It’s no secret that Plymouth City Council have a serious lack of creativity and foresight. But it kind of is a secret that Plymouth has one of the best opportunities for a great quality of life in the UK. And with that, the opportunity to entice a whole new generation of work from home entrepreneurs.
Yes, Plymouth could be a digital nomad hotspot in the UK. The sea on the doorstep, a great outdoors lifestyle, an increasingly vibrant food scene and some up and coming parts of town finally coming up (after about 20 years in the making).
But, the city is missing a massive chance to bring in brains, money and sustainable long term growth. Yes, not like turning every empty building into student flats, which hasn’t really worked.
So, how could it be the work from home capital of the UK and a digital nomad hotspot for visitors to the country?
Low cost of living
With the exodus from the big cities, like Bristol and London, people are looking for more value for money for their hard work. And Plymouth offers that in droves. It’s one of the cheapest cities to live in in the UK and, crucially, it’s not quite as shit as many as the others on the list.
Yes, you can live in Burnley, Rotherham and Hartlepool for less. But then let’s be honest, who wants to live in any of those by choice? (Sorry guys)
In Plymouth you can pick up some epic digs for relatively low prices, and crucially, in a decent part of town. For anyone moving from a shitty studio in London that is priceless.
Digital nomads often flock to places where they can enjoy an Instagram worthy lifestyle. If you think of the classic digital nomad, you probably think of Bali, Thailand and probably Costa Rica. Granted, Plymouth isn’t quite any of those, but hear me out here…
When it comes to an outdoors lifestyle in the UK, Plymouth is a solid option. Close your laptop and jump in the sea, ride your bike to Dartmoor, take a bracing coastal walk, or enjoy a picnic with some of the most stunning scenery in the country. It’s easy to see how the Devon lifestyle is enviable for many. Oh and Cornwall is also lovely too…
So Plymouth doesn’t have the epic museums of many cities such as London, Bath, Oxford or Manchester. It also doesn’t have the live music scene of Brighton, Bristol or Leeds. Stay with me!
Plymouth has long had a rep as a hub of nightlife and culture in the westcountry. The Theatre Royal gets most of the best shows, big bands regularly play the Pavillions (although we don’t seem to get the really big shows still) and there is definitely a vibrant dance music scene.
The new Box museum has lifted the city’s game a little, although we’re still about 4 quality museums away from being a contender in this sector. In short, there’s plenty to do day or night.
So the title says Plymouth is missing a trick with WFH and digital nomads… What could it do better?
Well… A lot.
We did actually ask residents of the city how to improve Plymouth. Which makes for an interesting read. But when it comes to attracting outside interest, it does depend on local government and decision makers. So what can be done?
- Run a marketing campaign in London and even overseas extoling the high quality options for lifestyle choices in Plymouth
- Tempt high value entrepreneurs to relocate with either a tax discount for a period of time, offer of free wifi or discounted office space
- Work on the terrible infrastructure – ideally a rapid link to the rest of the country, or even just upgrading the public transport in the area (to be fair, this has come on leaps and bounds in recent years). One idea would be a regular and discounted or free link to Exeter airport
- Give the city a makeover – some urban art would make the grey and boxy architecture a little less gloomy, especially in highly visible areas such as the city centre and even the Barbican or RWY
- Work on retaining students after they’ve graduated with a startup grant or any other incentive to avoid people leaving as soon as they get their degree
- Encourage street performers, pop-up markets and artist hangouts in run down areas such as Stonehouse/Union Street. Investing in artists brings in other creaively minded people -just look at places like Shoreditch or Hoxton in London. There are some great initiatives around Union Street, especially from Nudge.
- Stop wasting money on useless things like those weird cycle lane bollards in Plymouth City Centre – and for the love of God, stop turning every empty building into student flats
There are also plenty of industries and businesses that could be encouraged to promote growth in the region.
These are just a few ideas to maximise the appeal of Plymouth to digital nomads and the new generation of remote workers. Got suggestions or ideas of your own? Share them in the comments below!