A perfect storm of stagnant wages and spiralling house prices due to increased demand has led to a significant proportion of young people , including teachers, being unable to get on the property ladder. All these factors have led to a fracturing of London life. People who have lived in these areas and worked there cannot afford to live there anymore, being priced out by gentrification and rampant house prices resulting from a lack of new houses built over the last couple of decades. An old 3-bed Victorian house in what was a previously undesirable area of Brixton now can fetch upwards of a million pounds. Who can afford that? My wife and I worked in East London and our 2 bed duplex flat cost £1200 in rent in South Woodford, as teachers we are in vocations where wages are above average but even we struggled with these escalating costs. How can cleaners, cooks, shop assistants afford it on less wages that us? In short, they can't.
I remember in the mid-2000s getting on a bus at 5:30 am to get to my placement school which was in the shadow of Canary Wharf. The bus was packed with lower paid workers who greased the wheels of the city, they kept it running... how can they be coping with what has happened over the last 7 or so years since the economic crisis? In their line of work many have been undercut by the new wave of immigrants, its not the fault of the immigrants, they are filling a need but unscrupulous employers are driving down the wages of the workers, knowing there is a plentiful supply of people desperate for work. What is the solution? I don't know but I do see London losing its character and becoming a homogenous playground for businesses and the well-heeled elite.
A lot of my friends, all skilled middle class workers in professions have moved out to the fringe counties, where their money goes a long way towards the cost of a house. London is losing its skilled workforce, this brain-drain will lead to stagnation on innovation in the city. This is not a problem just facing London, as house prices in all the major cities are rising far beyond the rate of pay or inflation.
My wife and I decided to move to the countryside as living in London was simply no longer sustainable, our decision was made after we found out that she was pregnant. We had an option of living in a rented place in South Woodford for the indefinite future or actually start to save for our future. We bit the bullet and moved to the sticks in early April. So how is life in the country for me, a city boy from Barking? Well it took a lot of getting used to, I am the token Asian in the village and when I go into town (a brief 10 minute drive) and see another Asian my heart races, I'm not alone! However people in the village are very welcoming and apart from downgrading to 2mb internet (from 20mb) life here is great. I love the greenery, calm pace of life and friendly banter with absolute strangers.
I have my man-cave and still go into London every couple of weeks to go comic and computer game shopping, go to concerts and see exhibitions occasionally.
There is a famous quote by Samuel Johnson, 'Tired of London, Tired of Life'... But I say 'Can't afford London, want to have a life'.... Doesn't quite roll off the tongue but the sentiment is the main thing here.
Since moving here I have a new job as a teacher and after getting used to having a distinctly homogeneous and non-multi-cultural class I can say that I truly do love it here. I find I have more time at home with my wife and child and the work level is high but not as much as when I was in East London for those 10 years.
God is in his heaven and all is right with the world!