I’m not shy of making it known that London isn’t my home. I don’t hold back on my podcast when I talk about London and the fact that – to be frank – I actually really don’t like the place.
So why do I live here? And why did I come back?
Well, that is a great question. I guess I thought coming back after the pandemic that things might have changed. Plus I arrived in London for the second time with a boyfriend, something I didn’t have the first time around.
But London still doesn’t feel like home, and I’m not sure that it ever will.
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History of living in London
I first moved to London in July 2017 to start my placement year during my university degree. I moved to Croydon to be near my office meaning I only had a seven minute commute.
It made sense to me at the time since I didn’t know anyone in London and I was going to be in the office five days a week (those were the days). I moved into a shared house that already had four other girls living there. You could say it was quite a mix with me being Irish and the other four girls being Asian, South African, English and Iranian.
The only shared living space in the house was the kitchen which meant we didn’t have much opportunity to mix, other than at dinner time when we would cook and then take our dinners to our rooms to eat.
If it wasn’t for my job placement that year, I can’t even imagine what I would have thought of London. My job gave me so many insane experiences during those 12 months including London Fashion Week, the BRIT Awards after party, the GQ Awards, being at the same small party as Chuck Bass (I’m still not over this) and so much more.
Being in London at that time made me realise just how much Liverpool felt like home to me.
Living in the same place for two years now
Now that I’m back in London, I’ve been here just shy of two whole years. It’s the longest I’ve lived in one place since leaving home and being at university.
Do I see myself living here for a long time? Definitely not, but I also don’t have a time-frame on my time in London or know when I will leave.
Coming back to live in London in 2021, I saw it as a quick stop-gap until the world opened up again. Yet, 23 months later, here I still am.
Once again, if it wasn’t for my job – would I still be here?
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London as a feeling
When I lived in New York, there was a feeling. When someone asks me what I loved so much about New York, I can never describe it other than to say ‘New York isn’t a place, it’s a feeling’.
The energy of New York is something I’ve never experienced anywhere else in the world. It’s an electric place with so much happening at any given moment, a place full of characters and a place that makes you want to get out and experience every inch of it every single day.
Do I get that same feeling in London? Not even close.
In the evenings after work, or on the weekends, there is no desire in me to go into London and go exploring. I know someone once said ‘If a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,’ but London doesn’t excite me anymore.
Friends are here, work is great
What is missing when it comes to London? I have so many more friends here now than when I lived here previously. I love the area where I live, and I love my job.
So what is it?
When it comes down to it, I think it’s the people and the atmosphere.
Just yesterday, I was in Starbucks collecting my order when the barista placed another drink beside mine and a young guy beside me shouted at the barista, ‘I SAID NO CREAM!’. I was honestly so taken aback, and no one said anything.
When you’re in the street going for a walk, people will push past you, roll their eyes at you if you’re walking too slow and almost run you over as they run for their tube (which comes every two minutes).
Everyone’s in a rush here and most interactions I have with people aren’t very nice. Whereas in Liverpool, at home in Ireland and in America, everyone is so nice and kind.
People in London are very much for themselves and keep to themselves. There is no sense of community here and if I had to describe London in one word, it would be ‘grey’. Both in terms of weather (most of the time) and general mood of the city.
What would make London home?
How could London feel like home? Honestly? I really don’t know.
My favourite things to do in London are to browse bookstores, eat pie and mash in the East of London and see shows on the West End.
I do mostly stick to the East side of the city which is where I live. If we go out on the weekends, we’ll head to Shoreditch or Hackney, or London Fields and walk along Regent’s Canal. It’s very rare we’ll find ourselves in Central or in the West.
I guess I’m quite lucky that I work in South West so do venture to that side of the city once a week, and pop into Central quite often for work, otherwise I’m not sure if I would ever leave East.
Why would I stay somewhere that doesn’t feel like home?
Right now, the only reason I’m still in London is because of my job. I absolutely adore my job and it’s what is keeping me in this city.
However, that doesn’t seem very sustainable, does it?
There are many things I need to think about when it comes to the future. I know London isn’t forever for me, and I really know that the outskirts of London definitely aren’t for me.
Staying in England isn’t in my future, that I know. But I don’t know where is in my future or how soon that my leaving here will happen.
There are many things to think about when it comes to relocating – where would I go and what would I do for work? Another big part of that equation is also my boyfriend.
His age and because he doesn’t have an Irish passport limits us to less places, so it’s something we need to think about and work out.
But, we both know that London isn’t home for us and it’s a matter of when and where for our future.