The sun continues to beat down on us, things are distinctly dry, but there’s vague hopes of a drop of rain about Wednesday, so who knows, we might get some.
Because things were so wet over winter, the rain that we’ve had has just about been enough to keep us going, but I’ve noticed some of the sandy land is starting to burn off again. To be honest this is three months earlier than we could expect it. Still we’ve still time for torrential rain and flooding in July.
I saw a comment which sums the area up. Somebody was asking for advice on when to visit Cumbria, they had a choice of June or July and somebody else had answered, “Forget trying to predict the weather, either month could be hot and sunny or cold and wet.”
Yep, that’s Cumbria.
We’re starting to see hints of other changes on the horizon. Apparently, “Searches on Rightmove by Londoners for homes outside the capital were up to 51 per cent compared to 42 per cent this time last year.
The number of home searches by people in Edinburgh, Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow and Bristol looking at property outside their cities also rose, as people in lockdown reassessed their lives.”
Now we don’t know whether these urges to move will last any longer than the urges to declutter, learn Sanskrit, or stop eating junk food. But it does strike me that the lockdown largely negates the advantages of living in a major city. Also with so many people working from home, why not work from home somewhere worth living?
Why I’m so interested is that this isn’t a new phenomenon but part of a growing trend.
“According to the statistics, 73,000 people living in the capital chose to buy property elsewhere in 2019, which is up more than 10,000 from five years ago and around 32,000 from 10 years ago in 2009.
And they’re not just moving to commutable towns and cities around London any more. Last year saw the highest number of Londoners move to the north of the country at 13%, up from just 1% who did so a decade ago. A further 15% moved to the Midlands.
While the highest proportion (69%) did stick to the south when they said goodbye to the capital, this is a major fall from 92% back in 2009.”
So generally are we going to see more people moving into rural areas? Provided you’ve got decent broadband, then you can sell in London and buy elsewhere secure in the knowledge you can work adequately from home. Indeed I know a lot of people who have sold small properties in London and become cash buyers of far nicer and larger properties in the north. This has been true for decades, provided you never intended to move back into London, it was a shrewd move. I remember an auctioneer telling me that one couple had decided that this was going to be their last move, sold in London and ended up buying a farm off him as a cash buyer. The auctioneer arranged for a local farmer to rent the land off them. At that point the chap who’d bought the farm looked at the cheque he was being paid for the rent and pondered early retirement.
There are problems, do rural communities need an influx of new people with no real understanding of the community? Is it going to push rural house prices up even further?
But then, on the horizon, there are other indicators that the world is changing. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that most Facebook employees can work from home wherever they want. But they should not expect to get Silicon Valley salary levels if they relocate to less-expensive areas.
Speaking at an internal employee town hall meeting livestreamed on Facebook, Zuckerberg said the company will take a “more measured approach to opening permanent remote work for existing employees.” Currently, most Facebook workers can opt to work from home through the end of the year, thanks to the pandemic.
Now, Zuckerberg envisions that over the next decade or more, about half of Facebook’s workers could be remote. But there’s a lot of “ifs,” “ands” and “buts” attached – although not butts in the seats.
If you qualify for remote work and move to cheaper areas, you will have to tell Facebook, and pay will be adjusted accordingly, Zuckerberg said. There will be “severe ramifications” for those discovered to be falsifying addresses.
“We’ll adjust salary to your location at that point,” said Zuckerberg, who said the adjustment would be necessary for taxes and accounting. “There’ll be severe ramifications for people who are not honest about this.” He added the system will work on the “honor code,” but will “put in some basic precautions” to make sure that the honor system is being honest. Those methods were not detailed.”
Now in this country, we already have ‘London weighting’. It’s accepted that some areas are more expensive to live in. So it’s entirely reasonable that some areas will be regarded as cheaper. And when you think about it, you can save a lot of money if you stop commuting (A friend saved £5,000 a year when they stopped commuting into London and got a job local to where they lived.) Also you’re probably paying a smaller mortgage.
So if this catches on, I wonder whether people will be quite so keen to move into rural areas. In the case of Cumbria, if you live in Ambleside will you expect to be paid more than if you live in Millom? Given the depth of data these online companies have, they might even be able to differentiate between quite small towns.
So whilst we might have people moving into rural areas intending to work at home, they might not be the wealthy incomers a previous generation witnessed.
But actually it’s worth taking this forward a bit. Let us assume you already work for one of these companies. When you decide to move to somewhere unfashionable to be nearer parents, so you’re handy as they grow older and more frail, then obviously your salary may drop. But what if your parents lived somewhere more expensive, how would Facebook react to paying you more because of your house move?
It actually gets even more interesting, what happens when you apply for a job. There you are, being interviewed over zoom, for the position. The interviewing panel might be on two or three different continents. But there again so might the people they’re interviewing.
So you get the job offer. “Yes, we’ll be happy to employ you, but you live in rather an expensive area. For somebody of your grade we are looking at you living in a different priced area. Have you considered New Delhi or Bogota rather than Manchester?
Luckily in agriculture these are not live issues for us. If I phone a contractor to come and do something, I rather expect him to turn up in the yard with his digger. So far we’ve not found a use for somebody who ‘virtually’ mows our grass. I suspect that once more, agriculture is going to be stuck in the past as the future eddies and flows around us. We might social distance but that’s because he’s working from a different tractor cab, not a different continent.
There again, don’t confuse me with somebody who knows what they’re talking about
Rather than his usual collection of anecdotes, this time Tallis presents us with one gripping story. A tale of adventure, duplicity and gentility. Why does an otherwise respectable lady have a pair of sedan chair bearers hidden in her spare bedroom? Why was the middle aged usurer brandishing an axe? Can a gangster’s moll be accepted into polite society? Answer these questions and more as Tallis Steelyard ventures unwillingly into the seedy world of respectable ladies who love of sedan chair racing.
As a reviewer commented, “I find there’s nothing better on a cold wet day, than to sit indoors, near a warm fire/radiator, with a hot coffee, some biscuits/cake and one of Jim Webster’s books. So that’s what I’ve done today, with this particular book.
I find the plots intriguing, the characters endearing (even the ‘bad/evil’ ones) and the storytelling style relaxing.
The various threads in the stories are always neatly tied up and the endings invariably satisfactory.”