It drives me slightly bonkers that if Husband and I move to the UK – under the circumstances we’ve dictated* – it would probably be a step up for us in terms of quality of life, largely because it’ll mean that both of us are working full time for the first time in years. If we’re incredibly lucky, we’ll land somewhere outside southeast England and thus be able to afford more than a single-bedroom flat.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the southeast. I grew up on that coast and would cheerfully return, given the chance. But the presence of London acts like a black hole on the rubber sheet that is rent for anywhere within a hundred miles of the place. For the price of a single-bedroom flat in somewhere like Reading, we could get a two-bedroom house with parking and a garden north of the Watford Gap.
I lived in the San Francisco bay area, I know crazy rent. And the greater London area has gone completely and utterly mad. I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but something’s got to give. There are only so many shithole houseboats on the Thames that can accommodate the city’s service personnel and what are the flash gits in The City going to do when even those cost too much for the folks who clean their offices and serve their food?
I like to think that when things finally snap, it’ll involve pitchforks and torches, but it’s more likely to feature the re-creation of the Victorian-era east end, with pod hotels taking the place of tenements. Once again, the working class will be forced into owning nothing more than they can carry because they’re dossing down at a different address every night – for a price that almost, but not quite, equals their entire wages.
At least the fast food industry will flourish as workers no longer have access to kitchens, but the knock-on effect on workers’ health – that stuff ain’t good for you – will drive health care costs even higher, thus giving some slimy bastards in Whitehall justification for dismantling and selling off whatever’s left of the NHS by that point.
Okay, that got dark, fast. But it’s barely any better here in the United States – and I only say ‘barely’ because the country is at least large enough to allow most cities a chance at expansion, even if it does take the form of bland, soulless suburbs. But as it takes a legislative gun to the head of property developers to offer “affordable” housing – and I put affordable in scare quotes for a reason – expansion is not necessarily a solution. Sigh.
*He must have a job offer in his chosen industry or else there’s no point in going. In fact, it would be impossible as he wouldn’t get a visa, otherwise.