London. You either love it, or you hate it.
I have seen people thrive in the world of London and move heaven to Earth to be able to stay in this crazy city. I have also seen people move over and feel like they have lost a little bit of their soul or have possibly sold a kidney in order to pay their rent.
In 2014 I moved to the UK from Australia. Before this, I had never travelled further than New Zealand from Australia (about a 4 hour flight) and had zero experience with travelling. Growing up my family would go on road trips for holidays, but we never travelled anywhere that required a flight. The first time I actually flew was the age of 12 from Adelaide to Sydney to play in a sports tournament. I grew up in a middle class family in the country and travelling was never hot on my parents list of things to spend money on.
I remember my trip to New Zealand with a friend to celebrate finishing University. Here I met people who were from Europe living and working in New Zealand. Some were simply travelling and had been for 4-6 months. I literally did not even know this was a thing you could do, and I was immediately interested. I remember questioning to myself, ‘how do I do that’.
Returning from my trip to New Zealand, I could not stop thinking about the possibility of living in a different country. I took to some research and realised that travelling and living in the UK was a relatively easy option for Aussies. I spoke about the plan to move to the UK for some time, until a ‘fed up’ moment at work and life made me submit for my visa and book my one way flight.
I moved to the UK in January 2014, and now in November 2019 I can not believe it has almost been six years! It turned out my fathers Dutch roots meant I could apply and successfully received a Netherlands passport. This meant I could stay in the UK and Europe forever, if I wanted.
Throwing it forward to 2019, of those six years in the UK, I have been in London for at least five. There are parts of the city I still have yet to explore or visit, but for the most part...I think I am quite content with what I have experienced.
So in case you are wondering why I am still booting about in London, I have put together my top 5 reasons why I will always love London. I probably could have done ten, but I think you will get the gist from the five I have mentioned.
1. The people. I would happily debate over this, but I think it is safe to say that you will not meet so many interesting people in your life in one place. There is such a mix of culture in London which I love. Everyone is welcome (for the most part, Brexit...urgh), and how people end up in London is always a fascinating story. It is a place where people come and go and because of this are always welcoming to new faces and are often very generous to help if you need it. Most will leave to go back to their native country, or move out of London to buy a house where life is cheaper and the pace is slower. I have never met so many people with jobs I did not even know existed, never mind are relocated to London to work. Most of my friends have Chandler (from Friends) jobs. I have no clue what they do, nor do I care because they are just amazing people. I officially have friends from all over the globe, and one day look forward to visiting them all back in their native home land.
2. The seasons. This is a love/hate relationship for me. Unlike Australia, most of Europe and especially the UK have distinct weather seasons. Summer you could say is a little short for my liking and certainly doesn’t get as hot as Australia, but you do get the lead up with a lengthy Spring. You will have the beautiful Autumn time with leaves everywhere and the progression into cooler mornings and evenings. Winter will soon approach and be cold enough that you need to wear multiple layers of clothing and invest in a beanie, gloves and appropriate footwear. It is nice to experience seasons as they are described. In the Southern Hemisphere it tends to be a rather extended summer and spring with a short and not ‘that’ cold winter. My downfall here is although there are seasons, with that comes the winter darkness. For a good 3-4 months it is waking up to darkness and leaving work in darkness. It gets old, quick.
3. Architecture. London is beautiful. I just love Westminster palace, Big Ben and Tower Bridge. Every time I see these three attractions I have a little smile to myself. For my 26th birthday, Kris brought me a London Pass and we went around to as many attractions and buildings as possible. I loved that day. Tower Bridge is my top recommendation for tourism in London. I could also stare at Big Ben for hours (except he’s currently getting a makeover for the next few years so does not look so pretty at the moment).
4. Entertainment. There is always.something.to.do.
London is full of entertainment; from bottomless brunch, to concerts, to pop ups and weekend getaways. It is endless. I enjoy meeting people who have just moved to London. I forget how busy I kept myself when I first moved over trying to do everything every weekend. There are free things to do, some things cost money, but nevertheless there is something quite literally for everyone. The city is so big that it will take you years to visit every part of London and attend all the experiences possible. Speak to anyone who has lived in London, I am sure they will be able to reel off many of their favourite things to do and see during their time in this insane city.
Ice-skaing at Somerset House between November-December.
5. Saved the best for last. Easy Travel. The reason that the thought of leaving London is most painful. The luxury of whipping off for the weekend to Europe and spending 7 days away and visiting numerous countries is the best. I love it. You can return time and time again to your favourite cities without digging a huge hole in your savings. Flight prices at times can be a steal (my best yet was £9 from Luxembourg to London), and sometimes less than a steal if you don’t plan in advance. I never envisioned visiting so many countries and having so many stories. Each place is different from it’s neighbor and I love the fun of understanding each city and countries little quirks and differences. The best experience from traveling is what you can take away from it. Understanding different culture behaviors, seeing poverty with your own eyes and realizing there is more in the world than just you. It makes you look at the bigger picture of life.
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Living in London has certainly improved my ability to save money and realize that there is not just one way to travel. Anything is possible with however little or much money you have. Sure, you need some money, but the best and most memorable holidays are spent in hostels or Airbnb’s, where you get lost and have to figure out where you are. There is always something wonderful about being blown away by a country you never expected to as well.
If you want to live in luxury, London probably is not for you. But, that all depends on how much money you earn or your ability to adapt.
Share with us your top 5 things that you love about London. Whether you lived there or visited.