London is the third most expensive city in the world to live, according to cost of living index Expatistan. For many of us London is seen as the city with the most opportunity and therefore it has become one of the most desirable places to live.
Words: Lauren Banton, Jason John, Tamara Hutchinson, Mariya Hristova
Commuting has become increasingly popular. Hertfordshire is a county that borders the capital and has reliable transport links into London. Using it as an example we compared the cost of living outside of London and commuting to living in the capital.
St. Albans, a small city in South Hertfordshire 20 miles north of London, has a population and atmosphere comparable to Hampstead in North West London. Although the town is extremely attractive to families it is becoming a place where young professionals are drawn.
A one-bedroom apartment in central St. Albans costs £895 pcm. The property is located within a five-minute walk to the train station where there are quick trains into London.
Compared to a one-bedroom apartment in Hampstead, which is £1,560 pcm. The property is a two-minute walk to Finchley road Underground station located in fare Zone 2.
The rent alone in Hampstead is close to double the amount of the rent in St. Albans. However, rent isn’t the only thing to take into consideration when working and living in London. Transport plays a major role too, we documented the commute from Hertfordshire into London by train and car as well as a commute by tube from North London into central London and then across to North West London.
My name is Tamara, I live in St Albans Hertfordshire. By train it takes about 1hour 15 minutes to get to Harrow. I travel straight to West Hampstead station, to then carry on with my journey by going onto the Jubilee line and then end with the Metropolitan line. I used to use the bus but it was too exhausting. I would have to wake up around 5:30 am every morning, take three buses and one stop by underground just to get there. Now that I take the train I definitely save money and time.
My name is Lauren; I live in a small town in Hertfordshire, which is roughly a 40-minute motorway journey to North London. I recently moved back after living in London for two years with friends. Even though the cost of rent was split between the four of us it was extremely expensive for the standard of the property. I found that commuting was the best option for me as I am currently making a saving of over £200 a month. I captured my weekday commute to the capital; admittedly it was the tail end of rush hour but that didn’t mean I avoided the London traffic!
I’ve lived in Tottenham since the day I was born. It is acceptable area; if you avoid the gangs and football crowds. The place is filled with a spectrum of good people, youth clubs/sports centre, and convenient stores nearby. There is even a large Sainsbury’s across the street to where I live.The town is basically my home, and London is the back garden I love to explore. Being in zone 3 on the travel map gives me access to travel to popular areas in London such as Seven Sisters, Stoke Newington, and Liverpool Street which is only two zones away.However, for me to travel to my university in Harrow I have to move from zone 3-1 and then zone 1-4 which takes around an hour. It is a pain but the cost to travel is not bad, and it gives the freedom to explore London anytime of the week on buses or trains. In the end it is love and hate feeling, but I would not trade my living and travel experience with anything else.
My name is Mariya and I moved to London two years ago. I have lived only in the North-West part of the capital, I currently reside in Greenford and have lived in three places throughout my stay here. I find rent and transport in London very expensive and I have noticed that prices keep going up. The city is stressful and busy, as a person coming from a small town, I still find it difficult to adapt. I have considered moving to a smaller city, but commuting to work and back would be inconvenient and time consuming. At the moment I think I can balance my time as my workplace is about 25 minutes away from home, so it is easy to commute back and forth.
So in summary, while working in London provides many opportunities for career development, living in the capital isn’t always the best option. Commuting from Hertfordshire saves over £600 a month in rent alone. Even when considering the cost of commuting living outside of London has the edge. Plus-who wants to live in the exciting chaos of London anyway, certainly not a young 20 something at the beginning of their career!