Staying in London isn’t quite the story you might expect on a website all about moving out of London. That said I started this site so you can do your research and considering staying in London should be something you discuss – to be sure you’re making the right call to move. I asked a friend of mine to write this piece, she’s kindly shared her thoughts, not to convince you, but perhaps to open up a different idea.
I hope you enjoy it, and if you've got a story to share about your move, or your return or your plans to stay in London we'd love to hear from you.
Why I still live in London by Kate Mawley
It’s funny, I always imagined I’d end up in the countryside, with chickens, an asparagus bed and a permanent supply of homemade elderflower cordial. I hadn’t imagined living long term in London but that’s exactly what I’ve done, am still doing and am loving!
All around us our friends have slowly but surely fled the nest. I’ve lost count of the amount of ‘leaving London’ drinks things I’ve attended. I’ve drunk cocktails, laughed and cried with many friends – some of whom can’t get out quick enough, others are dragged kicking and screaming. Funnily enough it’s usually that lot who are most likely to become the ‘you must move to the country pals’ soon after, disbelieving that anyone should want to remain in London, said in that tone of voice that implies one is doing something dreadful considering actually living here.
But live here we do, and we shout loudly that we love it. Our own reasons for staying won’t be the same as yours, but as someone who went through the process of deciding to stay I’d urge you to think carefully about what you really want, not what you should want. It’s quite brave admitting to becoming urbanised when all your family live deep in the countryside of rural England but it’s better to admit it before you go than waiting until afterwards and finding it’s not quite the idyll you had in mind.
The critical things for our own decision were -
Schools – we have a great local primary school which is walking distance. The children have friends on our road and we walk everywhere we can bumping into friends along the way. The school is diverse and I love that my children’s friends come from all walks of life.
Commuting – both of us work in the City, a not very enjoyable but very straightforward 58 minute tube commute. We walk from our respective tube stations and on late nights can hop in a cab to be home even faster. I work part time and my husband is always home by 6.30 in the evening meaning he gets to join in with bedtime every night.
Culture – we know there is lots going on outside of London but we also very much enjoy all our Capital has to offer. We go to the theatre regularly and try to get to a gallery or exhibition at least once a month. The children love it and happily know about Big Ben, the Lions at Trafalgar and the Tate Modern. Also dare I say it I love eating out, pubs, restaurants, and sushi – you name it I love it and whilst it clearly isn’t a reason to stay here it’s a lovely perk!
Parks – London is a very green City, I’m sure somewhere someone has done research on how green it is compared to other cities. We know they don’t have their own garden to play in but we are surrounded by open space. We regularly visit Kew Gardens, Richmond Park and walks along the River are a Sunday staple for our family.
Free Time – We’ve always dreamt of a big garden and a big house but actually compared to our country friends we have so much free time to spend doing family stuff. We have fake grass so we don’t even have to mow the lawn (don’t tell our country friends!). It takes 10 minutes to weed the pots and then we are free to enjoy our weekends without a long list of maintenance chores.
Friends – our friends are leaving all around us. We have grown used to it but the perfect thing is we have a constant supply of invitations for weekends in their houses. We choose to stay in London, every other weekend, if at all possible but we love going to stay with other friends, all over the country. We know if we too lived in a beautiful area of England we wouldn’t be so keen to hot foot it across the county borders.
Nothing is forever – it’s critical for me this one. We live here now and we’re really happy but we know we can move at some point. I always got hung up on the school years and when is best to move but I’ve changed my views now. Whilst I’d prefer not to pull them out as they are preparing for GCSEs or whatever everything is possible so if we wake up one day and I yearn for a view, for silence and starry nights we can make a plan …..Knowing you have the freedom to change your mind is a very freeing feeling.