London is well known for being perhaps the most international city in the world. At last count it was the sixth ‘city’ of French citizens, with up to 400,000 French citizens living in London. Similarly, there are over 100,000 Italians living in London. Traditionally many Italians have been working in the hospitality sector, even though in recent decades the share of professionals, such as bankers has grown considerably.
Initial data, published by the FT, seems to suggest that 700,000 foreigners have left London since the outbreak of Covid-19, most of them from the hospitality sector. London is an expensive city to live in, not famous for its weather, and with shops and restaurants closed for most of the last 12 months, its attractions for foreigners have faded big time. Even the ones that still have a job but are WFH, whose kids are LFH are increasingly looking at spending more time back on the continent in the absence of having to report to work or school physically.
The big question is if and when these expats will come back to London once the Covid-19 crisis subdues?
It is safe to believe that once conditions permit, school attendance will return to normal. But what of colleges and universities? And offices? The working from home mode if it persists can change the dynamics of the job markets and of our big cities in ways that are still difficult to fully appreciate.