From Someone Who Has Lived Here for 9 Years
I moved to London City knowing only a few people. One of my close school friends and my best friend that I’d made at Uni (and her then partner). Having lived in Bristol for four for years for Uni, I made it my goal upon graduating to gain employment in the big smoke. I was absolutely drawn to the bright lights (and nightlife!). My first job was at a publishing company, Hearst, who created around 16 magazines at the time including Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Harpers BAZAAR and Mens Health. I packed up and moved to Putney in a gorgeously spacious modern home shared with the people I knew. That first year in the big city, all responsibilities were a minefield and most of my money went on cheap wine and rent (average rental of one bedroom in a house share is £950 a month if you’re interested). If I knew then what I know now, I still wouldn’t have changed my experiences for the world.
Making A New Life
When moving to a new city, an individual would probably aspire to make as great a life as possible. Meeting new people, make new friends and most importantly have a great time during pursuit of happiness. Wealth, home ownership and success might not necessarily go hand in hand but chances are you’ll try to work as hard as you can to ascend to where you dream to be.
The upheaval of moving to a new city (without family to support you) isn’t done half heartedly so naturally you’ll want to do all you can to create magnificent opportunities and not have to rely on anyone.
Before moving, I had to ask myself. Can I cope not visiting my family every week (even every month)? Does my job provide enough to cover my rent? Am I brave enough to go out there and sell myself (not in the literal sense!). The night before I was due to move, I felt nothing but butterflies of excitement and anticipation. And that wasn’t just to party that weekend…
Armed with nothing but my new Filofax, a few clothes and an abundance of Kurt Geiger shoes (bought on discount thanks to my part time job whilst studying), I set to work unpacking my case. Excited for my first week at work (and my first full time job), I made a list of promises to myself. A guide if you will to helping me survive in London.
#1 If You Dream It You Can Do It
Apparently this is a Walt Disney quote and rings true to anyone looking to move to the City. It is daunting – crime is high, it’s massively multicultural compared to other cities and most things are pricey. Career paths are cut throat and you are expected to work hard and play hard. To thrive in the City, pay rises are kind of a must. So I made a promise to dream big and just get there. I changed my vocabulary from “I might” or “I’ll try” to “I will” and “This is how I’m going to…”.
#2 Enjoy Myself
For me London was only ever supposed to be a five year thing. My plan was to work, make memories, party and then move to New York or Paris. As ever, things don’t always pan out the way you plan (I’ve been here nearly nine years) but take the key reason for living somewhere and run with it. It was super important for me to make the most of my time in London and to really go out and enjoy myself. And I did, I do and I will continue to do so. Without joy, what’s the point in uprooting your life?
#3 Don’t Wear Busy Like A Badge of Honour
Because it’s boring and no one cares. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean being productive. I had one particular job (it lasted only two months) whereby the MD who I reported to didn’t know what a media agency did. Worrying, especially considering my entire job was media agency facing. Having an awful manager is quite similar to bad personal life management. If you’re always too ‘busy’ with tasks that are non essential or irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, it’s going to eat into your time, wasting valuable energy. Be clued up on the important things and make every moment worthwhile.
#4 The World Is Your Oyster (Card)
Even now, London seems like this huge crazy city that’s constantly evolving with plenty of new places popping up to visit. It’s like I’m forever a tourist here. It was important for me to make it a priority to get out and about. In doing so you’ll come across new experiences, new opportunities and meet all kinds of wonderful people. Breaking free of my comfort zone and saying yes to that after party (for instance) allowed me to meet and become friends with the owner of a huge luxury restaurant group, some cool photographers and even some wonderful artists. It’s amazing who you’ll bump into in Mayfair at 3am!
#5 Set A Treatment Precedence
London is full of strong characters, successful business people and artistic kinds. It’s common knowledge that by exerting authority and speaking with conviction, you gain respect and people’s trust. It’s important to set expectations on how you should be treated and not be a walk over. Be conscious of what you’re allowing.
#6 Hang Out With Like Minded People
Not to be confused with being a snob. When I look at my circle of friends, I can see common likes (and dislikes!) and a similar ambition. I enjoy the company of like minded people because I can converse better but most of all, I can trust them more. Instinct is crucial when moving to a big city. Don’t be fobbed off by the flakey people who will say they’ll make plans but don’t. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll get that promised consideration on a new job opening at someone’s firm.
#7 Remember How Far You’ve Come
It’s only after around 5 years of living in the City that I learned not to put so much pressure on myself. All through my twenties I was so desperate to be one of media’s “30 under 30” but soon realised that actually it’s all a bit of a political minefield (business, hey). When I look back over what I’ve achieved during my time here, never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be a full time blogger, a home owner and an expectant mother. Pressure on oneself can destroy chances of happiness. Just keep working towards your goal and remember it’s a journey not a finish line.
#8 Invest Wisely When The Time’s Right
Hand on heart, I spent every last penny of my income every month to the point where I’d even account for that £25 fee of being overdrawn by the 28th of each month. Coffee’s, taxi’s home from nightclubs, new clothes, you name it I’d spend on it. Now though, I’m way more sensible buying only what I love. Whilst I’d never (ever!) encourage people to get in to debt when they’re young, I do think in your twenties life is for living. At 30 it’s now that I’m squirrelling money away, paying off a mortgage and saving up for those designer pieces.
Being independent is a lifestyle, mindset and can be financially challenging. I’m especially in admiration of my independent friends who have lived in Dubai, Julia over in Abu Dhabi and my two best friends living the dream in Australia. I know so many people who rely on people for money, support and various other things. Whilst I’m not knocking it, for me I’m still only 40% able to rely on other people. I have always been (and will always be) someone who needs their own income, can guilt free shop and not have to answer to anyone when they ask me what time am I due home. I’m enormously lucky to have a partner who understands this and a family who are content in the knowledge I have made a nice life here.
Are you thinking of moving to London? Do you need any more tips on surviving this big city alone? Xx