Cardiff or London? Life choices!
February 21, 2013 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Mr Jujulalia and I have the option of moving to London or Cardiff. Seeking advice from colleagues/friends/the Guardian isn't filling our advice needs. Can you help?

To explain further, we're in our early 30s, from a small city in Australia. We left little Australian city over 5 years ago for Europe, and have loved living in bustling cities so far (we've lived in Glasgow, London and are now in Paris). Mr Ju has a very generous job offer in Cardiff, and a less generous offer in London potentially. We're not hipsters but we go to concerts regularly, love art, markets, are painful Guardian reading types. He's in science. I'm in music. I, dear readers, will never make a lot of money in my life. We're not particularly outdoorsy, but I love parks, and miss the green of London. We're not suburby types.

We're worried we'll never be able to afford a life in London, I'll get tied back into enormous commutes, slum landlords and we'll be perpetually broke. But we loved living in London. I have always felt at home there (Mama Jujulalia is a Londoner, it's in the blood). We're worried Cardiff will be boring, suburby, without vibrancy.

We would like to find a community to be a part of and contribute to. I think we might want a house. Maybe babies. Mr Ju wants a cat. I need to think about that. Where will be better able to do that? London or Cardiff?
posted by jujulalia to Work & Money (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I say, look for a Ryanair deal and check out Cardiff. You may be pleasantly surprised.

I love London too, but to afford it, I'd have to live 1 hour away and pay through the nose to get to the city every day. I'd be broke and soon, I'd be depressed.

But, Cardiff is bound to be less expensive, Mr. Ju (or is that Dr. Ju) will make more money, you'll have a nicer place and you can live in town if you like.

You can use that extra $$ to make trips to London when it suits you. You can also buzz around to large European cities on value airlines.

Welsh people are so friendly and nice, you'll probably meet tons of neat people there to hang with.

There appear to be tons of opportunity for arts and entertainment, especially during the summer.

I just read the Wikipedia article and I'M interested in getting a job in Cardiff!

So check it out, you may find that you love it. Or not, but you'll have done your due dilligence.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:31 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wait! London is only an hour away by TRAIN???

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:40 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

They shoot Doctor Who in Cardiff, right? What more do you need?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:56 PM on February 21, 2013 [6 favorites]

I have a few friends (admittedly, mostly Welsh ones) who moved from London to Cardiff at around your age; they wouldn't move back, for the reasons you've outlined. It is neither boring nor suburby if you want neither of those things, and it is a large enough city to sustain multiple communities around particular interests without them getting cliquey or dispersed. There are certainly focal points (BBC and government stuff) to those communities, but as Aussies, you're not going to run into any Welsh vs. English sentiment (which is minimal anyway).
posted by holgate at 1:57 PM on February 21, 2013

London is only an hour away by TRAIN???

The trains I find are 2 h 7 min or longer. Then you have to get from Paddington to wherever you want to go which is probably an additional 30 or 45 min. Also, probably not cheap.
posted by grouse at 2:01 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have lived in both London and Cardiff. It sounds like Cardiff makes the most sense for you. In Cardiff you can live in a fairly central area that could be walking distance to your job (if the job is in town or at the University, etc) where you have the opportunity to own your home, and the schools are good. This is much harder in London. There is a lot of good live music in Cardiff, as well as a good art house cinema. If you liked Glasgow I think you could like Cardiff. Although it is much smaller than Glasgow, because it is the capital and the biggest city in Wales it has the government and cultural stuff that goes with that. You could definitely live near a nice big park in Cardiff, such as Roath Park or Bute Park, and you could also live "down the Bay." Cardiff is not boring and suburby unless you want it to be (i.e. you could create a suburban life for yourselves there but it is not the only option).
Make sure you look at the arcades which are very cool.

Also, you can get to London quickly and cheaply (on those 2 hour trains) if you book in advance and don't travel before 9:30am on a weekday.
posted by cushie at 2:09 PM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Wales would be my preference if you're remotely outdoorsy. Its gorgeous and there are a lot of young outdoorsy people. Cardiff is a big enough city to have all the city things.
posted by fshgrl at 2:15 PM on February 21, 2013

Best answer: Just to give a slightly different point of view, I don't earn that much and can still afford to live in London without feeling that I'm missing out on a lot. My commute to work is 45 mins on public transport and 25 mins by bike. I don't think there's anywhere else in the UK that's quite the same as London- obviously it depends on your personal preferences, but don't rule out London as completely unaffordable, it doesn't have to be!
posted by shiny shoes at 2:22 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Go to Cardiff. It's a lively city, excellent art galleries, museums, cinemas, arts centres modern and trad, TV studio....Millenium centre or whatever it's called...
People from Bristol go shopping in Cardiff (though people from Cardiff go shopping in Bristol)
Interesting ethnicities (ie Welsh), industrial history, docklands, no prescription charges...
University, nice big houses, Charlotte Church.
There's a number of historic cities I'd rather live in than London, and Cardiff is one of them (and Durham, and York)

It's true that there's nowhere in the UK that's quite the same as London, but that's true of Cardiff as well. It certainly isn't an anonymous city.
posted by glasseyes at 3:42 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've lived in Cardiff for about seven years on and off (I'm there now) and in London for one.
Cardiff doesn't have the same vibrancy of London - there isn't that feeling of an encyclopedia's worth of things to do every weekend.

BUT although there is less choice there certainly are things to do. I don't feel that Cardiff is staid and boring. My feeling is that for a place of its size Cardiff is well served for arts and entertainment. There is one great arts centre which I visit regularly, with film, theatre, and classes. (Chapter Arts Centre - might be worth googling). There is St David's Hall for music and performance, and a few theatres. Then there's the Welsh National Opera in the Bay.
Some friends of mine started a volunteer photography gallery here, which has really taken off. After I started visiting that gallery I realised that there were a few more around in the area. There is room here for interesting things going on that are not immediately apparent.

There are classes here - the Centre for Lifelong Learning at Cardiff Uni is open to the public. Also lots of yoga, and dance.

I've been a student here most of the time (came as an undergrad and now a postgrad) so it might be that my experience has been somewhat skewed. But I do think that the universities (Cardiff which has apparently 28000 students and 6000 staff and Glamorgan which has around 22000 students) ensure that there is a fairly large and brisk flow of new people through the area.

We have the big, very beautiful Bute park, and some nice smaller ones (Roath park with it's lake is also nice).

I don't have a view of the whole property market and the differences between here and London, but in my personal experience as a student (at the shared house rental end of things) it's been a lot cheaper here.

Also don't forget that Bristol is only 50 minutes away by train, and has more people and (I think, things to do) than Cardiff - at the moment you can get a return ticket for just under £12. Newport lies between them -though it's a place that's often disparaged and I've only really passed through.

If you come here be prepared for the WET weather. It rains a lot in Cardiff (more than London). Even by UK standards the temperatures are pretty mild though.

Cardiff is ethnically diverse. Politically it leans to the left in general.

There is a local commuter rail network that can get one to the outskirts and beyond quickly, and it's not too expensive for local journeys.

Feel free to Memail me if you have any further questions.
posted by mister_kaupungister at 5:01 PM on February 21, 2013

Could you live in Bristol and your partner commute to Cardiff? That would be my mid-point between the two in terms of your interests and finances!
posted by veids at 1:24 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We're absolutely loving the feedback, thank you!

It's been especially interesting to hear from people with firsthand Caerdydd/London living experiences. We have been slightly freaking ourselves out with the size of the city and have to remember that the isolation of cities in Australia makes 350,000 feel a lot smaller than the UK equivalent.

Saying that, we want to choose a place to live for the place itself, not its proximity to other places (2 years in Paris living 10 mins walk from Gare du Nord and I've been back to London twice, despite missing it desperately at times).

We're still weighing up job options in addition to city options. Please feel free to continue adding thoughts! Thank you lovely mefites!

P.S. DirtyOldTown you had me at "Doctor".... Mr Ju still needs convincing on the Doctor front.
posted by jujulalia at 12:43 PM on February 22, 2013

Came here to second everything mister_kaupungister said. Cardiff is a really vibrant town (as long as you avoid St Mary's St on weekend nights -- unless you like visiting postapocalyptic settings). Chapter Arts is amazing, and there's the Sherman for really good experimental theatre. For fine arts, the National Museum has a wonderful collection spanning centuries (and not just covering Welsh artists/subjects, though those are well-represented), and there are ongoing little galleries and places to catch more modern/amateur art. The music scene here is HUGE, and you could catch gigs every night of the week if your heart so desired, I think. (There's the Millennium Centre, St Davids and Cardiff University for more formal concerts too.) Bute and Roath parks are good to wander around or have a picnic in, also Thompson park in Canton is lovely. If you want something a bit more wild, there's great walking around Gwaelod-y-Garth about ten minutes away by train.

I am a super-not-hipster Guardian-reader and I've gradually been really won over by Cardiff.

Also, Bristol's only an hour away if you're really dying for a larger city experience for a day or so. Cardiff isn't suburb-y at all, but it does feel very small at times. (Not helping is the fact that I live in a very student-y area; I think once I move out to where there are trees and families and people who aren't 20 I'll feel much more like I live in a real place. Avoid Cathays, and you too will avoid this!)

One real advantage Cardiff has -- it's cheap to live here. Even pints cost less. I basically spend my whole time in London in a state of sticker shock. (Happy shock -- I love London -- but nonetheless.)

Feel free to drop me a me-mail with any questions you have, btw.
posted by kalimac at 1:24 PM on February 22, 2013

PS: Not only Doctor Who, but Sherlock is filmed here as well! ;)
posted by kalimac at 1:28 PM on February 22, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you so much team!

I know this is a super late reply.

Mr Ju ended up getting an even better counter job offer in London we just couldn't refuse. Opportunities for collaboration for me in London have already started trickling in (and I found finding collaboration in Paris really hard). So off to London it is!

We really appreciated all the advice and help we received. Cardiff is a place I've always enjoyed visiting, and I'm sure we could've made a life there. Maybe next time.

Thanks Team Metafilter!
posted by jujulalia at 2:30 AM on April 26, 2013

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