The UK’s Regional Shift: Looking Beyond London

by Bella Palmer

In recent years, London’s affordability crisis has reached fever pitch. Hailed as one of the world’s most expensive cities in the world to live and work, London’s prices have long been skyrocketing, not at all in line with the sustainable growth seen in most other UK regional cities. In particular, London’s house prices are suffering substantial inflation, at the expense of homebuyers who increasingly cannot afford the exponential prices that the capital demands. On average, a home in London is nearly 2.5 times the price of a home anywhere else in the country, with an average price-tag upwards of £514,000 compared to just £208,000 found in other regions outside the capital.

Because of this overwhelming affordability barrier, many people are increasingly looking elsewhere in the country, where prices are more affordable and economically sustainable in the long-term. In the past 5 years, there has been almost a mass exodus from the capital because of its unsustainable price growth. Instead, those seeking an alternative have found a welcoming home in regional cities, offering a less competitive job market, lower property prices and a generally lower cost of living than their London counterpart.

It could be said that this nationwide shift from London to regional UK cities like Manchester and Liverpool came in the wake of the successful move of the BBC and ITV to their new regional home in Salford Quays, Greater Manchester in 2011. This move from the capital to MediaCityUK has proved a huge success, with the area now being cited as the first purpose-built digital hub in Europe, and the largest digital cluster outside London.

Therefore, following the successful creation of the bespoke MediaCityUK site, more and more individuals and businesses are seeing the benefit of escaping the affordability restraints of London and are instead enjoying the relative freedom offered in the North. This then has a cumulative effect, encouraging an increase in inward investment to further entice people to live and work in popular regions like Manchester. Consequently, it is no surprise that almost all major Northern cities have burgeoned in popularity recently as a result of this nationwide trend, and are set to continue growing and thriving over many years to come.

However, it is not just Salford Quays that has thrived in the wake of the newfound attractiveness of relocating Northbound. Another popular city enamoured by businesses and employees alike is Liverpool, which has been growing from strength to strength of late. The former Capital of Culture is currently, and has been for many years, benefitting from an influx of both public and private investment, which as a result has completely transformed the city’s landscape. New infrastructures like Liverpool ONE, the largest open-air shopping complex in the UK, rub shoulders with beautiful  restoration projects like the iconic Grade I listed Albert Dock, which has unsurprisingly made Liverpool one of the most visited cities in the country, and thus a prime, sought-after area for those seeking a thriving yet more affordable option than London.

Northern cities have so much to offer, from cheaper housing and overall cost of living, to exciting new investments and a growing populace. As a result, regional cities have never been in higher demand, and this surge in popularity looks set to continue for many years to come.[review]

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