London Snubbed by Samsung

If you live in London, you either love it or hate it here. In fact, you probably feel both ways, swinging back and forth a dozen times each day as your train’s delayed, you fork over £100 a day without anything to show for it, and you get caught behind a troupe of school kids on a field trip whilst you’re running to that next, all-important meeting.

Then, of course, you come to the Strand and the bustle feels real. Perfect. You see St. Paul’s peaking through the horizon. You whisk yourself away to Gordon’s for a carafe of their finest and London feels alright again.

But that’s not how Samsung see the place.

In looking for their new European headquarters, the South Korean tech company has snubbed the capital because, “[it is] not a fun place to live unless you are really rich.”

In lieu of Britain’s capital, Samsung have instead plumbed for Berlin. Their reasons? Managing Director Felix Petersen effused, “In Berlin, you can do stuff without much money. You can bike around or sit in the park. There are uncommercialised zones. You can experiment and play around with technology in a more relaxed environment.

“In London, the cost of living, the cost of getting around and the infrastructure mean it’s not a fun place to live unless you are really rich, especially for young people.”

Finally adding that for those considering having children, it was ‘virtually impossible’ in London.

So does Mr Petersen have a point? Let’s take a look…

London vs Berlin: The Cost of Living

Expenses London Berlin
One Bed Flat in City Centre £1,684 £670
One Bed Flat Outside City Centre £1,180 £490
Transport (monthly) £132 £72
Pint of Beer (very important!) £4.50 £2.85
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 apartment £142 £200

So as you can see, everything, except the basic amenities, is cheaper in Berlin than in London. But is that the be-all and end-all? Not according to Russ Shaw, founder of technology trade group Tech London Advocates, who asserted that Berlin has a lot of catching up to do with London’s tech industry, highlighting that London has had £1 billion pumped into its tech sector in the first half of the year.

Compounding what Mr. Shaw stated, Will Higham, executive director of business group London First, affirmed that, “London is an amazing city and we continue to attract many businesses – both large and small – and a huge amount of talented people.

“But there’s no question that we have to work hard to keep our capital globally competitive and be Brexit-ready by 2019 – we need commitments from local and national government to start building the homes and transport links this city urgently needs.”

And whilst there are certainly issues with the cost of living in London, I can’t help but feel that this last sentence is particularly pertinent. Looking to invest long term in London as the shadow of Brexit ripples in the air is a trepidatious prospect, and may have had a big part to play in Samsung’s decision that they’re letting on.

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