Town or Country?

Town or Country?

I have always been a fan of keeping a close group of mates. In my friendship circle, there are eight of us, and most of us live close together, which is a great bonus. Seven of us live in Zone 2 in London and what’s not to love? There’s a pub on every corner, shops, gyms, parks … You name it, London has it. But one of our friends loves the country so much that he has traded all of that for a life in a Twyford, a Berkshire countryside village. Again, what’s not to love? What you sacrifice in convenience, you make up for in lifestyle, beautiful scenery, pretty villages, country walks and plenty of space.

So, which would you choose? Town or country? We’ve put together some thoughts to help you make up your mind.

Town

The obvious plus point for living in a large town, such as London, Manchester or Birmingham, is the convenience. I personally live in London and as I step out of my front door, I am greeted by two restaurants and a supermarket only 300 yards away. A quick hop on the bus and I’m at the gym and a whole host of other shops, bars and parks. In terms of amenities, you simply can’t get better than a large city. And then there’s the variety. On the same bus journey, you can travel from what feels like one world to another: from upmarket Paddington to trendy Camden. The culture change is both wonderful and vast. What do you fancy this evening? Eating Indian, Italian, Greek? Holland Park or Regent’s Park? Old boy’s pub or trendy wine bar? The list goes on and on and gives an idea of the eclectic mix on offer in the capital. But this is not just the case in the south. I have friends with similar stories about cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.

The other great pull of the city is the work and activity. It’s busy! Some people love it and others loathe it. But whether you’re a fan or not, the city provides more buzz and more jobs than anywhere else. In the big cities, the scope of the work opportunities is mindboggling: from finance to construction, events to management, it’s got it all.

But, it is busy though, and for some people this is a big turn off. Even with years of city living under your belt it’s hard not to get irritated by the endless sea of commuters on your way to work. Or worse, if you work in Leicester Square, the tourists! For a lot of people, this is enough to drive to them to insanity. Being pushed from pillar to post, crowded buses, pavements and roads, packed tube trains and all too often the omnipresent feeling of dirt. It is enough to make some people cry. And this does lead to an overbearing feeling of intensity, leaving some longing for open, clean space.

The biggest turn off about the city though has to be the cost. With prices outside of London city centre ranging from £900 to £1500 pcm for a one-bedroom apartment, it is eye watering. And even then, £900 won’t get you much, either.

Country

So, obviously, the country is not one huge belt of greenery. It does vary. I mentioned Twyford, so let’s use that as an example. It’s a large village in the heart of Berkshire with a population of around 7,000. You can get to London Paddington by train in under an hour. It is a typical commuter village in the English countryside boasting the Binghams Brewery and Waitrose. It is quintessentially British, with all the charm one could ask for.

As you can imagine, the greatest advantage of living in the country is its inherent beauty. While the town itself is lovely, getting out into the green fields, the rolling hills and cleaner air is magnificent and the envy of at least this Londoner. Endless walks with a few pubs along the way and a return to the gorgeous village does not need much of a sell. On top of that, is the quiet. Some people crave the peace and quiet and who can blame them, city life is fast paced and noisy. The country certainly provides an antidote to this.

The big advantage that most people cite about country living is the price. And, yes, to a certain extent you certainly get a lot more bang for your buck. The average property price in Twyford stands at £466,378, according to Zoopla. Compare that with a Zone 3 London property that would set you back £634,091. Of course, process can vary wildly up and down the country, but the general rule is correct – and especially when purchasing – that the country is often cheaper that the town. This is relative as well, as one of the greatest attributes of the country is space, not just when you leave your front door, but, pound for pound, you will almost always have more space in the country.

There is always unfortunately, a downside. And firstly, it is right to say, it is not always cheaper – especially when it comes to rent. Take St Albans, a beautiful Roman city 25 miles out of London. The average rent in the city centre will set you back on average £931 for a one bed apartment, compared to £1660 in Zone 1 or 2 for London. However, if you work in London you immediately need to add £346 for a monthly season ticket. Living in the country you will almost certainly need a car. So, add on at least another £400 a month and with a few little extras, you find you’re not actually saving that much money in the country.

Another obvious drawback is the number of amenities and variety of them that is never going to be on the same level as a big city. Granted, you are unlikely to find too many places where you can stay overnight in a zoo, then wake up and experience life as Sherlock Holmes. There’s even a fan museum in Greenwich if that tickles your fancy. However, sometimes basic things like a large shop, cinema or a decent gym can be lacking, which can mean a long trip and time out of the day. And as such, there can also sometimes be a lack of diversity, which is the beating heart of variety within larger cities.

Finally, and possibly the greatest drawback, the lack of connections. Transport in London is a dream. There’s a bus or a tube every two minutes, a taxi on every corner and bikes for hire on every street. This sort of convenience can be seriously lacking in the countryside. It is relative, though, and very much dependent on the village you choose. As I said, you can get into London in under an hour from Twyford.

To be fair, it is a bit simplistic to choose town or country. Many people live a good mixture of both. Some people are at different stages in life and find one suits their needs at the time better than the other. But hopefully this guide gives some thoughts on the pros and cons of each.

If you’re looking for a place to live, let us help you out. At Ark, we’re making life for landlords, tenants and agents as easy as possible by connecting and networking.

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