Leaving London: Why I love to hate this city


London, Personal / Monday, November 27th, 2017

Last week I got promoted and handed my notice into my London job within the same 24 hours. This type of thing would only happen to me. ‘Ironic’ by Alanis Morissette is revolving round and round in my head, and I’m sweating at the fact I’m leaving the company I have worked for for the past 3 and a half years and don’t currently have a job to go to – but I’m also pretty excited. No, I’m not going completely mad – honest – the reason I’m leaving is that I’m moving to Australia!

The long and short of it is that my boyfriend has been offered a role in Sydney, and in true 50s wife style I’m heading over with him. *OK, let’s just be clear here that I am actually a strong, independent woman who don’t need no man but just happens to have one and also jumped at the chance of living in the sun for a few years. I will be spending the next few months desperately seeking employment (anyone know of any jobs going in Sydney hit me up plz ?).

It has all happened so quickly and I’ve not even really had time to process this information yet – but here I am prepping my Christmas body and spending money I don’t have, with less than 3 weeks left in London before making the big move. Eek!

The reality has only just hit that leaving London means leaving behind somewhere I have built up a life in for the past 4 years – somewhere I’d now say is my home. But as much as I love it, it hasn’t been an easy journey – there have been plenty of times where I’ve found it so hard I’ve wanted to give it all up and run back to my mum’s house in Glasgow and cry and eat eternal amounts of biscuits (why do mums always have tins full of biscuits in their cupboards as a rule of thumb, though?). With every thing I love and will miss about London, there’s definitely something I probably hate more – and I think every Londoner (whether born or bred or migrated) can relate to this too. Here are some things I love to hate about London:

I’m always poor

OK let’s start with the most obvious one. London ain’t cheap. And you’ll know from reading my very first blog about being skint in London that I haven’t handled that particularly well over the past 4 years. From trying to make new friends and not be a complete hermit, I spent my first few years here committing to social events I couldn’t afford, paying for silly rounds of gin and tonics at £12 a pop as standard, and racking up a pretty impressive (and soul destroying) credit card bill. That and the fact that the cost of rent for a room in a mediocre flat in London is the equivalent of a castle back home is really not ideal for a person with a very average salary. (See my blog on renting in London for some more in-depth renting anecdotes.)

For the past year I’ve been trying to make up for my mistakes by selling all of my possessions on eBay, wearing the same 2 outfits on rotation every week (not even joking) and God forbid, saying ‘no’ to things that I can’t afford to do (or missing out on meals in order to make them). But weirdly I still don’t regret that ridiculous time in my life – it helped me make new friends, caused for a lot of fun nights out, and (most importantly) inspired me to create some really good blog content. Because what is funnier than a tragic skint girl who has to choose between spending her last £12 on dinner or thrush cream? OK probably a lot of things…

The tube ruins lives

The most horrendous thing in London that none of us can live without. From watching people waiting for the gates to close fully before scanning their Oyster card (YOU DON’T NEED TO WAIT GOD DAMNIT), to cramming like sardines into the trains on the Northern line and having your head in someone’s armpit for 30 minutes – the tube definitely makes us Londoners’ lives considerably worse. But then there’s something quite unique about it at the same time – perhaps it’s the joy of listening to tube drivers point individual people out on the intercom for leaning on the doors, or filming some angry person on Snapchat at 7am who’s shouting at someone for being “in their bubble”, or even when you are so drunk you fall asleep on the night tube and wake up in Morden not knowing who you are or how you got there. Let’s face it – without the tube, we’d all be even angrier from driving through London traffic, and there’d definitely be less funny stories to tell our work mates after the morning commute.

Thursday = Friday

Everyone in London loves a Thursday night drink. It’s the rule that all City workers follow to let loose after a hard week. This can be fun, but sometimes there’s only so much of cocky men in suits drinking pints you can handle. Not to mention getting so drunk you forget you’re with work colleagues, saying inappropriate things that you can never take back, and waking up in bed (when you actually make it home from Morden) fully clothed with your shoes and make up still on at 7am on a Friday, ready to start a full day of work with a raging hangover. Enough said.

Nobody understands me

As a Scot in London, I’m not exaggerating when I say I have barely gone a day of my life during my 4 years here without someone making fun of my accent. And that’s when they can even understand me. To every person I speak to on the phone, my name is Keith. I have to repeat myself so many times that I find myself caving and just putting on a London accent for random words to get myself through conversations. But there’s a bright side to everything – you can say words like ‘jobby’ and they’ll think you mean ‘task’ (in Glasgow it means poo, so that never fails to amuse me). I suppose I’m always going to have to deal with this problem – as long as I’m living somewhere that isn’t Scotland. I’d better get practising the Aussie accent.

It’s almost impossible to leave

I know plenty of people who planned to move to London for a ‘6-month internship’ and are still here 8 years later; it’s the type of place that pulls you in and makes it extremely difficult for you to leave.

London may bring expensive nights out, unaffordable rent, unbearable crowds and often obnoxious people – and let’s not forget fully-grown adults wearing suits and riding scooters; I will NEVER understand that – but these are far outweighed by the amazing friends you can make, the endless things to do and places to visit, and just the undeniable buzz in the air wherever you go.

I may love to hate London, but I certainly will be sad to leave. And for the next 3 weeks you will find me cramming in as many places on my London bucket list as physically and financially possible (and probably crying at “my last brunch” or “my last drink” or “the last time I publicly embarrass myself” in London – you get the drift).

It definitely won’t be goodbye London – more see you later. Let’s end with a photo of me when I first moved to the big smoke, fresh faced and positive for the years ahead (with absolutely no idea I was about to ruin my credit rating forever). xox

For more information about me, my writing, or how to get by on £11.72 a week in London without dying, get in touch at hello@katebrown.blog.

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