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What is living in London really like?

by Anton Black 2 years ago in europe
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Living in London is like playing roulette. There are those who win big, and those who struggle to catch a break. Either way, there is always someone waiting to take your place.

What is living in London really like?
Photo by Diego Martinez on Unsplash

When you first move to London, Ignorance is bliss.

Living in London is a blast. You've made some new friends at work, you now know the area where you live, and you spend most weekends out with your camera, exploring all the hidden London treasures that you didn't even know existed. London nightlife is great (at least before the pandemic). What shocks you is the numbers on the receipts that come out of your pockets in the next morning.

The average round in London. lol

You tell yourself that when you earn a top London wage, splashing out is fine. For the first time in 5 months, you check your bank account, and discover that, dispite earning more, you have less money than when you were at home. But, no panic! All you have to do is cut back on the party and that should be the end of your money problems.

The commute isn't as fun as you once thought. You've been kicked into, prodded and pushed on more than one occasion. Perhaps, you have just been unlucky to be standing next to some rude people.

Monetary moment of clarity finally arrives.

Another month's rent has just come out (even if the shower is still to be fixed), and then it hits you 'I'm. So. Poor'. But you don't understand why; OK, so moving into a zone 1 flat in a building with a gym and concierge may not have been the smartest idea financially, but you don't have other expenses—only food. And drink. And the oyster card. And, of course, clothes. Spotify. Phone bill. Electricity bill. Water bill. Council tax... Sh...t.

I need to pay my Netflix subscription.

OK so you're poor, so what! Well, you haven't actually done anything fun for a few weeks, but you'll get round to it. There are loads of cool free things to do anyway.

London is still great! What's that? No Northern line all weekend. FOR F*** SAKE AGAIN!?!

By Gary Butterfield on Unsplash

Kids, The Party is over!

You have finally got that you are not a city banker. The only bonus you'll be getting is a Nandos. You've moved to a distant zone 3/4.

Whilst the move has saved you a ton of money, your commute has been extended from three stops to fifteen and your relationship with London transports has taken a turn for the worse;

Your relationship with the tube is at a breaking point.

Is this reality or just depression?

You are a single drone among many. You wake up at 7 am every morning and force yourself to leave the house; you sit on the bus and (praying that no one sits on the seat next to you) wonder why it is so grey all the time. You join the crowds at the nearest station and squeeze yourself onto the carriage. You make every effort not to have any eye contact with anyone which may imply you are available for conversation.

By Christopher Rusev on Unsplash

Your job is kind of boring, a feeling which is multiplied exponentially when you realise how average your pay is and how it brings you no fulfilment.

Of the things you promised yourself you would do when you moved to London... None!

You haven't been to any , festivals, museums, historic buildings, visitor attractions or parties, because any free time you have is spent chilling in self-pity in front of your laptop.

You have made a few friends. Well done you! but they are all on the other side of the city. It takes more than an hour by tube to go to see them. You realise how ridiculous it is that it takes 1 hour to travel 10 miles.


Living in London is an incredible experience. The messiest, exciting, best of one life. When you arrive you have the curiosity for the unknown;

London is where you can pick your adventure, and live many different lives; however, one is non-questionable: you'll live on the edge of experience. No matter good or bad, it's all intensified. London steals, and breaks, and overwhelms your heart.

London is a strange place. You can buy sushi and sandwiches at the chemist, and takeaway coffee at the supermarket. It's lively and chaotic; a broad mix of culture and almost ten million people, yet it can be a lonely place. London is a deliberate contradiction. Bustling, beautiful and impossibly infectious.

Life is transient here. You're continually welcoming, bonding and letting go. People are coming and going all the time

By Luke Tanis on Unsplash

It's possible to love and hate London with equal intensity. Some days, you're invincible. Because you're here, living your dream. Other days, you want to jump off the edge of the world: frustrated, perplexed. But tomorrow, you'll awake, prepared to continue.

Eventually, you begin to put things in order. You find your flow. People at your favourite coffee spots become familiar faces. And when you return from a weekend away, you have a clear sense of coming back 'home.'


About the author

Anton Black

I write about politics, society and the city where I live: London in the UK.

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