In the first post in this series, it was pointed out in the comments that there are more properties per person than there was a hundred years ago – so we probably do actually have enough properties in the country to house everyone.
The trouble is – many of the properties are in the wrong place.
London and the South
Most people seem to want to live in London (which has a population of just under 9 million) and the South East. Largely I suppose because it is a more prosperous area and there are more jobs.
However, if you factor in the housing costs, those jobs don’t really give you a lot of income.
You would probably be better off, if you could get a similar paying job, living in another part of the country – such as the North. If only it had the jobs!
However, it depends on what sort of job you want. For some sorts of work, you can live anywhere.
For example, my job
I work through the internet so it no longer matters where I live. I actually live in Norwich which is a pleasant place, and is within two to three hours (depending on what train you get) of London – where I need to be from time to time for meetings.
But I could do my work from Northumberland, or from the Orkneys or from Madrid if I wanted. In fact, I have worked from all those places when we were on holiday there. I bet you never noticed.
Most of my staff (who are technically sub-contractors) work remotely and we communicate via email and Slack and have meetings via GoToMeeting.
My long-term web designer Gill lives in Somerset – we have only met face to face a few times during the last 20 years or so that we have worked together.
The last time was in about 2013 when I went to her wedding.
The Internet changes everything
For many types of work, it does not matter where you are.
- You can connect to anyone via your computer
- You can speak to them in real time and even view them via webcam using services like Skype or GoToMeeting
- You can communicate via email or apps like Slack
- You can use project management software to keep track of what you are doing
And so on.
Working remotely in this way has many advantages:
- It cuts out long commuter journeys
- It allows you to be with family – so particularly good for parents and carers
- You have more freedom over your life
So it is worth considering.
Many people for example now work on a freelance basis, often using websites such as Upwork to find work.
Or you can develop your own business (as I did) using the internet.
But you need the internet
The big problem about many attractive parts of the country is that they do not have good broadband. Many lovely country villages for example.
However, this is not an insoluble problem. In many places, locals are taking things into their own hands and setting up their own high-speed internet services – as discussed in this BBC news post.
This can be excellent and will help bring more people and life to the community. Indeed long term the internet could rejuvenate small towns and villages across the country.
After all who wants to live in a decrepit vermin-ridden HMO in north London which eats up 50% of your wages if for the same price or less you could live in a 3-bed house with garden in a pleasant part of Yorkshire?
Government and business have their part to play
Re-locating important services and government departments can help ease the problems – there is a list of all of them here but I have not checked where they are located. I suspect that a majority are still in London and the South East.
The BBC has re-located some of its services, for example, the BBC’s Dr Who is filmed mostly in Cardiff and Wales which has done a lot for the local area. I also saw this article on the Guardian website recently about relocating Channel 4 to the regions.
Creating ‘hubs’ of specialist expertise in the regions can also help. For example in Norwich where I live there is a sizeable science hub – helped by a direct train line to Cambridge. And Lowestoft, one of the more socially deprived areas in Suffolk, is being boosted by green technology developments which will hopefully bring jobs and prosperity.
A recent government report on industrial digitalisation discussed here also contemplates pilots in the North West and ’12 digital innovation hubs’ although it does not say where they will be.
If you are unhappy with where you live – have a think about whether you could move somewhere cheaper and have a better life.
If your job is the problem – could you change your job? Or maybe work remotely?
People wanting to set up superfast broadband in their area will find a lot of information on the internet. For example, this company seems to specialise in this work. There will be others – do an online search.
If you are looking to set up your own business – consider re-locating to some place where property is cheaper. If nothing else your living costs will be lower and this may help when recruiting staff.
If you live in a deprived area where there is plenty of housing but not enough jobs – write to your MP and ask what s/he is doing to encourage the relocation of government departments and organisations to your area. Or to encourage the development of local facilities (transport, broadband, etc) which will attract businesses.