The next installment of our series on living in Liverpool city centre looks at one resident’s experiences of up the ups and downs of city centre living – and why he moved back out to the suburbs.

I’ve just moved from the commercial district in the city centre off Old Hall Street to near to Lark Lane, Aigburth.

I was originally attracted to town by proximity to my job as I was commuting into the city centre by bus from Aigburth and subsequently Childwall Fiveways.

I was also attracted by the proximity to museums, attractions and things to do. I moved into the city centre when I was in my early 20’s following graduation, it would fair to say that nightlife and eradicating the need for taxis also played its part in my decision.

I was incredibly fortunate to be residing in a uniquely designed apartment, which was extremely individual in its layout. We had some pretty memorable parties and some very good times and met lovely neighbours.

What also attracted me to living in town was the peace and quiet, particularly at evenings and weekend as we lived in the business district. And transport links are unsurprisingly excellent by all modes – staggering home from nights out rather than joining the scrum for a late-night taxi was an obvious benefit.

For Christmas shopping, living in town was again a godsend. I would often do mine in short one or two-hour bursts, where I could escape the thronging crowds when it all becomes too much.

There were quite a few strange experience during out time in the city centre. Henry “The Fonz” Winkler was living in the building next door for a period – I spotted him in Old Hall Street Sainsbury’s.

However, the lack of a big supermarket in the city centre – Hanover Street Tesco excepted – often meant that I was shopping for groceries in Locals or Metros, neither of which are stocked or equipped for weekly shops, this often resulted in shopping by availability of product rather than choice of product.

The proximity to Liverpool One and surrounding shops was something I saw as a massive negative; it was something which was quite hard to escape and avoid when you are living so close. I find the whole development incredibly sterile, imposing, soulless and desperately sad.

The delivery of retail floor space is anything but identikit, however the businesses which occupy Liverpool One couldn’t be considered as anything else.

Additionally, parking was a nightmare for any visitors and would cost £1 per half an hour between 8am–6pm. I don’t drive myself but I can certainly say that the lack of parking near to my home did not particularly give me any sense of urgency to learn.

When we were looking at properties in the city centre it became obvious that there is no rhyme, reason or logic as to what the quality of a property is by location or price.

I viewed properties in both the city centre and suburbs from both private landlords and letting agencies and found properties offered by letting agents were generally of a lower standard and finish for the price that they commanded.

I purposefully viewed both purpose-built modern apartments and conversions for comparative purposes. Size and finish were generally better in the more sympathetic conversions; modern apartment blocks tended to have lower ceilings and either a large living area and small bedrooms or vice-versa.

In comparison to properties viewed in the suburbs, I think it is a fair assessment to suggest that you get more space internal and external away from town.

Council tax bandings are also more in-line with property size – I have just moved from a loft style apartment to a three-bedroom house and my council tax bill has reduced considerably.

In the end the lack of green space was the defining factor for me moving out. I had a communal courtyard which I could have used within my apartment block. However, this was used primarily as a bin store rather than an area to relax.

Image by Peter Goodbody

  • James

    Sorry to see you go, Tom. From the description of the central courtyard, I’m guessing you were at Albany? I gather things are changing there now with the new managing agent, and about time as it’s a great building.

    You are so right about the price not reflecting quality – some flats are indeed shoddy with no deduction from the price… and in fact some of the flats in better buildings can be far more reasonable.

    Outdoor space – I love the waterfront and long walks, and certainly being able to get on a train for a few mins for a long walk at multiple locations, I personally wouldn’t swap for anything, but yes it is a concrete environment generally – I’m not sure I could relax in the L1 garden either!

  • Tom M

    James,

    Just next door in Bereys Building actually! Had read some horror stories about weekend lets in the Echo there, also saw some of the calibre of short-term renters arriving 1st hand.
    Bereys also had real problems with short-term weekend lets, doors being booted in, general loutish anti-social behaviour. Fortunately this was nipped in the bud and things returned to normal fairly swiftly.

    Also loved walking along the waterfront myself, spent many a happy hour there. New waterfront development with the new museum and canal link look great, even though there isn’t a blade of grass anywhere near!

  • James

    Unfortunately I do know of a few people (both here and in Manchester) that have suffered problems through short term lets (or ‘serviced apartments’ as they are known). Thankfully my building hasn’t had any of that type of carry on – it’s forbidden in the lease (so if any readers are thinking of buying a flat, that kind of stipulation is a good thing to look for).

    Of course, a managing agent who is on your side is essential and whether short term lets are against the lease or not, a good one will help people clamp down on noise, etc – with it soon being more trouble than its worth for the people renting it out 😉

    I think Liverpool is ahead of the curve here, as I gather the city are now licensing self contained serviced apartments blocks (which is way better all round than having them mixed with residential), as well as I believe introducing a ‘minimum stay’ law which should get rid of the louts!