Return to London; Is the Capital Still a Good Place to Live and Work? Rory Clements Meets Three Young People Who Left in Search of Pastures New, Only to Return

The Evening Standard (London, England), February 23, 2006 | Go to article overview

Return to London; Is the Capital Still a Good Place to Live and Work? Rory Clements Meets Three Young People Who Left in Search of Pastures New, Only to Return


Byline: RORY CLEMENTS

Jo Lindegreen, 29, is head of marketing with Project Partners IT recruitment company, part of the Hydrogen Group. She says: THE 7/7 bombings happened on the day my boyfriend Ricardo and I were supposed to be leaving London for good. We were trying to get to the airport when the bombs went off. I remember thinking, "Right, we've made the correct decision. This is pretty scary stuff."

My parents back home in New Zealand certainly agreed with that. All the time I was in London they were saying: "You should be home - England is bad news."

Yet three months later Ricardo and I were back here, happier than ever. The truth is, there are risks wherever you are, whether it's Bali or London, and I don't want to lead my life under a cloud.

I'm not going to let them scare me.

I originally arrived here in April 2002, travelling around in a camper van.

I met Ricardo, who is also from New Zealand, while we were in Scotland. I hadn't come for a career but after seeing Europe for eight months I decided to have a look at the London jobs market and was offered an opportunity with what was then Partners Group recruitment company.

My preconception was that London was a big, grey, dirty city. But I was quite blown away by it; this city is gorgeous. The architecture and the culture and the history are just mind-blowing for a little Kiwi girl.

It's not the dirty, dangerous place I had been led to believe. Yes, Ricardo has been mugged - they sprayed him with mace and stole his bag - but I haven't had any bad experiences.

Working here, my life has gone in a direction that I never anticipated. I've had all these opportunities presented to me. My career is flying. I am working for a very progressive company that is growing fast.

Promotion is not determined by your age, compared with New Zealand, where I felt I was stifled by an ageist culture.

You could only be head of marketing if you were over 40, whereas here if you perform and you've got the right attitude, then you're going to go places.

Last summer, we went back home but within a few weeks I got a phone call asking me to come back to London to manage the process of merging two businesses to form the Hydrogen Group.

It was too good an opportunity to miss, so we took up the offer and I'm delighted we did.

I earn 50 per cent more here than I would at home because I am in a role I couldn't get in New Zealand. But the cost of living is much higher in London particularly the cost of transport.

London and home couldn't be more different. While home is beautiful, with a slower, more balanced, outdoor lifestyle, it's really not what I want right now.

Mark Scales, 31, is account director with the Concerto Group live-events firm. He says: AFTER three or four years working for an events company in London I started to get a bit disillusioned. You're working bloody hard and it's expensive. Then there's the commuting, the crime and the impersonality of things. London is a very busy place, but it's a very lonely place at the same time. It got to the point where it all got a bit much.

I had always thought that if you wanted to succeed in business you had to be in London, but as I started to look around I found similar successful companies outside London.

Eventually, I found a job with an events company in a village in Hertfordshire and moved out there. It was lovely, absolutely perfect. It was based at a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Everyone brought their dogs to the office. It was really refreshing to get out of London and find a successful company where people didn't work 12 hours a day, get stressed out and fight their way on to the Tube. I had a very enjoyable couple of years there.

I am a country boy and had an idyllic childhood, growing up near the New Forest. …

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