On Not Moving To London

A cheeky comment in response to a photographer scouring for collaborative talent who included in his casting that ‘everyone was in London’ inspired me to write on the subject of the migration of so many of our creative talent to our capital city.

I would do quite a lot to ensure I don’t live in London again. This isn’t some angry rant because I currently live three hours from the centre of everything (if you believe it). There are reasons.

Firstly, I have lived there. I’ve resided in North, South and Central London. I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for but the centre of a capital city isn’t my idea of an idyllic life. It’s big, it’s busy, expensive and remarkably lonely if you’re not able or not willing to rub shoulders with the jet set. Which brings me on to point two…

Everyone else is already there. The problem with London is that you’re up against so much competition. And just like everywhere else you’re expected to do your fairshare of hard graft for ‘free’. The streets are not paved with gold.  If you’re talented and you want your share of the pie, London may not be the place to get yourself noticed or paid.

Thirdly, if everyone else is in London that leaves more for the burbs. TF is just as popular in London as everywhere else. If a job’s too good to turn down I have a car which means I have on occasions headed down to London for the odd shoot (ironic considering the talent is already supposed to be there). Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I love more than a good road trip. But a day driving around the metrop is all I need to remind me I don’t need to live there.

Fourth, wherever you go minimum wage is minimum wage. Your rent might be three times as much in the city as in say The Midlands, and a pint much the same, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your wages will be higher to cover it. And like I said, TF is rife wherever you go. No matter how big or how small the company who wants to hire you, they will still try and get you for as little as possible.

I don’t live in London. But I’m up to my neck in work both paid and unpaid. The talent is just as good and you get to pick the cream of the castings because per square mile there aren’t as many high end people out of town. But that doesn’t stop me getting the best projects with professional teams.

Recently it has been brought to my attention that a number of London castings are now directed outside the county or (certainly in my case) that people outside London are traveling down for one off jobs (or daily in many cases). Because it seems that it is still cheaper to pay someone to come to London than it is to pay the people already there. If I charge £8 an hour and an additional £30 to travel down to the city, that’s still going to work out cheaper that £20 an hour from the competition who only has to hop on the tube. I don’t feel bad about that. I’m just trying to get by.

This is an interesting development and something I wasn’t aware of until recently. And if that’s the case, it’s going to mean a continuing trend of people commuting into London for work rather than living there for the work. Above all it means that whilst many people want to work in London they don’t want to, or can’t, live there. And so the suburbs spread further and further. And the commuter belt becomes just as expensive. And then ultimately becomes a London suburb. The BBC’s latest documentary ‘Mind The Gap – London v The Rest‘ is an interesting insight into a city that is seemingly just taking over.

I don’t doubt that at some point the opportunity may arise for me to move back down South, but it’ll have to be offering me something exceptional. Because right now, there’s nothing wrong with where I am. It’s the best of both worlds.

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