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What's Stopping You Leaving London And The South East?

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It struck me that I read a fair few comments from people on this forum who live in London and many more who live in the wider South East. I think getting a job in London is often the path of least resistance but people quickly realize that living there in any sort of comfort is unaffordable (speaking from my own and friends' experiences). So why, with threads continually appearing like this, aren't more people making a concerted effort to move North, West or abroad?

I recall the census showed that the white British population of London had decreased reasonably significantly and I suppose this demographic alone shows plenty of people are leaving. However, I am interested specifically in the people on this forum who live in London or the still-very-expensive South East, recognise prices are far too high but continue to live there.

Have you tried moving away? Are there major impediments to you moving away? If so, what are they?

Or, do you not want to move away? Are house prices a concern for you primarily because you are fixed on living in London or the wider South East?

Or, have I just miscalculated and very, very few of you live in the South East?

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Good question.

+ My job conditions deteriorated a few years ago when living somewhere cheaper (Liverpool), so I switched employer. This is common. The Liverpool-Euston trains got a lot busier on Thursday/Friday after 7pm when the economy tanked - thats people who live NW but work London/SE getting home for the weekend/long weekend. Its far easier to find suitable work in the same field in London / SouthEast where living costs lead to more job opportunities (more transient workforce).

+ Wife is not from the UK. Heathrow/Gatwick are the only proper international airport hubs in the UK to allow direct flights to non-major destinations. A direct flight is very valuable if transatlantic - changing at LHR/GTW to then fly up to Manchester etc. adds about 6 hours onto a trip, so up to 14 hours plus travel to/from airport if switching planes, and thats the difference between needing an extra day to recover, or not.

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I live in the South East. I will be leaving as I have concluded to live a decent life down here (i.e. have a reasonable home) then you need to be on 6 figures now (presuming no wealthy parents or inheritance). I am well paid by most people's standards I guess (and likely due another pay rise this month) but I have no interest in leveraging that income against a matchbox house. A debt that would require me to maintain a very high income for at least 25 years. The risk-reward doesn't seem attractive, in fact it appears stupid? Could understand someone stretching themselves for their dream home but I wouldn't pay £100k for some of the stuff I see for £400k around here.

My accommodation is well below my means (still ludicrously expensive) so about 60% of my income is put to work. I am increasing my net worth all the time, gearing towards getting out of this rat race and moving back to the Midlands/North. Have to say, this is no life though and is a means to an end.

The only reason I have not gone back already is professional pride. I was offered a job down here to run a project and that won't be finished until June at the earliest (probably longer). I couldn't walk out now as the company is relying on me to get it over the line. At the end of the day, I'm a man of my word and if I promise to deliver something I will. I can't imagine I would get a good reference leaving the company in no man's land either. As soon as it is done though I am out of here. I will feel bad as they're a good, fair employer but my standard of living long term is more important to me than a high nominal salary in the SE.

I saw a similar job for just over £40k advertised in Coventry last week, was so tempted to apply but couldn't do it. I would rather £40k in the Midlands to £60k in the SE any day of the week. You need to live here to appreciate that.

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Have you tried moving away? Are there major impediments to you moving away? If so, what are they?

Or, do you not want to move away? Are house prices a concern for you primarily because you are fixed on living in London or the wider South East?

Or, have I just miscalculated and very, very few of you live in the South East?

Maybe this thread will throw some light on the "If you don't like London, just move then" comments.

Personally, I've lived in a lot of places but primarily London/South East. The only reason I don't move away now is my job. A reasonably well paying job plus very cheap rent means I'm quids in staying here v's leaving. Longer term I should be work free in 8 years tops, only because of my London based job and benefits. Between now and then, depending on how the housing market does, I'll either buy cash or a get a smallish mortgage in Norwich where family is. I'll move up there permanently when I'm work free. There's no way I'd move voluntarily there now and take a 25-30k pay drop and end up working 5+++ years longer. Although if I got made redundant, then the pay off means I'd probably leave asap. Renting and stashing cash works for now. Definitely no plans to pay £300k for a London flat above a chip shop either.

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I have been earning mid to high £50k for 4 years in london and with 2 kids and a my wife a full time mother I haven't saved a penny. Now very seriously considering a move to Spain or Germany as I've come to the conclusion that I will never buy a family home here and at least renting gives me more flexibility to move. HPI was really getting me down but I have realised it could push me to do things that being chained to a mortgage wouldn't allow me to. I took a 3 month sabbatical to live in Colombia back in August (missus is Colombian) and will probably retire there as I can't afford to retire here. Currently considering business opportunities in Spain. I agree that 100k will allow you to live ok in the suburbs of London.

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I lived in London for 8 years and then moved out to eventually end up in Wales. I brought my OK paying job with me and with our savings we bought outright. I have a very long commute to London and back once a week - but the balance and quality of life suits me and the missus much more.

London was slowly destroying my health and we probably stayed there a couple of years longer than we should have. Prices were insane when we lived there, but not the utter madness they are now. We considered buying in 2005 and had we done so we would have probably ended up in similar financial position i.e. paid off mortgage - just living in a smaller place in a less nice area and with less cash.

If you want to get out, give some consideration to finding an employer who will eventually let you work from home. Mine was sceptical but eventually persuaded.

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I have been earning mid to high £50k for 4 years in london and with 2 kids and a my wife a full time mother I haven't saved a penny. Now very seriously considering a move to Spain or Germany as I've come to the conclusion that I will never buy a family home here and at least renting gives me more flexibility to move. HPI was really getting me down but I have realised it could push me to do things that being chained to a mortgage wouldn't allow me to. I took a 3 month sabbatical to live in Colombia back in August (missus is Colombian) and will probably retire there as I can't afford to retire here. Currently considering business opportunities in Spain. I agree that 100k will allow you to live ok in the suburbs of London.

I'm earning in your ballpark but no kids etc, so I get how much more difficult your situation is. You did hit the nail on the head though, that the upside of rampant HPI is that it forces you to make potentially very positive life changing decisions. Whereas if a house in London was vaguely affordable you might have had the pleasure of a 4.5 x salary lifetime mortgage. Likewise I might have bought a crap leasehold flat down here, and instead I'll own a house outright and retire early. If the government ploy was to keep us all working and paying off debt forever, it didn't work out that way :)

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Am scared to move despite working from home. Don't trust my employer enough to not screw me eventually and then I might find myself living somewhere cheaper with less job prospects.....

Not against living elsewhere, enjoy visiting friends in Midlands, just job prospects worries me most. The majority of my clients are based in South.

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Everything on this thread resonates with me. Moved from East midlands to SE for work and family 5 years ago. My wife is from South Korea and wanted to be near a big city and being 30 mins to Heathrow as someone else mentioned is very handy for long haul trips. She originally worked in London but now we have a daughter so that came to an end and apart from a bit of part time work she does, it's just my wage which is 50k now but was 38 when we first moved down. Sounds like a lot but it goes nowhere.

I remember in our first year down here in 2011 I said to my wife we are really going to struggle to get a decent house here but I think prices will come down. They did a bit until 2012 and then it all went crazy. Now in 2016 they are 25% up. As another poster said the HPI has got me down but I also realise it may push me to do other things.

As for moving away from SE, I have very strongly been considering moving back to East Midlands. What keeps me here is that I have a great job that I enjoy and my company is one of the best you could want to work for, and my wife much prefers the South for the people and the job market. I would say if you have a decent education and some experience it is easy to get a job here. Our experience in the East Midlands was that it was very difficult for her to find any sort of work, hundreds of applicants for every job etc although that was right in the depth of recession.

It's true that generally people are better educated and certainly the workforce down here seems much more positive.

What is alarming is how busy it is getting I have noticed a real change over the last few years; roads are busier, school places are hard to come by, parking near a school is nigh on impossible, and you do get a lot of stressed out people especially on the roads.

Our current plan is wait around where we are now for a crash, even 15% would probably be enough for me to buy but I know that it could be my first and last house so I need to be very careful. Trouble is we've been waiting so long now we are running out of time.

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From what I can tell it seems everyone moved to London or the SouthEast. It seems for incredibly enhanced money or career opportunities.

These come at cost, millions live and work in Lobdon and its suburbs on less than 6 figure incomes and have a good quality of life ( increasingly hard with HPI) does anyone think you could rock up and compete for this quality of life just by turning up ?

But the rub is by definition these are 3 or 4 generation families and we have learnt to navigate our town. Which on a good day is stunning and makes everything else look monochrome on a bad day multi cultural cesspit that is increasingly dysfunctional

The opportunities are vast still and particularly for your children. My two business partners and I have six children between us. 1 still at Uni. 4 in corporates with health care,10% pension etc daughter even has an Amex and been one Las Vegas conference in first 4 months. ( these are all first jobs)

1 writing an app whilst earning good money working in technonolgy in London ( Indian visa restrictions been very good for onshore IT staff) final one on year degree break earning £20k in a financial firm in North London.

All got jobs through open interview not through our connections all great kids but not super academic ( No Oxbridge) my 2 after a private education got 2.2's !

But they tell me the competition was ok but not ultra tough in these interviews, perhaps they were well prepared we all left school at 17 all worked for corporates before running our own business and they have put some shifts in for us over the years where we didn't cut them any slack

The multi cultural demographic probably worked in their favour in that they stood out in that respect

So our 'town' worked for us again their career trajectories could be remarkably similar to ours from the eighties

Really not convinced you could tell this story again and again ( it's the same for lots of our friends) outside London and the South East

So my point is really what did anyone expect rocking up to effectively a City State that could change your's and your children's lives dramatically - it would be easy or just a 'bit' harder than carving out a life in the provinces - it was and is a lot harder

But the truth is my kids will leave London but settle in other countries, that would seem the sensible thing to do and if any posters here are sub 40 why don't you ?

The boomers have had the best of it and London boomers more than most - those conditions pre HPI and pre globalisation aren't coming back

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House prices are mad even in most of the North and Scotland - Brown's 'boom' affected the whole country and there was no correction, so a roof over your head will cost three times more than it did for people in the 90s. I remember stories in my first job about how much money my colleagues had made on their flats, and those flats are still the same price plus inflation today.

But yes, London is on another level and I'm leaving this year, I think. I just can't take sharing a house much longer.

I have a very interesting job working on some really great projects down here. So far it's been very stable. When I was working in Scotland I was made redundant time and time again. So the reason I came to London and the reason I have stayed is my career. It'll be very hard indeed to find a similarly accommodating employer and similarly exciting work elsewhere.

I also came to London partly in the hope of maybe finding romance - as a gay man I've certainly met more potential partners in the big city. But as I remain single I'm not sure I can put that in the 'positives' column.

If I stay here, the future I'm looking at is one where I just go to the office every day, eating crap cos I can't deal with other people in the kitchen, working all day in a moderately stressful job for money which doesn't actually improve my living standards - if I save it, I'll never see it again as I'll never catch up with house prices. If I spend it on renting my own place I'll be trapped renting forever. If I spend it on gadgets I might have some cool stuff - but as I live in one room where do I put it? I suppose I could go on lots of holidays...

The house price madness has blighted my life for a decade - certainly for the last five years. I'm far more bitter and less charitable than I was when I lived in Scotland. Time to make a change.

At least London wages helped me pay off my student loan.

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One thing that stops me buying in the north is that appreciation is so much less than the SE. Sure you could buy a house outright in the north, but it's unlikely to appreciate much. But in the south, the rates are normally much higher.

One thing I wonder, with so many people hanging on to the hope of buying at the next correction... if the houses in such a correction are fair value, what is to stop rich people buying them up as investments?

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One thing that stops me buying in the north is that appreciation is so much less than the SE. Sure you could buy a house outright in the north, but it's unlikely to appreciate much. But in the south, the rates are normally much higher.

One thing I wonder, with so many people hanging on to the hope of buying at the next correction... if the houses in such a correction are fair value, what is to stop rich people buying them up as investments?

That doesn't seem to be how things work. Fear of being caught with a depreciating liability will drive the market downwards in a crash, just as fear of missing out drives it upwards during a boom. I remember my boss in the mid 90s trying to get me to consider buying a house. Perfect timing in retrospect - except I wasn't going to stay at that job and he wasn't paying me enough to buy. But also all of the media was extremely bearish making it seem like a poor investment.

The smart rich will, of course, be buying in a crash - but likely not enough to move the market in every area of the country. There simply aren't enough of them.

Edited by StainlessSteelCat

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One thing that stops me buying in the north is that appreciation is so much less than the SE. Sure you could buy a house outright in the north, but it's unlikely to appreciate much. But in the south, the rates are normally much higher.

One thing I wonder, with so many people hanging on to the hope of buying at the next correction... if the houses in such a correction are fair value, what is to stop rich people buying them up as investments?

We've got a live one here

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Have have left London. Originally went abroad. My other half lost his job. Couldn't find another one. I could only find work intermittently. Came back to the UK. In the South East now. Since we got back house prices in our new area have escalated. We chose the wrong area. Didn't get far enough away from London.

I can only find intermittent work here again.

London has been for me at least the best place to find regular work. I'm disabled and not had a permanent job for a long time. I can get contracts though and London was the best place for a regular supply of these. Medical treatment has been a problem as some of the specialised care is only at London hospitals or a hard to get at for a non-driver.

People leaving London (like us) must already be putting pressure on other areas. I'm guessing that the ones who do leave will go to permanent jobs and the effects on local employment won't be picked up for a while?

Edited by Flopsy

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I don't really like the North. It's wet, windy and cold, don't like the countryside there nor the architecture. I often drive to Wales , the Midlands and Manchester so know it fairly well.

Saying that I'd rather live in any of those places than in London. I live in one of the few rural parts of the South East in an old village. I've considered moving to the West Country but the only parts I like eg Cotswolds and Quantocks are full of Londoners, so sod that.

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Why don't I leave? - In a word, kids. They are well settled in school, clubs, friends etc.

However, in 2 years one will be off to Uni in America and the other will be (fingers crossed) going to a residential engineering college. I am out of here like a shot.

Being self employed and working from home, I am deliberately seeking somewhere with poor job prospects since it seems to me to offer the best value / least competition for something that little bit over HB rates.

Mrs CP won't go north though - so an escape to the Isle of Wight is looking like a possibility (it helps that we love sailing and diving)

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This is hardly an original thought but there does seem to be a myopia affecting a certain group of millennials regarding the south east.

I was at a family function in London on Saturday. An elder sibling of mine has lived down there for 10 or 15 years; extremely successful professionally and managed to do very well out of the property game (but very down to earth to boot and, unlike many contemporaries, has kept strong links to the family up in the midlands).

I was chatting to a number of people from down there who I've got to know over the years. What amuses me is the reaction when I'm introduced as "x's younger brother from 'up north'". People talk to me like I'm from Djibouti not 150 miles up the road. Cue much glazed eyed patronising patter about what a "cute" town I come from, from the one person in 50 who's actually been there (translation; that flea ridden one horse hell hole didn't even have a Pret....)

I work for one of the UK's largest professional services but tend to describe myself as simply 'an accountant' for the sake of ease. I'm convinced that most London based people (I reject the expression Londoner as you rarely meet a native at one of these dos) have visions of some kind of Dickensian set up, with me scribbling out a hand written ledger like bob cratchet when I say that.

Essentially, the London millennial demographic is full of people from provincial towns whose whole life plan was mapped out at about age 7; private, grammar or posh area state school, mediocre degree from a redbrick and a mediocre grad scheme in London till they can eventually cash in the HPI and move to some mediocre hybrid suburb/dormitory (the south east is just full of these places that just aren't really anything, like Uxbridge or most of Essex) to repeat the process.

Central to this philosophy is the idea that life outside London is just one long episode of this is England. All their friends move to London or, if they don't, are gradually dropped so the end result is a whole swathe of youth who have no real idea of how their provincial brethren live and believe that their above national average salaries make them special.

For example, a former colleague comes back to our town periodically, as far as I can tell purely to boast about his high 40s salary. Of course, he's mid 30s, still single and lives in a rented house in someone else's flat. Can't seem to see the irony that he's talking to a room full of happily married, home owning contemporaries who, by and large have greater disposable income and better lifestyles despite the apparent lack of opportunities up here.

That's another irony; I know for a fact that the industry I work in under recruits in its Birmingham offices every year. There are well paying jobs, nice lifestyles and affordable housing just waiting for graduate London people if they want them. You can ever get a cold brew coffee and sour dough pizza up here these days, and more craft beer than you can shake a stick at but they still don't seem to get it.

Brainwashed? Answers on a postcard I guess....

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Not sure I buy the idea that life is all peachy for millennials outside of London/SE. Homeownership is falling in every region of the UK. Yes London is worse but the problem that housing is less affordable on local wages than it was in previous decades is true everywhere in the UK.

See table 1 at: http://pwc.blogs.com/northern-ireland/2016/02/northern-ireland-embraces-generation-rent-as-property-ownership-falls.html

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Sorry, just to clarify, I'm not implying that life is all peachy creamy outside of the capital; I'm fully aware of the housing and employment difficulties in the provinces, having been through a redundancy in the last couple of years and currently struggling to trade up in the area we want.

What I am absolutely certain of though is that a great deal of the 2;1 from Reading brigade who currently flock to London as a default option then spend the next three years whinging about rents could set up shop in the north west / midlands and get themselves on the property ladder and probably a more stress free lifestyle if they weren't so focused on London, with the added benefit of stimulating the local economy and nightlife etc.

Birmingham seems to be going through a minor revolution like this at the moment. A lot of people moving up from London and a lot of jobs now following. It's given the place a real boost to be honest, but there's still room for a lot more.

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Simple answer as mentioned by others is simply job prospects. For the industry I'm in and specifically my skill set it's very difficult to find work elsewhere in the country or more importantly nothing like in the concentration I can in London. I have often looked and it's chalk and cheese to be honest, 2 jobs in a major city in the North or 200+ jobs in London (literally just did the search and even then the jobs in the north were 'best fit' rather than specifically my skills). Obviously more candidates in London, but equally more turn over and opportunities.

Equally the numbers don't stack up, the few jobs there are don't pay anything like enough to make it viable. While there is no such thing as job security these days being based in London is about as good as it gets. I did live away for a while, but the job I had was literally the only opportunity I had to work with my experience and skills, had that job folded (which it did a few years after I left) then that was it, effectively no job for me.

Regardless of all that I love London, born and raised and financially more than capable of coping with a decent standard of living.

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