There always was a certain allure of moving to London for me. When I was younger I used to watch my Dad go off working in the City and I always wanted to do the same. Looking back on it now it's quite amusing to me - I literally dreamed of getting up early, jumping on a train and cruising into the big city. Now I think of being sardined into a sweaty never-on-time 8:37 from Grove Park to Charing Cross.
I love London and always will, but now is my time to leave the city and start a new challenge back at home.
Whilst being born in London, I grew up in a lovely little Kent seaside town called Whitstable. It's famous for its oysters and quirky independent shops on the high street. I still had family in London, with my Dad being near Bromley and my grandparents in Blackheath, so would visit both regularly to get a dose of being nearer London.
The big city
I achieved my dream pretty early into my career. My first job as a marketing apprentice for Clarion Housing took me to the dazzling heights of Penge in South East London. I actually drove from Whitstable to Penge every day at one point - let me know if you want to hear that story. I'd often venture out of Penge into our head office in London Bridge and could achieve my childhood dream of commuting into the city (that sardined never-on-time 8:37 from Grove Park).
I actually fully achieved my dream in my second job, working for a marketing agency near Covent Garden. I'd get all dressed up and commute in every day, then sprint back to the 18:06 always-on-time from Charing Cross. I did this for about a year before we moved offices to Soho, then I started cycling in every day from Bromley. This was a huge life improvement and I'd recommend it to anyone, I wrote an article about it on the Vivi Nation blog.
I love London
This city is truly amazing. It has everything you could possibly need, there is an energy that flows through that I literally can't explain. The only other city in the world that comes close to this is New York, which I've been lucky enough to visit regularly over the past few years.
The food, the people, the culture, the history, the opportunities. I could go on and list the things about London I love. I do distinctly remember how much I enjoyed the regular pub lunches in Soho, working until 10pm at the office and coming out to a bustling street, drinking heavily on our roof terrace and generally having the time of my life. It was just bloody good fun.
I signed for a 2-year lease for my place near Hammersmith, fully intending to extend the lease to continue my life in London. However, a lot can change in 2 years and it gave me a distinct point to stop and reflect. To think about my goals, ambitions and where I actually wanted to be.
Things were going swimmingly in London, my lease doesn't actually finish until the end of this month (so my bank account has been telling me...) and my office is still technically in Holborn (though very shut currently). My job is good and I had my routine baked in - I even had conversations about moving to New York.
Then Coronavirus threw all plans out the window. In some ways, the pandemic was kind of a good thing as its given us time to take a step back and have a little time to reflect on what's important to us.
I was actually on a cruise around the when COVID started cruising its way through Europe - we had to cut our trip 3 days short - that's a story for another day.
When I got back to the UK, I thought I'd stay at my Mum's in Whitstable for a few weeks. The office had been closed and I wanted to have a little more space outside, see the cats and have my washing done for me (this was the main reason).
After a few weeks, I realised I didn't miss London at all. I didn't miss the commute, I didn't miss it taking an hour to get anywhere, I didn't miss the noise. In contrast, I loved taking walks along the beach, spending more time with family, being able to drive to places in a reasonable time.
Making the decision
A few months later, I'd been working remotely and I've never been happier. I was always happy in London, but you get a certain stress from having to commute into an office every day.
Working remotely has been a complete game-changer for me - my stress levels are the lowest they've ever been and adjusting to working from my home office (aka bedroom) has been a breeze. I don't get that Sunday night dread of being back to the grind, I can take a nap at lunchtime if I'm feeling horrid (would highly recommend), then finish at 6pm to take a wander to the beach:
It's also given me more time to pursue other hobbies, like my leatherworking business.
Having thought about how much happier I felt being out of London, I started to look at my options. I could extend my lease in London and stay there for another few years and continue to commute into the office. I could look at moving back to Kent and commuting into the office via Train again. Or, I could move back to Kent and work remotely.
The latter option seemed most appealing to me so I started making some enquiries to make it happen.
We're now in August and I should be moving into my new flat in Canterbury (where I went to School) by the end of September. After talking with my boss I should be able to work remotely as much as possible, with infrequent visits to the office.
The next chapter
This post was going to be about how I've enjoyed shopping local, supporting smaller merchants, but instead it's been fun to reflect on the past few years and why I'm looking forward to the next chapter of my life back in Kent.
I'll always love London and I'll definitely be back - my last 5 years there have been a blast and it's now time for a change. I've made some great friends, enjoyed discovering all the city has to offer and the genuine buzz you can get from being in a place.
With that being said, spending more time with friends, family, doing more sport and having a more considered way of life is very appealing.
In other news
⌨️ I've started using this LoFree mechanical keyboard and it's made me enjoy typing again, somehow.
☕ Mentioned in the article, but enjoying Garage Coffee's subcription for my AeroPress.
📈 Being more privacy-aware led me to use Fathom and it's a very pleasing alternative to Google Analytics.