Should we move to the Liverpool area.
November 1, 2012 6:44 AM   Subscribe

What's it really like living in the north of England? Liverpool and surrounding areas in particular.

I have a job interview for a great job in Liverpool. While I'm very excited about the job, the idea of moving with my partner doesn't really appeal. Right now we live in a rural part of the UK where we're easily able to afford a small detached cottage in the countryside. We don't have to lock our doors here because crime is almost nonexistent, everyone is friendly, and the skies are dark so my partner can do astronomy whenever it isn't raining.

Liverpool, as I understand it, has a pretty high crime rate, there are a lot of not very nice people hanging around messing with passers by, we couldn't afford a detached house and opportunities for astronomy (my partners hobby) would not be as good.

On the other hand there are great restaurants, lots of theatres and good day trips to the countryside near Liverpool from what I understand. Also, the job would be great for me and my partner should also be able to find work. I'm just worried about how fair the move would be to him. So please tell me, is it really grim up north? Anonymous so my colleagues don't find out I'm job hunting. Thank you.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I haven't lived in Liverpool, but I have lived in Newcastle, York, Bradford, and now live somewhere near Nottingham, which isn't by any means 'up north', but is certainly close to a high-crime urban area.

The first thing to appreciate is that no UK city is homogenous. For every estate with social and crime problems there's a corresponding leafy middle-class suburb. And you'd be surprised how easy it is to live somewhere relatively 'rural', and yet be within easy access of the city. I'm just 15 minutes by car from Nottingham city centre, and I live in a quiet village with a few shops and pubs where I see cows and sheep from my windows, and the loudest noise you'll hear is tractors going by. Our village has a crime level typical of the countryside - mostly things like someone stealing tools from an allotment. I believe there was a murder back in the 80s.

Liverpool is a fair bit larger than my city, but you only have to glance at an aerial view on Google Maps to see that there are plenty of reasonably rural places within easy commuting distance. If you want the best of both worlds (and can afford it), that's probably the way to go. I love having all the benefits of city and country.
posted by pipeski at 7:14 AM on November 1, 2012

I grew up in Crosby, just north of the city.

It’s a nice place, more like a small town than part of the city, although yes it isn’t as nice as some other parts of the UK. It doesn’t have a high crime rate, the countryside is nearby and the people by and large are friendly.

Liverpool city centre has some amazingly beautiful 18th and 19th century buildings and the riverfront is great. Again people are generally very friendly (tho there is a fair degree of Scouse sarcasm that can be jarring to outsiders), but unless you are 18-21 I would avoid the city centre on a Friday or Saturday night. It can get quite messy. Just like Cardiff, Nottingham and any other UK city in that respect I guess.

You might like to think about the Wirral. It’s just over (under) the water, but is generally more relaxed. The scenery is nicer and it is more middle class. Tho I imagine house prices come with that.

Astronomy would be tough I imagine. There was once an observatory on Bidston hill (on the Wirral), but light pollution put paid to that many years ago. You’d need to drive a fair way away from the city to find clear skies I think.

One thing you might want to think about is the weather. It never gets too cold (as Merseyside is on the coast), which means rarely is there snow (last year excepted). But there is a lot of rain. A lot. Not as much as Manchester, but really, it rains an awful lot.
posted by tonylord at 7:14 AM on November 1, 2012

Central Liverpool born and raised here. It's a fascinating city with a culture all of its own. I've never been anywhere else quite like it. Yes, some parts are pretty rough, and I would always advise you to lock your doors (really?), but there are also some really nice areas, especially if you don't mind a commute to wherever your work is.

If a longer drive to work isn't a problem then you might want to look at the Wirral and the areas out towards Chester. St Helens has some nice parts. Nearer Liverpool proper, Woolton Village is quaint and pretty. You could even consider North Wales if you're happy to drive for an hour or so. Some lovely rural areas that way.

I know nothing about astronomy or Liverpool's suitability for same, but the Liverpool Astronomical Society probably do.
posted by corvine at 8:14 AM on November 1, 2012

There isn't one "north", and like most places in the UK other than London, it gets rural very quickly if you decide to live out in Cheshire or even north Wales. All depends on how much of a commute you're prepared to tolerate.
posted by holgate at 8:17 AM on November 1, 2012

The rain is worth noting if you're moving from somewhere south and eastern like London. I'm sure most people cope, but it would drive me nuts. I can't find the Liverpool data to hand quickly, so will substitute in Manchester.


London: 591.8mm/year, 110.4 rainy days/year
Manchester: 806.6mm/year, 140.4 rainy days/year

Sun and heat:

London: 15.2 degrees C average high, 1,480.5 mean monthly sunny hours
Manchester: 13.13 degrees C average high, 1,394.6 mean monthly sunny hours
posted by MuffinMan at 8:43 AM on November 1, 2012

I had friends who used to work in Leeds and lived in the countryside, amidst farmland, a very modest distance from the city with commute times I would kill for. The same possibilities must exist for Liverpool.
posted by outlier at 9:17 AM on November 1, 2012

Get the shortest term leases you can.

You will ultimately want to move where your social circle will be but you don't know where that is yet.
posted by srboisvert at 9:54 AM on November 1, 2012

I lived in Liverpool for years. I don't know how helpful I can be as I moved there from a very different American city and you're moving from the countryside.

Obviously it is going to be very different from the rural life that you're used to. But what people have said about culture is correct. There are a lot of great things to do in Liverpool and tons of culture. In addition, over the last five or seven years the city has really transformed into a much more modern city as well, (in my opinion) with great shopping and restaurants etc.

There is crime in the city for sure, but I wonder how much of the perception of that is leftover from the 80s and 90s when the city was destitute and unemployment was high. I do sometimes think that Liverpool gets painted a little unfairly with the "crime" brush. There of course is going to be problems with crime in every major British city and Liverpool is no different. I personally really like the grittiness of living in a modern, urban city and I loved the diversity and vibrancy of it. It is also true that there is a lot of rain, and that did get to me after awhile.

I think if you move there and are very mindful of where you live you can have the best of both worlds - the culture, excitement and vibrancy of the city but still the beauty and greenery of the countryside. I *love* Woolton Village, as mentioned above. It is a lovely little village with an amazing Indian place and a charming old movie theatre (if it's still open). The Wirral is also a good choice. I'm not as familar with that part of the world but Thornton Hough is gorgeous, as is Port Sunlight. It's a little bit farther away, but the county of Cheshire, and city of Chester, is one of the most gorgeous area in England. One of the good things about Liverpool (and surrounding) is that it is incredibly affordable and a house can be bought for practically a song.

Apart from the culture and the architecture I think the one thing that shoots Liverpool to the top of the charts in my mind is the people. No joke, you will never meet nicer, more down to earth or more generous people anywhere you go. Liverpudlians are the salt. of. the. earth., no kidding. I moved away two years ago and while I don't miss the rain or the dirty pavements, I miss the people every single day. I wish everyone could be like them. User unSane made a comment that I liked awhile back about the people of Liverpool, which sums up how I feel as well:

Heh, no very much NOT lark lane although I had lunch there a few times in whatever that hippy cafe was there. We were on Gwendoline Street. I was making a pair of films about mental illness. We started out in the Adelphi but couldn't take it any longer so rented a place in L8. Our neighbours were TOTALLY FUCKING AWESOME, just the nicest people I'd ever met, and not a penny to rub together between them. I remember throwing a party and everyone from the street turned up with a gift, most of which had been stolen from the docks. It was a truly wonderful evening. The downside was that anything you didn't tie down was stolen immediately, and the young kids would shoot you with ball bearings from their catapults. for fun. Also, the poverty was indescribable.

I have incredibly fond memories of Liverpool -- not just L8. In some ways the toughest place on earth, in other ways, the easiest place to fit in, whoever you were.

Feel free to memail me if you'd like to discuss further. Good luck!
posted by triggerfinger at 1:04 PM on November 1, 2012

I lived in Liverpool for about a dozen years; went to university there and stuck around afterwards. It's not as bad as some would suggest but it does have its problems and rough spots. There are a few areas that you'd do well to steer clear of - Kensington and Anfield spring to mind immediately. Allerton, Aigburth and Wavertree are quite nice with excellent transport links into town. West Derby is quite well off too. If you decide to go over the water to the Wirral, there are frequent trains in to the city but they're notoriously unreliable. (The only reason I learned to drive was because I was commuting to Chester daily and Merseyrail left me hanging at Birkenhead Central one time too many. The trains that serve the undergound stations are every fifteen minutes but there's a central loop; if there's a problem down there then it all backs up and cancellations inevitably follow. I believe they get fined if a train arrives late but not if they don't arrive at all, so they cancel the train and make you wait for the one behind it.)

As for living there, I had no regrets at all. Scousers in genral are pretty friendly and chatty (something of an understatement, actually) in my experience, but your mileage may vary. It's a big university city too with one of the largest student populations in the country. But bear in mind that it's definitely an urban place and, if that way of life suits you, you might want to look a bit further afield towards Wales or even north of the city towards Southport and Ormskirk. There are plenty of trains in to town from those places but once again, they have some reliability issues if they connect to the central loop.

And, seeing as I moved to South Manchester a few years back, I can confirm that we definitely get more rain up this way than we did back on Merseyside.

Feel free to PM me if there's anything specific you think I could help with :)
posted by peteyjlawson at 1:12 PM on November 1, 2012

Manchester doesn't really work as a proxy for Liverpool, weather-wise: those Atlantic rainclouds frequently sweep over low-lying Merseyside but stop and linger when they get to the higher ground inland. The average yearly rainfall in Liverpool, or rather 'over the water' at Bidston Observatory on the Wirral, is 684mm: more than London, but a good bit less than Manchester. The average high temperature is a bit lower than Manchester, but the average low is a bit higher—as you'd expect for a coastal city versus an inland one.

Anyway, that's a minor point. Liverpool is big, interesting, and diverse; it's got a very impressive architectural heritage (on which subject, try this), a lively cultural scene, and a real sense of itself as a city. As with anywhere, if you move there wanting to dislike it you'll ignore all of this and tell yourself it's rubbish: I knew someone who did this with Edinburgh, mostly because her boyfriend lived in London I think. If you move there with an open mind you'll find a lot to like. It would also be easy to live outside the centre: Crosby, mentioned above, is at the northern edge of the city, but it's only 20 minutes from Central by train (and has a fine windswept beach with great sunsets); other, more rural locations have also been mentioned above.

If you do get the job, ask some Liverpool MeFites to show you round, so you get a positive introduction to the city.

Also, "there are a lot of not very nice people hanging around messing with passers by" is a drastic overstatement. It's not the New York subway as depicted in 1980s films. Liverpool's a big city with some rough areas; the people most likely to be victims of crime are poor people who live in those areas. The city centre requires the same caution as any big city centre, but you don't need body armour and a sidearm. My 67-year-old mum drives or gets the train in to go to the cinema of an evening.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 2:54 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Liverpool's a big city with some rough areas; the people most likely to be victims of crime are poor people who live in those areas.

And a good chunk of the anecdotes come from people who tried to park near Anfield or Goodison and got the "pound to look after yer car, mister?" treatment, which isn't really anything to do with living in the city.
posted by holgate at 4:45 PM on November 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

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