Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Long live the North-South divide.....

I stumbled across a TV show tonight, which was called '...Location, Location, Location...'.

I watched almost disbelievingly as the presenters tried to convince a pair of hapless buyers that a flat for £600,000 in a post-modern Stalinist block in Holloway, North London, was actually a good buy.... I'll spell it out - six hundred thousand pounds for a god-awful two-and-a half bedroom flat, FFS !

And believe me, I know all about Stalinist flats, having lived in several during my times working throughout Russia.

Here '...up north...', we own a three-bedroomed house on a 600 square-metre plot, with only three near neighbours, open southern and western farmland aspects and a protected woodland to the north, for which we paid around a quarter of that sum, including the recent garden extension purchase.

And lest you think we're severely disadvantaged and remote from any trappings of so-called civilisation, within a mile or so from us we have a 24-hour Tesco Extra, an ALDI, a Boots, several health centres and dental practices, plus an array of small & specialist high-street shops and banks.  Within five miles in another direction, we have another 24-hour Tesco Extra, a Sainsburys Superstore, a Morrisons Superstore, another ALDI, a Lidl and an M&S Food store, and a small town centre hosting many of the national high street favourites.

I'm a 20-minute taxi ride and then a two-and-half-hour train journey away from central London (or around four to five hours by car), for the very occasional visits I need to make to the Metropolis.  I'm half-an-hour from an airport from which I can reach, via empty roads and a short hop to Amsterdam Schiphol, just about any major city in the world.

And before anyone tries to justify the ridiculous London house prices by talking of the higher wages available, I know I'm not alone in the North in being able to charge my clients London rates for the services I provide, without all the cost disadvantages of having to live there.  I can also say that in the past I've turned down six-figure offers of full-time employment in London. 

I've got no beef at all against the very fine people of London, many of my friends live in the wealthier suburbs and I also worked there myself many moons ago, for several years via the weekly-commute routine.  

However, to paraphrase an old Victoria Wood comedy sketch, "...I'd like to apologise to those readers living in the South - it must be terrible for you..."


  1. I have to say that I totally agree... And I live darn South and work in London!

    I'm not going to moan about it as I know that I could technically move anywhere I wanted to so it's my choice to stay put. We have friends and family down here so it's a sacrifice we are willing to make. I am sure I could reach FI in half the time if we moved oop North though!

  2. Thanks for the comment. I really love London as a place to visit. A former colleague of mine and I once thought about buying a place together when we were both working there. It would have been the best investment we never made !

  3. Hah don't get me started on that. I met up with a friends that bought only 3-4 years ago in London and they were talking about now selling. One had gone up by £100K and the other just over £200K. My flat has gone up a measley £20K at best in the meantime... Some you win some you lose ay!

  4. Living cheap in London3 March 2014 at 15:25

    All your local shops sound a bit grim ;-) ..... you just can't beat the variety of food shopping choices in London for pure culinary delight.

    And don't get me started on "the national high street favourites" as they are almost universally soul destroying places. I'm not being snobby - i just don't buy much on my path to FI so all the useless tat they sell is pretty much the same from London to Edinburgh.

    That being said, house prices are just insane down here, & I have no idea what my kids are going to do in 15 years time..... that is the more worrying component.

  5. Hi. Many thanks for stopping by.

    Point taken on the local shops, they ain't exactly going to be short-listed for awards for diversity and quality.

    Although in your quest for FI, I do hope you're not regularly spending 10% of your monthly food budget on two slices of Italian cured ham from the latest fashionable Deli, even if they do claim the pig was humanely slaughtered on silk cushions to the strains of Puccini's La Boheme ! :-)