You may have seen my earlier #FridayFive post about the five things I missed most about living in London. If you read my blog while I lived in London, you’ll know that alongside it being the best year of my life, I did complain about it quite a bit. There were a few things that annoyed me about London and so I thought I’d post the opposite side to what I miss about London.
Don’t get me wrong, London is an amazing city and there is always so much to do and the opportunities there are amazing. However, I no longer feel jealous when I see people living in London or visiting the city. I feel like I’ve completed London. There are still things that I didn’t get around to doing on my London Bucket List, but for the most part, I saw and did every thing I set out to do.
I have a feeling I’ll end up in London in the future, and probably settle to live and work there in my thirties. But for now? I want to travel further afield. London was amazing, but it’s not going anywhere just yet. It will (hopefully) still be there when I come back in my late twenties. I’ve been content with my feelings of not returning to London so soon, but just this week I’ve started to pine for the city again. Being able to go to Burnt Toast in Brixton for brunch, wandering around Chelsea on the weekend, cocktails in Southwark, going to a West End show every single week and even my old bedroom in my shared house. I miss it all and a little part of me is contemplating with going back to London after I graduate (if my Plan A doesn’t work out first).
But here are the top five things that I don’t miss about living in London.
1. Paying rent
I’m sure you’ve heard all about the rent prices in London and how extortionate they are. But you don’t really know the extremities until you live there. I’ve been completely open about my rent situation when I lived in London. I lived in a house-share of five girls in Mitcham, just outside Wimbledon in South West London.
My postcode was Croydon and I was a 30 minute drive from Oxford Street and a 40 minute drive from Gatwick Airport. I know this because I once drunkenly took a £50 black cab from Soho to my house (note the word ‘once’). And I used to get Ubers to and from the airport which also used to be in the £40 price range. I justified it with my large suitcases, early flight times and the size of the gap getting off the train at Clapham Junction.
Anyhow, for my en-suite double room (which was always extremely warm, very spacious and came with a TV) in a terraced five bed house in a Mitcham housing estate, I paid £750 per month (bills included). I’ll give you a moment to recover from the shock. Little 20 year old me, an intern, paying almost £1,000 per month to live and work in London when my wages were roughly the same amount.
2. The anonymity
The population of London is 8.1 million. The population of Liverpool is 0.5 million and the population of Lurgan (my hometown) is around 23,000. Culture shock? What do you think? There’s so many people in London, it’s crazy. And with tourists flooding the city every single day, there must be at least 10 million people in the city at one time.
It was very easy to float through London and be whoever you wanted to be. You could wear what you wanted, go outside without makeup on, not give a damn about what anybody thought and just be you. That part was great, but I also missed seeing familiar faces.
Walking down any street in Lurgan, I would bump into someone that I knew. Always. It’s such a homely feeling. London couldn’t have been more opposite. I never knew anyone on the tube or trains, never ran into anyone familiar or spoke to anyone in public. At least at home, people don’t walk around with earphones in or have their faces constantly in their phones or just generally avoiding any chance of eye contact.
London was too anonymous for me. It was quite liberating to walk around with no makeup on some days, as I used to be one of those people that wouldn’t even take the bins out without makeup on. But I like when things, people and places are familiar. Liverpool is the perfect place for this. It’s small enough that you can bump into people in the same bars, shops and restaurants but even that doesn’t happen too often yet it’s nice when it does. Lurgan is probably the worst for it as it’s just too familiar. You can’t breathe in the town without someone knowing.
3. Rush hour
I’m not great with large crowds at the best of times, but rush hour in London is something else. There’s no air to breathe, no room to move your arms to hold onto anything and you usually end up with your face in someone’s armpit. Good luck getting off at your stop if you end up in a seat.
I must say the frequency of tubes/trains/trams in London is the best thing about the city. When I go back home to Lurgan where the trains come every 30 minutes, it makes you appreciate London transport a lot more. Even though Southern Rail seem to not have a clue what they’re doing, I was glad to only need to take the tram to and from work every day.
One thing about rush hour that really riled me up at times was that everyone always seemed to be in a rush. All the time. No matter what time of the day it was, people were running through the streets, running in the train stations and rushing to squeeze themselves through the closing door of a tube even though there was another tube coming in two minutes. I honestly couldn’t get my head around it. Why on earth anyone feels the need to run, grunt, shove or elbow their way through tube stations in London to make the next tube is beyond me. Why doesn’t anyone have the patience to wait two minutes for the next one?! London people need a chill pill and to not rush through life.
4. Rent again
This is the one thing that puts me off going back to London most. The rent prices are just not justifiable in my eyes. I’m currently living in a gorgeous, newly built flat in Liverpool with a large bathroom, a balcony, amazing views and huge amounts of space. I also couldn’t be living any closer to the city centre as my flat is a one minute walk from Liverpool One and even less of a walk to Concert Square. My flat basically is the centre of the city. And I’m paying a lot less than I was for my room, which was 11 miles from Oxford Street and definitely didn’t have views of the city.
I just think I would have a much better quality of life somewhere that is less expensive but still has amazing job opportunities. London is one of the best places to work in PR, and at times I feel like I have to go there. Hopefully when the time comes for me to move back to London, the rent prices will have calmed down or I’ll either be earning enough to move back into a box room, in a house-share, in my thirties.
But for now, my plan is to go elsewhere and build up my experience so that I can apply for jobs such as PR Manager or even Senior Manager when I decide to come back. I think only then will it be realistic for me to live and work in London and not be spending all my wages on rent every month. Starting out on a low wage and living in London just doesn’t seem logical to me right now.
5. Being on my own
The thing I missed most when I lived in London was my social life. I missed going out in Liverpool and I was even starting to feel jealous of people going to the Burn back home in Lurgan. It did look like I was constantly drinking in London – I don’t even want to know how much prosecco I consumed – but they were all very respectful occasions. There were no pre-drinks, heading to Concert Square, staying out until 6am and waking up the next day to do it all over again. I missed my friends in Liverpool more than I ever thought I could.
It really is the people that make a place and it can be a very lonely experience when you move somewhere and don’t know anyone. I wrote a post about feeling lonely in London and also how to combat ways of feeling lonely when you live away from home. I wish I could have shipped my friends from home and Liverpool to London, because that would have made one hell of a year.
However, not even London could compare to Liverpool on a social scene level. There’s just something different about the pubs and clubs in Liverpool. The nightlife is one of the main reasons I want to leave Liverpool after graduation. If I don’t, I know I’ll end up in a Monday to Friday, 9-5 office job and be constantly living for the weekend. Although this wouldn’t be such a bad thing and it’s basically what I do now only I go to uni during the week, but I know I’ll get stuck in a rut. In second year it didn’t matter that I was going out all the time, I had started to get bored of Liverpool. Another few months here will be enough and then it will be onto the next adventure.
I just hope that wherever I end up next, I make a lot of friends and have another large social circle. I don’t think I’ll last that long otherwise.