Brighton UK - what's it like?
June 10, 2012 12:48 PM   Subscribe

I've seen a job posting in Brighton, UK, and the job looks great. But I know nothing about the city. Help me figure out if it could be right for me!

Can anyone who's been there describe it a bit for me, especially in terms of:
- lifestyle and culture: is it suited to a single 30 year old gal? What do the locals like to do? How would you describe the 'vibe' of the place?

- public transport: would I need to get a car or could I survive on buses/trains/a bit of walking?

- costs: how much would I need to spend per month to rent an average one room apartment, and do most apartments come furnished or not?
If you were my age, and were wanting to live in Brighton, how much of a budget/ net salary would you want to have?

-anything else I should know?

Ta muchly!
posted by EatMyHat to Travel & Transportation around Brighton, England (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Brighton is a seaside town which is a big favourite with the gay community. I've got a couple of friends that live there (early 30s) and they like it for the liberal interesting people and friendly atmosphere.

It's definitely not a very big town if you can afford to live near the centre and the public transport links to London are very good. I get the impression that parking in the town is a bit of a pain.

The one thing my friends in Brighton don't like about it is that it's almost as expensive as London. You could try looking on gumtree or on local letting agents for ideas of prices but it's likely to be pretty expensive if you want to live by yourself. It would be much cheaper to live in a shared house (I have used in the past) and that allows you to meet local people as well.
posted by kadia_a at 1:35 PM on June 10, 2012

Brighton is a game of many halves.

It has, as kadia_a says, a large gay community. It has a large student community. It has a large boho/creative/alternative community. It is also, as a seaside town, subject to getting a lot of seasonal visitors. In short: there are many different versions of Brighton.

Not just in prices, but in other ways it is becoming more like London. Brighton is an hour from central London and so is commutable. It is getting less boho and more big town. It is gentrifying in lots of places.

This means you'll get lots of conflicting information about Brighton - ranging from the more nostalgic view of this vibrant, liberal place that has great access to London but few of the downsides to the more realist view - with its increasing popularity Brighton also has its fair share of issues - rising prices, rising costs and the alternative either becoming mainstream or being pushed to the edges, to the view that it's now a bit crap and not as good as it was.

As a single 30 y.o woman you'll find a lot to enjoy. It's a young place geared for fun and various different tastes and lifestyles. There's a decent bus network and it is reasonable easy to get around by bike although got a few hills in there too. Lots of people don't drive. If I lived there I'd basically be OK with a London salary minus ten percent.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:01 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

MuffinMan has said what I was going to say more pithily. It sounds like you might like it. On the plus side, to that long seafront with its pebble beach (a friend of mine who used to live just off it would often go swimming) I'd add the South Downs rising up inland behind the city.* On the sort-of-negative side, one of the reasons I could never take to it myself was that people who live there are rather pleased with themselves for living there, or at least, they were in the 90s--my view of the place is out of date.

What I noticed then was that there were a lot of extremely cool people aged 18–30 with extravagant tattoos wandering around streets full of vintage clothes stores... jostling pairs of raddled and aggressive heroin addicts with extravagant tattoos, aged 30+. I wondered if the one group of people turned into the other.

My oldest friend (single man, 35) moved there are year or two ago and likes it a lot. Another friend of mine who I've met more recently (single woman, 34) has lived there longer and loves it. And someone else I know moved there to go to university and has never left. Their opinions certainly outweigh any reservations I might have.

*Nestled among which, not far away, is Lewes: pretty and pleasant and very middle-class.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 2:24 PM on June 10, 2012

I vote yes!

I am a little over 30 and I currently live in Brighton. I came here for university and I would love to stay, if possible. I'll probably move away for a while for work, but come back to settle down. I find it to be very vibrant, fun, friendly, easy to navigate and has both natural beauty (the sea, the downs), as well as lots of stuff to do around town and a laid-back culture. I travel to London about once or twice a month, and I always find it a relief to come back to Brighton--it's such a relaxing breath of fresh air after the push and pull of a larger, denser city.

The bad: the jobs situation here is tight and competitive, and a daily commute to London for work is arduous and expensive, if you go that route.
- It is expensive (but perhaps worth it for the amenities, imo)
-It can be pretty touristy in parts, but they're easily avoidable

To me, it's the perfect small city. It may be almost as expensive as London, but with my limited budget I would rather live in a small, affordable place here, than whatever I could get in London for the same price. Small things like short commutes, and being able to walk anywhere to meet friends or check out some music are highly valuable, plus of course, the proximity of London.

I say go for it--hope this helps!
posted by sundaydriver at 3:05 PM on June 10, 2012

I lived in Brighton a couple of years back as a late-twenty-something and commuted to London to work whilst the wife worked locally.

Most of the comments here mirror my experience. Couple of points I'd make:

1) I love (and now live once again) in East London. Brighton is East London-on-Sea. That means it has areas that are very Shoreditch-esque (trendy, eclectic and very "hipster" to steal an Americanism) but then right next door areas that are very old-school (traditional pubs, high-street-y shops etc). I enjoyed that.

2) It was almost price-equivalent to London when I lived there and seemed to still be last time I was there (last year).

3) That said, if you don't expect to live in a pristine new-build you can live quite close in to the centre of town. We had a slightly run down Studio flat on Russell Square (slap bang between the sea front and the shopping centre) and were pretty happy there.

4) When its sunny, expect to be swamped by Londoners racing south for a beach day, and be aware that it can get quite hen/stag party heavy on the weekends. They tend to congregate round the really generic bars in the centre/on the seafront and Lloyds Bar though, so once you've settled in and found where you like to go you'll probably forget about them mostly*

5) If you make sure you live on a decent bus route (and plan your route to work accordingly) you can DEFINITELY survive without a car. I don't drive and neither does the wife, and we got everywhere we needed to happily by bus or by walking (or a combo of both). Plenty of good local shops around for perishables, and that combined with online grocery shopping for the big stuff (and the odd trek to a big supermarket) was fine. Also, day trips out for walking on the South Downs were easily doable and good fun.

6) Getting from Brighton INTO London (to meet friends or for a night out) is relatively easy. The trains are regular and run very late.

7) THE SEA GULLS ARE HUGE AND EVIL. They eat their own dead, and you can't put rubbish bags out until about 10 seconds before the bin man gets there or they'll destroy them. Also, make sure you've got a big winter coat. The windchill in winter is fecking evil.

8) There's still a House of the Dead 2 machine in the arcade on the pier. This alone is reason enough to live there.


If you're the kind of person who wants to live somewhere that is London-ish but a bit smaller with its own distinct touches, or want to live in London eventually but want to ease into it, then Brighton is absolutely perfect for you.

*it was long my ambition to set up a shop next to Brighton station that sells hen party gear which you can reserve on line and pick up on arrival at the station. Would probably call it "hennies" or something. Would have made me MILLIONS i tell you.
posted by garius at 4:01 AM on June 11, 2012

Response by poster: Ooh it sounds brilliant and very me! I like it already! Thanks for all the responses so far - keep them coming! This kind of inspiration is just what I need to write the dreaded job application (bleurgh....!)
posted by EatMyHat at 4:38 AM on June 11, 2012

I love Brighton for the really diverse, open and tolerant community. Not just the healthy gay scene, but the many fabulous alternative lifestyles, so many great vegetarian restaurants, the funky, independent traders, the quirky arts scene, the passionate environmental activism (Britain's first Green MP). It's a very fun and welcoming place to spend time, for the most part.

I also love the sea, although the pebble beach is not the most comfortable place to sunbathe. And the seagulls, as huge and monstrous as garius says, are actually, to my mind, kind of cool. They've got such big personalities and are as much a part of the town as the locals.

Brighton is expensive, as others have said. It's also a big draw for loud, rowdy gangs of out-of-towners (stag parties and the like) which you cannot hope to escape or avoid along the front or in the town centre. And that lumpy pebble beach I mentioned? You won't be able to see it for the seething humanity that explodes across it on any vaguely nice summer weekend.

I don't know much about Brighton's housing market but your money might go a little further if you move out of town towards Hove (which has a lot going for it in its own right).
posted by londonmark at 5:55 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I moved down to Brighton last March, and really like it. As others have said, there's alot of different sides to Brighton. One thing no-one seems to have mentioned is that it's surrounded by incredible countryside, so if you like walking and nature it's great.

Brighton is pretty expensive, I pay £1100 a month for a 2 bedroom flat down in the Marina. This is comparable to what I paid for a 2 bed tiny house in Watford.

You can get by without a car, the buses are fine and affordable.
posted by chrispy108 at 6:43 AM on June 11, 2012

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