How is the North closing the gap on London?

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Unicorns and Opportunities

Job vacancies in London are down, whilst the demand for workers continues to grow in the North West with some of the UK’s most exciting businesses including Boohoo, Cinch Cars, and The Hut Group. The North / South salary gap is also starting to decrease year on year. There is an endless number of opportunities in the North West, especially with Manchester being the fastest growing UK tech hub, after the city attracted more than £500m in venture capital funding last year, putting it ahead of Cambridge, while also boasting a cumulative digital turnover of around £2.9 billion.

Additionally, in August 2020, MediaCityUK – home to 250 media and digital businesses – was named the first “connected neighbourhood” in Europe, only the second in the world alongside the Hudson Yards development in New York.

In 2019, 13% of people who left London moved to the North of England, compared to in 2009 when only 1% did the same. The attraction of the hustle and bustle of the capital has turned into impatience and frustration at overcrowded public transport, extortionate house pricing, and an unhealthy constant rush to be everywhere as quick as possible. The rise of remote working also means that whilst people may work for London-based businesses, they don’t necessarily have to live there. So what is pulling people up North?

Cost of Living

House prices in the North of England are approximately one third of those in London. Taking Manchester as a more specific example, consumer prices Including rent in London are 48.17% higher than in Manchester, rent prices in London are 118.92% higher than in Manchester, restaurant prices in London are 5.87% higher than in Manchester, and groceries prices in London are 8.02% higher than in Manchester.

Therefore, across the board the general cost of living is cheaper in Manchester than in London. There are also cheaper Northern cities to live in which are encouraging migration from the capital, including Sheffield, Newcastle, and Leeds. Graduates and first-time buyers are more likely to be able to afford rent and housing in a Northern city compared to living in London, and families are more likely to find housing with space, gardens, and parking whilst also enjoying more disposable income. Leisure activities are also more affordable, meaning work-life balance often benefits in the North.

Commuting Chaos

A recent article found that London commuters are the “most stressed in the UK”, and it’s hardly surprising. The Underground system at rush hour is cramped, chaotic, and stressful, the trains suffer daily delays or cancellations, and the complex road systems and rushed driving can be an anxiety inducing nightmare for those who aren’t as confident on the roads. Whilst the complexity and span on the public transport system is beneficial, it still doesn’t comfortable meet the demands of the commuter volume.

Whilst Northern cities also have their fair share of traffic jams and issues around reliability of public transport, nothing compares to rush hour in London. Those up North are more likely to have a shorter commute time, more access to cycling infrastructure, and an overall less stressful commute. Plus, Northerners are more likely to enjoy the option of flexible and remote working compared to London. In fact, 65% of office workers in London who have worked, or asked to work flexibly have felt judged or penalised for doing so, meaning that they are more likely to have to face those long and stressful commutes five days a week.

In the North West, where flexi-time and remote working are more accepted, it’s likely that you wouldn’t need to live in the city centre for a city centre role anymore. In Manchester, for example, if you had the option of up to 3 remote days, you could easily commute from further afield in the surrounding towns and villages or in the Peak District.

Pace and Work Life Balance

The hustle and bustle of the big city might seem appealing at first, but now every year London is facing a growing number of people who have become disenchanted with the capital and are escaping to places including Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester for a quieter life. London actually became the only place in the UK where more people were leaving than moving in, and the numbers are only held steady by international arrivals.

Many Londoners admit to feeling the pressure of getting everywhere really fast because everything is so connected. There is such an individualist culture in London, whereby people are just focused on getting to where they need to be, that it can be easy to get lost in the madness. It can also be very isolating and lonely.

Additionally, reports in 2017 suggested that at that time Londoners were working, on average, 3 weeks a year more than the rest of the UK. When you combine that with the higher-than-average commute times, and the stress of that, it starts to sound less appealing.

Finding a New Role in the North West with Tech and Digital Recruitment Specialists, Maxwell Bond

With the migration of talent into the North West, the cheaper business rent and cost of living, we are seeing more start-ups choosing the North for their headquarters. Is this the reason why we are continuing to see the NW being the driving force for a recovery to the UK economy?

Are you ready to make the move?

Maxwell Bond is the recruitment partner of choice for technology across the UK and Europe, providing staffing solutions and career support for workers in the tech space looking for their next opportunity. If you would like more information on the current tech vacancies we have in the North of England, please get in touch today.