Employment outside of London...


New Member
Good evening fellow designers :)

As the title states I am currently looking to leave the Big Smoke after 4 years grafting in-house and agencies...
I am looking for a fresh start somewhere away from the rat-race that may also (heaven knows) allow me to stow a few pennies away each month (?)

I'm currently looking into agencies in Bristol and Manchester - cities I have loved visiting and absolutely could see myself living in.
There are some great businesses out there (which I plan to attempt to get in touch with) but in terms of live job adverts they seem very few and far between.

For those who have made the jump from working in London to either of these cities:
I'd love to know how you landed the next job? Especially with next to no contacts in a new city?
What's the permanent vs. freelance scene in Bristol and Manchester?
Why did you feel London was no longer for you?

Thanks :)

Paul Murray

Ultimate Member
I can't really answer you questions exactly as I've never worked in London (and never wanted to) but I have lived and worked in Manchester my entire life. There's a lot of agencies up here, it seems like every nook and cranny has a creative agency of some form down an alleyway or in an old converted mill. This is especially true in the more hip areas like the Northern Quarter, though a lot of companies are moving out of this area due to skyhigh rent. If you miss London, the NQ is the place to buy a £14 pizza :)

I've been freelancing my entire career and recently it seems a lot of studios are favouring employment over freelancers now. That's not to say they don't still have a need for contract workers, many studios rely on them, but it seems from speaking to past clients and contacts that the paradigm has shifted. I know a couple of people who took jobs for studios they were freelancing for on a regular basis, and I even had a client offer the same to me. Maybe this will change again with us leaving the EU if companies don't want to commit to paying salaries. GDPR requirements also cut off a lot of freelancers, as many larger studios now only use limited companies for liability reasons. Personally, it's not worth it financially for me to be a limited company to work work for one studio, maybe it's different for you.

Reaslistically, unlesss your work is very niche or sought after, or your portfolio is outstanding, you're going to want some form of contact or offer prior to moving. Another option is to look for a London agency that also has offices in Manchester and/or Bristol and look to transfer to another location further down the line.

Personally I wouldn't recommend living directly in the city centre as it's very expensive. Even the areas just outside of Manchester are compartively a lot cheaper than London and the South but if you go just slightly father afield, you can get much more for you money whilst still having pretty good access to the city centre via public transport. My rent, bills etc for a 2 bedroom house outside of Manchester are about £700 a month. I know people who are paying that much or more in rent just for a studio apartment in the city centre. Other larger towns such as Bolton and Wigan are growing and many studios are actually moving out of the city centre into these cheaper areas whilst still maintaining their city centre clients, so it might be worth looking at some of those areas to see what studios are hiring.