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      culture Ronan McKenzie 13 July, 2015

      why young londoners are moving to lisbon

      As the capital gets to grips with another five-years of Conservative governing, the city's young creatives are coming to terms with the fact that they're slowly being priced out of the gentrified areas they used to occupy. Along with packing up their belongings and abandoning the country's so-called creative hub, they're also shedding the limelight on opportunities outside of the Big Smoke. One of those opportunities is Lisbon. The combination of affordable living, a rapidly-evolving music and art scene and, of course, the blazing sunshine make it an attractive option to our young photographers, designers, artists and musicians. We speak to five Londoners who've taken the plunge and moved to Lisbon.

      Ronan McKenzie, 20, photographer

      Why are you moving out of London?
      I've lived in London my whole life and I think I'm just ready for a change. I decided not to go to college so I figured I might as well take every opportunity that comes my way and the opportunity to move to Lisbon popped up, so I thought 'why not?'

      Is there anything you'll miss about London?
      Loads. I love London, it's my home and it's the only place that I truly know. I'll miss seeing tourists with their backpacks on their front, being able to buy five massive tomatoes, two onions, a tin of chickpeas and fresh chillies for like 50p from the Indian grocery shop at the bottom of my road, I'll miss the advantage of being tall and not having to faceplant someone's armpit on the tube and probably most of all, I'll miss being around so many different types of people all the time.

      Why Lisbon?
      Lisbon has so many things that London doesn't; it has amazing weather, a generally calm and chilled vibe to it and when it's a nice day, you'll actually be able to enjoy open spaces because they won't be crammed full of middle aged men with red faces.

      If young Londoners weren't in the political and financial situation we are currently in, would you stay?
      To be honest I think I'd probably still take this opportunity to go. But it doesn't help that even though I still live at home in London, everything seems insanely expensive and so many people expect you to be able to work for free. And although most people think it, I don't think it's just because of the conservatives because there have and always will be political issues no matter who is in power.

      How can we change that situation?
      For starters, minimum wage should actually be enough to live in London. I started working when I was 16 in a shoe shop in Westfield's and I was only getting £4.45p/h which, yeah I get it, I was 16, but you're still giving your time and providing a service. Then when I went on to work in another retail store in central London, full timers were only paid £7.50 p/h which only adds up to around £1100 after tax which is absolutely nuts. Almost everyone I know that works in London - in all different types of jobs - are just working to pay rent and I think that's the main issue. Hardly anyone can afford to enjoy life or to work on side projects that they're really interested in.

      What are your hopes for your future in Lisbon?
      I want to do the same that I'm doing here really, I want to continue exploring my photography and work. And I want to experience living in another country, and hopefully learn Portuguese quite well. I'll be back and forth to London a lot so hopefully my work can transition and I'll be exposed to things that I haven't been here.

      What's the best thing about being young in 2015?
      For the most part, you have the freedom to do whatever you want to do. You can travel to different countries for next to nothing (as long as you're happy to slum it on Ryanair) and there are hardly any boundaries. You can just do and be whatever you want to be. 

      Bruno Deodato, 24, musician

      Why are you moving out of London?
      Portugal is my home, and I feel that I need to go to some place that I can be comfortable in many basic aspects of my life. It's been a really great four years, but it's time to move out.

      Is there anything you'll miss about London?
      Yes definitely, all the cultural aspects of it.

      Why Lisbon?
      I'm from Porto, and I really didn't want to go back to the same city I grew up, so Lisbon was a easy choice for me, a new city for me, a new beginning I guess.

      If young Londoners weren't in the political and financial situation we are currently in, would you stay?
      I guess not, this is a personal decision, not because of political and financial problems that are currently happening, but of course that counted for my leaving as well in some way.

      How can we change that situation?
      I believe this has always happened, especially in the "art world." It's always a struggle in big cities, we just have to keep it up and fight like always, together.

      What are your hopes for your future in Lisbon?
      The same hopes I had in London: just keep working on my stuff and supporting what I believe.

      What's the best thing about being young in 2015?
      We are more aware of everything around us and everything is unlimited.

      Diogo Rodrigues, 24, sculptor/tattooist/illustrator

      Why are you moving out of London?
      I moved to London three years ago, and out of those three years, I spent two working in a shop until I just couldn't take it anymore and decided to work on my own stuff. I managed to survive in London without a proper job for a few months, but maintaining myself in London is just too expensive. So why not do what I'm doing and spend less then half of what I'm spending in London?

      Is there anything you'll miss about London?
      Sure, I have loads of friends that are still living in London and I'll miss them a lot.

      Why Lisbon?
      First of all, I'm Portuguese and I've always loved Lisbon. There's such a great vibe all the time and everyone is really chill. In the past year or so when I've been visiting more frequently, every time I've visited I love it more and more. Also, there's a new "thing" going on in Lisbon and you can feel that more things (in the artistic field) are starting to happen in Lisbon.

      If young Londoners weren't in the political and financial situation we are currently in, would you stay?
      If the rent and the cost of living wasn't as expensive it would be harder to leave, but Lisbon has just the perfect environment for young creatives. I had quite a nice apartment and I was happy with my life in London, until I realized that I could be doing the same in a sunny city and saving myself hundreds of pounds each month.

      How can we change that situation?
      London has stopped being attractive to young creative people. It's hard to get an internship and when you do you're just someone's slave with bills to pay. It's hard to get out of the working in the retail/café/bar type circle of jobs to start working on your own thing, and its even harder to enter the creative circle without knowing the correct people or being someone's bitch.

      What are your hopes for your future in Lisbon?
      Continue working on my illustrations and taking a step forwards in my tattoo work. Maybe open my own business and have some space and time to work on sculptures.

      What's the best thing about being young in 2015?
      Endless possibilities; being able to start again if you want to and constantly redefining yourself. 

      Catarina, 21, filmmaker

      Why are you moving out of London?
      I feel like London has come to a point where it simply became extremely hard to focus on your own work, money-wise. The city itself allows you to get inspired by all sorts of sources and environments although it is really hard to balance being able to pay your rent and work on your projects.

      Is there anything you'll miss about London?
      London has given me the best years of my life so there's hardly anything I will not miss.

      Why Lisbon?
      Lisbon is quickly becoming a great cultural environment to be involved in. Music and art-wise, it's evolving pretty fast. It allows you to develop professionally without having to worry about the numbers on you bank account.

      If young Londoners weren't in the political and financial situation we are currently in, would you stay?
      Definitely, London has taught me a lot and being able to continue that learning process without having my creative thinking shaped by the struggle would be a bonus.

      How can we change that situation?
      This election has left a lot of people disappointed, me included. Although, I believe it truly became an eye opener. We are growing more aware of the fact that there are 8 million people in London and that if we stand together, we can actually change something.

      What are your hopes for your future in Lisbon?
      Even when I move to Lisbon, I will constantly be in London working on commissioned projects which will allow me to get the best of both cities. However by being based in Lisbon, I hope that my work won't be framed or moulded by any sort of negativity.

      What's the best thing about being young in 2015?
      The sense of endless potential and possibilities that the internet provides us and the perception of non existing boundaries.

      Tiago Rodrigues, 28, artist/musician

      Why are you moving out of London?
      Sometimes you feel that you don't belong to a place anymore, or maybe you never did. The city is too intense, the expectations are always too high and the results too little - also because of the weather.

      Is there anything you'll miss about London?
      Friends.

      Why Lisbon?
      Mostly because of the weather, but also because of the vibe of the city. I feel relaxed there; there's absolutely no rush.

      If young Londoners weren't in the political and financial situation we are currently in, would you stay?
      I don't believe so.

      How can we change that situation?
      Make London into a giant theme park.

      What are your hopes for your future in Lisbon?
      I want to produce a lot, I have a love of projects and ideas right now and I need to make them happen in Lisbon.

      What's the best thing about being young in 2015?
      Your physical presence doesn't matter anymore; you don't need to be in a place to be in contact with someone. You define what your existence is going to be like. 

      Credits

      Photography Ronan McKenzie

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      Topics:culture, photography, london, lisbon, ronan mckenzie

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