It’s worth saying now that I never envisioned myself living in London. What is for some people a city of excitement, possibility and inspiration has always been for me a source of anxiety and stress with all its crowds and dirt and busy-ness. In other words, I’m as shocked as anyone that I’ve been here for a whole year now (although, I should probably caveat that I do live in Wimbledon – not the most London-y part of London by any standards.)
In a pleasing turn of events, I have actually grown to love living here. I still don’t see myself becoming a fully fledged Londoner forever, but given that I’m in my mid-late 20s, this feels like the right place for me to be right now. This is the first time in my life I’ve had the full freedom to go out with friends and not have to worry about getting the last train home. It’s the first time I’ve really been out exploring somewhere local and been able to find a whole new world just a few streets away. And it’s the first time I’ve really felt truly independent. Not to mention, I’m loving the fact that my commute, which was once 2 and a half hours, is now just 45 minutes.
I don’t think that’s just to do with the city though. This has been a massive year of change and learnings for me, without even getting into the whole coronavirus palaver. This is the first time I’ve rented my own home, it’s the first time I’ve lived anywhere outside of Sussex and it’s the first time I’ve really felt like I’ve made a space my own.
I also moved here off the back of a three-year relationship, a relationship that took a lot out of me in terms of my energy and my health. My move to London felt like a very definite next chapter and the chance for me to prove to myself that I could do it. In many ways, I think it was something I had to do and I’m glad I did it.
Whilst everybody’s favourite neighbourhood virus has made the London experience very different from what I expected, it’s still been an experience that’s been worth having. Whilst I haven’t been able to do all the things I wanted to do (yet), it’s been so important to have a base, and a space that feels like mine.
So, like I said, whilst I don’t think I’ll be spending the rest of my life “up town”, I am excited to spend the next couple of years here exploring and growing.
In no particular order, here’s some of the things I’ve learned this year:
- Wimbledon’s not as fancy as everyone thinks (unless you go to the Village)
- Letting agents are more often than not less than useless
- As much as I want a dog, I probably can’t handle one just yet
- When it comes to convenience, driving is great but the tube is better (when it’s working)
- Londoners are actually much nicer than they’re made out to be (mostly)
- Living in London doesn’t actually make being on time for work any easier
- London can be the most lonely place, but it can also be the most social place – it’s all what you make of it
- I love a hidden cut through and London has loads of them if you know where to look
- You can actually go to the countryside just by walking to the Common
- People on the tube can actually be helpful make-up checkers
- People on the tube can also be batshit insane