance, wooden floors are banned as they make too much noise.

There’s the architecture which is Marmite – you either love it or you don’t.''

 "There are some weird, quirky things. With it being such a huge entity, making change happen is quite difficult.

"If we wanted to put another toilet in here it would be virtually impossible."

Fellow resident resident Adam Hogg, 78, who bought a flat at the Barbican five years ago, said: "We are right in the middle of London – you couldn’t be more central with public transport.

"I walk about the place at night just thinking how nice it is to be here. It’s absolutely lovely.

''I have come here to die. I have no intention of going anywhere else.

 "The flats are terrific. There’s the architecture which is Marmite – you either love it or you don’t.''

We are very well looked after and we are very privileged."

Although the City, according to Miranda and Adam, looks after them well, it could be more environmentally-friendly.

The whole estate, the two revealed, still has old underfloor heating which is controlled by one provider and cannot be turned off.

Miranda said: "Sometimes we open the door because it’s so hot and we are trying to improve our carbon footprint and it’s a bit insane.

''Sometimes it feels criminal to let the heat out especially with what’s going on."

The issue of the old design was also touched on by another resident Fred Rodgers, 77,who said it can be a pain at times.

"The underfloor heating charges are constantly rising because of electricity costs rising but there’s very little that can be done about it,'' he said.

But like the others, he claimed to love the way of life at the Barbican, which has been his home since 2009.

Fred added: "We lived in a small basement flat in Marylebone and decided we wanted to move where there was light and the Barbican with its massive windows offers a massive amount of light. It has so many attractions.

"We can walk down to the cinema in slippers and our dressing gowns basically. We have got everything we could want.

''We are very well looked after and we are very privileged."

However, it's not all fairy tale, as Adam, also chair of the Barbican Association, is concerned about the future of the arts centre, which is poised for a £150 million revamp.

Like many his fellow neighbours, Adam hopes the City will preserve both the buildings at least on the outside.

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A City of London Corporation spokesperson said: “The Barbican Estate is home to thousands of residents who enjoy living in this iconic area of the Square Mile, and within walking distance of one of the largest multi-arts and learning institutions of its kind, the Barbican Centre.

"Residents who have any concerns about their living standards and accommodation are always encouraged to contact the Barbican Estate Office, which can offer them information and guidance on a wide range of issues.

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