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Tuesday, 23 June 2020

London vs Brighton - Choosing Where to Rent


For those of you who don't follow me on my social media, last month I moved to Brighton with my boyfriend. I've always wanted to live in Brighton, having chosen it as my 'staycation' destination more times than I can count, and visiting the beautiful coast here frequently when I was younger.

But, deciding between London & Brighton was a tough choice for me as I work in London and my family all live there, but my love for the coast and all the foodie choices in Brighton was something I couldn't ignore. Lots of people seem to be in a similar predicament to myself when it comes to deciding between London & Brighton, so that's where this blog post came from. I'll outline everything that influenced our decision to choose the coast over the capital.




Our original plan was to buy somewhere in June, which we pushed back to September just so we could afford the furniture we actually wanted, but Coronavirus came along and not isolating together proved difficult, so we brought the date closer and changed our plans to rent for a while and continue to save money with not having to commute to work.

Cost


You might automatically assume that since Brighton is outside of London, it'd be cheaper to live there - well, no. Brighton is actually ranked in the Top 10 most unaffordable places to live in the UK (according to The Independent). Rent prices almost match London, and buying isn't all that much cheaper, if at all, than South London. Paired with the cost of commuting into London, which you're looking at around £400 - £450 a month depending on where you commute into, it really isn't an affordable option if you are working in the capital.

Rent prices do vary, but for example a one bed flat in Brighton, that is within walking distance to Brighton Station, is around £800 - £1200. If you're sharing with a partner like I am, then the cost is do-able with a commute, but if you'd be living alone you'll be eating away a fair chunk of your pay cheque with rent and season tickets.

The cost of renting in London varies massively depending on which Zone you're in, and if you're wanting to be close to the action I personally would say you don't want to be any further out than Zone 5. HomeLet state that the average rent in London for new tenancies is £1,665 a month (skewed quite a bit by the pricier areas such as Marylebone and Victoria), but a one bed flat further out of central, such as Croydon (Zone 5), would cost you around £1,150.

For me, if I was to have stayed in London I would not want to live any further out than Zone 2, so that I could enjoy the delights of the city without having to travel too far. Being this close to Zone 1 pushes rent prices up massively.


Commuting


London was winning for a while when we were considering the cost of living in Brighton, but with no commuting due to Coronavirus, we worked out it'd be the cheaper option for now.

It's not only the cost of commuting that is something to consider, but also the length of the commute. Personally, I've lived on the border of London and Surrey for most of my life, and my commute to work was around an hour and a half, that's just to get into another part of South London. The commute to my work from Brighton will now be an hour and 45 minutes, minus walking time, so all in all only 15 minutes longer than my commute from the London/Surrey border! My boyfriend, who works within walking distance of London Bridge, will have an even shorter commute! The only downside - Southern Rail...(need I say any more?!)

Transport


We all know that London has a fantastic transport system, minus the Jubilee line on a weekday morning, so in all honesty it doesn't really compare to Brighton. How can you compare a city which has a tube network, busses & trams to one which simply runs on busses?! To be fair, although Brighton does not an extensive transport system, you can walk pretty much anywhere you want, if walking is your thing.


The Views


London has its fair share of pretty places, stunning parks and of course the great skylines, but does that really compare to Brighton beach? In my opinion, no, but I am definitely biased, as someone who grew up in London and really has seen most of what it has to offer.

When it comes to living in London, if you're in Zones 5-6 or further, you're paying less in rent but you're not close to the action at all. Chances are, you can't see the London skyline from your bedroom and you're stuck in a mediocre borough whilst still having to get on a train or tube for 40 minutes to get anywhere.


Shopping


Ok, probably not the best time to be writing about the shopping in London & Brighton considering we are still in a global pandemic, but, both are great places for shopping. London is busy, everywhere you want to shop is busy, central London shopping is just not for me. Saying that, you do have the variety of high end/designer shops that you don't really get in Brighton (I'm talking your Gucci stores and your Harrods - though if you're reading this, chances are those aren't your usual shopping spots anyway).
Brighton has a good selection of shops, from vintage thrift shops to your usual high street picks. In my opinion, Brighton is a nicer place to shop. The Lanes and their vintage shops make it a winner for me, but you could argue you can get your vintage fix in places like Camden in London (though not quite as good, in my opinion).


Unsavoury Characters



A rogue heading that to be honest, didn't need to be included. But...there are certain parts of Brighton where you can expect to witness many a drug deal and questionable behaviour. For example, in one day we witnessed someone wiping their bum and throwing the used tissue on the floor and a handjob being given outside a Chemist at 7pm in broad daylight. There's also a lot of questionable people who seem to be rushing around chatting to someone on old Nokia phones - its very bizzare and I shan't speculate to what they're doing.

Not to say you wouldn't see any of this behaviour in parts of London, because I can confirm that after living in South London for 24 years of my life there most definitely are people like this, but it's something to take into account before you commit to moving to a seaside town you think is all cool hippy students and retired folk - there's much more to it than that!

So overall:

  • Brighton wins on cost
  • London wins on commuting 
  • London wins for transport 
  • Brighton wins for views 
  • Brighton wins for shopping 
  • and no one wins for unsavoury characters... 

In all seriousness though, we've been in Brighton for nearly a month and it has, so far, been the best decision I've ever made.

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