5 Reasons I Miss Living in London

By on July 2, 2015 in Europe, Musings, UK with 12 Comments

Why I Miss Living in London

From 2008 onwards, I lived in London for roughly 3 years.

Studying and working there in my mid-20s provided some of the funniest and best memories of my life. Rich with theatre, art, exploration and ecstasy I loved the city’s versatility as well as its wildness.

I loved its multiculturalism as well as its depth.

Sometimes I would wander down the road to Greenwich Park and marvel at its Royal Palace, the world’s timeline bisecting the very spot where I stood.

Other times, I’d stroll to my local high street and haggle with the market traders over yams and avocados – a wonderful sense of the world of travel at home.

Surrounded by friends, intoxicated by London’s welcoming sense of opportunity and freedom, I experienced so many things in the city that still make me laugh and smile to this day.

But then Central America called and I left London for adventures of a different kind, a remoter kind, a warmer kind, a more Latino kind!

I’ve always maintained that you’ve left a place at the right time if you don’t hate it by the time you’ve departed, but don’t miss it when you’re gone.

Since I left, I’ve been back to visit London numerous and always enjoy the reunion with friends and the walk down memory lane that time there affords me.

Having been part of its far-reaching community, a sense of comfort and familiarity permeates my time there.

And despite having chosen a less-career driven, more beach-heavy lifestyle, I still feel incredibly excited by the buzz of being in one the world’s leading metropolis.

But I don’t miss it, or at least I didn’t until my most recent visit there last week.

Yes, for the first time since moving out of London, I actually found myself thinking about living there again.

But why should this nature-loving, barefoot traveller being crying out for the big city all of a sudden? I had a think and came up with these, the top reasons why I miss living in London.


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#1 Theatre

Vintage

Having studied for my masters in Applied Drama at the University of London, watching, exploring, discussing, staging and analysing theatre was a massive part of my life there.

I worked freelance for theatre companies, organisations and buildings and so was surrounded by it all day.

Being involved in the arts scene in London is like nowhere else and I revelled in the ability to go and see or be involved in a few performances every week if I wanted.

From free pop up street events, to world-class productions at the Barbican, theatre in London was so accessible, so diverse and so exciting.

The chance to see cutting edge artists, people I’d read about at uni, people I’d dreamt of seeing, is one of the things about London that few other places can compete with.

Nowhere I’ve lived or visited since has even come close to paralleling its offerings and now, after 5 years away, I’m beginning to deeply miss living in London and being part of its creative collective.

 

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#2 Information and Change

Exhibition

So too with exhibitions, talks, events and workshops, which in London cover every possible topic and angle.

With so much free stuff going on in the city, from official nationally commissioned displays at the British Library, to small grassroots explorations about diaspora communities in arty warehouses, the opportunity to learn in London is everywhere.

When I lived there, I loved the fact that any day of the week I could stumble upon something new to experience, read about and discover.

And that any day of the week, this could be something alternative, written from a voice I’d never heard, a position I’d never inhabited.

With diversity, development and change at its heart, London provides an opportunity for you to grow and expand too, to take on new information, new ideas, new images and to challenge old ones at the same time.

One of the reasons I miss living in London is the way the city makes you feel as though you are up at the front, on the precipice, pushing at the boundaries of discovery and change.

 

#3 Friends

London Bikes

Of course when travelling, everyone misses their friends.

But when I miss living in London, I also miss the people I care about.

Being such a central hub within the UK, almost everyone of my friends from school and university now reside in this massive city.

That means if I want to be nearby near most people I know in the UK, London is the place. It’s the epicentre of study, experience and work opportunities; it’s the place to create your own work if you can’t find anything you like.

This draws people in and I wonder if it’s beginning to draw me back in too?

After so many years running from responsible jobs, am I being strangely attracted to this way of life again?

 

#4 Small Village, Grand City

Telephone Box

One of the major things I miss about living in London is the city’s sense of grandeur.

I can remember when I used to be on the bus home from Hackney to Lewisham.

We’d go over London Bridge and spread out before us, from the top floor window, was the whole of the Thames – the nightlights of the cultural centred Southbank glittering artistically all the way along to the stately symbols of Parliament and Big Ben.

No matter how long I lived in London, it always amazed me that this view, like something off the TV or the news, doubled as the landscape of my evening commute on a £1.20 bus fare!

But at the same time that London is iconic and grand and stately, it’s also full of quiet, little villages.

Small, unassuming hubs of community life, which make up the various postcodes of this crowded city  come together to create the rich tapestry of its identity.

Diversity is at the heart of London, its strength and its originality.

It is a beacon of our globalised 21st century world. From the beautiful little villages of Walthamstow and Crouch End in the north to the raw, gritty enclaves of Deptford and Peckham in the south, London is large city of small hamlets.

It’s the way in which these tiny pockets of normal everyday life place themselves within a map of great historical, political and global significance that creates the city’s pulsing energy.

This rich layering is one of the main reasons why I miss living in London.

 

#5 Vibrancy

Thrills

Sorry Australia, but after being Down Under for 2 years of permanent summer, I now feel something in me is crying out to once again be part of a more edgy, big, bad and ugly city energy.

Sydney is fun but it’s a bit too showy.

Melbourne is grounded but it’s too tame.

Adelaide is too clean cut and Brisbane is too staid.

No, if I’m going to live in a city again, it seems I should really go the whole way home!

Why I miss living in London is that crazed, frantic energy, that sense of being at the edge, on the edge, of being part of something, somewhere that it affords you.

London is a place where things are born and grow and die so quickly, where news is made and forgotten the next day, where friends are strangers and strangers are friends and where everything is carried along by everyone and no one at the same time.

London is created by its people, but it also seems to exist as an entity apart from them, without them even.

I miss living in a city that has almost become its own being now, a machine unto itself lumbering, throbbing, breathing hard and pulsing with electricity.

Ironically it seems, it’s actually the monster of London that  

I’ve come to miss!

So those are the reasons why I miss living in London.

I’m not saying I’m moving back tomorrow …. but it’s good to keep your options open!

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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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There Are 12 Brilliant Comments

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  1. I do love London for a long weekend. I’m not sure I could live there now though. We are considering spending a month in Brighton though which would give us plenty of opportunity to visit The Big Smoke! I love the Bethnal Green area, very hipster cool.

    • Steph says:

      Bethnal Green is fun, but my favourite area is Dalston. Although recently my friend bought a house in Walthamstow, which it turns out is also rather nice area! Brighton is great and so easy to get to London from there. I’m sure you’ll have a ball 🙂

  2. Of course you miss London it’s the best place on Earth!!! <3

  3. Yeah, I miss some of that too, especially the art scene, galleries and theatres. However, after 10 years of living there, I do think that it’s not a city to live long term. It is expensive, tiring to get around and the weather is terrible. Did I mention that it was expensive? I think that it’s nice to live there for a bit, but not your whole life.

    • Steph says:

      Agree totally Jo – I’m getting to the age now where most of my friends (at least the ones not born there) are moving on too, to buy property and settle down in less hectic cities like Bristol. I don’t think I do want to live in London again, but that doesn’t stop me missing it from time to time!!

  4. Sunny London says:

    I’m an American (Florida) expat living in London and married to a lifelong Londoner. I’m shocked you didn’t say you missed the weather! Ha!Ha! In all seriousness, I don’t find the weather too problematic. It never gets nearly as hot as Florida, and I appreciate it’s usually not as cold as New York either, as I lived there too for 10+ years.

  5. Shanti says:

    Had to give this article a read Steph as I’m thinking of moving there in a couple of months! So looking for all London info at the mo. Ps: love the description of Brisbane. Haha

    • Steph says:

      Amazing Shanti, glad the article was timely. You will have a fab time there I’m sure – it is an amazing city to experience living in 🙂

  6. Deepali says:

    So well articulated ,London stays in heart to anyone who has spent time there ,so there even when away!!

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