Whenever I visit a city I always ask myself the same question: Would I want to live there?
I peer into real estate agents windows and look at places I could conceivably think of living. What districts are there? What would I like around me to make me and my life feel comfortable? Where’s the nearest park and news agents?
Well this week I’m in Liverpool, England, and the answer is most certainly yes – I could live here. Liverpool is a truly livable city. It’s an interesting city in so many ways. I’d even argue outside of London, (which isn’t actually an English city anymore) it’s the most interesting city in England. A rich history. Economic wealth, decline, hardship and re-emergence. Liverpool has seen it all.
I was asked recently after a speech about Place Branding at The Heseltine Institute in the city, what word I would use to describe Liverpool. It’s a very good question for any city – in fact for any brand. Top of mind thinking. What one word would I choose? Well my word for Liverpool is character. Liverpool has character by the bucket load. Character in terms of it’s genuinely rich sense of humour, warmth and ability not to take oneself over seriously – attributes I subscribe to. But also importantly character in terms of grit and determination. When things get tough, to stick with it. See things through. It’s these that have helped the city of Liverpool to come through many tough times.
We hear a lot about the creative class nowadays as well as the creative city. Well in my view Liverpool has three key components to attract the creative class and achieve a renaissance as a global city (Liverpool was Britain’s most global city for most of the period when Britain had an empire. Liverpool was both a global influencer as well as globally influenced). Firstly Liverpool is a city with edge. You feel it from the buildings, the streets and the bars, the restaurants and clubs. You feel it in the people all around you. It’s a big city, with big city confidence but at the same time friendly and very walkable. It’s actually difficult to get lost, partly because you have a river to guide you (another key component in any city I would consider a potential home is water).
The second thing Liverpool offers right at the moment is value. Because of the change in the cities economic fortunes it’s a very affordable place to live and work. This is important as the creative class tends to move to areas that offer decent costs for building start up businesses as well as offering interesting accommodation. Warehouses, older factories and dock areas. For me Liverpool has some of the same components as a New York in the late 60s early 70s or a Berlin over the past ten years.
Finally, it's a city that is tolerant. It has space for all types and an attitude that allows you to be yourself. That makes me feel very comfortable as well. It's one of the things the creative class seek out.
Character, edge, value and tolerance. For me that's a pretty good list.
Liverpool? I’m truly UP about Liverpool.
P.S. We love Liverpool so much that this weekend we brought 21 eleven year old boys from the small town of Sigtuna, Sweden (just outside of Stockholm) to Liverpool for a football experience. It’s part of our charitable work called Growing UP. UP members get involved with projects aimed at kids that we support with our time, effort and where needed sponsorship.
The boys visiting Liverpool played two matches against boys of the same age and also got to see Liverpool FC play West Bromwich Albion at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-1. A wonderful experience!
More on that trip at: