You don’t have to live there for long, maybe just a year or two, but living in London for at least some of your young life will set you up to enjoy the rest of it even more.
Hear me out.
– Pic by Fordtography
Anyone who’s lived in London has shared certain experiences, can nod a long when anyone talks about transport issues, and laugh along when we talk about late night tubes – you join a millions-strong club of shared understanding.
London’s tough, it’s fun, it can be lonely, but still, having lived there for 7 years, and happily escaped for the last 4, here’s why living in the best city in the world, for at least a few years, will set you up to enjoy the rest.
1. From now on, life is cheaper
Once you’ve called London home for a few years most of the rest of the world – and definitely the rest of the country – seems cheap. The angry question mark on “how much?” when you’re told the price of anything in London turns into a “oo I’ll take two” as soon as you’re outside of that M25 border.
Go to Asia. You’ll lurrrve the prices there.
2. Your eventual house will seem huge
£500k for a one bed in London? Bargain. £1000 for a month’s rent on a bedsit in Central, why not?
Or, you could try one of the other 69 cities in the UK and get twice as much for half the price, or similar (not Bristol, or Brighton, but the rest of them). The cost of having a home in London is absolutely astronomical, astro-nomical. And totally unachievable. Paying the mortgage and bills on my three-bed in Southsea, just a mile from the sea, is less than the crappy room I had in Vauxhall just before I stopped living in London.
Escape the city and you’ll find houses are half price for twice as much.
3. You’ll cherish the space
Yep yep there are loads of green spaces in London, that used to be my defence too, but there are also lots of people, and lots of dogs – both desperate for a run around or a relaxing picnic, depending.
Get out of London and there’s actual space, as in, you can’t taste your fellow picnicker’s e-cig vapour with every bite of your pork pie. When the sun comes out there’s space for all.
Also, go to a restaurant and the tables aren’t on top of each other, get on a bus and it’s not totally overcrowded, walk down a street and enjoy the amble, rather than getting pushed and bashed from every direction. Space, the final frontier.
4. Your commute will seem short
I used to commute over an hour to work when I was living in London. It’d start with a ten-minute walk to St John’s Wood Underground Station, then a 20-minute Underground ride to Waterloo. Walk through Waterloo and it’d be a 30-minute ride to New Malden. Then a two-minute walk to the office. With waiting time and inevitable delays if it was too rainy / too hot / too cold, it was blaaady ridiculous.
Worth it though, if only for the fact I can now moan about it and bring out the story about ‘when I used to commute over an hour to work’. Especially seeing as now I don’t commute at all, or I commute 12 hours via plane, depends on the day really.
As my friends started to buy houses ‘in London’ (well, Croydon, Leytonstone etc) I realised that there was no central point to meet them. Living in Vauxhall I could commute over an hour to see my mates in Greenwich.
Well, where I am now, in Southsea, it’s only 90 minutes to Waterloo, and I get a house, a garden, a beach and uncrowded coffee shops. I have four cities within an hour of me, if ever I felt the need to look for work.
5. You make friends from around the world
One of the best things about living in London is the opportunity to make friends with people from all over the world.
The fact that you’ve lived in among so many different types of people – races, origin, orientation, background – generally without batting an eyelid, means that you understand that basically everyone’s all the same and you don’t need to buy in to all this racism bollocks.
Live in London and your friends come in all colours, shapes and sizes and you probably didn’t even notice.
6. Any bar will seem like quick service
Go anywhere good in London and invariably a few thousand other people will think it good too. Eradicating any possibility of ‘having a quick drink’. Other people are angry, they want drinks too, you get pushed about… but all that patience I accrued means the sheer pleasure of going to a bar in the rest of England, or world, and sailing through to get to the bar and away again in minutes is even more.
I love the idea of going to new places and trying new things, and there’s so much in London to enjoy. Of course, that’s why so many people want to live there, but, as soon as anything cool gets advertised, or makes it into Time Out, you just know it’s going to be absolutely rammoed.
Can’t be bothered with all that in my old age.
7. You can relate to the UK’s London-centric news and film
There have been campaigns before to stop making England so London-centric. When I was in London I thought they were being silly – of course the rest of the country needs to know what we’re up to?! But now, having left, I can totally see it. The media are obsessed!
More and more money is pumped into London while many of England’s cities, especially in the north, are left behind.
At least, if you’ve lived there, you fcan relate to what the TV people, news people and radio are talking about. Unlike the millions of other British people who’ve never lived there and have to sit through the drivel.
8. Visit the Capital and you’ll know where you’re going
Your London knowledge won’t ever leave you. It might get rusty, but it’s up there in the memory bank for when you need to visit again. As you travel the world, and your life, you’ll be able to recall that knowledge for a shared point of reference to chat with any one of the billions of others who’ve visited the Big Smoke in their life.
You can join in the London bashing / promo with some sense of authority.
Also, you’ll be able to find Carnaby Street / Borough Market / Camden quicker than the average.
9. You’ve been there done that
I loved living in London, I really did, at one point I thought it was forever and I still get excited when I go back now… but living there?
– all pics from Canva