A new poll by YouGov reveals that, despite 2012 being a year like no other, 52 per cent of Londoners would rather live in another part of Britain. 51 per cent of those polled, expressed their belief that you need to be really rich to make the most of the capital. As Boris Johnson, London’s charismatic blonde Mayor, would say: “What piffle.”
Sure London – like any great city – can be expensive but it’s also perfectly possible to experience London without even opening your wallet. The capital boasts some of the the world’s greatest museums and art galleries; treasures which are mostly free. As are the wonderful Royal Parks (a staggering 60 per cent of the capital is given over to green space), gardens, carnivals and quirky markets such as Spitalfields, Greenwich and Portobello where browsing need not cost a thing.
Admittedly upscale restaurants, top price theatre tickets and black cabs do cost but, as the saying goes, ” you get what you pay for”. My Grandmother for instance lives in Little Thetford – a tiny village in East Anglia where the price of milk at the corner shop won’t cause your palms to moisten and parking is plentiful and free. My Grandma, bless her, is forever telling me about suitable jobs she has seen advertised in East Anglia, stressing how inexpensive the area is. My (silent) response? Of course it is: it’s Little Thetford. What a travesty it would be if my Grandmother’s small village – sans cinemas, theatres, shops and any shape or form of life – cost the same as the capital.
There are tonnes of towns outside of the M25 that are much more inexpensive than London, but the bottom line is this: cheap isn’t always best. Surely it speaks volumes when our national treasures no longer choose to stay in their home towns: Liverpool’s Cilla Black lives in Belgravia, Cheryl Cole has swapped her native Newcastle for London and Robbie Williams got the hell out of Stoke for LA and is now rumoured to be house hunting in London’s Holland Park.
And, may I add, for good reason. In London, there is always something to do. You have everything you want in terms of activity and accessibility. Every week, a new bar or restaurant is opening. I adore the old and the new side by side: the London Eye towering over the Thames, the tatty fabric shops in Broadwick Street market nestling between Soho’s multi million dollar film companies. I love waking up in the mornings and knowing that the rest of the city is waking up too. The hustle and bustle… the healthy cosmopolitan mix. To see the streetlights! To hear the taxis! The sheer, unadulterated adrenaline of it all! London is frenetic but it gives you energy – and that’s something you can’t put a price on.
So my message to the supposed 52 per cent of Londoners who want to leave is this: Go. Get out of here. Skiddadle. Buses and trains depart every second and there are thousands of people who would kill to live in London town. But when you find yourself struggling in Salford, slipping into a coma in Cornwall or losing the will to live in Leeds (this one will might get me into trouble seeing as CD-Traveller headquarters are there, oops), don’t come crying to me.