Sterling is worth almost 20 per cent more in the North than in London, according to new research, which shows that people are increasingly opting to move out of the capital in pursuit of a better quality of life.  

For workers, £1 in London is equivalent to around £1.17 in the North thanks to the job opportunities, shorter commutes and lower cost of living there, the survey from recruitment firm Totaljobs revealed.

Totaljobs calculated its London/North ‘exchange rate’ with the help of Geraint Johnes, professor of economics at Lancaster University.

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The researchers looked at a range of data sources, including grocery bills, commuting costs and times and housing costs, Mr Johnes said.

“One of the things that featured heavily was the difference in time spent commuting,” he added.

“Londoners spend on average about 100 hours a year more commuting, and the cost of commuting is about 70 per cent higher in London. These are major differentials.”

Meanwhile, tenants in Manchester pay an average rent of £496, against £1,053 in the capital.

The ‘Northern pound’ is “essentially a difference in the cost of living”, Mr Johnes said, and the fact that money goes further outside the capital explains why more than half (53 per cent) of Londoners said they would move away from the city and accept a lower salary elsewhere, while just 31 per cent in the North said they would consider moving.

This benefits both jobseekers and employers, Mr Johnes said, because companies will find it easier to hire staff and workers will find their money goes further, even if they are being paid a smaller amount.

“So it’s a win for consumers and a win for businesses,” he said.

Martin Talbot, director at Totaljobs, added: “Gone are the days where a salary is enough to secure the best talent; today’s jobseekers are increasingly valuing work-life balance and their wellbeing above all else.

“Northern cities are seeing a rise in job opportunities as UK companies no longer think the capital is the be all and end all. Many northern cities offer lots of other advantages too, from a shorter (and cheaper) commute, great cultural scene, and a more affordable social life.

“No matter where they’re based, it’s key for businesses to highlight not just their employer brand, but the lifestyle their local area can provide existing and potential employees.”

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However, the researchers noted that London is unlikely to be abandoned by UK workers.

“London will be fine, London is still a great place to live. It has been and will continue to be a centre of gravity,” said Mr Johnes.

The survey also revealed that Londoners have different priorities for spending, with 16 per cent of people living in the city taking five or more holidays per year, compared with 9 per cent in the North.


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