Two years before joining Teachright, I moved out of London to take up a leadership role in the Home Counties - based in Luton.
I was tempted down south over a decade ago and admittedly I was drawn by the bright lights, vibrancy, social pull and diversity of the City. Hailing from Manchester I'm by no means a country bumpkin but London is a unique city - in fact, probably my favourite in the world.
That being said, after ten years in the spotlight I was exhausted. I needed out, but I wasn't quite ready to give up my access to the Capital. Now the most frequent question I get asked when attracting either teaching talent to Luton is; "Why Luton?"
Well, it's interesting...
Luton is steeped in history and it seems that wherever one looks, cultural gems can be found throughout the town and the surrounding countryside (I mean, these days being able to take my dogs for a walk on a National Trust trail is much more preferable than trotting through Islington looking for the perfect £6 Latte). The Queen and Prince Philip, spent part of their honeymoon at Luton Hoo, which is a stately home that now houses a gorgeous restaurant, afternoon tea place and amazing grounds! The hat-making industry made Luton one of the most affluent places to reside (especially during The 1930's Great Depression), with their hats travelling worldwide!
In January 2017, Luton was named as the number one place for property investment in the UK.
There are all sorts of educational days out here also, my favourite is to check out Wardown Park Museum and learn all about the development of Luton industries and although you may not even believe it yourself at first, you will be intrigued by the ever changing hat and lace collection.
It's also beautiful…
Luton is just 30 minutes away from London by a direct train but you will find it hard to believe when you see how surrounded by the beautiful English countryside it is! For a day away from the hustle and bustle, check out Wrest Park and explore three centuries of landscape design. From woodland walks, to country manors, to the (all-important!) tea room, Wrest Park is a lovely day out for the whole family!
Then there's the trail I mentioned earlier, the 18 hole golf course, farm shops where you can meet the chickens that laid your eggs (if that's your thing).
It's good for shopping…
Don't get me wrong, this is no Oxford Circus but the town is easy to navigate with a decent pedestrian area in George Street, and one of the first indoor shopping centres in the country at The Mall. Luton is not lacking in anything and has the intimacy of a town that has not been swallowed by chain brands - the boutique still stands strong in Luton.
Luton has a not so secret reputation for night life! There is a vast array of pubs, bars and clubs. For a bit of something different, head to the aptly named ‘The Hat Factory’, a trendy arts venue brimming with drama, dance, music and comedy productions.
Exciting places just down the road...
Luton is only 30 minutes on a direct fast train to Kings Cross St Pancras where you can pick up the tube lines. There is also a train that can get you to the seaside in Brighton in just 2 hours - then there are countless lovely little towns such as Hitchin, where you can get a lovely village pub lunch and great shopping. Just a short drive or train away is the historic Cathedral town of St Albans which houses not only the first Abbey in the UK but also the oldest pub in the UK!
And you'll be able to afford to do so much more...
In London you can easily expect to part with 50-60% of your income just for rent... the cost of living out here is considerably less meaning that you can do so much more, experience much more and actually have move to rooms in your home - rather than living in the well known London bedsit!
James joined Teachright in October 2019, bringing it to schools and candidates in the Home Counties areas - specifically Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. Find out more about him here.