Why I gave up London for a life of 4am starts

Jo Limb worked as a lawyer in London before relocating to Devon to run a Riverford franchise with her husband and a life built around family, food and outdoor living.

It might sound crazy to give up a safe, well-paid job in London and move your family to deepest Devon to start your own business delivering organic vegetables. But that is exactly what me and my husband Phil did, abandoning our careers in legal marketing and insurance, and taking on the Riverford franchise for North Devon.  

I had been working as a legal marketing executive in London and lived in Brixton, South London with my husband Phil and two small girls, Hermione, aged five, and Darcy, aged two.

Originally from Devon, I’d lived in London for the past 15 years and while I loved my time there, the children’s arrival had changed our priorities. We wanted a fresh challenge in the South West, closer to my family and allowing us to live a more rural, outdoor, community-focused life.

As parents, we are also keenly aware of the influence our eating and buying habits have on our children and we want to teach them that what they eat and where it comes from matters. When we spotted that Riverford’s North Devon franchise territory was up for sale it felt like fate was stepping in. 

To be honest there is no typical day. If Phil is driving, I will get up before the girls and try to do an hour’s work getting the rounds ready for the next day before the school run starts, and then it’s a juggle between spending enough time on the children and the business. Each day there are particular tasks, as well as dealing with any customer queries, orders and the occasional complaints that come in.  We need to make customer calls, plan marketing activity, monitor social media, update the accounts, pay the drivers – there always seems to be more tasks than time!

We’re able to spend time with the girls during the day and be there for school pick-up and drop off. The compromise is working early mornings, evenings and weekends, but running your own business definitely gives you the flexibility to do this.

Not commuting every day has saved us about three hours a day – time we can now spend with the children, or just being out and about enjoying life in Devon. The girls get to see us both working, and we think it helps put them more in touch with the real world. 

We now get to eat as a family every evening – something that was reserved for the weekend in London – which has been great and slightly expanded the girls’ culinary horizons as they now eat what we eat.

Changing our lives so drastically last year has made me realise that it’s not as scary as we initially thought, and the rewards have been worth the risks.

It’s pretty scary starting out on your own, but what have you got to lose other than regrets for not trying something? Just pick something you really feel passionate about and believe in because even when the hours are long, it’s definitely worth it. 

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