Thinking of relocating? Some suggestions for where to move your design business

We ask designers from around the country why they think the area they live and work in is so good for creative businesses.

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Why you should move to Glasgow, by Kerr Vernon, founder KVGD

“Glasgow’s a good size for city. Not too big, not too small. Recently there’s been lots of urban regeneration with some cracking affordable studios and shared, creative spaces popping up all over the city – like The Whisky Bond where I work.

The creative Glaswegians I know are a friendly; welcoming; unpretentious bunch happy to help out, share ideas and projects. There’s also a huge pool of talented, keen individuals to collaborate with across every kind of discipline.”

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Why you should move to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, by Sarah Tempest, creative director, Sumo

“When the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art opened more than ten years ago it redefined the city – it was a signal to creative businesses like Sumo that Newcastle was on the map.

Newcastle certainly hasn’t disappointed. It’s an eclectic city that never fails to surprise, it changes daily and keeps us on our toes. For a small city it delivers big on galleries, festivals, student talent and, of course, after-work hang outs.

The lifestyle certainly keeps us creative and the infrastructure and project opportunities keep us smiling…”

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Why you should move to York, by Daniel Benneworth-Gray, designer

“The fact it’s the UK’s first UNESCO City of Media Arts? Or the great rail links to the rest of the country? The benefits of a big collaborative creative community within a small city? Two thousand years of creativity and culture? Or the 1000mb ultrafast internet that the city is getting this year?

Nope. None of that. It’s because you get to see vikings with bloody big axes walking about the place. It’s all about the vikings.”

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Why you should move to Leeds, by Michael C Place, co-founder and creative director, Build

“We (Build) just moved lock, stock and barrel from London to West Yorkshire, just outside of Leeds. Leeds is an incredibly vibrant city, with some fantastic creative initiatives keeping the city’s agencies busy.

It’s home to some great universities like Leeds Beckett who run a really progressive graphic arts course. Alongside all the things a bustling, thriving city provides are the glorious hills, dales and valleys of the Yorkshire landscape (not to mention the pies!).

We lived in London for 15 years – it’s where we started the studio and it will always be a special place. That said as modern life evolves so will the creative landscape of the North. People wanting the best of both worlds (work and play) will figure out that you don’t have to be in London to run a creative business and lead a fulfilled life outside of work.”

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Why you should move to Cardiff, by Paul Thurston, head of service design, PDR

“Creative businesses in Cardiff benefit from; great talent, the highest quality of life in the UK, sea air, a world-renowned film and TV industry, international airport, beautiful mountain views but most of all a progressive government that backs the creative industries.

At PDR we see this the impact of this through investment in new infrastructure for the BBC, multi-million pound funding programmes for healthcare innovation, right up to how design thinking is used to formulate policy at a national level.”

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Why you should move to Suffolk, by Erika Clegg, co-founder, Spring

“Suffolk’s amazing quality of light and glorious coastline have always lured creative people.  The region has a fantastic cultural offer and Arts Council England is now part-funding a project to raise the profile of the East as a cultural destination.

Suffolk allows Spring’s staff to enjoy a good quality of life. (Even if we do get roped into the occasional tourism photoshoot – see above!) It’s easy for Springers to cycle into work in Southwold, even from many miles away; their families have a wonderful place to live, the region’s food and drink are really good, and everyone’s creative spirit is nurtured by this spectacular environment.

It’s practical, too. We’re just a hop and a skip from London, and also intrinsically linked with the continent. Being here supports Spring’s position as an international business – we’re as close to Amsterdam as London, and it shows in the people and place.”

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Why you should move to Surrey, by Sam Farrow, founder, Farrow Creative

“Professionally and commercially, Surrey is ideal because we’re easily accessible to our London clients, but able to offer out-of-town rates to local businesses, too. There’s also a thriving entrepreneurial culture, focused on the University’s Technology Centre and new 5G Innovation Centre.

Plus, Surrey is serious about culture. There’s the Lightbox at Woking, and The Bellerby Theatre at G Live, named after former Mayor of Guildford Doreen Bellerby, who spent 40 years fighting for what she believed was best for the borough.”

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Why you should move to Manchester, by Dave Simpson, creative director and partner, Music

“It’s a great quality of life here, we’re used to the space and the pace. Good work and good opportunities always come our way. World beating brands such as Google are based here, as are adventurous start-ups. And although the competition is incredibly strong in Manchester, we’ve found it’s undeniably easier to stand out.

London doesn’t define talent and some people just don’t want to gravitate there. And we also find that people with families who want to escape London come back to Manchester and seek out the most interesting places to work.  The combined experience of our team enables us to offer a great dynamic skill set to our clients.” 

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Why you should move to Brighton, by Tasha Harrison, co-director, Harrison Agency

Brighton likes to do things differently. That’s why it’s a good place for a creative business to be. George IV (Prince Regent) set the tone for our free-thinking city over 200 years ago when he commissioned the Royal Pavilion so here’s a poem in the spirit of George IV:

You might think you’ve got Brighton sussed 

A town built on weekends of lust 

With hipsters and greens 

Mods, rockers and queens 

The odd bit of new agey crust 

Yet bold ideas are key to this place: 

Its royal palace once deemed a disgrace 

But a prince with a vision 

Ignored all derision 

The result? An iconic ace 

This city gets under your nails 

Its freedom puts wind in your sails 

Be creative, be a freak 

Brighton loves what’s unique 

By contrast elsewhere simply pales.’

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Why you should move to London, by Georgia Fendley, executive creative director, Construct

“Construct was founded 10 years ago in London and has thrived reflecting the benign climate of creativity and economic opportunity London enjoys. I shouldn’t say this but it’s not difficult to launch and run a successful creative business in London. Sure costs are high but the dynamism and economic energy provide a positive counter balance. Seven years ago I moved out of London and while I considered the options carefully it was clear that Construct needed to stay in London to thrive. Over the last 10 years we have seen some of our best creative talent poached by Silicon Valley, some of our team with justifiable concerns about work/life balance up sticks for the provinces but there has never been any doubt for me – Construct’s a product of the city in which it was founded and will always keep its HQ in the heart of London.”


Do you think your area is the best in the UK for creative industries? Let us know in the comments section below.

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