After lockdown, prepare for the Big Move
Leaving London is becoming an increasingly attractive prospect
Yesterday, the Government launched a “comprehensive plan to reopen, restart and renew the housing market.”
That’s just as well because a lot of us could be moving before long. The Covid-crisis is rewriting our economic geography — and the effects are likely to outlast the pandemic itself.
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This week, Twitter told its employees that they could still work from home even after the lockdown:
The “forever” bit sounds like some eternal punishment, but let’s focus on the immediate consequences.
Where people work goes a long way to determining where they live. If enough employers follow Twitter’s example, then that means millions of workers no longer tied to a daily commute. Suddenly, urban centres (plus their suburbs and satellite towns) aren’t the only option. You can escape to the country, but keep your big city job.
While working from home will no longer be necessary after lockdown is lifted, it may become more attractive. For instance, with the kids back at school there’ll be fewer distractions. There’s also the possibility that this is only the first wave of the disease — so why expose yourself to a second or third if you don’t have to? As for money, why not save on housing and commuting costs if you can?
Note that employees and employers don’t have to quit the city completely. The former can come in more occasionally (and therefore tolerate a longer commute); the latter can keep their metropolitan HQs, but reduce their space requirements.
In the long-term, this might even be good for economic efficiency and quality of life. If more people are able to work from home — with a subset moving to more bucolic surroundings — then that means more room (and less expense) for those who have to work in the city and/or want to live there (especially the young).
A potential downside, depending on your point of view, is de-gentrification. With less demand for urban living we can expect the tide of developers’ money to ebb away from the most euphemistically ‘up-and-coming’ neighbourhoods. Of course, that could be an opportunity for some proper regeneration instead. After all, the construction sector will need something to do — I doubt they’ll be busy building office blocks.
Im so torn on this, as much as I am going to push for home working and then only travelling in once a week, I also dont want an great influx of people from the cities moving out. It’ll just mean more building outside of cities which defeats the object of moving away
I live 45 miles from Liverpool St. station. I can walk for miles & see only the odd farmhouse. The population density is incredibly low & could absorb a lot more without detriment if done sensibly & sensitively.
Rather depends whether we’re going to get theatres, museums and concert halls back. Not much point staying in the big city without them.
I hope we all have more time to invest in our communities. Even suburbs and commuter towns could be better places if not treated as just dormitories. Plus the benefits of being accessible for occasional office days or even some culture.
As an ex city corporate analyst turned art therapist, I’m really happy that people may be spreading out of the city into other parts of the UK. However, it’s become increasingly evident why we need to regulate our exposure to screens for our wellbeing and health. There’s a warmth exchanged in face-to-face interactions, movement and touch; whereas computers only offer a cold light that can harden the body. Furthermore, we need to consider the harm to animals and plant life from increased WiFi use through our countryside.
Riiight. Tell me, where do you stand on the burning of 5g masts??
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