One of the most common questions I’m asked both in real life and online is what it was like moving from London to Margate. I’m always happy to talk about it to anyone thinking of taking the leap, but with the amount of times that I write out the same answers, I thought it would be a good idea to put them all in one place. We all know what it’s like repeating yourself ten times over! If there’s anything not covered here, feel free to reach out! Here’s everything you need to know about moving from London to Margate.
Why did you move from London to Margate?
Having lived in London for around ten years (I moved there from Slough at the ripe age of 18), it was by no means an easy decision to leave the city life for somewhere quieter. I always saw myself staying in London well into my thirties, but after growing tired of living month to month in a small apartment, I decided that my priorities for life had changed. I wanted more room and the opportunity to save money. Josh is originally from a small town in Southampton and had never really enjoyed his time living in London. We had previously toyed with the idea of Manchester and Brighton, but it was Margate that stole our heart after visiting it a few times in 2018.
What was the hardest part to adjust to living outside of London?
I surprisingly adjusted to the slower pace of life in Margate a lot more easily than I thought I would. London runs 24/7, on a constant adrenaline rush, and it’s easy to take for granted that you can shop late, eat late and stay out all night if you so please. We quickly realised that we couldn’t just rock up at a restaurant at 10pm, and that we had to adjust our clocks to a town that is filled with independent businesses who actually enjoy time away from their shops and restaurants. It makes perfect sense, but it can seem very odd for Londoners who are used to a life of everything always being open.
Do you miss London?
The short answer to this is, no. Upon the first time of leaving Margate for London, I experienced my first ever bout of homesickness. I strongly remember getting off the train, knowing I was away for a few days and welling up with tears at the prospect. I’m a VERY independent person who has lived and travelled alone since I was young, so needless to say this was a shock. I spent the first six months struggling with leaving Margate but I have now worked out how to make it work better for me. As someone that couldn’t see a life outside of London and would feel bemusement when anyone else suggested it, it’s safe to say that I no longer think the world revolves around that city. Margate felt like my home immediately.
What made you hesitant to move?
I think that the initial hesitations everyone has with leaving London are the same. What if you don’t make any friends? What if you don’t get any work? What if you can’t ever get back to London? What if you just really hate it? I’d say that when we left London the timing was when we were finally ready. You can’t force yourself into something you’re not sure of, but when you know you know, and it’s important not to put those feelings off.
How easily did you find a house to rent?
I’m pretty instinctive when it comes to decision making so when I set my mind to moving to Margate, we made it a reality pretty quickly. It was the beginning of December 2018 when I suggested the idea to Josh and we started looking immediately. I viewed a place the week after, but decided it wasn’t right for us. Polly of Little Bit Margate then suggested joining the ‘Margate Creatives Accommodation’ group on Facebook. I kept an eye on the group over Christmas and resumed the search again in February as our tenancy was ending in March anyway. I was adamant I wanted somewhere nice so wasn’t drawn into anything that I already had doubts about before seeing. The next place I went to visit in mid February was perfect and we moved in a month later!
Any tips for renting a house in Margate?
We found the home we live in now through the ‘Margate Creatives Accommodation’ group on Facebook and I highly recommend joining it if you’re serious about moving. You can post your needs there to keep ahead of the estate agent game, or you can just wait for potential landlords to post properties. Most people prefer to proceed without a middle man and I’ve not seen anything untoward happening within the group.
Something to note is that the rental market is nowhere near as competitive as the London market, so expect a slower process in general and don’t feel the need to rush into anything or bid over the rental price they are asking for (in fact that would be absolutely frowned upon as will ultimately push up rental prices). In general, you should be looking at a budget of £250/300 for a room per month ex bills, £600-£750 for a two bedroom house, £850-£1200 for a 4-5 bedroom house. It’s really important not to advertise higher budgets as this allows landlords to take advantage of you and others.
Will you eventually buy? Are house prices going up in Margate?
Yes, we are looking to buy in Margate as soon as we are able to and have been keeping an eye on the house prices since moving here. Again, the housing market is slower (especially out of season) but there has definitely been a shift in the last few years and there are less bargains to be had. If you’re looking for a renovation project, there are still plenty of places to choose from with 2 bedroom properties starting at around £100,000 and 4 bedroom properties normally around the £300,000 – £350,000 mark.
What’s the best neighbourhood in Margate?
Margate is a pretty small place so you don’t really need to think too much about the areas. In fact, if you’re asking the question “what areas should I avoid?”, you probably need to step away from the search. This isn’t an idyllic town where you get to live in a bubble away from the real community.
We originally lived in Old Town which is obviously very central and close to all the tourist hotspots, but we did find it quite noisy and very busy in the summer. There’s also not many folks that actually live in that part of town (a lesson we soon learnt as our home was bought and scouted for an Airbnb). In October we moved to Cliftonville which is much more the essence of Margate in my opinion is where the majority of our friends live and our favourite businesses are situated. I’m personally very happy at this end of town on the quieter stretch of beach.
Generally speaking, each side of town has its advantages and its disadvantages, and it’s important to remember that fundamentally this is a seaside town that has issues with poverty, drug use and homelessness. There are a lot of different folks that live here and while we’ve always got on with our (sometimes drastically different) neighbours, I’ve witnessed firsthand Londoners coming in and thinking they’re above the likes of Steve next door. The community spirit is rife everywhere so join in with it and any area will be just fine.
What are the transport links like?
Margate is served by South Eastern Railway and you have two options for travelling into London; a high speed service to London St Pancras or a slightly slower train to London Victoria. I vary between the two as sometimes the travel times are not that dissimilar, but the Victoria train is always cheaper even if slightly less bougie. Time wise, you’re looking between 1hr20 and 2hr for a journey. It’s not the best commute for those looking to travel in daily / probably not worth it from a money perspective.
Transport becomes cheaper after 9am but can be expensive if you need an early commuter train. I’d highly recommend purchasing a railcard to lower costs; a return ticket with my 26-30 card costs between £12-£18.
Is it essential to be within walking distance to the train station?
Nearly everything in Margate is within walking distance to the train station but if you’re a little further out and short of time, the cab services are cheap. It takes me around 20/25 minutes to walk from Cliftonville to the station but if I’m feeling lazy or get back late I’ll often grab a cab from Central Cars (they have an app just like Uber) and it costs £3.80 for the pleasure.
How easy did you find it to make friends?
Pretty easy. I knew a few people that lived in Margate vaguely through Instagram so I reached out to them when I came to look at the first house we lived in. When we moved, they introduced us to people and so on. Both Josh and I are fairly outgoing so we put ourselves out there, but like anywhere, you need to do this in order to make friend.
It was actually Josh joining a football team via Whatsapp that really grew our friendship network, and is how we’ve forged some of our closer friendships. Margate folks are all very friendly and inquisitive so it’s likely that if people see you around enough they’ll ask to know more about you. Yes, literally.
How much has Margate changed since you’ve lived there?
In all honesty, it’s not changed that much. I’d say that we’ve definitely seen a lot of businesses come and go in just a year. Margate is often credited as a place that you can do anything and live out your small business dreams, but that simply isn’t true if you’re not willing to put in a lot of work. It’s extraordinarily hard to carry a business through winter here and frankly, not all of Margate is ready for the ideas that would work in London.
How have you found it has affected your career?
Business has carried on as normal for me since moving here. If anything, I actually have more time for more projects. I was already working remotely when in London so nothing really changed from that perspective. I attend less events on a whole, which at first I was worried would stop me from making connections, but I haven’t found this to be the case. This is truly based on my own personality traits and previous experience though, so each experience for this will be different.
Do you think it would be easy to get a job in Margate?
You might not want to hear this, but no, it’s not easy to get a job here. Josh left his office job in London when we moved to Margate and the plan was for him to eventually find a job here. It’s definitely not the easiest place to find a “standard” office job or anything within marketing or social media, and you won’t find the money as appealing, but it really does depend what industry you are in. Josh works in a restaurant here and absolutely loves it, plus it gives him a chance to concentrate on music when he’s not at work. Bear in mind that even took him six months of living here…
How does Margate nightlife compare to London?
I love Margate nightlife. Probably more so than I’ve ever loved London nightlife. There are plenty of great pubs, music venues and even some clublife. You can easily have a wild night out here (believe me, I’ve had the hangovers to prove it) but there are no lengthy bus journeys home or extortionate taxis. You also spend more time hanging out at your mates house on a whim. I go out significantly more since living here as I don’t have to worry about the journey and I know all my pals will be out and about.
Do you feel safe at night?
I think you can feel unsafe anywhere, especially at night and if you’re on your own, but on the whole, no. It’s different from London in the sense that past 10pm the streets are VERY quiet which can feel unsettling when you’re used to constantly busy streets. I have walked on my own from the station at 2am and not encountered a single soul on the way, which let’s face it will always be slightly unnerving.
How do you find winter in Margate?
I think that it’s important to remember that Margate is a seaside town and turns into a completely different place out of season. You may have had fun on the beach with your mates in the summer, but in all honesty it is PRETTY bleak when it’s raining or cold. The winter is harsh and a complete contrast to the buzzy festival vibes when it’s sunny. I visited in the winter and still loved it, hence our decision to move, but I’d recommend everyone keeping this in mind before relocating as it’s definitely not for everyone.
What removal services should I hire?
We hired our own van when relocating but if you want to get someone in professionally, I’ve heard good things about London Man Van. Again joining the Margate Creatives group is probably the best way to answer questions such as this, as you’ll get a wide range of opinions!
Do you recommend moving?
If you’ve read through all of this and think it sounds like the right move for you, then yes! I think it’s important to take into account that it’s not for everyone. It really is a town with plenty of positives AND plenty of negatives. If you think those negatives are part of the charm, you’ll love it!
If it isn’t for you, it’s not the end of the world. Decisions aren’t for life! My only regret is not moving sooner…
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