Leave London? Never

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Ex-Londoners complain that life in the capital circa 2018 is getting worse, but Kaye Holland is hooked and hopes never to leave


I’ll confess: I don’t need to live in London. That requirement expired with the rise of the digital office.

Providing I can fire up my laptop and connect to WiFi, I can make a living just as easily in Leeds or Lincoln – two cities where the living is easier than London.

Yet every time I log onto Rightmove or Zoopla and look at the properties available in East Anglia – where the relatives live – or Exeter, which my friend Heidi now calls home, a wave of my panic grips my heart.

For the fact of the matter is that I have a bad case of FOMO – not fear of missing out, rather fear or moving out.

In London there’s always something to do. You have everything you want in terms of activity and accessibility. Every week a new (independent, natch) pop up bar or restaurant is opening – little wonder then Londoners don’t know how to stay in.

The capital also offers a cornucopia of world class carnivals, museums, theatres and art galleries, plus gorgeous gardens and parks (30 percent of the capital is given over to green space so wherever you find yourself in the city, a leafy retreat isn’t far away) so it’s nigh on impossible to get bored.

My country dwelling family and friends counter that the capital gets crowded and can be costly (they’re correct – you’ll fork out £3 for a filter coffee and £4.70 to travel for a single journey from my home in Harrow, to Baker Street) but I’d argue that it gives you something you can’t put a price on: energy.

My East Anglia based cousins also claim that London is a lonely place to live, but I’ve never understood that argument. Next time you’re in town, look around: you’ll find that you’re surrounded by Londoners – aka some of the most interesting, outgoing and open people in the country.

I’m biased, of course, but in my mind Londoners are the most fascinating people on the planet. They’re people who want to participate in life, with many having come to London to escape their humdrum hometowns.

Regardless of what time of year you visit, you’ll find the Windward rush generation interacting with immigrants from India, Asian neighbourhoods juxtaposed alongside Jewish communities, and Poles working alongside Portuguese.

On any given day in the capital, I can learn a little about their cultures  – not exactly something you can do in a homogenous suburb in Middle England.

For London is not really about is blockbuster sights, world class cultural venues and top notch clubs as it is about the people you meet. London’s sheer size and its internationality ensures that no matter how quirky your tastes may be, you’ll meet like minded people without any difficulty.

If I was to – gulp – leave London, I’d also miss the fact that within a five minute walk of my flat I can tuck into into Thai, Turkish, Lebanese or Ethiopian food at any hour.

So while moving out might mean that I could afford to trade up from a two bedroom flat in Brixton to a four bedroom house in Bishops Stortford or Stevenage, the consequences – suffocation out in the sticks – wouldn’t be worth it.

And how can you be sure that towns outside of the capital aren’t a bit – how to put this  – Brexity? Living in Yorkshire and the Humber, the Midlands or the south coast (take a bow Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton et al) – all areas which voted overwhelming to leave the EU – might make my bank manager happy, but I don’t think heated political debates with people who fail to grasp that Brexit is clearly a bad idea, would be good for the soul.

All told, while the maths might indicate that I would be wise to relocate, the fact of the matter is that I wouldn’t be able to handle leaving London: I am a city girl and need a vibrant community around me.

Plus while I’m told that is now possible to get a decent Flat White outside of the M25, you can’t get a night tube, can you?

Words and pictures: Kaye Holland

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