plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

April 16, 2008

where you live affects how much money you have

Filed under: philosophical — Tags: , , , , — plonkee @ 12:00 pm

top of the gherkin jar

It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the property market in the United Kingdom, that it’s not a cheap place to live. In fact, it’s a pretty expensive place overall – the cheapest area of the country (the North) still has an average home price of about £150k (in US$ that would be $300k).

It’s not just accommodation that’s expensive. Having travelled a little and noticed that everywhere else, food and drink is a lot cheaper than at home, I think it’s pretty clear that it’s expensive in the UK. Cars are notoriously expensive – petrol is over £1 a litre (more than $7 a gallon), and that’s not even touching on the relative cost of more luxury items.

Still, there are more than enough upsides to living in the UK that I’m prepared to overlook the general cost of things.

One thing that might come as a surprise to some people is that I don’t live in London. I grew up in one of the London suburbs, but moved away to go to Uni. Never in a million years did I imagine that all these years later I’d still be here. I’d always dreamed of living in London, and I still do.

If I lived in London, I could live closer to my immediate family who all live within 5 miles of where I grew up. I’m a true city girl at heart, and although I do live in a city, it’s not quite the same as living in a major world city. London has better shops and bars, more free museums, a better transport system, it’s bigger and more vibrant.

It’s funny that now that I’ve bought a house, started to make it nice, and am completely not in a position to move, nearly every time I visit my family, or take a business trip to London (and these happen at least once a month) I wish, wish, wish that I lived in London.

The thing is, that even if it wasn’t ridiculously impractical to sell my house, I can’t afford to move down there. I’ve looked in the trade press, and I already know that I wouldn’t really make any more money living in London, and in the city itself there aren’t actually that many opportunities in my industry. Moving to London now would mean that I’d have to give up my dreams of working 4 days a week, my wish to travel, and owning my own beautiful little house.

Choosing to live where I do, is the more practical idea. It allows me to work towards more of my goals. It will help me to eventually become rich enough to retire. And it’s not like I don’t have a life here, I do. And I do like my city, I’ve put down roots that don’t want to be tugged up for no reason.

I’ve made a choice, and all I need to do is to remember that it is a choice that I own, and that it’s not a forever choice. I’ve always imagined that I would live abroad, and I’m only in my twenties, since I don’t plan on having kids there’s no time limit on that. If in 5 or 10 years time, I still want to live in London, I bet it will still be there. And I’ll have more money, and it might just be practical.

Where you live affects how much money you have to play with, and whilst extra money can’t buy happiness it can help you achieve your other goals in a less than perfect location.

Image by ThisParticularGreg

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