London is among the most lucrative places to work anywhere in the world. There’s an amazing diversity of opportunities in the city, and workers commute from far and wide to the centre of the action. If you’re planning on taking up a job in the capital, or you already have one, then you might be contemplating a move further away from the city centre, for a range of reasons. But is such a move ultimately worth it?
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, the total workforce in London sits at around six million people. Of these, a significant chunk travel long distances to reach their place of work. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how many, because the population changes constantly, and the distance travelled is arbitrary – what might be a two-hour commute one week might take slightly less the week after.
What’s certain is that it’s cheaper to live outside the city. What you gain in financial terms, however, you’ll sacrifice in time spent on the tube, so whether this trade-off is worthwhile will depend on your own personal judgement and values.
So why live outside of London? Several advantages present themselves:
Cost of Housing
Everyone wants a shorter commute to their place of work, and easier access to the various concert venues, football stadia, tourist attractions, and other wonders that are packed into the middle of the city. This demand forces up the cost of accommodation for both renters and homeowners – to say nothing of the cost of travel and eating out. What gets you a three-bedroom semi in one place might get you a five-bedroom detached in another – which for many will justify the impact of a longer daily commute.
London has a problem with air pollution. In the city centre, you might find levels of NO2 as high as sixty micrograms per metre cubed. On the outskirts of the city, this steadily declines; in Epsom, Sevenoaks, Leatherhead and Horsham, you might find that it’s as low as twenty, or even less. Given that you’ll be spending your leisure time in your home, and sending your children to school locally, this can be a considerable point in favour of a longer commute. There are trains to Horsham running frequently from across the capital, making the commute a relatively straightforward one.
Smaller towns come with more vibrant local communities. While on the London underground, everyone’s time-poor and faintly grumpy, this isn’t such a problem in smaller market towns. Moreover, you’ll get annual events of a different kind – church fetes, markets and sports events, to name but a few.
While there are plenty of wonderful artificial sights to see in London, there’s a relative paucity of natural ones (leaving aside the handful of impressive parks). If you want to go through a stroll through green and pleasant land, being situated out in the country might make it a little easier.