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Our capital is undoubtedly chic and exciting. Think of a pastime, a sport, a type of music, a genre of restaurant – somewhere in London is a world-class version. Around 8.6million people choose to reside there, of all creeds, colours, abilities, ages, and religions.

The problem, though, is that too many people want to live in this glamorous location. It can be a real ambition, with little thought of the financial implications or the day-to-day existence. London is experiencing a housing crisis. Ridiculous prices abound for cramped, barely hospitable properties, both to buy and rent (for evidence of the latter consider those who choose to rent a shed in Hackney for £250 a week).

And that causes displeasure. Consider this recent survey of the happiest and least happy places to live in Britain, according to property portal Rightmove. Residents were asked how they felt about their home town, across 12 criteria such as space, value, safety and area upkeep. Poor Barking and Dagenham finished bottom in five out of the nine categories, while another four were taken by other parts of London including Hounslow and Islington. No-one who has ever watched Eastenders, the least happy environment on the planet, will be surprised that the East End took a hammering in the survey.

If you’ve never lived in London you might wonder how people actually pay to live there, and the simple answer is that many don’t. They commute, travelling in, usually via eye-wateringly expensive (but more enjoyable than sex) train journeys, from more affordable parts of the country. In fact some have taken the commute to the continent; Sam Cookney recently made the news for working out that it would be cheaper to live in Barcelona and fly daily to London - and then went through with the plan. It could also be done from Madrid.

The implication for those who do live there is that they surely have to get a job that justifies the means. But what if you like London and can’t find employment, or just want to reside but not work there? What if the perfect job comes up in Hertfordshire, or Cambridge, or even further afield? Is it possible?

The answer is the ‘reverse commute’, a real thing that comes with caveats. For the move to work generally one of three factors has to come into play: the pay has to be excellent; your bosses agree to contribute to the commute; your work relocates; or you have so much money that it doesn’t actually matter where you live or work.

Ignoring the latter option and concentrating on real people shows that more people do the journey than one might suspect. According to Govia Thameslink, data released in the Cambridge News shows that 2,320 passengers made the trip from London to the university city every day in 2014-15. It’s believed much of the work is centred on Cambridge’s Microsoft office near the station. In America as much as 9% of the population are city dwellers unwilling to leave the hubbub of mega-cites such as New York and San Francisco, and journey to work in the suburbs instead.


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Why the reverse London commute is a growing trend
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