How living in London changed my life
If you’ve seen my Instagram post you’ll already have heard that after nearly seven years of building a life in London, hubby, Hannah and I are moving back up north to Manchester to be closer to our families.
It’s a bittersweet move – I absolutely adore London and wanted to live here ever since I was a little girl. The sights, the skyline, the buzz and the hotbed of cultures is worlds away from the quiet Welsh town where I grew up.
I made the city my home, and as corny as this sounds, I look back fondly at how much I’ve grown as person whilst living here.
Here’s how living in London changed my life:
- I grew in confidence – I still remember my first day alone in London, when I did something I’d never do – I went and ate in a restaurant by myself. But of course loneliness loves company, so I ended up chatting to a girl – also sat alone – on the next table, and we ended up sitting together.
- But I didn’t get too cocky – Then there was the first time I got an Oyster card and tube hopped meeting different friends. I felt so empowered and figured I could live with this new way of travel and not miss my car, but then I dropped my Oyster card on the way home and as it wasn’t registered, I lost £30. Lesson learned.
- I got wise – sadly London made me a but cynical too, as I ended up being conned by a stranger on the tube pretending to be in need. Though my gentle heart has struggled to learn from this as I got conned again years later by a man dressed up as a homeless woman (facepalm).
- I became (even more of) a foodie – long before I moved to London, I loved my buffets. But moving to the capital kicked this up a notch, as there was a huge abundance of halal options which went far beyond curry. From steaks to sushi, I tried it all, and blogged along the way.
- I started a business – I left the safety of a full-time corporate PR career to set up my own consultancy whilst here. And I don’t think my business would have thrived in the same way if I wasn’t in this concrete jungle. I was in the best place to network, grow and learn. I set up office near St Paul’s Cathedral, taking in world-famous landmarks whenever I popped out to get a sandwich.
- I walked like never before – In Manchester I hopped in my car for everything, but in London everywhere was within easy reach by tube or foot. And I loved this freedom and was all the fitter for it.
- I ditched my heels – and my style suffered the consequences. Hubby warned me that I won’t be able to walk in heels everyday while commuting. I stubbornly soldiered on, as I was determined not to do the skirt and trainers thing. But after weeks of sore feet, I caved in and ditched my heels for flats. But I couldn’t bring myself to wear trainers, that was a stretch too far.
So London changed me in more ways than one, and for that I’ll always be grateful.
Time to grow up
But now I have my own little girl, my priorities have shifted. After becoming a mother, I’ve realised the huge importance of having a tribe, and now fully understand the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.
Hubby and I are both from up north, so moving back at some point was always on the cards. However, the ‘some point’ always shifted as time went on. Pre-Hannah, I was too enamoured with the capital to think of moving back.
My blog thrived whilst living here. I was regularly blogging in Manchester, but it was something of a solo activity. There were never any events to attend up north, so it was largely me with my laptop and my thoughts. But in London blogging was a whole big scene.
Pre-motherhood I was attending a different event every week. This meant soaking up even more of London that I might not have otherwise seen. I ate canapés in Soho House, enjoyed a gig in a suite at the Ace Hotel, met other bloggers at the Rosewood Hotel, and had breakfast at Delauney’s.
It helped that we lived so centrally. We paid a handsome sum to live in zone 1, and while northern friends balked at what little you get for your money, I didn’t regret our choice of home. Hubby and I could walk to work, so we weren’t held hostage by the underground strikes. We had Brick Lane on our doorstep, Shoreditch around the corner and the Tower of London down the road. If we were bored, we’d hop to the Sky Garden or the Shard, something that people travel from afar to enjoy.
You might wonder, with this ode to London, whether I’m actually ready to move. But I am. Having a baby has actually made the move much easier.
Becoming a mum – the biggest life changer
All of the above which hubby and I took for granted was suddenly elusive.
Dining out is now a quick affair which results in indigestion. Evenings out are now swapped for binge watching programmes indoors. And as for all my networking, forget it. I’m back to phone and email.
But more importantly, my perspective shifted hugely after becoming a mum. Suddenly, our home, nestled in the hustle of the City, was less appealing. What was once vibrant bustle felt like noise, pollution and dirt.
My little girl developed eczema, which might have nothing to do with the fact her first home was literally in the big smoke, but I felt mum guilt nonetheless.
We moved to the suburbs of London when she was a few months old, and while the idyllic life has suited us all better, one thing was missing – family.
I’d made great friendships, but nothing replaced family. I was reminded of this every time I went up north. Hannah was so comfortable with her cousins, aunts uncles and grandparents. We could leave her for an hour. Something we couldn’t do in London. Even attending a hospital appointment with a baby in tow was a strategic nightmare, which often resulted in hubby eating into his annual leave.
Time to move
And so we decided that once the right opportunity came, we’d leave London. And so it has. The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur of finding a new place to call home, packing (read: nightmare with a toddler) and having to address my hoarder ways. No joke, I have makeup that’s about eight years old.
No doubt, once I’m settled into life up north. I’ll fall in love with my old home city all over again. After all, I always used to think of Manchester as having everything London has to offer, albeit on a smaller scale and closer together. And I’m sure we’ll be visiting London again soon.
But for now, London – you’ve been ace. So it’s not goodbye, I’ll see you later x
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About the Author
I’m not a makeup artist, chef, lifestyle guru or stylist. I’m just me. And like you, I’m trying to make the best of most things, only I’m sharing my warts-and-all thoughts along the way.