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Finding a community spirit in London

15th June 2018 in Community

Last weekend the eagerly-anticipated annual Crouch End Festival returned. This well known North London event celebrates the creative spirit of the local community and is the UK’s biggest arts festival, run by a team of volunteers and funded by local business & those that live in the area. This year there are over 200 mini-events taking place across Crouch End’s finest establishments, showcasing everything from theatre and opera, clothes upcycling, sewing lessons, outdoor film screenings, cartoon and comic book selling, and, of course, a zombie walk through the town to finish things off nicely.

For the past couple of weeks there has been a real buzz about the place; every time I get off the bus I am greeted by locals offering leaflets, trying to entice me and the other busy commuters to open our eyes and hearts to the community that is right on our doorstep. These events provide the opportunity to get to know your neighbours, while supporting local talent, allowing us to discover a new dimension to the place we call our home. At times like this, when tragedies like Grenfell aren’t far from our thoughts or newspaper articles, it’s comforting to know that a strong community spirit is closer to home than we might have originally thought.

But let’s not be showing any kind of favouritism here! It’s not just Crouch End that celebrates the arts & champions the independents. London is brimming with undiscovered gems where you can find a bargain, learn a new skill and of course, possibly make some new friends who live down the road. Here’s the first half of my Top 10:

  • Greenwich Market – open every day from 10am – 5.30pm this indoor market houses over 120 stalls selling everything from jewellery to second-hand furniture, but on a Tuesday they dedicate more of the floor space to antiques. It’s the only market in the UK that is set inside an actual World Heritage site – not something you see everyday! There’s also loads of food stalls meaning this is somewhere you can while away your day.
  • Crafty Fox Market – held on the first Saturday of every month at (currently at) Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant & Castle, this market hosts over 30 traders and workshops, with a focus on UK handmade items & design talent. They host the market at different & interesting locations across London, and are on the move fairly regularly, so keep your eyes peeled to see if its coming to an area near you in the not too distant future!
  • Sunday UpMarket – the clue is in the name here, but this weekly market on Brick Lane has been running since 2004 and is home to over 140 creative traders selling and showcasing their art, design & music.  Situated in The Old Truman Brewery, there’s a real community buzz here, and the range of food stalls from around the world only adds to the authenticity and diversity that we know and love about London.
  • Columbia Road Flower Market – for Londoners in the know this is a weekend staple in Bethnal Green. Open Sundays 8am – 3pm(ish) come rain or shine, this street is transformed into an oasis of colour with every type of flower you could possibly imagine and some great deals to be had if you’re prepared to haggle.  There’s also around 60 independent shops with small art galleries, delis, bakeries and antique dealers, so it really is somewhere to satisfy the whole family.
  • E17 designers – this community group of artists & designers have set up events around the Waltham Forest area to showcase and sell their work. They are best known for their annual event, The Walthamstow Garden Party, which is a day filled with music, circus, dance, theatre & crafts to name but a few! The event attracts artists both local and international, and is a great day out for locals and wider community alike.

There’s plenty more where that came from – stay tuned for the rest of my Top 10 next week!

Millennials are missing out on their dream property

8th June 2018 in Generation Rent

                                                 

We’ve all been there. We’ve answered all the questions, ticked the relevant boxes and racked our brains to work out exactly how much we can afford to spend on rent each month, while still being able to afford a nice holiday and of course, the mandatory coffee for our morning commute.

Then we relax. All the hard work has been done! We put the kettle on and scan the results. Over 100 properties ‘match’ our requirements. What? How?! Who has the patience to scroll down past number 10? Surely the point of spending all that time at the beginning was to cut out the noise and present me with a shortlist of places that I’d fall in love with. 

Renting in London can be great fun – the city itself has so much to do and so many neighbourhoods to explore, not to mention the awesome people who live here, themselves coming from just about every other country in the world. Did I mention the nightlife, the museums, the food markets… But finding a place that you like, and that you can afford to rent isn’t easy and the way you’re expected to find a place to live hasn’t changed much in the last decade.

Property listing sites are just that – long lists of properties that you’ve got to wade through to find anything worth going to see. The problem for us is that the search results are so broad – and have so many errors in them – that most of the hard work is still up to us, and people simply are not prepared to do it. Recent studies have indicated that millennials (who make up the highest % of renters in the city) prioritise our time over our finances, and indeed 56% of us pay for up to 10 services a month, all designed to offer convenience (think Uber, Deliveroo etc). Even though the average London renters’ salary is £34,000 with around half of each paycheck spent on rent, we would rather pay a small fee to use these apps than to spend our time walking to pick up our take-away or getting the bus instead of being picked up from our front door. 15% of us even pay for someone to manage our finances!

Being tech savvy, and quite often glued to smartphones, we want quick, smart solutions to satisfy our needs. 45% of us spend over 4 hours a day on our mobiles, flitting from app to app, so when presented with property search results of over 100 places, we will often only look at the first page of results before deciding that it’s taking too long, or another Instagram notification pops up and steals away our attention.

Ems data has shown us that the average time spent on a results page is 2 minutes, with 40% of users only viewing the top 5 properties and only 21% looking through the top 20, confirming the research above.

Whereas once 60% of Londoners owned their home back in 2000, this has dropped significantly and PwC now estimate that only 40% will own their home in 2025, leaving the number who will need to rent ever increasing. Due to many different factors, including the cost of living in the city and tighter regulations around mortgage lending, 33% of Londoners will now rent into retirement! It seems there is no escape from renting for plenty of us, but unfortunately the way in which we have to find properties isn’t working in our favour, making a difficult (second) job even harder. 

Taking all of the above into consideration, it’s highly probable that many of us are missing out on the perfect new home because of how laboured the process currently is. What we all really want is for someone to read our minds, wave their magic wand and voila – the dream home is mine. The reality is that what should be an exciting new lifestyle that comes along with a house move is more often thought of as a really time consuming chore, and search results into the triple digits really don’t help. I better get the kettle back on, it’s going to be a long night of scrolling.

 

Shorten Your Commute to Live Longer!

18th April 2018 in Graduates

Do you resent the amount of time you spend commuting to and from work? Your time is incredibly precious, it shouldn’t be spent on cramped, sweaty public transport!

Not only could you be spending your time doing more interesting things in the wondrous city that is London, but studies show that your commute may actually be killing you…

Yep, you heard right! So here’s the sitch; the European Union has legislation which states that cattle cannot be transported in a temperature environment higher than 30C. However, in the sweltering heat of London this week (finally!), some public transport can and will far exceed this…

Your train turns into an packed and sweaty, rumbling sauna.

It’s no wonder with the high temperatures, bustling crowds at rush hour and the general unpleasantness of lengthy commutes, that research points to commutes longer than 30 minutes shortening your life expectancy.

This is clearly a massive issue. For graduates, new to the working world, a short, pleasant commute can really make a difference in both mindsets towards working and in extending life it seems!

This is why rental property startup Ems and graduate recruitment company Graduate Fasttrack have teamed up! Graduates on the path to starting out their new career and working life, have to start considering commuting. And with long and arduous commutes a severe detriment to well-being, we want to make a change!

This is where Ems comes in…

Ems really gets to know graduates and their specific needs in order to help them find the perfect work-life balance. A short commute, affordable rent, and exciting area for enjoying life are paramount!

For example, a graduate who has just been hired into a business development role in the City of London, would be best suited living somewhere like Bethnal Green because the area has affordable properties, interesting things to do (not to mention great foodie spots!), AND is a great commute for a grad working in the City as it’s only one stop on the Central Line. The dream!

So fear not London, there really are actual, realistic ways you can have a shorter commute or at least a more pleasant one, it just might be that you weren’t aware of all your options!

We’re here and care for you, and want the process of living and working in London to be easier for you and, most importantly, not be shaving years off your life…!

 

 

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