North vs south UK divide infographic

Is the North-South divide real? UK millennials put it to the test!

Published: 19/10/2021
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Among all polarising subjects, the North-South divide has got to be way up there for those who live in the UK! Are you team bap or team bun? Is it dinner or tea? And is there more to the divide than just geographical location?

To get to the bottom of this, we polled 2,000 millennials on their hobbies and spending habits. Surprise - the truth’s a little more complicated, and a lot more strange than you’d imagine! According to our data, there are more ravers in Yorkshire than there are in London, the Welsh may be the fittest people in the UK, and folks from the Midlands would rather cook at home than head to a curry house! 

Check out our weirdest findings below, and discover how your home region does in our tests!

Who are the biggest party animals? Hint: it’s not Londoners!

Yorkshire is cooler than London

When you think of London, you probably imagine lavish Made in Chelsea-esque parties, late night raves and long nights out on the town... So imagine our shock when we found out that it’s actually full of house-proud home bodies!

That’s right, almost 60% of millennial Londoners described themselves as geri-lennial (a millennial that’s old before their time) - that’s more than any other region in the country! To our surprise, and to the surprise of Emmerdale fans, we found that Yorkshire has the least geri-lennials of all. Who knew the Dales would be the UK’s party central?!

So what explains this nation-wide premature aging? It might have to do with how obsessed with homeware London millennials are! According to our data, 58% of Londoners would rather spend money on a new rug or accessories for their home than on a night out with their friends. They were also the most likely to comb through social media for home decorating tips, get excited about buying new furniture and feel content with their home.

It’s good that they feel so happy with their home improvements - they cost an awful lot!

As well as those sky-high property prices, millennials living in London spend around £133 a month on new things for their home, which is almost twice the national average. In contrast, South Westerners spend the least on new décor, perhaps because they’re off out enjoying the best of the British surf!

Looking for a romantic holiday? Try Norfolk

Looking for a romantic holiday? Try Norfolk

The other stereotype about London is that it’s lonely, and our data shows this to be closer to the truth: Only 37% of millennials from London wanted to cuddle up with their partner on the sofa, take them on a date, or get down to a steamy session in between the sheets, compared to a national average of 41%. 

On the other end of the scale, the UK’s most romantic region is East Anglia. A whopping 67% of lovebirds living in Norfolk and Suffolk said they can’t get enough of spending time with their partner. Move over Paris, Norwich is now the city of love!

Hard liquor is out, hardbacks are in

Hard liquor is out, hardbacks are in

Despite their love for instant treats like expensive coffee, geri-lennialism might be making millennials more frugal. Welsh millennials spend the most on leisure, but at £186 a month, that’s still less than half of what people aged 50-64 spend

And as much as we might believe that younger generations enjoy spending all their free time partying, almost no one we asked said they wanted to spend money at a nightclub. In the North West, millennials would rather give their money to charity than go clubbing (8% versus a measly 1%). That’s despite the North West being the biggest music lovers (25% listen to music in the evening). Buying vinyl records was also more popular than heading to the dance floor. It seems like even if they love dancing, millennials would rather do it at home!

Sitting down with a good book is another geri-lennial fave, and it’s no surprise that the generation raised on Harry Potter loves reading! It was comfortably in the top ten of evening activities, and buying new items to fit on their bookcases was their sixth favourite thing to spend money on. The region with the most regular readers was the South West at 23%, but overall the North just pips the South (17% to 16%).

British food is good… No, really!

British food is good… No, really!

Despite all the flak Britain gets about boiled cabbage and stodgy pies, we found that millennials are really into their food! Cooking at home, hitting a local restaurant and ringing up the takeaway were among their most popular choices, with almost a third of the millennials saying they enjoy spending their money on food the most of all.

Many of our millennials must be dab hands with their cookware because both the Midlands and the South West said they’d rather cook their own meal than eat out at a fancy restaurant. Perhaps these folks are dedicated geri-lennials - or maybe their local libraries have an incredible cookbook selection!

We uncovered another surprise when we looked at how many UK millennials enjoy buying healthy food. While we might think that the Northern diet consists mainly of pies, chips and deep-fried chocolate bars, and the Southern diet incorporates more healthier options, our data shows the opposite! People who liked spending money on healthy foods were more likely to come from the North than the South, although London is the winner overall (you can thank the avocado craze for that!)

The North is fitter than the South

The North is fitter than the South

But what about exercise, do we see the same pattern there? Well, we certainly found a lot of variety in people’s favourite workouts! Millennials from Wales are Britain’s gym bunnies: 12% wanted to use their gym equipment after work, which is 3% above the national average. Folks from Northern Ireland were most likely to ramble in a pair of walking boots, the most cyclists can be found in the North West and yoga was most popular in the North East. In total, the North is more active - although only by 0.16%!

The North might be in better shape than the South, but UK millennials would rather chill out than work out, whatever the region. All around the UK, there were way more people who would rather watch TV or slay enemies in video games than burn calories in the gym. 

But who are the biggest couch potatoes of all? From our data, we found that East Anglicans take the crown! While 24% wanted to get in some form of exercise, a whopping 71% would rather play video games or binge a box set!

North-South divide: The verdict

North-South divide: The verdict

So, while there may be some truth in a few regional myths, the North-South divide isn’t quite as rigid as it’s made out to be - at least not for millennials! Could geri-lennialism be the cause? We’ll leave you to answer that one...

Wondering if you’re caught in a behavioural time warp too? There’s only one way to find out - take the official OnBuy geri-lennial quiz! After a few simple questions, you’ll learn whether you’re still young at heart and ready to party, or a total geri-lennial who who would prefer to settle down in a set of pyjamas and slippers for the ultimate night in!

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