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A long history and a bright future draw millions—tourists and residents alike—to the UK’s largest city. But living in London is not always easy, writes Amar Mistry.
Text by: Amar Mistry
Country: England

ith the Queen, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace, London is the crown jewel of the UK. Boasting a population of over 8 million, spanning an area of 600 square miles and regularly hosting world events, including the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this world capital draws waves of people flocking to put down roots.

It has the oldest tube (subway) system and a developing skyline. With many opportunities for work and study, London attracts people from across the world. Those jobs come with higher salaries than any other part of the UK, and the many corporate headquarters make the city an attractive career destination. After work, Londoners have their choice of art, culture, sport, cuisine, and nightlife.

On the flipside, London has a high cost of living, complaints of congestion, overcrowding, and even a loss of a sense of community.

I lived and worked in London for almost two years before leaving for a different job outside of the city, but I still visit often.

I found myself in London for my first real “career”, selling sponsorship for pharmaceutical events. The lifestyle was great at first: very social with multiple options during the evenings and on the weekends. Eating different foods, visiting museums and galleries, and even the occasional music gig kept me busy.

People visited for events, for shows, and even before flights to other countries. I thought being surrounded by so many in a similar situation was brilliant and I made some really great friends.

Raj from West London moved to London last year because “there are more opportunities to do different things in London, better job opportunities and pay, and I wanted to live the fast life with the hustle and bustle.”

Jess echoed these sentiments:

“I moved to London for better job opportunities, more like-minded people and more cuisines to try. I also was looking for love and London is the only place that could offer me a mix of them all. I can honestly say London has helped me find them all.”

It isn’t all glamorous and perfect in London, though. During my time there, I shared a flat with five other rooms, two bathrooms, and just one shower.

The walls were very thin, and when another tenant was on a different schedule, this could really affect my routine. Students or shift workers who came in at different times could mean a disturbed night’s sleep, which was far from ideal if you were under pressure at work.

Callum, now living in Aberdeen, says the commute and cost led him to leave London.

“I found the commute was taking its toll, and the cost of living—particularly rental prices—was not ideal. The lack of countryside and reasonable golf courses and long working hours just added up. I moved away to be closer to friends and family.”

Amongst my friends, family and colleagues who lived in London, the average time spent commuting is about an hour. Barely anybody is lucky enough to be able to walk to work, and taking the bus, tube, or driving (a very expensive option) can run the risk of traffic delays.

Overcrowding on public transport can also be an issue. At peak times on some lines, riders squash into carriages and would-be passengers on the platform may have to wait for several tubes before they’re able to board. Not a great way to start or end a hard day’s work.

Vicky moved to Bristol and is changing the direction of her career.

“I just wasn’t enjoying work and didn’t have anything tying me to London. I just took the jump and I always know there is an option to return if I want to,” she said. “I’m now studying to get qualified whilst working part time. Who knows what may come up in the future?”

Some people have never lived in London and don’t particularly want to.

Simon studied in Sheffield before returning to his hometown of Rugby to live and work:

“I never considered London. I wouldn’t have been able to get to where I am now if I had. Everything is too expensive and the increase in wages wouldn’t make up for it.”

With a stable job, great work-life balance and family, Simon has things that many Londoners his age would envy.

London is exciting and complex. The city is steeped in history and fraught with inequality, with some boroughs in London underdeveloped, neglected, and infamous for their crime rates. Some people adore the 24-hour pace and love the crowds. Others value their free space and the lures of the countryside.

London is an expensive city and juggling life in the capital can be a struggle. However, if the timing, lifestyle, and ambition are right, it is the ideal place to live.

Info box

Population: 8,615,246

Area: 606.95 square miles

Famous landmarks: London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge London accounts for 22% of the UK’s GDP.

Famous London figures: Queen Elizabeth II, Boris Johnson, Simon Cowell, David Beckham



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The Lure of London

London is the crown jewel of the UK, with the Queen, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace. It has the oldest subway system in the world and a developing skyline. And it attracts people from across the world with its many opportunities for work and study.

Unfortunately, it also has a high cost of living, complaints of congestion, overcrowding, and even a loss of a sense of community. “I lived and worked in London for almost two years before I left for a different job outside of the city”, says Amar.

People love London because it has good job opportunities and better pay and there are many things to do there such as great art, culture, sport, cuisine, and nightlife. But not everything is glamorous in London.

When I lived there I had to share a flat with five other rooms, two bathrooms and just one shower. The walls were very thin and you could hear everything. Overcrowding on public transport can also be an issue. And the high cost of living is driving some people to move away, writes Amar.

Some people never want to live in London. Simon from Rugby has a stable job, great work-life balance, and a family, which he thinks would be difficult to have at his age if he lived in London.

London is exciting and complex, it has a lot of history but can also be very expensive. If the time is right, however, it can be an ideal place to live!



 

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The Lure of London

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The Lure of London

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