Once we had children, we started to feel London wasn’t right for us any more

Jayne: We wanted a bigger house and more space for the kids, and had started weighing up the options. We had no real connections to Wales, but we knew we wanted nearby countryside and were very drawn by the idea of living by the sea. We did an internet search on the best places to live in the UK, and Cardiff came up. Neither of us had been there before, so we decided to visit and have a look. We happened to stay in Penarth, the town just next to Cardiff, and I fell in love with it.

Calum: My thoughts were, I’m moving from London so I’ve got to be in the most happening bit of Cardiff! But then we had our second child and our focus was suddenly much more on family life, and I began thinking that maybe I would like to slow down a little. We made another visit and thought Penarth made perfect sense. And we found out it has good schools, which was obviously high on our wish list.

General practitioner Calum Forrester-Paton explains why Penarth, South Wales offers the perfect work-life balance for him and his family.

We wanted to have everything on our doorstep

Jayne: When we were buying the house, we looked at different options and ended up buying somewhere very central. We didn’t want to be forced to use the car all the time. I wanted to be able to walk to shops, restaurants and the train station – and being on the coast is great. We can walk out of the door, and we’re in a park in two minutes, and then the park leads down to the seafront... sometimes, even if we haven’t managed to do much in a day, we’ll say: 'Shall we just have a quick walk down to Penarth Pier?'

You can find a high level of work satisfaction in Wales, and great opportunities for career development 

Calum: There are a couple of things I like about the working culture here. It feels to me as though the partnership model is stronger in Wales than in London. More newly qualified GPs want to become partners in their surgery and take on responsibility for its policy and direction, rather than just be employees who draw a salary. And in Wales, you have this idea of 'clusters' where GP practices in the same area come together to pool their resources and provide joined-up primary care. It means I can call upon, say, physiotherapists or mental-health nurses who are effectively part of my own team.

Jayne: I suppose our jobs are unique in that you can go and practise almost anywhere. But we wanted to be near a big city like Cardiff with a teaching university, so that we still had opportunities for medical education and career development. As well as working as a GP, I now spend time at Cardiff Royal Infirmary, in the sexual health department.

Calum: Yes, If you want to be involved in research or teaching, that’s all here. I've taken on an extra role at a neighbouring health board, Cwm Taf, working for Macmillan to help improve the standard of cancer care delivered by GPs across the region. 

The Forrester-Paton family walking on Penarth Pier
The family enjoying Penarth Pier

We’re planning to make the most of where we live as the children grow up

Jayne: Even now, with our youngest 11 months old, it’s beautiful to go for a walk on one of the local beaches. But we’re looking forward to walking in the Brecon Beacons and going camping. There are all sorts of things I know the kids will absolutely love when they’re older.

Calum: I want to start surfing. It’s very much a fantasy at the moment, but I would love it to become a reality. I want to do more walking and cycling, too. I’ve needed to commute up the A470, part of The Cambrian Way, quite often, and the scenery on the way to Merthyr Tydfil is breathtaking. We used to cycle a lot in London – we’d even ride to nursery with the kids in a trailer on the back. Now we’ve got three including a baby, we can’t really do that, but it’s something else we’re looking forward to.

This is crazy. It feels like we’re on holiday, but this is our home town."

We’ve found our forever home here in Wales

Calum: I can’t believe that at one point, we weren’t sure about making the move. We haven’t looked back. Everyone is really nice, the pace is slower in a small town like Penarth, and I’m outdoors more. There are fewer crowds, so doing stuff with the kids just feels so much less stressful. And doing your daily commute through such inspiring surroundings raises your spirit at the beginning and end of the working day. 

Jayne: In our first few months here, we couldn’t stop smiling and feeling really smug. There were times when we were sitting in the sunshine, looking out across the sea, when I’d say: 'This is crazy. It feels like we’re on holiday, but this is our home town.' And after just 12 months we’ve made lots of lovely friends. I feel like we’re part of a community.

The Forrester-Paton family on Penarth beach
children on Penarth Pier
The family enjoying Penarth Pier