Released On 4th Jan 2022
Laura's blog: Life After London
I lived in London for 20 years, since I was 18 (the last 12 years in Balham/Streatham Hill) and moved back to my childhood town in East Herts 2 years ago.
The process of deciding to sell up and to move was an extremely painful and emotional one for me. My little flat was my haven, my retreat, my little slice of heaven. But my life had moved on and so must I! The night before I exchanged, I had to be alone to process and to grieve and to let go. After hours of tears, for my memories there and the life I no longer had (it sounds so dramatic but I felt like I had fallen into marriage and kids overnight!) I was ready to sign my home away.
But even the night before we moved, I was still saying “why are we doing this again?” and my husband would calmly and patiently run through all the reasons (by the way - he’s Hackney born and bred, and when I met him he said he’d never move out. But practicality won out. He knew this was the right thing - and he’s happy here!).
The day we moved was incredibly emotional (I cried the whole journey) and busy and hectic and exciting, and as soon as we were in the new place, I felt a (small) feeling of elation. As we put our things out, the belongings I had cherished for years, it started to feel like home.
We moved a year before the pandemic and I was on mat leave within 6 months. That was when I ramped up my friend finding! I spoke to practically everyone with a buggy, always a good in. I met someone walking up the hill. We had a nice chat and as she walked away I said “oh what’s your name?” And I’m so glad I did that as she’s now a great friend and has introduced me to others. I met someone on The Motherload Facebook group who happened to live in this town. I connect with people on local Facebook groups, and talk to anyone who looks friendly. I now have a lovely mixed friendship group of ex-Londoners, never-wanted-to-be-Londoners, and even two Peruvians who happened to both independently find themselves living in our little town. Another lovely friend on here I met sharing experiences of being of Chinese heritage during the pandemic (and turns out we have mutual friends, local and not so local!). It may not feel comfortable putting yourself out there, but it gets easier, and it’s totally worth it.
And I had few friends in London who I could get to that quickly and easily to be honest. My best friends live in south east London, and it is NOT easy to go from SW to SE on public transport! And a lot have started moving out, too. London is our hub and that’s where we meet, pre-pandemic in central London after work. So being further away from friends just hasn’t been an issue for me. I know that may be different for lots of you, but actually London is so big that even if you live in the same city it might be an hour plus of travel time to meet up!
We had a friend from London come visit today and she brought up her 3 kids in a beautiful (£££) Maida Vale townhouse. That was my dream once. We would have done something like that if we could have afforded it, no question. We all went for a walk into our little town, and back along the river, and she told us what it was like for her, and then I got home and I looked at what I had. And for the first time I didn’t envy her quite so much.
Good luck to you all, whether you are trying to move, trying to decide to move, have moved, or something else.
Laura works in asset management. She recently moved back to her hometown in Hertfordshire, after 20 years of living in London. She is married, with 2 children and 2 rescued house rabbits. Laura is mixed ethnicity and uses the pronouns she/her.