Billboards tell the stories of professionals who can't afford London anymore



Turning London into a 3D bank for the global super-rich has also helped Osborne’s UK economy statistics look better than they really are.

And, as sorry as I feel for London residents who can no longer afford to remain there…
…welcome to the UK! The people of Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds etc feel your pain.


I agree. It’s relatively bizarre that everyone only wants to live in London, although that’s where much of the work is.

Towns like Brighton are becoming more interesting, driven by tech investment, so I’m hoping for more of a dispersal around the country.

It’s really really sad. I’m an IT professional making twice the national average and I can’t afford to even think about buying somewhere to live in London, so I’m stuck paying £1,200 to live in an overly subdivided house and I can’t do it anymore. Going to be leaving as soon as I can work out where the quality of life is going to be the best for me.

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And it’s not just London that it affects- as London becomes more expensive, so does anywhere within commuting distance of London- i.e. the whole of southeast England- as shown by this map (percent of workers commuting to London in 2011):

And as the dormitory towns price out their working residents, they end up living further out, and commuting in to work where they used to live. It’s like some kind of grotesque commuter pyramid scheme.

I was born in Cambridge (65 miles from London), and there’s no way I could afford to live there now. None of my extended family live there any more either.


Worse, we have become a haven for the Russian oligarchs from whom Putin has been trying to get back stolen money, so our policy on Russia is being dictated by the need to suck up to these people to keep house prices high.
There are about 300 000 Russians living in London; notice how we hear about Polish, Bulgarian and Romanian immigration negatively, but never a hint of criticism of Russian immigrants, even from UKIP. From the Russian government point of view we are like Franco’s Spain when it was a haven for British criminals. And we wonder why, when we join in sanctions, we are considered to be hypocrites.

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To be fair, that’s a completely different problem caused by the enormous success of Cambridge as a centre of innovation, generating lots of real employment (i.e. jobs that create wealth, not just skim it off other people’s pension funds). A lot of the London economy is parasitic; Cambridge is crowded and expensive because of real jobs in engineering, technology, medical research and the like. Cambridge could also be on track to have its own underground railway, and has had a policy of creating jobs in the less populated parts of the East. Unlike Johnson trying to keep them in the area for which he’s Mayor.

Partly, yes. But there’s still a significant number of people commuting to London- the ONS say it was about 2500 (4% of workers) in 2011; and recent house price increases in Cambridge have been partly explained by a ‘very strong ripple from London’.

Some of my relatives work in those ‘real jobs’, and still have had to move out of Cambridge.

Oscar Wilde said “London is a leper wrapped in purple.”

I kind of wish I could go back and time and tell him, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

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Does “professional” not have the same connotation in the U.K. as over here? In a broad sense, anyone with a job is a professional something, but in the context of the hed “professional” means a job that requires an advanced degree and/or official certification and licensure. None of the occupations on the example billboards qualify, except maybe the IT security consultant.

The headline suggests that doctors and lawyers and architects are being squeezed out by cackling foreign kleptocrats, whereas the billboards suggest that it’s the same bunch of us that are always getting priced out of our places once those Professionals catch wind of our cool freight elevators and 20’ ceilings and neat little bookstores (which will also be priced out imminently.)


The same thing happened to the small farming town I grew up in. Except the gentrification was caused by middle class Americans rather than Russian new money.

Don’t look at NYC, Boston, DC, SF, or LA then. (Or Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc.)

It’s not just London that has changed.


Not to mention that anyone commuting from the outer reaches of that map is going to have a miserable, very expensive, very long commute.

I never even thought about living in London. There was never a chance of a salary that would given me the same quality of life that living in e.g. Birmingham would.

So you’re saying that that rent is too damn high?


Like @L_Mariachi said, most of these people aren’t professionals. And it’s not like they can’t afford to live in London—lots of people who make less do manage to live there—but that they have the ability and opportunity to move somewhere that offers better value for them.

Incidentally, some of them probably aren’t too happy about being displaced by rather flush globe-trotting authors from foreign countries who have decided to set up stakes in London.


I would have loved to see a follow-up to this interview with Joe Strummer walking around London. Maybe one of the surviving members of The Clash will chime in about the state of London.

Don’t look at NYC, Boston, DC, SF, or LA then. (Or Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc.)

The tragic thing, in my opinion, is all the homogenization that’s been creeping into other “B” cities which used to be safe havens for some alternative culture and mom-and-pop stores beyond the stranglehold of vanilla, corporate schmucks.

Creatives who aren’t merely consumed with the almighty buck and conforming to mainstream, corporate culture left a lot of the major cities because they simply couldn’t afford to live there anymore. Those who stayed (and weren’t trustifarians) often became corporate worker drones in order to deal with the higher cost of living and replaced their creative endeavors with typical, bland, corporate consumerism instead of creating things locally.

Others got the fuck out….

In the beginning, they moved into the industrial outskirts, but (as others have mentioned here) the corporate types followed them and priced them out of there as well with fancy, expensive lofts so they could come live there “too” and embrace (to death) the “sexy” counter-culture.

So these creatives finally left major cities and their industrial outskirts due to excessive, toxic gentrification that forced out and bulldozed mom-and-pop shops and built the same, rubber-stamp corporate shit you see in many other locales in the USA.

The creatives left for places like Austin, Seattle, Tempe, Denver, etc. – But, the problem is the wealthy corporate schmucks chase them (and their culture) everywhere.

The wealthy corporatize, homogenize and strip all local flavor from more expensive cities, then they stupidly wonder what happened to all the neat, local culture.

The wealthy then find out about all the “hip” new cultural shit going on elsewhere in other cities, invade them and destroy the culture there as well. And, later they wonder what happened to all the culture again and go ever searching (like a new, updated iPhone) for more places they can blindly fuck up.

It’s one thing to beautify parts of towns and increase the flow of money into local businesses, etc. and embrace the local flavor with respect – It’s quite another to simply force out small businesses and put major, corporate chains all over the place and wonder why all the creatives bolt for the outskirts.

It’s about respect, self-reflection and moderation, but a lot of these wealthy, corporate assholes put money ahead of all those things and wonder why their lives and surrounding culture are so… damn… empty.

A fancy, new smartphone can only make one “happy” for so long before the “new” wears off and they realize there’s more to life than competing in gadgets, fashion, money, status symbols and shit.

/end bitter rant

In other news…

Paris on the Platte closed recently in Denver…


Come to Glasgow. Plenty of good tech jobs. That kind of money would get you a nice tenement flat all to yourself with big old Victorian rooms and big bay windows overlooking the botanic gardens. The razor gangs are long gone and have been replaced by gangs of radicals wanting to build a better city and flummoxed by the way Londoners let themselves be shafted.

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I’m just still not sure why some of my friends still live in London, it’s a lower quality of life, for much more money.
Plus, if you live in Bristol/Glasgow/Brighton/Leeds/Cambridge/Manchester/Cardiff etc. you get all of the advantages of living in a big city for less money, and people are actually pleasant to each other.

That just crushes me. I miss that place.

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