By Rachel Hagan
This seaside city is progressive, arty and just 50 miles from London — commuting distance.
Brighton and Hove is split into three parliamentary constituencies: Hove, Brighton Pavilion and Brighton Kemptown. Pavilion is an environmental trailblazer: in 2010 it elected Caroline Lucas as the UK’s first and only Green Party MP. Lucas held her seat in the UK general election in December, winning 57 per cent of the vote with a manifesto that included a national pledge to build 100,000 zero-carbon homes for social rent each year.
The city council has a strong environmental flavour too: it has a £500,000 fund to finance green projects.
Brighton won the title “best place to start a small business in the UK” in both 2016 and 2018. The pros and cons of 63 UK towns and cities were assessed by business awards organiser Informi. Brighton scored highly for business density and digital connectivity, with 453 businesses per 10,000 people and 91 per cent ultrafast broadband coverage. The first Body Shop store opened in Brighton in 1976, and the business has expanded to just under 3,000 stores globally today.
The city is brimming with arts and culture, from music, street art and comedy to dance and theatre. It also hosts festivals, notably the Brighton Festival, which bills itself as the “biggest and most established annual multi-arts festival in England”. Held each May, previous guest directors include sculptor Anish Kapoor, actor Vanessa Redgrave and visual artist David Shrigley. Brighton Fringe, also held in May, showcases new talent. Year-round venues include the multi-art Brighton Dome, the 19th-century Theatre Royal and comedy space Komedia.
Brighton is badged the UK’s unofficial LGBTQ+ capital, with a much higher rate of same-sex partnerships than elsewhere in the UK. The city’s Pride parade celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Former headliners include Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue and Grace Jones. The Rainbow Chorus is a non-audition LGBT choir which holds performances in St George’s Church in Kemptown, dubbed Brighton’s “gay village”, while Piers and Queers is a 90-minute walking tour covering 200 years of LGBTQ+ history in the city.
Brighton offers London leavers the ability to live by the sea. Analysis of data by Knight Frank shows 6,100 people left the capital for Brighton in 2018, second only to Scotland and Birmingham, while a quarter of those working outside Brighton have jobs in London. For those thinking of making the move, a three-bedroom house in the Grade II-listed Wykeham Terrace is on the market for offers over £1m.
Fast trains reach London Victoria in 55 minutes and London Bridge in 65 minutes. For those wanting to fly abroad, the train journey from Brighton to Gatwick airport takes 23 minutes.
Photographs: Getty; AFP via Getty; Body Shop; Alamy, Dreamstime; Irene Todaro