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8 things No One Tells You About Living In London

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

The past 12 months have been the ultimate whirlwind.


This time last year I was living in a London house-share with my cousins and working in a law firm. Now I work from home in a Northamptonshire village freelancing in online marketing and sales and spend most days in a headscarf and jogging bottoms.

I could never have predicted it.


I spent pretty much the whole year living in a village with my boyfriend, yet continued paying rent for my (expensive) bedroom in London the ENTIRE time. I wasn't ready to let go just because the pandemic told me to. I didn't feel ready to give up my late night tube rides, the hustle, bustle and excitement of living with a group of girls, the spontaneous "Let's go to Bottomless Brunch", the adult only museum events, the canal-side day drinking, the messy Happy Hours.


But it's been a year.

Me and my boyfriend has survived living together through a pandemic, my job doesn't require me to live in London, it's refreshing to not be in the bottomless pit of my overdraft, and honestly it's time to take that step.


Feels crazy to say it out loud.

But that's what inspired me to write this blog. I've been reflecting a lot on what it's been like living in London. The good, bad, ugly and the freaking hilarious! I first moved there in 2012, and in that time I've moved back home and moved abroad, but London kept pulling me back like the gravitational pull of the sun.


There's something about that city that only people who had lived there will ever truly understand. You all have this knowing "acceptance" of London life, and it's pretty hilarious and ridiculous the things that you get used to.


So near, yet so far...

There's a reason that Londoners have a bad rep for being anti-social. It's because they ARE! (In comparison to pretty much the rest of the country) When I was living in my home town of Leicester, if I passed someone in the street, I'd say hello. I always regarded it as polite. In London, saying hello to strangers is often responded to with a look of horror or suspicion. I remember my first few months in London watching people have to be physically closer to strangers than I'd ever seen in my life, yet mentally it was like they didn't exist. People would be squashed into a tube carriage like sardines, pushed up against someones armpit, and they would just pretend that person wasn't there. It was fascinating to watch at first, but it didn't take long until my involuntary "hellos" stopped and soon I was also in a little world of my own, pretending my face wasn't buried into someones backpack.


You'll move house A LOT

OK, I can't speak for everyone here, but moving house in London is just something that it is difficult to avoid. Contracts end, friends move into or out of the city, housemates get boyfriends, rent prices sky rocket, landlords sell their properties. Unless you're one of the lucky ones who find your perfect spot from day one, it's just this constant cycle of "Where shall I move to next?" Over the years, I've lived in Tottenham, Croydon, Wembley, Wood Green, Streatham and I've slept on way more sofas that I care to remember. With each house, comes a new set of housemates. Some will be friends, some will be strangers who become friends, and others will be strangers who remain that way. You will learn to cope with living in just about any co-sharing environment and that is a life skill that not many have the opportunity to develop. Embrace it.


People will point blank ignore you or lie to get rid of you

London is a very contradictory city, in some ways it's exciting because you never know who you're going to meet! I once spent an entire tube ride sleeping on a strangers shoulder and it was wonderful (pre-covid of course). But being in London, there are times that you are completely invisible, and it some ways it's incredible. You can wear what you want, be who you want and people won't even give you a second look. I once saw a man dressed as a giant balloon walking down Oxford Street with a sandwich and most people didn't even notice him. But other times, you just crave human connection, you're dying for someone to comment on the weather and you just want somebody to look up from their phone and make eye contact. I remember one time my phone had died (this is the WORST in London) and I needed directions from the station. People pretended not to see me and somebody actually sent me in the wrong direction just to get rid of me.


Discount codes are a MUST

I don't think I know anybody who hasn't been broke or teetering on the of financial ruin whilst living in London. It is an expensive city, and unless you're pretty high or up or have a specialist job, the wage doesn't often leave much disposable cash at your fingertips. So bargains are a MUST. Every time I would eat out, drink out or make any form of plan, I would download apps and get my hands on discount codes. We would arrive at the club at 10pm and wait until 1am for the night to get going just so that we could get free entry and a watered down bottle of vodka. Paying full price was frowned upon in most of my circles.



You will walk A LOT

One thing I never had to worry about when living in London was "getting my steps in". There is SO MUCH walking involved in day to day life to get anywhere. I was never fortunate enough to live right next to a tube station, so walking to the station every day was the norm. Some places I lived I'd hop on a bus for a couple of stops if it was raining, but for the most part, it was walking. Then the "impatient Londoner" gets the better of you, and you no longer have the ability to stand still on an escalator - it becomes such a waste of time to not be in motion. An hour journey door to door means 20 minutes on public transport and the rest of the time walking to different platforms, to stations and across the city through crowds of people. As soon as lockdown happened, it was a shock to system and I had to really adjust to going for walks for the sake of going for a walk instead of in order to get somewhere. It was a fascinating concept to me...


You’ll meet up with people more outside of London than in London

There will be people that you know from all walks of life that live in the big smoke. Friends from my times working abroad, people I'd met through auditioning, friends I grew up with, people I'd made friends with online, old housemates, work colleagues, old uni friends. But here's the thing, you'll hardly ever see them and bumping into them is one of the rarest occurrences on earth. I have spent years saying to people "we really need to catch up" and not seeing them until we both happen to be in a completely different city or abroad.


Colleagues make great drinking buddies

I have had a lot of jobs in London. So many that probably only a third of them make it onto my already very long CV. Each new job presents an opportunity to make new friends, and new friends means after-work-drinking-buddies and an epic crew for work Christmas parties. I've stayed friends with people from pretty much every job I've had and there's something about work colleagues turned friends that just get you on a whole different level. After work drinks will always be a thing, even if you no longer work together.



The memories you will make are outrageous

I don't even know where to start with some of the crazy heightened life experiences I've had in this amazing city. One time we had a work party at Hamley's and we were allowed on the roof, which was stunning in itself, then a few of us snuck off and went through the shop at night with no customers and danced around the Barbie section living our biggest childhood fantasy. Another time, me and a couple friends spent a summer afternoon drinking Cider and watching the hundreds of people doing the naked bike ride as it made its way across Waterloo Bridge. I've spent evenings at Museum Lates dancing to live house DJ's in the 1800's Gallery and Silent Discos under the rocket exhibition. I've eaten my way through Camden Market more times than I care to admit. I hosted and performed at the Spice Girls Pre-Show party in Box Park, I did a speed-dating baking class, and when I didn't meet anybody I liked, ate nearly an entire cake on the tube ride home. I've sat down to eat a huge meal in China Town at 3am after way too many nights out.


It’s freaking WILD!

Living the London life often feels like a movie.


Sometimes you just cannot believe that it's real life.


It's an absolute rollercoaster of a city and I'm so grateful that I've had the opportunity to experience that wild ride. But the city is currently sleeping, and my lifestyle has changed completely.

So if there was ever a good time to close the chapter, it's now.

Of course I'll be back to visit and make up for all the adventures I've missed over the past year.


But for now, it's all about focusing on new beginnings and stepping into this next phase of my life.


Thank you London for being London, and never failing to keep me on my toes (especially financially), I'll miss you...

Sherilyn x


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