Living the London Life
I love living in London but if you think it is anything like movies or television you are so wrong. Many people will think about the either/or. Either you live like a character in Eastenders or you live like a character in a Richard Curtis movie.
Today I want to discuss the realities of living the so-called cosmopolitan, London life. It’s time to remove those rose-tinted glasses and see the smog.
This a topic that has been talked about to death but it is beyond true! London is unquestionably the hub of the tourist industry in the UK – sorry Edinburgh – as such it has the highest prices because the city has a demanding audience. However, there should be an I-live-here-the-entire-year-discount for those of us that aren’t tourists who have to pay £12 per drink on a night out and who can’t afford to shop in Tesco Express’ anymore because central London Tescos rack their prices up by 25%!
Rent and Accommodation
There is something about the city that encourages moving. Either you get a pay rise so you move into a larger/more expensive flat, ironically so that you can continue to feel broke. Or you move to get away from your annoying housemates only to move into another house-share with equally annoying housemates.
I am one of the few who live alone in their own flat. I pay £800 for the privilege of this and my bedroom is also my kitchen, which is also my dining room, which is also my living room, which is also my library. My bathroom is separate but I can’t cross my arms in it.
Manners and Mannerisms
In September I went to Yorkshire for a weekend. I have never met so many polite people in my life! The German taxi driver was a sweetheart and very chatty. The B&B lady called me pet, cooked me extra breakfast and made sure I was never feeling lonely whilst on holiday. The local pubs found me the best table each night for dinner, as I was holidaying on my own and every dog-owner let me make a fuss of their dogs! Even the dogs were polite!
Now in London, things aren’t quite so polite and friendly. My friend sat in a chair today (in a meeting) that had gum on the top of the armrest – who does that?! A man refused to move his bike out of the way of a train corridor, blocking me in the end carriage so that I couldn’t get to the toilets although I really needed to go. And another person tsked me when I opened the door to a McDonald’s bathroom as she was leaning against it (from the inside!)
Pleasant bunch Londoners.
Commuting and Football
I hate Arsenal. Not because of the way they play football, their manager, their owner… but because their stadium is near my house and every time they play a match I end up having a heinous travel day worthy of Howard’s day in What’s Up Doc.
And if you haven’t seen that classic – hilarious! – movie you’re missing out on life.
Ever tried to date, see friends or go to work when you live in the outer zone. And by outer zone, I mean anything outside of Zone 3 in London.
It might as well as be Mars.
This combines zones with London prices. Dating in London is like having a paid-for social life. Except it’s usually more awkward, more pricey and full of arseholes.
Each date constitutes an activity. If you, or they, are broke you can settle for a simple £3.70 pint in London. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous you might go to a comedy club or to a board game cafe.
If it’s payday, and you’re feeling confident, you might cash out on dinner.
Either way, I have a maximum of two dates per month simply because I can’t afford more than that! And if they live outside of Zone 3 I end the date early. There’s no way I am dragging myself out to Richmond and back for a date. Ever.
Payday and Waiting for Payday
As you may have guessed, living in London is expensive. I mean this seriously as well as comically.
As I write this I get paid tomorrow and it has been a 32 day month. I have £0.00 in one back- account with a -£2,000 atop it and another £24.58 in my Monzo account.
Just so I don’t freak out my parents who will undoubtedly read this – I also have a savings account with about £450 in it! But that’s an attempt to save enough to pay off at least £1,000 of my overdraft in the next few months.
Whilst I have the equivalent of a London wage, you try surviving on that when you’re single, living alone without benefits, help or partnership in London to get you through it. The easy option would be to move into a flat with flatmates, but I value my sanity over my bank balance if I’m honest.
So why do I live in London
I have many reasons for living in London. Firstly it’s where my industry is. Over 80% of publishing happens in London so this is where I need to be. Secondly, it has all of my favourite things: my best friends, theatre, history, accessibility, and passion. Thirdly… it’s this or move back home. And as much as I love my parents and my cat, I can’t live 10 minutes down the street from my secondary school and 35 minutes away (bus-wise) from the nearest train station ever again.
I’m a London girl now.