South west born identical twins Justin and Robbie Holt have ditched their London lifestyles and moved back to Exeter, where they say they can live life to the full and have ‘cool’ careers.
No strangers to the swanky scenes of London, Justin and Robbie have both spent time living and working in the capital city, as well as having spent stints working at summer camps in America. However, the 24-year-old entrepreneurs have now ditched their London lifestyle to head home to successful jobs in Devon’s capital city of Exeter.
Having grown up on the Jurassic Coast in Lyme Regis, the twins spent much of their youth together. They only went their separate ways when Robbie went to the University of Kent and Justin decided to study via the Open University a few years later, gaining a qualification through Yale University online.
The twins then spent several years following their chosen career paths. Both spent time living and working in London at start-up tech firms, and have equally unglamorous tales of living in small rooms, flat sharing and enjoying just one night out per month due to expensive living costs.
Justin said: “I moved up to London to follow my dream and find a fun and exciting job, meet new people and enjoy city life. The reality was not what I had imagined though. I lived in a small shared house and enjoyed a diet of tinned food. I was on a good salary really, but because of the high living costs it didn’t allow me to have a social life, I barely even covered my rent.”
Robbie added: “I came back from working at a summer camp in America and thought it was time to move to London for a position in a start-up company. London has a great start-up scene and I wanted to be part of that and get some real experience under my belt, but like Justin, the reality was a bit of a shock.
He continued: “Separately but at a similar time, we made the decision to start looking for positions closer to home and I soon got offered a job at Crowdcube. I jumped at the chance of working for a firm within a new industry, and I haven’t looked back. My life here is so much better than in London, Exeter has so much to offer and we can afford to live the life we were hoping for in London.”
Justin soon followed suit and landed himself a role at Rezcomm, the leading provider of travel and parking reservation systems based at the Exeter Science Park Centre. Justin says: “When I came across Rezcomm, I knew it was my chance to get back down to Exeter without compromising on the sort of job I wanted or future career opportunities. Rezcomm is smaller than Crowdcube, but the company has so much going for it and is a fast-paced, constantly evolving, forward thinking firm – the exact sort of thing I was looking for.”
Now both settled in their roles, the twins have just secured a lease on a city centre flat that allows them to enjoy city life at a fraction of the cost of London prices. Robbie said: “We plan to stay in our current position for a while and enjoy life here in Exeter. It’s such an exciting time to be here, there is so much going on. The city is constantly changing and there are loads of tech firms that are getting bigger and better. It’s the perfect balance.”
The young men, who both frequently visit friends in London say the idea that London is the only place to get a decent job is an illusion. Justin said: “Exeter has everything. We have the perfect jobs, a nice flat and spend our weekends enjoying the city or getting out into the beautiful countryside. There are so many cool people here. London is great, I still love it and we often visit friends there, but Exeter has so much to offer.”
Councillor Rosie Denham, lead councillor for economy and culture said: “Justin and Robbie are great advocates of our city and everything it has to offer, from business to lifestyle and the social scene. There is a general feeling amongst young professionals and university graduates that London is the only place to be if you want to have a successful career and have a great social life. Justin and Robbie prove that actually our city offers the same opportunities, and perhaps an even better lifestyle when you look at the amazing countryside that surrounds us here. Our hope is that Justin and Robbie’s voices can be heard far and wide to ensure that people don’t feel they have to move to the big city but can follow their dreams here in the south west too.”
The twins feel that their new positions will enable them to both use their natural entrepreneurial skills and to gain as much experience as possible. However, they do not rule out the possibility of one day starting their own successful tech business. Both agree that should this long-term dream become reality, an HQ in Exeter would definitely be on the cards!