Don’t flee the capital for Shoreditch-on-Sea. For your sake and for Margate’s.
Forgive me for coining the term, but there is a Margration among Londoners at the moment. A hipster odyssey to the place they’re now calling Shoreditch-on-Sea.
Londoners are moving to Margate at a rate of (top) knots. And Margration is easy to understand: the average property price in the Kent coastal commuting town in 2015 was £183,365. In the same period, London rents increased by 4 percent, and we won’t even mention house prices. But it’s not just about boring, grown-up things like property. There’s the Kinfolk meets kiss-me-quick retro ascetic, plus the sea air really is good. So, instead of your forensic combing through Zones 3-6 in a vain attempt to find a street that doesn’t look like it recently appeared on ‘Crimewatch’, why not up sticks and move to the coast? It’s cheap(ish), there’s a community, and what could offer more of a soul transfusion than living by the sea?
This, though, is just the voice of your actual jaded Londoner embittered by their £3 filter coffee. The grass is always greener. Margate has attained the status of mysterious creative nirvana, a place where you hear of young arty types with high Regency ceilings and sea views, working in cavernous studios that cost less a week than you spend in Pret. And who knows, maybe it is a world of ex-Londoners so intimate that everybody knows your name – kind of like Cheers but with more faded glamour. But the thing is, where are you supposed to go for a break if you’re already at the seaside? And how is candy floss meant to maintain its allure when you have ready access to it?
Besides, aren’t we a bit late to the game? In the last year, Margate has already become the most sought-after place to buy a property after the capital. It’s well on the road to becoming London 2.0. Before you know it, the lovely, kitsch looking high street will consist exclusively of metro- tiled cafés selling avocado on toast, while the migrant Hackney designers will grieve for the ‘old Margate’. And it’s on the edge of the land, so where do you go from there? The middle of the sea?
We all know London’s screwed. The rent is appalling, house prices are disgraceful, and the standard of living is no standard at all for most people. But escape is for the weak. By leaving, people are just making it worse, they’re becoming part of the problem. They’re letting the rich swoop into our houses in London, and they’re driving up the prices in Margate. This is our city! We should stay, you all should, and fight for it. Get behind rent controls, campaign against gentrification, just do SOMETHING to help. It’s not hard to figure out what: write to your MP, talk to people like FocusE15: you’re not powerless. Don’t flee London, take what’s great about Margate and bring it here, and I don’t mean the candyfloss.
But it’s about more than just money. There is something about London we all still fall for every time, drunk on love, weak at the knees. And just like true love it is completely without reason, without thought to what’s sensible or whether my family will approve. There’s just some inexorable magnetism to the place that I just can’t imagine being able to tear myself away from. Oh, London, how do you do it?
Want more ranting and raving? Read Paris Lee's column on why London doesn't thrive in spite of its diversity, but because of it