Expat life / London

Another one bites the dust

London, love live it and leave it.   Another expat has come and gone as is typical for the city.  I will have been living here for five years come September and I’ve had no less than seven friends leave the big smoke for greener pastures.

We Wanted To Be The Sky - London Pleasure Garden

Older readers of the blog will know that it took me ages to really like London.  Actually It is safe to say I hated London initially and then slowly over time things changed.  I did fall in intense like with the city at one point but I have to say I’ve never fully loved it.  I wanted to Love London like SJP loves New York, or at least as much as many others seem to, but alas it isn’t meant to be and I’m okay with that.

Why did I come here?  I’ve been asked that countless times by Brits over the years seemingly shocked someone would choose England over Canada even if they have never been themselves.  When choosing to study abroad I was limited in the countries I could get a law degree and return home to work.  It was between a handful of destinations and in the end England won out.  Simple as that.  I wasn’t heavily invested in living here and it was never a dream of mine but I did want the experience of living abroad.  I didn’t see my choice to pick up and leave home as something brave or daring.  People told me this but I couldn’t get my head around why.  I do now, and I have for some time.  As much as it is amazing to live abroad and discover another country and have another ‘home’ there are many difficulties and sacrifices attached to it as well.  The journey of being an expat has led me through the craziest roller coaster ride of emotions I’ve ever experienced.  I’ve always been independent but going somewhere alone with no known support is hard fullstop.

Camden Town - London

When others leave I can’t help but think about my situation and when I might be leaving for good.  More and more I cannot imagine settling here.  London is an amazing tourist destination, with an abundance of things to do/experience/eat and as a visitor it is easy to overlook the things that have the potential to wear you down.  Living here is another beast.  Expensive housing, congested and dirty streets, horrible weather, I could go on.  I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t enjoy London at all.  It is just I find lately I enjoy it less with a growing intensity than ever before.  It isn’t even that I am aching to go home.  This hasn’t become a England vs Canada thing.  I am just ready to move on to the next chapter.  D still enjoys London, compared to where he grew up London has everything you could want.

The thing is I don’t want it anymore.  I’m feeling a bit been there, done that wrote a blog about it.  The plan for some time has been for both of us to move to Canada eventually, but with my path to permanent residency extended by 3 more years (making that a total of 5 years from now) I don’t know how much longer I can or even want to wait.  D is well aware of how I feel, but I have to be realistic and know that we have to do some preparation before leaving.  I don’t know, catch me on another day and I might say I’ll stay…today isn’t one of those days.

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25 thoughts on “Another one bites the dust

  1. Oh no! This is not a perky kind of post. It’s not really a surprise for me to read though. Has oneika’s departure set you spinning?

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Not at all, I’d say it’s been a slow simmer for at least a year or more now. Getting a new job last year helped, and I thought that was the main issue – that I hated work. Doesn’t seem so, I’m just getting tired of London.

  2. Wow everybody’s leaving London. I guess you gave it a good go but it is OK not to love a place especially London. Though I have never lived there myself, I am too aware of the downside of living in a global city like it. Good luck to you in whatever you choose.

    • Even my partner’s friends are leaving! For Bristol and others places in the UK but still leaving nonetheless. London is great for a time but then you kind of want more. Thanks and welcome to the blog.

      • Your post and this reply sums up exactly how I feel about NY. I love it, I hate it, I’m over it, I love but I gotta go is where I am now. Same issues — dirty streets, expensive living and eventually, the pace can get to the best of us. After 13 years, I’m more than ready for the next chapter. Best to you as your chart yours!

  3. I LOVE London. But living there is its own beast, like you said. It’s not easy. So much time is spent commuting and navigating your way to places. If I moved back to England I’d love to live in Oxford or York, where the people are nicer and the pace is slower. But who am I kidding, I love the sun!

    No matter where you go I look forward to reading about it 🙂

    • I haven’t been to Oxford yet but York is so lovely. I’d be open to living in another city here, possibly. I do love London as a tourist destination so there is some love there. I’d be excited to write about living in a new place. Even going home I’ve never lived in Toronto proper so I’d be exploring lots.

  4. Reblogged this on Spinster's Compass and commented:
    Yeah… this definitely happens in some form or another if you’re an expatriate. Nothing much to add as the original post says it all; check it out and feel free to comment.

    • Wandered over from Spinster’s blog. Glad I did. Enjoyed this perspective. Maybe it’s less “loss of enchantment with London” than being someone who adores a move and jumps in to grab all that there – the is ready to try something new?
      London is amazing – and I hope to get back there. But it’s expensive and a big city – and like all big cities, life there wears on you after a while…there are some other lovely places not far from London…perhaps a small change?

      • It is probably a combination of all of the above. I most definitely want to try something new and I’d love be an expat elsewhere but where and will my partner want to be there too are factors that I have to consider. Thanks for wandering over and welcome.

  5. Girrrlll, I know the feeling! I want the hell OUT of this lousy place. I hate it here, and T isn’t a fan either. We are open to pretty much ANYwhere. Lol. Canada is our top choice, UK next, then US. But I am kinda anti-America, so I’m hoping something comes up in the top 2 really soon. There’s nothing like simply feeling out of place, or like you’re not in the best place for you.
    I say start looking. Put your feelers out there. Figure out the next move, and don’t hesitate to make it. With the whole big wide world, there’s no reason for us not to love where we live.

    • Yes, vindication! As I was writing this I felt a bit ungrateful but then I guess it is a feeling amongst a lot of us expat or not. I also instantly felt some relief after pushing publish. Lately I’ve been looking at jobs in Toronto and housing there. I have a bunch of friends in the city so they can always give me the update. I have been looking at teaching abroad in other countries but I have been able to progress my career here so not sure if a career break is what I want at this point.

      I remember you saying Canada was on your radar. For the US I think it is a mixed bag, I would never live there myself but if I did NY would be the place. The problem is they take 2 steps forward socially then 2 steps back. Hope something works out for you soon too.

  6. It’s amazing the amount of expats who feel like this – especially after the six month winter we just had. I go through phases – the worst one was when my parents were here for a month and now that we have a child I got super homesick for probably the first time ever. We are in a one bedroom flat because we can’t afford a bigger place (despite having ‘good’ jobs) and anywhere worth going to on the weekend becomes overcrowded, a word that we are using on an almost daily basis now. Yet you get London on a good day, everyone is in a good mood and it suddenly feels like the greatest place on earth – if only those days happened a lot more! I’m about to jump on the tube and it’s grey and raining outside yet we’re meant to be in the middle of summer. I hope you feel good soon (and we must catch up, I’m sorry for not rearranging our last date).

    • Spot on. On a good day London does feel like the best place on earth. I’ve felt that many times over the years and also felt incredibly lucky that I’ve been able to live in this city and connect with the people I have. Those days are being overruled now and I guess that is when it is time to re-evaulate and possibly move on.

      Don’t even get me started on the housing situation, it is so depressing/frustrating sometimes. Prices are ridiculous and you’d think having a ‘good job’ would mean you could get your foot on the ladder or move up it. We definitely need a catch up son and I still need to meet baby loves cake!

  7. Oh no! I’ve always said that it’s the expat curse – having your friends move on or go home. strangely enough, only one of my friends moved back home to S Africa but others moved on to new and more exciting destinations.

    For me, I love London and have never successfully lived away from it. I just miss it too much and drive myself crazy thinking of what I’m missing. It’s true, we live further out in order to afford a slightly more spacious abode with a garden for the dogs but I still get to go into London nearly every day. But then I love commuting.

    I guess it is probably nearing the time for you to move on to your next adventure. 10 years ago I was stuck in Johannesburg and my feelings were really similar to yours about London. I felt uninspired and disenchanted. Make the move to somewhere that inspires you!

    • Most definitely a curse some times. It is great when friends move on to a new destination because then you can go visit them, always a bonus.

      I love London as a wanderer/traveller/tourist but not as a resident. That part I am well and truly over. It is an inspiring city and I know I will miss it when I go as it has made a huge impression on my life as well as many of the people I’ve met here.

  8. Wow! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I – as a student expat hope to travel to London very soon and have imagined even living for a couple of years. It’s interesting to see all of the comments from your fellow readers and such.

  9. Pingback: The Year in Review – My Travels in 2014 | Here There Everywhere

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