Four years ago this month, I packed up my things and made the big move from home to university – I moved from the south London suburbs to Brighton to be a University of Sussex fresher.
Four years ago this month, I packed up my things and made the big move from home to university – I moved from the south London suburbs to Brighton to be a University of Sussex fresher. A year after graduating, I ‘m still here, living near the town centre and commuting to London for work. Brighton has me hooked, and here are ten reasons I’m set on staying:
Let’s start with the obvious. The pubs. According to one (in my opinion dubious) statistic, there are 365 pubs, bars and clubs in Brighton, one for every night of the year. Find your favourites (The Font, The Fishbowl, Lola Lo, the Mesmerist and Oxygen for me) or go to new places every time you’re out.
Plus, Brighton has Buddie’s. The only 24 hour restaurant on the south coast, I have found lasagne at 2am a fabulous chilled-out hangover prevention
Boho Gelato serves quirky ice cream flavours including mojito, Eton mess, salted caramel and even peanut butter and jam, and the Small Batch Coffee Company serve locally roasted coffee that is better than the chains- honestly. There are more ‘sweet treat places’ (you know the type: coffee, milkshakes, cake and icecream) than you could shake a sundae spoon at down here. Yum.
I know this great little place…
As shown by the above, you quickly start saying to people ‘I know this great place in Brighton that does/serves/sells/makes that by hand (a fudge shop in North Laine)’. You’ll feel like an oracle who is untainted by ‘the big chain stores’, even if 90% of your shopping is done within Churchill Square shopping centre.
Its residents don’t take anything lying down. This spring, a (rather misguided) group from the BNP walked through the city, and were outnumbered ten to one by protesters, local councillors, families and business owners. Some chanted, (‘From the station to the sea, we’re keeping Brighton Nazi free’ being a favourite) but most stood patiently, watching the group with more than a little disdain and protecting their city from any trouble. Love a good protest, us Brightonians…
Fashionwise, anything goes. If you want to be a Hollister clone, go for it. If you want to wear Crocs, hey, you can’t deny they’re practical pebbly beach shoes. Vintage? 50s dresses? Fancy dress at 2pm on a Wednesday? All fine choices. And it’s not a Saturday night without a stag wearing a mankini. Brighton fashion is not prescriptive. And that’s great.
Brighton residents are such big dog fans that one has made the paper as a local celebrity- he skateboards. Go to the beach in the morning and watch the dog walkers, or crowd round a gigantic St Bernard in the street to stroke it. Everyone else does..
The close proximity to the countryside. 15 minutes on a bus will get you from Brighton town centre into the South Downs, which are stunning. Devil’s Dyke offers views across Sussex (and hiking opportunities…) and Stanmer Park looks beautiful in the snow. All the conveniences of a city, with lots of greenery nearby for walking, running and picnics!
Brighton, like London, favours pedestrians and non-drivers (I am both). The traffic and the parking are bloody terrible. Which makes the public transport pretty good, and, I recently discovered, Brighton’s one day bus pass is cheaper than an Oyster one (£3.50 vs £4.20- of course you can cover much more distance on the Oyster one). You can walk everywhere in Brighton and Hove, and lots of people kindly block busy roads up by leaving their cars with their hazards on while they ‘nip to the shops’- this creates nice traffic jams permitting us pedestrians to cross at leisure.
It puts on one hell of a show. Brighton Marathon and Pride – both annual events – prove that the majority of the city is prepared to bite the bullet of inconvenience and have a good time. Whether it’s for drag queens on top of fire engines or people struggling at Mile 18, crowds of locals (and visitors of course!) line the streets offering support and encouragement. If you write your name on your shirt, people will cheer it as you run and give you Gummy Bears (‘For an energy boost!’) during the marathon, and commuters living around Preston Park, who don’t see much of the city during the week, will get out onto their roofs and watch the parade on Pride day.
I’ll end with the obvious: the beach. It’s a free place to chill, people watch, relax and go for long walks. Perusing the art galleries and jewellery stalls and walking along to Hove Lawns to look at colourful beach huts and the Peace Statue (of Rizzlekicks’ music video fame) is my favourite way to spend an afternoon.
My love affair with Brighton looks set to continue. The sea air, the ‘lower than London’ rents, transport links, great shopping and eating options, the luxury of being able to walk everywhere and the scenery surrounding the city make it a brilliant place to live. It’s a city full of hedonism, indulgence, entertainment and a thriving economy based on the notion that everyone wants to treat themselves.
It’s an amazing place to be. Enjoy, freshers!