This week we discovered the troubling news that young Londoners are leaving the city in droves. Officially, nearly 60,000 30 to 39-year-olds skipped town last year. Unofficially, the number’s probably higher, but that’s already a 10 percent increase on figures from 2010, and the biggest exodus on record.
In this case, as in many others, it feels right to let East 17’s Brian Harvey speak for the city: ‘Oh, don’t leave us alone like this… won’t you stay another day?’
Seriously, though, London needs normal people. By which I mean you lot – the switched-on, art-loving, generous-spirited populous. The kind of people who believe that the city ought to be fun for everyone. The kind of people who don’t believe that spotting Prince Harry at Mahiki nightclub is the height of what London has to offer.
The capital is expensive, and getting a foot on the property ladder can seem as difficult as getting a foot on the Moon. But, please, before you go all ‘Grapes of Wrath’ and point your wagon westward – seeking the promised land of, er, Birmingham – consider the following points.
1. You’ll miss it
Of course you will. Because, although elsewhere you might be able to buy a cow for the price of a Marylebone latte, you really do have the best of everything on your doorstep in London – food, drink, culture, nightlife. And you don’t even know how to milk a cow, anyway.
2. Other places are weird
A word of warning: it’s still 2008 in most other parts of the UK. People only wear clothes made by Superdry and listen to Duffy on their iPod Nanos. In this respect, London is a kind of timewarp – a place that outsiders sneer at, then ultimately adopt the attitudes of. Wouldn’t you rather be living in the future?
3. You’ll run out of people to date…
If you think the sea of London singles feels a little empty, just wait until you’re in Edinburgh. Guaranteed your next date will be the brother of your ex-boyfriend’s cousin, who also used to go out with your best mate, and will probably get a job in your office at some point after you break up.
4. …and sleep with
You’d better get used to seeing your ex-one-night-stands EVERYWHERE YOU GO.
5. It’ll be even harder to come back
The London property market is a bit like the Premier League – full of cocky little shits, yes, but also a fast-moving, scarily competitive environment. Slip down just a division or two, however, and you’ll find yourself well off the pace. No, it’s not the way it ought to be, and other cities are more affordable. But, just be sure that Arsenal to Bristol City really is the right transfer.
6. The public transport system will feel like a creaking Victorian curiosity from a bygone age
If you move you won’t be going out as much (see reason one), but when you do, any public transport you take will seem laughably inadequate. ‘The bus once an hour!?’; ‘Your subways are just for walking through – they don’t have trains in them!?’; ‘If I want to take a bike from a public place, ride it around for a bit, then dump it somewhere else then it’s THEFT!?’
7. You’ll need a car
And that’s not helping anyone is it?
8. The food won’t taste as good
Birmingham has four Michelin-starred restaurants, apparently. Big whoop. London has 64. When it comes to eating out, the little place on the corner is always better in London. Don’t fool yourself with delusions of buying fresh produce from a local farmer – you’ll inevitably end up weeping over a Wimpy burger, wishing it was Patty & Bun.
9. Because London can surprise you in beautiful ways
For a city built on centuries of tradition, London is a shockingly exciting place, which can – at its best – promise adventure at every turn, and feel like the epicentre of everything. Move away and your FOMO will be off the charts.
10. And because, honestly, you’re really needed here
No-one’s going to pretend that living in London is always a barrel of laughs, and the problems faced by young people in the city are real and troubling. But, when its good, this is arguably the best place to live in the world, and that’s something worth sticking around for and fighting to preserve. Don’t leave us with just the bankers, the footballers, the politicians, the media darlings, the ‘it’ girls and boys, the advertisers and PR gurus, the estate agents and Myleene Klass. Please, for the love of god, DON’T LEAVE US WITH KLASS.
Still not convinced? Here’s 38 things that confuse Londoners about the suburbs. For more reasons to love London take a look at 102 cracking things happening in London this December.