In praise of moving and opportunity

By - Friday 13th October, 2017

We all love Croydon, but never inhibit yourself

Furniture is moved from a London home.
Photo by Mosart 81, used under Creative Commons licence.

It was said of 1950s California that it was the kind of place where everyone came from somewhere else. It was positive and made the traditional American conversation starter of “where you from?” more interesting. But more than just a conversation starter, movement means change and change creates opportunity: for those who leave, for the newcomers and for those who stay put. It worked for 1950s California and if we let it, it will work for 21st century Croydon.

Jonny Rose has recently written of his concern that Croydon homeowners might cash out from recent house price gains and that our community might thereby lose. It is not a fear I share. For starters, the costs of moving house are too large, both financially and in disruption to one’s life, for such a move to be undertaken lightly.

A one-bed flat in Croydon might equate to a small house elsewhere, maybe even elsewhere in Croydon, but as needs change, from the single life to long-term relationships and children, that may be a trade worth making. It was ever thus.

The problem is too many people don’t trade down but stay in houses that are too large for them

In any case, and contrary to instinct, if you want to trade up in property the best time to move is in a falling market (the price difference less, the choice of what is on the market more). A risen market is good for trading down (the price difference is greater so there’s a bigger ‘cash out’).

Trading down is good if it is the right thing for you. Indeed, one could argue that trading down doesn’t happen enough. As I have previously written, we have a bedroom for every person in Croydon. The problem is too many people don’t trade down but stay in houses that are too large for them.

But not everyone sees change as good. It can be seen as a threat. “Why can’t things stay the same, only just be, well, nicer, and better (especially for me)?” The reality is that change has both positive and negative effects. Weighing up the pros and cons and how to respond is part of life. The oft-forgotten truth is that doing nothing is a choice.

Forever staying where you are because a fear of the unknown is the way of stagnation

Being human, we like to think well of ourselves and for others to do so. The choice of staying where we are, of doing nothing and continuing to jog along rather than take a risk, may be the right choice, but it could also be the wrong one. Fearing change, failure, or the inability to cope are perfectly justifiable concerns, but it’s far easier to tell yourself that you would miss your friends, family and comfortable habits. You will, but forever staying where you are because a fear of the unknown is the way of stagnation.

To change our town and our own lives for the better involves taking risks. If we are to become a cultural destination, create the new Google, or even just shift the world’s perception of Croydon, then not only do we have to do much of it ourselves, we must create an environment in which such things can happen. We need movement and opportunity creation. We need risk-taking. The world isn’t going to change itself for us.

So when opportunity knocks, and if it’s not knocking you’re just not listening hard enough, decide what’s important to you, weigh up your options, and make a choice. If that choice lies here in Croydon, then well and good. But if it lies outside of Croydon then don’t let that stop you. Others will follow you to our town. Your risk is their opportunity.

Life is about choices. It’s about doing something to make things better, not leaving things as they are. If that means staying in Croydon, moving to Croydon or leaving, go for it. Carpe diem. If you choose to leave, then Croydon, and hopefully a better Croydon, will still be here when you come back.

Robert Ward

Robert Ward

Engineer and project manager specialised in helping businesses make better strategic decisions and improve safety, quality and effectiveness. Conservative Party Councillor representing Selsdon and Addington Village on Croydon Council. He tweets as @moguloilman.

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