Think outside the M25

<p><i>Could moving out of London be the best career decision you ever made? The Bookseller looks at the idyllic alternatives for publishing professionals</i><br />
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Most job-hunters seeking a role in publishing flock to London. Not surprising, perhaps, considering that many large publishers, particularly the trade houses, are based in the capital.</p>
<p>But with workers in London facing the highest living costs in the country, crowded public transport and a super-competitive job market, might relocating to outside the M25 be a wise choice?</p>
<p>Charlotte Wood, who works at Oxford-based Routledge, part of T&amp;F Informa, as editorial assistant for the media and cultural studies list, certainly thinks so: &ldquo;I recently moved from London to Oxford and I&rsquo;m a lot happier; I have a shorter commute, meaning my hours are better, there is a more relaxed working atmosphere and I&rsquo;ve got a great work/life balance.&rdquo;<br />
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The large academic publishing community in Oxford, which also includes Oxford University Press and Blackwell Publishing, is the UK&rsquo;s second biggest publishing centre outside the capital, and is an appealing option for those planning an urban exit. While still offering the facilities of a cosmopolitan city, Oxford&rsquo;s proximity to the countryside provides for a quieter, more relaxed lifestyle.</p>
<p><b>Broader horizons</b><br />
Other prominent publishing operations outside London include the famous names clustered in Edinburgh including Canongate and Mainstream, Cambridge University Press (CUP), John Wiley &amp; Sons in Chichester and Palgrave Macmillan in Basingstoke.</p>
<p>There is also a plethora of smaller trade publishers based all around the UK, including David &amp; Charles in Devon, Pen &amp; Sword in South Yorkshire and Tindal Street Press in Birmingham. A complete list of publishers is available in The Directory of UK and Irish BookPublishers (www.ukpublishers.net).</p>
<p><b>More bang for your buck</b><br />
The average house price in Greater London was &pound;354,529 in the three months to end-June, according to the UK House Price Data Set. And with publishing salaries notoriously low, jobs in London can mean that buying a property is out of the question.</p>
<p>Costs outside the capital for both housing and living are lower, for example, the average house price in Oxford was &pound;273,259 (23% less than in London), while there is only a small variation in regional salaries. The last salary survey conducted by Bookcareers.com, in 2004, found the average publishing salary in the Midlands was &pound;22,863, which is 5% lower than the average for central London at &pound;24,151. Wood says: &ldquo;Since I&rsquo;ve moved to Oxford I have actually been able to buy a house, which is something I could never have done in London. I also have more money to do exciting things in the evenings.&rdquo;</p>
<p>Lyndsey Fairweather, CUP co-ordinator for STM publishing, relocated out of London last year to take up her position in Cambridge and is planning a move into the city centre. She says: &ldquo;My journey to work will soon consist of a 10-minute walk. I can&rsquo;t wait!&rdquo;</p>
<p>With London&rsquo;s publishing community experiencing a daily commute on congested public transport, Fairweather&rsquo;s journey will be the envy of most, particularly those who view their lucky break as being able to secure a seat on the Tube. With a less stressful commute, Fairweather notes an improved atmosphere in the office: &ldquo;The work culture is quite different at CUP compared to my previous job; it is less aggressive and pressurised and, as a result, people are friendlier and we are a closer team.&rdquo;</p>
<p><b>Up the ladder sooner</b><br />
Many companies based outside London also offer flexible working hours throughout the year. For example, at OUP most staff are able to work a system of &ldquo;preferred hours&rdquo;, whereby they arrange starting and finishing times with their manager. Similarly, Fairweather says: &ldquo;At CUP, it&rsquo;s brilliant as our core hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then there is flexibility with the hours we work [a standard 35-hour week] either side.&rdquo;</p>
<p>The benefits are evident, but could relocation mean missing out on the big career breaks offered by the prestigious London publishers? For individuals dead set on working with high-profile authors and on big commercial titles, sticking with the main London publishers might be right, but for job-hunters willing to be more flexible and work for an academic or smaller trade list, moving outside the capital can aid career progression.</p>
<p>Wood says: &ldquo;There is a ready-made academic publishing community in Oxford which enables you to make contacts in the trade, be aware of what jobs are coming up and it also means if you were to change companies you wouldn&rsquo;t have to uproot yourself that much.&rdquo;</p>
<p>With smaller publishers it is often the case that employees are given greater variation and responsibility in their roles from an early stage, enabling faster development of skills and, hopefully, a greater possibility of promotion.</p>
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<p><span style="color: rgb(128, 0, 0);"><b>RELOCATION REWARDS</b></span></p>
<p>- Affordable homes in relation to publishing salaries<br />
- Shorter, less stressful commutes - you might even walk to the office<br />
- A better work/life balance owing to all that extra time<br />
- Friendlier, more relaxed colleagues who are less competitive<br />
- Potential for faster, easier career progression</p>
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