Why would you come to London to live?

Reasons for coming to London to live

There may be several mechanisms in operation, which lead to a person deciding to come to live in London. One is that they have perceived their life and perhaps the life of their family will change for the better because London, generally, bears some aspect or features, which is absent in the place they intend to move from. Of those that chose to come to live in London, some may have an overriding fascination with and desire to go and live in London because London is believed to have some feature or characteristic that they desire, which their home town or village lacks. Others who chose to go to London may be driven principally to leave or escape the place they are in, recognizing that London possesses some feature, whose absence in the place they live causes them to suffer. In either those who make a voluntary decision to go to London do so because they feel that London has some feature they desire, which their home town or village lacks. The next section looks at the aspects of London that people leave the place they are from to go to.

Others may move for a specific reason, in which moving to London is an indirect consequence of that move. They are drawn to London not because of London itself but because of some element of London life or people, which attracts them. People may be offered a job or have fallen in love and intend to live with a denizen from said city.

Others have the decision that they should live in London taken for them.

 

Acceptance

Some people come to London hoping to gain a kind of acceptance that they were not able to attain in the place that they are from. London has certain subcultures, which accept people of certain dispositions, behaviours, views and preferences, which some people come to London to become a part of, having been rejected by people in the place that they come from. For example, a gay man from a working class community in the north of England might attempt to get lodgings in Soho, to be closer to and accepted by other gay people.

 

Will not be shunned

Some people come to London because they are shunned from the people in the place that they come from.

 

Will not be the subject of attempted murder and abuse

Some people come to London under the impression that people in London will not attempt to subject them to attempted murder and abuse, in contrast to the place that they come from, whereby being a member of a particular group, or having a certain identity or characteristics they are likely to be or have been subject to and are in general likely to be subject to attempted murder and abuse of various kinds. In Somalia, since the 1980s, members of Somali’s minority clans have, as a matter of course, been regularly the subject of murder, rape and kidnap of Somalia’s majority clans, have attempted to find sanctuary in London. Young French people have been said to have arrived in London escaping family problems. The trend of people coming to London to escape torture and abuse has been recurrent throughout history. Examples include Protestants from the Low Countries in the 16th century, Huguenots from France in the 17th Century, people out of sympathy with the American revolution. A few years later, small numbers came from France for the same reason. In the twentieth century Jewish people fled pogroms in Russia and then Nazi Germany, arriving in London.

 

Loosely connected

Some people come to London to be loosely connected to people. It has long been recognized that London is a city where it is possible to be connected to people without commitment or obligation. In such a diverse, large and fluid city, apathetic social interaction is the norm, you can if you wish spending your whole life hooking up, meeting for a coffee, with, and to paraphrase Morrisey, people who don’t care whether you live or die.

 

Break free

People who come to London to be loosely connected include those who come from places where people are tightly-knit, and where the obligaitons and expectations placed upon that person are not appreciated. In this sense people come to London to break free of the identification, classification, expectation, obligation and treatment they received at the hands of those they lived with in the place they moved from.

Adult children from Catholic Europe escape to London to put some distance between them and their overbearing families, and the overbearing attentions and smothering of their mothers, who want them to be with the family at all times, and want them to act in the interests of the family, whatever that might look like, experienced by the person as oppressive. This is about escaping a form of slavery, in this case, emotional slavery, of becoming a person, of being juxtaposed, subjugated, positioned, classified in a way that does not want to be.

 

To be accepted

Other people who come to London to be loosely connected to people include those who do not fit in at all to the tight-knit community that they are from, i.e. they are shunned and excluded. Such people may not be capable or able to form tight-knit relationships, but they feel the light touch nature of much of London’s social relationships is something they can achieve and will give them some degree of feeling connected to be people and alleviate the feelings of loneliness.

 

Recreation

Some people come to London to recreate themselves, they see London as providing them with the space in which they can reflect, consider and create new kinds of relationship, which in turn helps them create a new identity, and thus recreate themselves. London can provide them with this space, because London is full of people who wish only to be loosely connected to other people. Such a context allows people to detach themselves from the place which they have left, without feeling overly lonely, for the loose connections that Londoners forge also provide for an ease of connection, which means that people can put some detachment in their life, the kind that lends itself to musings and reflection, without being isolated. Furthermore London’s loose connections, and the ease with which loose connections can be made, provides people with the opportunity to try out new people, to try out new relationships, which is part of the process of recreation. In other words, people who come to London to recreate themselves, appreciate the looseness and distance and weakness of social relationships, which allows for less commitment and more promiscuity, which means they can try out different types of relationship, experiment or simply drop out, withdraw and reflect.

Adult children from Catholic Europe escape to London to put some distance between them and their overbearing families, and the overbearing attentions and smothering of their mothers, who want them to be with the family at all times, and want them to act in the interests of the family, whatever that might look like, experienced by the person as oppressive. This is about escaping a form of slavery, in this case, emotional slavery, of becoming a person, of being juxtaposed, subjugated, positioned, classified in a way that does not want to be.

 

Better chances of material gain

People come to London because it is felt the city will offer them better chances of material gain than in the place they come from.

 

More jobs available

It would seem that many people who decide to come to London do so sold by that same myth that attracted Dick Whittington, on the belief that the streets are paved with gold, in other words that there are opportunities for employment, in contrast to the place that they come from. It is said that a number of French young adults came to London prior to the 2012 Olympics believing that London would be awash with work, France being a difficult place for many young people to find a job, especially if they are not white, Muslim or from Paris’ stigmatized district Saint Denis. London is full of young Spanish adults, who have come to London to get a job, which are hard to find in Spain.

Its not just that people come to London to find a job having none, some come to London because they believe there will be an opportunity to get a better job than the one they have in the place they move from.

 

Gateway to the global economy

Some people come to London because they believe that it is the centre or a key node in the global business community, a place where people who want work done, and people who want to do work, are focused and based and pass through, which means that there are more opportunities for work, in contrast to the place where they are from. London is perceived as being a gateway to global business, in other words the city is a hub through which hyper-rich, hyper-wealthy people, congregate, thanks to international air travel, international communications and through which consequently most of the world’s resources flow. Being closer to any of those hubs, which means London, for the case of Parisians, means being closer to that flow of resources. It is said by some that London is now the main economical business hub of the world. It has been argued, for example, that most Russian companies, which choose to float on a stock exchange, float on the London Stock Exchange.

 

Accepted for one’s professionalism, skill and ability to make money

Some people come to London believing that the enterprises and companies in London value people principally for their professionalism, skill, ability to make money and hard work, and will therefore accept them into employment, in contrast to the place they come from where they feel that those with the power to offer work and wages, conceive their role in employment to be to further the interests of their own social grouping, by denying work to those from other social groupings. In other words people who are excluded from the labour market in the place they come from come to London because they believe that provided they have the skills, ability and work ethic, they can get a job and be successful in earning a living. For example, Parisians from Paris’ infamous Department 93, Saint Denis, people from ethnic minorities and Muslims from France, who face discrimination in the French employment sector, come to London, in the hope that employers will give them a chance. It is said that in France CVs are routinely thrown in the bin for having the wrong postcode or a North African surname. Hamid Seny, a Frenchman who now works and lives in London said, “Because of your name you will be discriminated against, because of your skin colour, and even the address on your CV can stop you from getting a job…As for your skills and competencies – none of that counts in France if you don’t fit in the box – so I left.” It is said that many French people from France’s Overseas Departments or former colonies are studying English at the New Vic 6th form in Newham, because of perceived racial prejudices in the French system.

Where employers in London are actually more interested in one’s ability to do the job well and to make money rather than their social identity would make an interesting study. And if it happens to be true, quite why London’s employers are focused more on the ability to do the job well, is an interesting question. Certainly the picture in France seems to suggest that certain classes have quite a tight grip on institutions and companies in France, and use that position to further the interests of their own class, even if that may be at the expense of the profitability or effectiveness of the company or institution. In London the suggestion is that there is more power in the hands of capital and employers, who can demand more and abandon anyone who doesn’t fit in with their plans, meaning that they are more prepared to take risks, which leads to greater innovation and experimentation, which in turn leads to greater efficiencies, discoveries and better services.

 

Better place for investment

Its not just the poor who come to London dreaming of financial betterment. Rich people with a lot of money also come to live in London, because they believe that the financiers and bankers, together with the tax regime and laws, make it a place where they can make more money from the wealth that they have, than in the place that they come from. It is said that the United Kingdom does not require that immigrants who are only resident in United Kingdom and Great Britain do not have to pay taxes on their residences in London, which sets the UK apart from other European countries, and which makes London the cheaper option, at least in terms of the tax compared to other cities, which the global wealthy might choose to live in. Some people move to London, or at least move their money to London becaue they view that it is a more stable environment for their savings, or that they can earn more on their investments if it is invested in London business concerns.

In particular London’s house prices are proving to be an attractive investment option by people all over the world. London’s house prices have been rising steadily since the beginning of the twenty-first century, with some areas experiencing a short period of stagnation during the first few years following the financial crisis. The continuing rise in house prices in London has however fuelled investment from speculators and people looking for a secure investment, which has, in turn meant London’s house prices have continued to rise throughout the financial crisis. In fact some believe that the financial crisis, by making many people around the world insecure about the economic environment, in which they live, has caused people to move an/or invest in London housing, and so has led to an increase in London house prices. It has been said that Greeks, French and Italians have all either moved to or invested in London housing over the last three to four years following worried about the stability of their own economies, the Eurozone economy and the possibility that their savings will be appropriated by the state. In 2012 Leon Watson of the Daily Mail reported that, “In areas like South Kensington French investors were the second biggest group after British buyers in the first quarter, accounting for 8 per cent of property purchases. So far this year they say enquiries from French clients have soared 19 per cent. At nearby Douglas & Gordon demand is so buoyant they are setting up a special French-speaking office. The new branch is hiring four French staff and will be up and running this summer.

 

Reminds them of home

In some cases it appears to be the case that immigrants to London chose particular places in London to live, partly because it reminds them of home.

In 2012 Ed Mead, director of Douglas & Gordon in South Kensington, told Daily Mail reporter Leon Watson the the French loved South Kensington because, “They like the wide avenues and big apartments this part of town offers but also the quaint mews houses”. What we cannot be sure of is whether the existence of places that remind Londoners of home has a bearing on whether they move to London at all.

 

Anaesthetize themselves to the pain of past loves and relationships

London offers a huge range of distractions, a blinding and bewildering array of sights, sounds and smells, as well as a bouquet of cultural and intellectual offerings, refreshed daily, which help to occupy the mind and senses. Knowing this some people come to London to have their mind and senses occupied, as an anaesthetic against the emotional state they experience in the place that the come from. Some, for example, come to London to escape past loves and relationships, putting distance between themselves and all those places, once the location of starry eyed romantic liaison, which whisper to them of their love that turned sour, which now feel painful to the touch.

 

Better education

Some come to London because they believe the standard of private education on offer for children is better than that which they can purchase for their children in their own country. Russian oligarchs and millionaires, of which there are thousands since Russia decided to exploit its natural gas and oil wealth, have sought residences in London, to allow their children to access the public and private schools. Others send their children to London because they believe the standard of state education in Britain is better than what their children will have access to in their home country. Since the 1980s, Somali families, worried of what will come of their children in a land where children are frequently murdered, raped and kidnapped, in which there is no education system, send their children unaccompanied to Heathrow airport, with the aid of an agent, hoping that the British state and distant family members present in England, will take care of their children and provide them with an education.

 

Improve English

Many people come to London to learn English. One of the reasons they come to London to learn English is that they consider English to be the language of the global business community and feel that by learning the language they are increasing their employability. For example it has been said that there are many non-white studentes from France’s Overseas Departments or former colonies, places like Reunion, Guadeloupe and Algeria. They have crossed the channel partly because they hope learning English will improve their chances of getting a job. Many come to London to learn English in the knowledge that once they have learned English they will also happen to be in what is considered as the centre or an important node in the English speaking global economy, which means not only will they be skilled enough in English to gain a job, but they will be suitably placed to acess such a job.

 

Quality of services and life

For the world’s most wealthy London is said to offer a range of services, leisure and entertainment, which cannot be surpassed elsewhere. Russian businessmen, who own property in London, and whose families are resident here, and whose children go to British public and private schools, are said to work in Russia during the week, and return to London by jet on the weekends, to enjoy the London life.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: