Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Where to live in Britain (email reply)

"Hi Paperlilies - If the English Girl would consider another question:

Where in the British Isles are good places to live? We do like access to cultural stuff-music, art, etc. Would that limit us to being within commuting distance of London? Are there specific areas around London you could tell us about? And what's the whole West end, East end thing?

I know it's a big subject, but whatever comes to mind is fine.

We live near NYC, which is cool, but rapidly becoming less cool. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live in the mother country...

thanks, dave"

This is a good question, and one which, as a londoner, I want to answer "No, London is the best. Fuck everywhere else in the country!" But I do know that isn't quite the case.

Liverpool was something like European city of culture in 2007, and does have a bunch of interesting sounding (fo I have never actually been there) galleries, aswell as the Tate Liverpool. There are a lot of artists and musicians from or based there, and it is generally thought of as a place that has a sort of cool art scene. But like I said, I've never been there. If you DID move to Liverpool, you would have to deal with not being able to understand what people were saying cause of their accent, which, as an american, you would really probably have an issue with when you first got there.

Other cities of note are Manchester, which is quite a cool city, and Leeds, where I used to live as a student. There are a few galleries and museums dotted around them, and some of more note than others.

Any major city in london, which the three I have mentioned are, have great rail links to London, so it's easy enough (though expensive, about £40 atleast for a return ticket to/from Leeds to London) to travel there for specific galleries/exhibitions.

The other giant bonus about living in a city that isn't London is that London's housing prices can be almost double that of elsewhere in the country. I'm not exaggerating.

But, after all that I just said, London DOES have the best galleries, and the best museums. Hands down, it really does. Leeds and Manchester have great night life and maybe better nightlife as you can travel around them far easier than London, and as they are smaller, you can learn the lay of the land quicker.

If you were going to really move to England forever, you should definitely try to visit the different places you might be thinking of moving, to get a taste for what they are like. Other ones I would consider (but again, haven't ever visited) are Edinburgh (very beautiful, lots of galleries? comedy festival) and Birmingham.

I hope this helps you a little!

Oh crap, I just re read the email. As for whereabouts in London.... well, as a North Londoner, I would say North London is the best, seeing as I am required to 'rep ma endz'. But if truth be told, depending on how much money you have, areas of South London are probably nicer to live in, with the same or better rail links. If you were to afford living somewhere in actual central london (you would be rich) you could find a nice place in Kensington? Ha, I don't know. Not many people live in central london unless they are reallly rich or really living in a dump that costs the same as a really nice place outside of London.

So yeah... hope that helps.


Dan said...

You forgot York!! :'-(

Anonymous said...

Answer - don't live in any big city in the UK that Bryony has mentioned.

They're mainly former grimy industrial cities.

Englands beauty lies in its countryside & smaller cities IMO

Norwich,Lincoln,York,Bath,Chester etc,etc...

The North West,Cotswolds,Broads & the South-West are also stunning.

A nice site for those interested

Anonymous said...

Just in case you didn't know, manchester and liverpool are not inlondon... oh, edinburgh is not in england either.

streakfreak said...

anonymous commenter:

I'm curious. How you would classify Bristol?

Anonymous said...

Bristol is not bad either, although has some dodgy bits like most places

Little Miss TBA said...

thanks! this helps me out too ;D

ZipDudeAh said...

Channel 4 has an annual "best and worst places to live in the UK." I look forward to it every year. I watched it last year and I was impressed by the beauty of England. (I would like to live in England one day.) Here is the link to channel 4's page for the best/worst places to live in the UK:


streakfreak said...


Thanks for the link.

It's funny, my plan is to return to the UK to live in 3 or 4 years from now, and #1, Edinburgh, was already on my short-list of places to live.

tlg847 said...

As we say in this part of the world, not for nothin', but, if NYC isn't cool enough for you, I'm not sure you're tuned into the right frequency!

That said, London's fantastic and, if imaginable, even more expensive than NYC.

My wife and I drove to Cambridge and Oxford and Bath a few years ago and found some beautiful spots, but London's really something special.

-amykins- said...

NEWCASTLE!! Live in Newcastle. It's not too big, it's changed a lot, it has friendly Northeners and I live there. And I'm awesome. So... lol. xx

WildbillthePirate said...

I LOVE the DODGY Bits!!! I've worked in them most of my career & I can tell you, theres a Lot going on!

Drop D said...

I asked the original question...

Thanks, Paperlilies, for a thoughtful answer. I certainly do intend to visit a few times and look around...and it's nice to have input on that.

Anon - thanks for the pics of England.

tlg847...NYC is awesome...but the whole gentrification thing has changed a lot of what I liked best about NYC.

I've been NYC-centric for most of my life. And I can't help but wonder about Britain...it's got a pretty awesome resume...Pagan religions, Solsbury Hill, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, The Beatles, Led Zep, and KT Tunstall.

We have...cowboys.

And yes, I read "Britain is the 5th worst place to grow up". So, my illusions are tempered.

Dave said...

What AmyKins said - Newcastle's really good! Dead modern now.

That Channel 4 thing has caused so much outrage around Middlesbrough, where I've lived all my life. It's not that bad... in some places.

Anonymous said...

Leave our "Britney" Isles alone, For the record the best part of Britain to live is ANYWHERE if you have lots of money and NOWHERE is you dont have much!

Anonymous said...

Pretend you are an immigrant and you donta speka da liguage and you can live anywhere as a Civil Servant for free. Its Government Policy...