Big brands, top agencies and a higher standard of living are closer than you think

The Independent recently commissioned a study to find the 12 most liveable cities in Britain and surprisingly (for some) a quarter of those mentioned were in northern England. Yes really.

Despite the obvious benefits in schools, housing and overall standard of living, people often have a preconceived notion of the North-South divide, which isn’t entirely positive. For example, some of the most common myths are:

MYTH: “If you want to work for a big brand, you have to live in London.”

Outside of London, Manchester has the fastest growing economy in the UK and companies such as Thomas Cook, Guardian Media Group, Kellogg’s, Betfred, Google and the BBC (to name but a few), show how major international organisations have been quick to take advantage of all that the North has to offer. Many cite local transport links, access to academic innovation and greater levels of employee engagement, among their reasons for setting up HQs outside of London. In a nutshell, the work life balance is just more balanced.

MYTH: “The best digital agencies are in London.”

GlaxoSmithKline, Paul Smith, TalkTalk, Selfridges and Volkswagen would disagree. In fact, a recent study of the top 50 agencies in the north reads like a who’s who of household names. These brands have chosen the award winning, creative minds in Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds from a UK wide selection. They want fresh thinking, unique perspectives and an intimate connection with their audiences - they’ve found it and keep coming back for more. If you’re a digital professional, it could be time to rethink that London based CV.

MYTH: “Even if the job is great, isn’t it grim up north?”

There are currently 75 Michelin starred restaurants across Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle. Outside of London, Liverpool attracts more filmmakers than any other city (think Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes and Captain America). You can fly from Manchester to over 225 destinations, more than any other airport in the UK. Leeds is the gateway to Yorkshire and is packed with museums, theatres and cinemas to rival any in the south. While Newcastle, (which gave the world Lucozade and Wispa bars) boasts one the biggest shopping centres in Europe. Oh and did we mention that according to the Met office, it also appears in the UK top 10 for average yearly sunshine hours …

MYTH: “Aren’t the people, a bit, well, you know, regional?”

While the media portrayal of northern England brings Brookside, Shameless and Coronation Street to mind, the reality is a significant chunk of UK green belt and a hugely diverse housing stock. Just check out the city profiles on TripAdvisor. The north has also given the world the Beatles, Robbie Williams, Sting, the Kaiser Chiefs, and a host of actors and comedy stars (Sarah Millican, Steve Coogan, Vic Reeves). Still not convinced? Cambridge university researchers have now officially proven that the north is friendlier than the south. So there.

And last but not least - “If you want to work in northern England, you have to find a local recruiter.”

While Denholm's Head Office is based in Edinburgh, our reach is international and we regularly place candidates in top positions UK wide.

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