How does London compare to other European Cities?
“Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner, that I love London Town,” sang Hubert Gregg in 1947.
His euphoric anthem may have been released 70 years ago, but it still rings true today.
London is a magical city. There’s something about the UK’s capital that enchants and enthrals in equal measure.
Maybe it’s the multiculturalism. Maybe it’s the vast array of events happening every day. Maybe it’s the eclectic mix of old
and new that you can’t find anywhere else.
Whatever the reason, there’s no place quite like London.
But is that a good thing?
London used to be the ultimate city. It used to be the place to be. Whether you were a young creative or high-rolling business executive, the capital was ready to welcome you.
But, things are changing.
London’s international reputation may remain intact, but, on a more local level, it’s powers are waning.
The city was the third-most visited city in the world in 2018 (behind Paris and Bangkok) which demonstrates its pulling power. However, behind closed doors, London is losing its appeal to those who live there.
A record amount of Londoners left the capital last year, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics. Those figures revealed that 340,498 residents quit London in 2018 to live in other parts of the UK.
It’s the highest number of people fleeing the city since ONS began gathering data in 2012. For comparison, 237,270 people migrated into the city from elsewhere in the UK, meaning London lost 103,228 residents.
But, away from other cities in the UK, such as Manchester and Bristol, where else can match London? Are there any cities in Europe that can compete with Big Smoke?
The simple answer is: yes. But nothing is ever that simple, is it?
Europe is a continent that is full of incredible cities and towns. From the hustle and bustle of London, through to the calm, collected and stylish nature of Copenhagen. There is a city for everyone on the continent, and they all have their own trademark characteristics.
London compared to other European Cities
If you’re after a city that has a population to match London’s, then there’s only one place to start: Paris.
We’ve spoken about the charm of London, but no one does charm quite like the French.
Paris is the city of love, and it’s easy to why. One stroll of the Parisian streets will leave you enamoured and wanting more.
When you enter Paris, you instantly want to become Parisian. You want striped t-shirts and red lipstick. The coffee, wine and all that delicious bread. You want to sit out on those cobbled streets, sipping an espresso and watching the world go by while talking about art.
The Greater Paris region is home to 12.4 million people, making it the third-largest in Europe behind Istanbul and Moscow.
For context, Greater London has a population of 8 million. Paris is the only other city that eclipses London when it comes to size. Other heavy-hitters fall behind on population, see below:
Barcelona: 1.6 million
Berlin: 6 million
That said, the Parisian population figure is inflated. The 12.4 million figure referred to is representative of the Île-de-France region that Paris sits in. The population figure for the city itself sits at 2.1 million, making the French city actually seem like a village compared to its British counterpart.
It’s not just population where London wins. The city is also the largest when it comes to size. Greater London is 607 square miles, while Paris is 40.7, Barcelona 39.3 and Copenhagen 34. Berlin, the German capital, is the only city that comes remotely close to London, at 344 miles.
The sheer size of London means that it’s population is more spread out than it’s European rivals. While it’s common for European city-dwellers to live in high-rise apartment blocks, Greater London is full of two-floor terraced and semi-detached housing.
This difference in living space can be seen in the population density of the cities. London’s density exceeds 13,600 people per square mile, making it the most populated city in Great Britain. However, while the capital may feel cramped, it’s population thinly spread when compared to its rivals, as seen below:
Paris: 53,000/sq mi
Barcelona: 41,000/sq mi
Berlin: 3,944/sq km.
Copenhagen: 18,000/sq mi
Now you know about the demographics and geography of these cities, why should you choose to live in them? Well, each city has it’s own personality and charm.
Berlin: What does it have to offer?
Take Berlin, for example. The German capital has experienced a boom in foreign residents over recent years, and it’s hardly surprising.
The city enjoys a multicultural population and offers world-class nightlife and restaurants.
Berlin is known for its behemoth of nightclubs and bars, with Berghain the most famous of the lot.
The nightclub is situated in a warehouse and offers 48 hours of non-stop partying on the weekends. Its unpredictable door policy is arguably more famous than the club itself, with hundreds of tourists arriving at the club just to get turned away by its notorious security.
There are plenty of tips and guides online regarding how to get in, but there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the selection. However, according to those who have passed through its doors, Berghain is worth the wait.
Away from the nightlife, Berlin residents have 250 parks to explore and escape the city in. Wherever you are in the city, you’ll be near a park or a community garden.
Berlin used to be very poor, and the community injected a huge amount of time into developing parks to brighten up their city. Tempelhof is a shining example of this.
The park used to be one of the largest airports in Europe, but you can now lay on the grass, flanked by deserted planes, or ride your bike on the runway.
Berlin, and Germany, in general, is a great place to live and work. There are rent caps in the city (are you listening, London?) to keep it affordable, and workers are afforded generous parental leave.
Mothers are given 14 weeks of maternity leave at 100% pay. There is also the option for the mother or father to take extended parental leave. This can be for a total of 24 months, with a parental allowance of 300 to 1200 Euros paid by the government for the initial 14 months
Moving further North, we arrive in Denmark.
Copenhagen: What does it have to offer?
Copenhagen is often seen as the perfect city. The Danish capital has topped the UN’s World Happiness Report three times. It even has think-tank called the Happiness Research Institute. The institute is dedicated to helping cities, governments and organisations to improve quality of life.
You can see why Copenhagen residents are so happy. They enjoy the eighth-highest salaries in the world and one of the best work-life balances as well.
They have a 37 hours working week, a flexible working culture, ample vacation allowance and up to a year’s paternity leave.
New parents can also take advantage of heavily subsidised daycare to ease the financial burden of a child. One month of daycare in Denmark costs around the same as one week in the UK, or even less.
Food and Drink
Outside of work, Copenhagen residents are spoilt for choice when it comes to places to eat, drink and socialise. The city has a fantastic coffee scene, and you can eat all the Danish pastries that your heart – and stomach – desires.
The old meatpacking district is now a trendy hub of bars and eateries. In the evening, the area is full of workers stopping off for a drink on their way home.
The greatest thing about Copenhagen, however, is the travel. The city is built around the bike, with cars being nothing more than an afterthought.
Everyone in Copenhagen cycles, and if it’s too cold, they can fetch a ride on the 24-hour metro and bus links. Copenhagen is one of the easiest and most pleasant cities to travel around. It’s also one of the safest cities in the world.
Lastly, living in Copenhagen will make you cool.
Scandinavian people are heralded for their style, and no one does it better than the Danes. Whether it’s fashion or interior, living in Copenhagen will give you an eye for design and you’ll instantly become trendy.
If Northern Europe is too cold for you, what about some Spanish – or Catalonian – heat?
Barcelona: What does it have to offer?
Barcelona may be a bustling metropolis, but much of the city was designed for pedestrian pleasure.
The city is full of wide sidewalks and tree-lined plazas, perfect for people watching. It may not be as cycling-renowned as Copenhagen, but Barcelona still boasts 186km of bike lanes.
Living in Barcelona is a welcome change to living in the UK. The climate is pleasant all year round, and the city will never fail to charm you.
The architecture of Barcelona is world-famous, with the legendary Antoni Gaudí calling the city his home.
Gaudi’s influence is seen across the city, especially through Park Güel and the Sagrada Familia. While the cathedral is yet to be finished, it will still leave your jaw on the floor through its size and beauty.
There are also lesser-known gems dotted across the city that you will stumble upon during your travels. These magical Gaudi buildings in Barcelona add to the city’s surreal and relaxed vibe.
Food and Drink
Away from its architecture, Barcelona’s food will keep your belly and heart full. There’s a multitude of excellent restaurants across the city, and the food markets are world-famous.
It’s not just the tourists who like to eat. Barcelona residents love their food so much that offices close for two hours a day for lunch. Whether you’re after the freshest pastries or delicious seafood, the city has options for everyone.
The charm and allure of the city may be well-known, but now is the time to buy in Barcelona. The city’s property market is currently recovering from the Catalan independence referendum. The vote, and the political discourse that came with it, affected the city’s property market and led to house prices falling. However, after a period of stability, property rises are on the up, making it the perfect time to buy property in the city.
Paris: What does it have to offer?
Our last stop on our tour of Europe is Paris.
We’ve already spoken about the charm Paris, but there’s more to this city than beautiful people and a sexy accent.
Residents of Paris get to enjoy France’s official working week cap. The working week in France is capped at 35 hours. If you work any more than that, you’re entitled to be paid double.
In light of this cap, Parisians get to enjoy their city.
Unlike the UK counterparts, French workers don’t eat at their desks or arrive home late from work. Lunchtime in Paris sees the city become full with workers making the most of their lunch and taking a break in the park. Evenings are spent strolling the streets with friends and family after work.
On top of a short working week, Parisians are entitled to five weeks paid holiday and 13 public holidays each year. But, while they may work less on average, they’re still more productive than most employees in Europe.
It’s no surprise, then, that the French retire four years earlier than the British on average.
It’s not just the workplace where Paris excels, either. 30% of taxes go towards welfare and social funds.
The country has generous childcare and family allowances. And if you’re not earning a lot of money, you are entitled to extra funds to help with rent.
It may be hard to believe, but there is life outside of London and the UK. Away from our murky shores lies a wealth of cities waiting to be explored, enjoyed and lived in.
There may be nowhere quite like London, but maybe that’s a good thing? Variety is the spice of life, so why not enjoy something different? Besides, these cities eclipse London on several fronts.
If you are thinking about moving to another country or city, make sure you go and visit to get a feel of it. Do your research, look at jobs and think about setting up costs.
Published at Tue, 15 Oct 2019 10:00:01 +0000