More & More Black Women Are Moving Out Of London – Here’s Why

Born in Kenya, I was 6 months old when my parents uprooted us to the UK. London is all I’ve ever known and I wouldn’t trade growing up in this city for anything. One of my favourite things about living here is the diversity. While London isn’t free from racism, I’ve been fortunate to meet people from so many different countries. And when I think of my Blackness, it’s hard for me to detach how I see myself from my relationship to London. 
Growing up, my friendships felt like a Black rainbow. I had friends who were Congolese, Ghanaian, Nigerian and Zimbabwean. I had the opportunity to learn about different Black experiences while enjoying a shared sense of belonging. I went to secondary school when musical genres like grime and funky house were popular and my friends and I would make up dances and have rap battles. Some of my favourite memories are simply of getting £1 chicken and chips after school with my friends. 
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I was surrounded by people who looked like me, which affirmed my identity. I never went through a phase of hiding my Blackness – if anything, I was encouraged to be proud of it. This is something I’d like for my children but I don’t know if it will be their reality. 

When I think of my Blackness, it's hard for me to detach how I see myself from my relationship to London. 

I currently live in Dagenham, on the outskirts of London, but I’ve been thinking more and more of moving away. The city that once welcomed us, I feel, is pushing us out. Twenty-five-year-old Kemi from south London agrees. Kemi, who is originally from Greenwich, feels that their relationship with London has changed over time. As a queer Black woman, they feel that spaces for marginalised communities are becoming harder to find.
Kemi
"I used to love living here but I'm uncertain about the future for people of colour as a lot of our spaces are being gentrified," Kemi says. "I grew up in and around Woolwich, southeast London, and recently I saw plans for Woolwich to go through an entire 'regeneration'. This means a lot of Nigerian-owned businesses and occupants in the area will have to find somewhere else to live." Areas such as Brixton and Peckham, both of which have large Black communities, have rapidly gentrified in recent years. After the 2008 financial crash, property prices in Peckham were the fastest to grow, seeing a 45.7% increase between 2014 and 2018.
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I grew up in and around Woolwich, southeast London, and recently I saw plans for Woolwich to go through an entire 'regeneration'. This means a lot of Nigerian-owned businesses and occupants in the area will have to find somewhere else to live.

Kemi
Before the pandemic, Kemi briefly moved to Milton Keynes to work as an applications scientist but had their contract cut short and had to move back to London in March last year. Kemi says they didn't find living in Milton Keynes drastically different compared to other cities in the UK. They is now thinking about moving to Glasgow. "When I went to visit my friend in Scotland a couple of years ago, we went to Glasgow for a day and I fell in love with it. There are definitely a lot of parallels between Glasgow and London," Kemi adds.
Though they have thought long and hard about moving out of London, they're still conflicted. "I have special moments here," they continue. "As a 'Londoner' who has grown up here for most of my life, I still feel connected to the culture here and have come into my identity as a 'Black British' person." 
Maida
Miada Hassan, 25, from west London, says she loves the sense of community in the city. "I love living in London, the vast majority of my community is here," she says. "My parents came here to give us a better life and they managed to do just that here in London. I am aware that the opportunities here are almost endless, I love the diversity here and knowing that my necessities (culturally) will always be catered to." 
However, Miada thinks that it’s becoming virtually impossible to buy a home in the capital. "The value for money aspect comes into question. Knowing that my £300,000 could get me a four-bedroom with a garden in some parts of the country but will only get me a small two-bedroom flat in London makes me [reconsider] living here," she adds.
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The value for money aspect comes into question, knowing that my £300,000 could get me a four-bedroom with a garden in some parts of the country but will only get me a small two-bedroom flat in London.

Miada
Miada says that her career used to be one of the reasons why she felt like she had to stay in the city. However, the pandemic has meant that more companies in her field are offering remote roles. "I work in the tech industry and we're now seeing an increase in ability (for a lot of companies) to work remotely so it seems like the best option at the moment." Maida isn’t the only one who has thought about moving out of London since the pandemic hit. A survey conducted last August by the London Assembly found that 4.5% of Londoners – 416,000 people – would definitely move out of the city within the next 12 months.
Miada has her eyes set on Manchester. "Manchester is a bustling city with a lot of life, it's also very architecturally pretty," she says. "There is a lot of diversity in Manchester and it is very much a young person city. The city's tech hub is growing and, most importantly, its housing is affordable. So I can attain most of the parts of London I love and still have a very good quality of life."
Twenty-three-year-old Amina, an accessibility advocate, took a leap of faith and moved to Ipswich from east London three years ago. "My relationship with London growing up was pretty standard as a Black girl," she says. "I loved being around my community and going to school where there was so much diversity." 
Amina
As she transitioned into the tech world, Amina was offered a job which meant moving to Ipswich. She says she also considered living outside of London because of health issues. "The biggest game-changer for me was the air quality because I’m an asthmatic and growing up in a polluted city made it very difficult to manage." A 2016 study for the mayor of London found that Black people account for 15.3% of all Londoners exposed to nitrogen dioxide, even though we account for only 13.3% of the city's population. Meanwhile Black children are 4.2% more likely to be hospitalised due to exposure to toxic air. In 2013, 9-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah died following an asthma attack; a coroner later ruled that air pollution contributed to her death.
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The biggest game-changer for me was the air quality because I'm an asthmatic and growing up in a polluted city made it very difficult to manage.

amina
Though she’s enjoyed her time in Ipswich, Amina has found the experience different from living in London. "Living in Ipswich as a Black Muslim woman is very different to what I grew up with in London," she says. "It can be quite isolating as most social events here are centred around the pub, which is not my thing." 
Sarah*, 27, lived in London for five years before moving to the outskirts of the capital. "Before moving away, I actually enjoyed my short commute [and] being able to walk home from work," she says, adding that she enjoyed everything the city had to offer culturally, from restaurants and museums to theatres and concerts.
Sarah grew up in Surrey and decided to move back there when the pandemic hit. "The biggest factor for me was the pandemic and increasing rent prices," she continues. "My landlord decided to increase my rent majorly a few months into lockdown and I wasn’t able to enjoy London or my previous lifestyle in the same way." 
Now that she’s moved back to Surrey, she says she loves where she lives. "The area has become a lot more diverse over recent years, although this particular part has never been difficult to live in as a Black person per se. There's tons of green space, which is something that’s always been very important to me," Sarah adds.
When asked what advice she would give to fellow Black Londoners who want to move out, Sarah suggests that young people, in particular, should try living somewhere completely new. "Especially if renting, you’re offered a greater degree of freedom in moving around. Sometimes a complete change of environment can highlight things you didn’t realise were as important – or not – in long-term living arrangements."
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I love the freedom that London gives you. You're able to dress and be whoever you want to be.

As I think about my relationship with London, I think I’d like to stay here for now. I’m a city girl through and through. I love experiencing the rush of the city and how motivated I feel living here. I love hanging out in areas like Shoreditch where there are so many places to eat and drink. I love the freedom that London gives you. You’re able to dress and be whoever you want to be. 
Additionally, as a journalist, most of my career opportunities are here. I enjoyed how calm the city was during lockdown but I’m excited to see London come back to life again. When I think about raising a family, I’ll probably move outside of the city but I don’t see that happening for a while. So until then, London remains my home.