Half Of Londoners Would Rather Live Elsewhere

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 67 months ago
Half Of Londoners Would Rather Live Elsewhere

YouGov's flourishing a poll that says fewer than half of people living in London want to stay here long term, with 52% saying they would prefer to live in another part of the country.

In a way this isn't surprising as sections of the capital's population is highly fluid (work, education, family), yet when you look at the most popular area Londoners would want to move to, 16% would head to the bucolic idylls of "south east England" – in other words, the commuter belt. (Incidentally, south west England is the next most fancied location. That's a lot of B&B dreams.) And when asked whether they see themselves in London in 10 years, the 48% for whom the city is first choice, obviously, say yes but 20% of the rest don't know.

Also telling was the number of people who chose 'expensive' to describe London (65%), and 51% thought you could only really enjoy the city if you were rich. We beg to differ, and point respondents to our weekly list of things to do for less than a fiver; though if on your 'things to do' list is 'live somewhere' we concede there's a point to be made.

While we're here, just 6% chose to describe London as beautiful, the same amount who said the city is ugly. We know we're biased, but this is crazy talk. Suggestions for prettiest sights in London in the comments, please.

Photo by Trowbridge Estate from the Londonist Flickr pool

Last Updated 27 November 2012

Olga S

If you can stand on Waterloo Bridge and look in either direction and say London is ugly then you have NO SOUL!

Olga S

Anyway, who wants to be pretty? Let Paris be pretty. We LAUGH in the face of pretty.

Dick Whittington

"Half Of Londoners Would Rather Live Elsewhere" - excellent idea. The other half of us would enjoy it much more without them. Imagine, one could park in the centre, like in Vienna. Off you toddle, you romantic dreamers.

Nicolas Chinardet

"Half Of Londoners Would Rather Live Elsewhere"

if only they could stop saying it and actually do it...


putney embankment. even better if theres a race on.


Who did they ask?!
Feel free to leave us to enjoy it!

Mark Rowland

"Beautiful" is not necessarily "pretty" and is absolutely in the eye of the beholder. I once spent a wonderful week travelling up the Pacific Coast Highway in California which has some of the most stunning coastal scenery in the world, but my heart rose most as we peaked the last crest before San Francisco, saw it laid out below us then cruised in on a packed 8-lane freeway as the city rose around us. Me? I'm just a city boy and find the madness, dirt and noise of London "beautiful" and can't imagine living anywhere else, but each to their own, eh?


Christopher Fowler

I was standing in the rain in Beak Street last week, outside the Sun & 13 Cantons, watching people happily drinking outside neon clubs and bars, and the scene looked cooler than almost anywhere else in the world.


The view back towards town, from the back deck of a Thames Clipper, zooming up to Greenwich at night

Footprints of London

Madness. If you want beauty how about
Sit in St Stephen Walbrook church when the organist is practicing
Walk through the estate at Kenwood
Sit by the fountain in the Inner Temple
Look at the memorials in Postman's Park
Watch the sun on the river at Blackwall Point
Visit the hidden garden in Regent's Park
Walk around Thornhill Square in Islington on a sunny spring day
Check out the reflected clouds on the Gherkin
Stand in Robert Adam's rooms at Osterley House
Plus of course Waterloo Bridge. London a city of both grand views and intimate treasures. You could see most of the above for free.

Peter Collins

The half who want to leave were probably brought up in other parts of the UK and have come here to make their fortunes. Away with ye.


Leathermarket Gardens in Bermondsey: beautiful rose garden, wonderful old trees surrounded by stunning old warehouses. The Shard and Tower Bridge in the background. London is bliss!


There's plenty of stunning here. The red fiery sun setting over little wormwood scrubs or the end of a road. Dozens of little parks with beautiful flower displays in the middle of central London. Colourful birds that amaze. Beautiful architecture everywhere.

I love my city!


If the sign in the photo is indicative of where they'd rather live, they're mad! And I say that as a Watford native. The charm of London for me is precisely what you CAN do for next to nothing if you have even the tiniest bit of imagination.


I've been FORCED out of London and it makes me want to cry.


I moved away from London when I had my children, now I am back after the reality of commuter belt living hit....We love London it's great for kids too and I will never move again!! You only have one life, live it - don't just exist in suburbia :)


I grew up smack bang in the middle of London, and it served as a great experience and education. I've now moved away to start a family and I always ponder on whether my kids are worse off for not having that same experience instead of this rural idle they call home.


London isn't pretty for a variety of reasons, including planning laws after WWII and the fact that in WWII London was destroyed, whereas Paris for example surrendered and was spared destruction (although to be fair Paris went through a destructive commune and WWI).

But London is so much more than "pretty". It's got the liberalism of Amsterdam, the canals of Venice (little Venice), the quirkiness of Berlin, the greenery of Geneva, the art and culture of Paris and beyond, and yes it is pretty. It's this melting pot which makes London beautiful. Sure some places look ugly and sure it can be dirty sometimes, but that's what makes it so special, these unbelievable contradictions between the different socio-demographic elements. In 15 minutes you go from the lush hills of Hampstead Heath to the punk markets of Camden and in another 15 minutes you're in Hackney, one of the strangest and coolest Boroughs of the city.

I for one never want to leave this place!


I'm about as biased as it's possible to be, given that I edit Londonist...but I've always found London to be prettier than Paris. The latter is too carved up by big fat roads to enjoy as a pedestrian, whereas central London is mostly single-lane traffic. Plus, my version of 'pretty' is a hotch-potch of architectural styles, rather than homogeneity. Skyscrapers next to Wren churches next to 60s office blocks are my idea of a visually thrilling built environment. Other than the the obvious exception, tall buildings in Paris are mostly relegated to the outer city.

Mum At Heart

This is my second time living in London. The first time I came for work and decided to return back home to Sydney to have kids. Sure, Sydney is very pretty with its harbour, beaches and plentiful sunshine. But it has nothing on London when it comes to variety. That's why we left Sydney to come back to London - we got bored! Sydney may be pretty to look at, but there is nothing to do! Sure you can go to the beach every weekend but you get sick of it after awhile. You can never get sick of London - there are just too many things to do! What London lacks in prettiness it makes up for in culture...

Colonial Brit

I remind these people of the words of Samuel Johnson: "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life, for there is in London all that life can afford". Truer words were never spoken


The whole argument tends to miss the point of the 'allure' of London, which is blatantly obscured by the city being overcrowded, over congested and incredibly expensive (not taking into account the regular "What to do in London for less than a fiver"). London is definitely a great and interesting city, but there is a lot wrong with it that makes less attractive the prospect of living long-term in the City - space being another argument!


I moved here 15 years ago from Chicago and have mixed feelings. The coldness of the people chills me more than a Chicago winter. Why can't we be nice to one another? Why are we (Londoners) always so angry and uncaring?

But as for the good things...transport and entertainment. There is so much to see and do and so many tubes and trains and buses to get around. I hate driving and here in London I don't have to be a driver. And there are so many museums and galleries and things to do, and yes I do still do all the touristy things even after 15 years, still not tired of it.

Andrew Hirst

All of you are forgetting that some people accept that London has brilliant cultural attractions, many opportunities, fascinating history, beautiful architecture etc., but still can't cope with living in the city. For many people is really is far too expensive, far too overcrowded to feel comfortable, and the pace of life is just too fast. I have plenty of friends who really like visiting London but could never live here, and that's completely fine with me.


Thanks for the 'Things To Do In London For A Fiver' - can you also suggest places to live in London for a fiver too please?


Do you lot actually know how much prettier the countryside is?


Victoria Park after sunrise by the lake and fountain


considering the numerous amount of city people who just carry looks of misery and anger most days this article must be true.