Why is Moving to London Still So Popular with Young People, Despite the Costs?

Even though it didn’t make the most recent poll of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, London remains the priciest city in Europe when it comes to renting property. The reality of that statistic has caused some serious problems in the city, from the decade-high level of people leaving the capital to the one-in-fifty-nine rate of homelessness. It makes for troubling reading.

Yet people continue to move to the city in ever-increasing numbers and, as the GLC puts it, London is open. The most recent statistics have seen the city’s population swell two times faster than any other part of the country. Many of those who are new to the city have immigrated from other parts of the world; indeed, the last census—taken in 2011—revealed that 61% of people living in the city were either born outside of the UK or were non-UK nationals.

While the net number of people moving to London is in minus figures, there has been a net rise in the number of people in their twenties relocating there; according to ONS statistics, there was a net increase of 25,870 in the capital’s 20-24 year old population in 2016, despite the instability brought about by Brexit. So just why are the country’s youth still drawn to the capital?

It’s not that difficult to find affordable places to live

When people think of London, a few stock images come to mind—Big Ben! The Houses of Parliament! The London Eye! However, unlike other cities in Europe, the more tourist-centric areas of the city are by and large not where most (or any) people actually live. Likewise, although boroughs like Kensington & Chelsea may have a reputation for being full of luxury properties, there is still a large proportion of high-rise affordable housing to be found.

However, most people coming to the capital can find affordable places to live a little further out of the centre. Removals experts AnyVan point out that the southern borough of Croydon has become a particularly desirable location for those moving to London, calling the area “ripe for reinvention” thanks to its fast-developing tech scene and the recent opening of a BoxPark shopping mall. Those looking for a more central place to live in the capital will also be well served by areas like Leyton, Holloway or Tooting, all of which have a good transport connections.

The job market is growing

Despite the continued fallout from Brexit, people in the city are optimistic about the state of employment; according to OnRec, 59% of Londoners have confidence in the capital’s job prospects. This confidence isn’t unfounded, however: The average annual salary increase in the capital is nearly double that in any other part of the country. Granted, this figure is, in part, so high in order to match the high average cost of rent in the city, but it’s always encouraging to see your wages go up more than those of your friends who live out of town.

Furthermore, the capital is also entering a growth period for job vacancies, experiencing an increase of over 9% and a corresponding 3.1% rise in job applications; in the financial sector, for example, there are 55% more available jobs than the UK average. City businesses are also offering higher salaries to new starters, in order to incentivise people to change company.

There’s something for everyone

Whilst young people in cities such as Los Angeles are struggling to stay enthused about their home city, London’s youth population is increasing year-on-year. The city’s vibrant nature is arguably helped by its proportionally large population of 25-34 year olds, who make up an average of 20% of its residents.

Regardless of the negative press that sometimes emerges around life in the capital, moving to London remains an experience which is rife with limitless possibilities. From the thriving clubbing and live music scene, overseen and improved by the city’s new Night Czar, to its culturally rich assortment of restaurants and street food markets; from the world famous museums and galleries to its green open spaces, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the capital.

So why do young people still move to London? Because, as simple as it may sound, and for all the hardships and turmoil it’s had to endure over its history, it’s London.

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break. With a background in PR working in Los Angeles and Barcelona, Charlotte has been working hard running Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden for the past 4 years. Dried mangos, Starbucks and runs through Hyde Park get this Londoner through the day.

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