If you haven’t stumbled across the term DFL by now, you’re probably not living in Kent.
It stands for Down From London and is the token term given to a person who’s moved out of the city to live in southern England.
Stephen Snow who would like to shield his identity
The phrase has been banded around somewhat carelessly for at least 10 years, featuring in many a newspaper column and popping up in pub chats.
And while most people using it may not intend to cause offence, one former London resident says he believes it’s an insult.
Stephen Snow, who left north London to live in Deal 26 years ago, has even gone as far as to say he thinks it’s racist.
The 72-year-old discovered the town by chance while holidaying in his campervan during the 1990s and decided to make a permanent move.
And while he has no intention of returning to his roots, he feels there is a culture in Deal that people think differently of him because of where he’s from.
Stephen Snow is offended when people use the term DFL
He told KentOnline: “I moved here 26 years ago and I’m still referred to as a DFL. It just seems to be the culture.
“It’s an insult and I take it personally, when actually those that move here bring a lot with them.
“You constantly hear on the media about people being abused in the street for their colour or religion.
“What about people like myself?
“It would be considered racist which is what I think it is…”
“If somebody came to you with a derogatory remark about their ethnicity and where they are from, say from Ukraine, there would be outrage.
“It would be considered racist which is what I think it is. It’s just yet to be tested by any law maker or keeper.”
He continued: “I’ve been personally accused of all sorts of things because I’m from London; taking away doctors from local people, pushing up the house prices.
“I tell them they’re dictated by the people selling them, not buying them.”
A 2013 article in The Times, centred on the rise in people moving to coastal towns, was already labelling it as derogatory.
Carol Lewis wrote: “Down From London is a derogatory term used by those living outside London to describe incomers who bring city ways to their new home town.”
Mr Snow says he has brought a lot to the area and wants to fit in.
He is the CEO of Sparton-Warrior, founded seven years ago. It is a not for profit organisation offering support to ex and serving service men, military and blue light employees, suffering from PTSD.
The worst place for comments is on social media, he finds, where people are quick to pass derogatory remarks similar to trolling.
He said: “I’m trying to support and fit in, but there’s this element that people want to push me to one side. It frustrates me.”
Julie Wassmer is not offended by the term DFL if used in the right context
EastEnders script writer and author Julie Wassmer made the move from London to Whitstable with her husband in 1999.
She says she isn’t offended by the phrase DFL when used in the right context, and freely uses it in her writing.
She said: “I moved to Whitstable from London 22 years ago so I’ve heard the term DFL many times – but I’ve also used it myself.
“Like “grockle” used in Devon and Cornwall and “guiri” used in Spain for tourists, it neatly defines most visitors to my adopted home.
“Whether it’s derogatory or not is all down to context.”
Julie Wasser (left) uses ‘DFL’ in her writing. Pictured here with actress Kerry Godliman at Whitstable Harbour. Picture: Mark Bourdillon Acorn TV
She believes towns such as Whitstable and Deal benefit from the blend of people now living there.
She said: “Whitstable is famed for its oysters.
“Historically, this was always a “native” oyster fished offshore but in recent years a non-native invasive species, the Pacific rock oyster, has been farmed locally on an industrial scale and has escaped its containment on the foreshore to threaten the balance of our local marine ecology.
“In my Whitstable Pearl crime books and the TV series based on them, I’ve used this as an analogy for the fine balance that always needs to be maintained between locals and outsiders like myself.
“Visitors in the form of DFLs provide an important stimulus to Whitstable’s local economy.
Julie Wassmer left London in 1999 and has embraced coastal life, pictured here with oyster fisherman Andy Riches
“Drawn to our town’s intrinsic charm, exampled by our local independent shops rather than a ‘cloned’ high street full of chain stores, outsiders have helped us to maintain this.
“But a rush of DFLs buying up holiday homes has also raised property prices so that a generation of local families can no longer afford to remain in their home town.
“Ultimately, like the invasive non-native Pacific rock oyster, we DFLs need to be kept in check or the term will not be descriptive – it will be an insult – and one we may rightly deserve.”
Canon Seth Cooper moved from London to Walmer in 2005. Picture: Alan Langley
The Rev Canon Seth Cooper moved from West London to Walmer, a parish of Deal, in 2005.
Born in Tottenham and raised in Islington, he was previously a team vicar in Uxbridge and curate in Golders Green.
He, too, is not offended by the DFL term but sympathises with those may have encountered hostility because of it.
“As long as it’s not being used in a derogatory way,” he responded.
“With any language, it needs to be used in the right context.”
The Rev’d Canon Seth Cooper considers whether the term ‘DFL’ should “fade away”. Picture: Alan Langley
He says his congregations in Kent include many people who have moved from London as well as other areas of the world.
He highlighted that the town has always been welcoming of people from other areas of the country, such as miners to Kent’s collieries and Royal Marines who served at the former Deal Barracks.
While he is proud to be a born and bred Londoner and doesn’t hide that from people, he considers whether the phrase will become outdated.
He said: “In the same way calling someone from the United States a ‘Yank’ – that feels like something we shouldn’t be doing.
“Maybe the phrase DFL needs to fade away and the benefits and positives of having a diverse community, wherever people come and wherever they are, need to be uplifted.”