Students are often made to consider their career ambitions long before they leave the halls of university. The Guardian has asked a question we all would have thought was simple to answer: North or South?
London is the UK’s crown jewel. Not only is it the home of Parliament, the Queen and the infamous Tower of London, the city is the epicentre of economic and business investment. It is in the UK capital you shall find the job you desire.
Or, at least, that’s the assumption many of us make.
On the one hand, yes, London is where Britain’s major national and international business is conducted. On the other hand, can any graduate really afford to live there independently?
Housing prices have been rising steadily in the city centre, as the demand for accommodation increases at a faster rate than the city can build the homes to provide it.
It would appear that graduates from lower socio-economic backgrounds are bearing the brunt of this housing shrinkage:
“A study from the London School of Economics and the Sutton Trust says only 6% of graduates moving to London are originally from poorer areas.” (BBC website)
The argument is that, in spite of London’s obvious attractions, northern cities such as Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield might be the best place for graduates to start their careers.
The Guardian reported a young graduate’s journey to the North. Steve Pennett had been building his career initially in London, “I lived and worked at a frantic pace but was still just getting by,” he says. “I wasn’t saving nearly as much as I wanted to, I had no pension and not much spare income for things like holidays.”
On moving to Sheffield however, Pennett was able to turn things around;
“There’s plenty to do on a variety of budgets, rent is cheap, house prices are low and the people are friendly,” he says. He’s even been able to start saving for a deposit: “I’m confident I will be a home owner before I’m 30.”
These cities may not have same international business appeal as London, but they do have low prices, room for budgeting and some glorious attractions such as Manchester’s Lowry theatre and art gallery, Liverpool’s Albert Doc, the stunning Gateshead Millennium Bridge in Newcastle and Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens.
The Guardian states that those cities referenced above “are the recommendations of a recent report by the Intergenerational Foundation, which found that many northern English cities strike a better balance than the capital when it comes to rewarding, well-paid work and quality of life.”
The cost of living is much lower, and the required income for a mortgage in the north-west is only £26,395 p/y compared with London’s £77,000 p/y. The average rental price in London is now a shocking £1,500 pcm, meaning a graduate earning the average London base salary of £27,999 p/y has already spent 64% of their annual base salary on rent.
The bottom line is still the same; however, as high as London’s cost of living, housing and income issues, it is where the best graduate opportunities are. Other than the BBC, who relocated to Manchester in 2011, the capital is still the stronghold of business, economic, political and cultural power. According to Tech City News, London raised a record $1.5 billion from venture capitalists in the first half of 2015 alone.
The only issue you really need to consider: can you afford it? Would you rather live in a city with affordable housing, more agreeable working hours and a chance of disposable income? Or would you live hand to mouth, pay high rental and work late, long hours in order to become one of the movers and shakers of your generation?
We can’t give you the answer, but hopefully these questions will help you with your decision.