Following on from Kady’s excellent London is Changing post (three months after it was originally posted. I am very on the ball), I thought I’d do something from the perspective of someone who never made it there. Which, luckily, is my perspective! Often voted “the best perspective” in the perspective awards, it’s also by chance the one I happen to be most acquainted with.
“Should I move to London?” and even “do I have HAVE to move to London?” are often the Big Questions of any creatives early career. It’s something I’ve been thinking about recently. I always intended to move to London pretty much straight after university, but accidentally never did and now I’m too old (London is like Logan’s Run, right?), having become rather comfortable where I am.
But! This hasn’t turned out to be a disaster! It is, just like actually moving to London and realising you’ll never spend less than £4.00 on a pint again, a compromise, and to illustrate this I have decided the list the pros and cons of sticking around in my own particular slice of the country, the Isle (not actually an island since 940, history fans) of Thanet. You may know us from the recent flurry of fame that came with Nigel Farage trying to get elected here, which made me realise that all you guys should be thankful that wherever you live you get to keep your closet racists IN THEIR CLOSETS. Ours kept going on TV and embarrassing us for months.
Anyway! To Begin!
Pro: The Internet Has Happened.
Have you tried The Internet yet? It’s quite good. It also means that you can move 6 miles underground with many years worth of tinned peaches and still have an excellent and lively career, as long as the the wifi connection holds out. And this is honestly something to consider (well, not the moving underground bit) when you are thinking about where you want to live. If you are going to freelance or work from home, as long as you can jump on a train to get to meetings you really can be anywhere, so just do what your heart tells you.
Con: You can forget that other humans exist and your laptop will be shockingly overused.
Pro: It’s easy to get to London, and getting easier.
As I have often found to my horror on a night bus at 4am, moving around in London often takes a similar amount of time as it does to actually get to London from where I live. Kent is especially lucky in this regard but it’s becoming true for lots of places because of endless marching progress and fast trains.
Con: “Pretty close” isn’t traditionally as good as “actually in”.
Pro: There is a thriving creative scene.
Artists have started to realise that London is so expensive that you might as well pull out and pawn your teeth on entry (like in Les Miserables) so they are starting to trickle down our way, which means the creative scene is green and verdant. This is of course the first stage of dreaded gentrification but honestly, it’s kind of welcome, especially as we are still in that sweet spot before everything gets knocked down to make way for shiny apartment complexes where a one bedroom flat is £600,000.
This creativity is expanding the already extensive list of what for Kent is famous for, coming in a close third after old people and fruit. We have, for example, the Summer Squall, an arts festival in Ramsgate, and the Turner Contemporary which is a pretty awesome art gallery in Margate. It’s got an exhibition by Grayson Perry at the moment, who we all know is the best in about a million different ways and also weirdly handsome (just me?), and as it’s her childhood home Tracy Emin pops down occasionally.
Con: London has creative scenes growing off its creative scenes, shooting out new bits all the time like a strawberry plant. However, you can say the same about places like Liverpool and Manchester, London’s just better at showing off.
Pro: There is a creative economy.
Sometimes it can sound like London monopolises the entire creative economy, but in truth it just has a vast amount more than its fair share (much like me if I am ever left alone at a buffet table). From the animation company Animate and Create, graphic designers such as Kent design agency Designmatic, the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury and an arts based regeneration taking place in Margate and Folkestone, there’s all sorts to be kept busy with, and opportunities available. You just have to look around more and perhaps be a little bit luckier than you would be in London.
Con: There are most definitely more job opportunities in London for those who are looking, but on the other hand it’s just as easy to find yourself unemployed in London as it is anywhere else. AND if you are jobless in London you don’t even have a beach to go to every day in order make the most of this situation. Speaking of which…
Pro: The sea
Does London have the sea? No. It doesn’t. It barely even has a river in my opinion because you can’t swim it in without dying of cholera so what use is that?
Con: There is no con. The sea is awesome.
Well, there’s not much more I can do to put forward my case than that (well, there is, but this is pushing 1,000 words and we all have lives) but I hope it gives some confidence to those who either can’t or don’t want to live in London. There are opportunities and options wherever you choose to live and ultimately, if you are determined and enjoy it, you can make a creative life work for you anywhere.