When we left London to move to Hertfordshire earlier this year, it must have taken me at least a month to properly feel ‘settled’. While living in London can be brilliant and bring about all sorts of amazing opportunities, there were many things about the London lifestyle that I was glad to put behind me. Yet accepting that our London life was well and truly over still took some time.
It’s no surprise really, London was my home for eight years and it honestly brought me some of the best times of my life. But since moving out of the city to settle into the leafier life of Hertfordshire, there are a bunch of things I realise I don’t miss about London and many things I no longer get wound up about anymore – which really does make me breathe a sigh of relief!
So while the title 13 things I don’t miss about Londonmakes this sound like a very negative post, rest assured, I am going to follow up with a super positive one about the many things I love about London. But as I know there will be many ex-Londoners who feel the same, let’s get this off my chest first!
13 things I don’t miss about living in London
What are the things you won’t miss when you move out of London? Feel free to tell me what you think.
1. The pollution
When we left Brixton to move to Hertfordshire, I breathed a sigh of relief. Literally.
In the last year or so, the issue of air pollution began to hit the headlines and my own borough of Lambeth was home to one of the most polluted roads in London. Every time I came back to the city after being away on my travels, I felt like I could literally feel the dirt in the air. It was time I gave my lungs a break.
2. Black snot from the tube
I know some people think it’s a myth, but black snot from the tube is a thing. Aside from feeling like I was breathing in smog on a daily basis, I used to hate having to inhale dust every time I got on the tube (and then exhale it as black snot once I got home). Gross.
3. Spit (and other gross things) on the bus
Yep, seriously. I used to get the bus quite a lot and when you know you’ve put your hand in someone’s saliva (or even grosser things) on the bus seat andthere’s a pile of leftover McDonalds / kebab / drunk man dribbling next to you, you know it’s time to get off a stop or two early. Enough is enough.
4. Queueing. For everything.
London has some of the best attractions, coolest events and some of the greatest restaurants in the world. So, queueing is pretty much an accepted part of your day when you’re a Londoner. Most of the time we Brits are good at queueing. And I guess it’s the price you pay to be in one of the coolest cities in the world. But sometimes I just tire of queueing. Especially when you’re queuing for something tedious, like getting on the bus – and then someone goes and pushes in. See next point.
5. Rude people
It’s the cliché thing that everyone outside of London says about London – ‘why would you live there, the people are so rude.’OK, so it’s not entirelytrue. Individually, most Londoners are actually really nice people. But put us in a city of 8 million other people where we’re wrestling for space and having to deal with the chaos of city life and we might get a little bit cranky now and again.
I’ve been at the receiving end of Londoner aggression and in all honesty, I’ve probably been guilty of it before, but I definitely don’t miss it.
6. Rush hour
If you don’t like queuing, you don’t like rude people and you don’t like being pushed face-to-armpit into a tiny airless space, you won’t like rush hour in London. Luckily, I managed to escape the hell of rush hour once I became a freelance journalist and you will put up with it for so long to live in a great city. But then one day you might just crack and say ‘enough is enough.’ I don’t want to smell armpits anymore. If you want my advice for how to survive living in London, I’d say get serious about meditation because the London underground at rush hour will push your patience to the limit. If you can’t face feeling like a sardine in a boiling hot tin can, perhaps the London ratrace isn’t for you.
7. The Litter
I’m going to sound like (even more of) an old granny now but I’ve lost count of how many times I used to see people drop litter in my neighbourhood when there was a bin right next to them! There seems to be a weird mentality among some people in London that if there’s litter on the ground, it’s ok to add more to it. Tell me, why is this ok? It used to drive me insane.
8. The sirens
I was deafened by the silence when I moved to Hertfordshire. When I lived in my flat in Brixton, I would hear police sirens, drunk people kicking glass bottles outside on the street and motorbikes revving their engines at 200 decibels on a nightly basis. These days, I can go a full night’s sleep without hearing a thing and I wake to the sound of the birds singing. Smug, me? Maybe a little.
9. Service charge
I have absolutely no problem tipping in a restaurant. I think everyone should do it if they receive service that’s worthy of it and many people in the hospitality industry work damn hard to earn a living. The thing is, in London, it’s normal for restaurants to whack 20% service charge onto every food bill, regardless of whether you receive exceptional service or not. So, when you don’t get good service, you’re put in that really awkward position where you have to explain why you’re not going to tip. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the whole gratuity thing doesn’t seem quite so aggressive outside of London. What a relief.
10. The price
Many people who consider living in the Big Smoke ask the same question – Why is London so expensive? There are many pretty obvious reasons why, and the thing is, once you ‘enter the bubble’ and you’ve lived in London a while, you stop noticing how expensive everything is. Paying through the nose to eat eggs benedict in the coolest café in East London becomes just one of those things you do. And spending £10 a day on travel is equally not that rare. But while the average wage in London is higher than most cities, you can’t help feel a bit peeved off when you see how much cheaper it is to buy a house / eat out / rent a flat outside the M25.… The silly prices of just about everything are definitely one thing I don’t miss about London – which leads me onto my next point.
11. Not being able to save
Saving any amount of spare cash can feel like a challenge for anyone who’s freelance and on maternity leave. But now that I have left the money-sucking city of London, putting some money away does feel a bit more achievable. It is totally possible to enjoy London without spending money. But it’s also incredibly easy to look back at your bank balance at the end of a week and realise you’ve splurged waymore cash than you’d planned to, just on impromptu catch-ups over dinner, weekend brunching and a daily latte or two. I’ve said it already and I’ll say it again – London is one of the most expensive cities in the world. So it ismore likely you’re going to save if you move out!
12. The chaos
I guess you’re going to find that in almost any major city, let alone capital city, there’s going to be a slightly frenetic pace, that seems to feed into your being. But I especially found this was true while living in London. I loved the fact I was living in a place where something new was happening every day, and where things never got boring. But in hindsight, I also think the pressure to keep up with everything, the over-packed public transport and the sheer lack of physical space often caused my anxiety levels to go through the roof. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be a part of me that needs my little dose of city life. But one thing I don’t miss about living in London is the feeling of having to live your life at a million miles per hour. Being able to remove myself from the chaotic London bubble has definitely left me in a calmer state.
13. Not having a car
When you live in London, it just doesn’t make sense to have a car. The city is far too congested, the cost of hiring a car parking space is extortionate and getting around the city via the tube or bus just becomes part of your life. If you have a car in London you’re seriously in the minority. Which is why I feel sogrown up to finally have some wheels now we’ve moved to Hertford. I mean, I can go wherever I want, whenever I want, without having to fight for a seat or deal with sweaty tubes. And you know what? It feels weirdly liberating.