My town is neither small nor large; shopping malls, cafes and cinemas are nearby, and restaurants are pouring across streets. But the same faces flow round streams, and views are one-sided. By 18, I got my first job in London, and city living came calling.
I’ve never officially moved – I’m trapped between country peace and bustling characters. One train ride and my travels are new. It’s like I hop on a plane every morning and become a tourist. From Sex and the City to Friends, New York is the place for dreams. For those of us not living near the Big Apple, our own cities are enough to ignight Hollywood.
The appeal of the city
For a twenty-something wanting to get out into the world and explore, nothing screams adventure like a large space with activities buzzing.
When I was in college, I barely had any friends. I was all alone and unable to connect. Joining a makeup counter full of girls, I felt petrified at how they might judge my quiet and awkward exterior. I ended up forging incredible friendships with women of all different backgrounds. Women I didn’t know existed.
For a moment, I had an SATC group. The country didn’t offer me such things – one train ride in city living and my skin shredded to confidence. Not only did I have my friendships in London – I always took my day and night social life there, I also fell in love.
My partner has a lovely apartment, and we use to get in a taxi near his house and visit many London Borough’s in a single night. Every area has something the other doesn’t. In the country, it’s all kind of the same. You wouldn’t think to drive further than necessary, unless you were after a very specific attraction. With London however, everything is both far and near. You can do everything at once – cobbled streets at Covent Garden, to clubs in Shoreditch.
Urban living to our health
Besides my undying love for city living, is my actual dying health. Business Insider UK, suggests city life “makes us crazy”. The article suggests pollution, lights, noise, and the rush of an uncaring crowd, is enough to make people feel awful.
My argument is that depending where you live, you can still find quiet streets in a city. The crowds are not always unfriendly – think how people form together when tragedy strikes. And the rush – sometimes it’s nice to have somewhere to go. I’m immune to it all. My mother couldn’t believe how quickly I ran through the tube station, on our last visit together. She said in a typical country way, “I could never work or live in London”.
Prices, wages and costs
With London in particular, most young people come here finding their career, and realise they can’t afford anywhere that’s not an hour tube away. Rent is sky-high; dining, leisure and travel are expensive. These charts by Londonist, shows how living in another city like Edinburgh or Sheffield, creates a better living standard.
I’m still in shock at how cheap train fares in Paris are compared. That’s my ultimate ‘dream city’, though I imagine my picture of me walking with a croissant and the Seine on my right, is probably not reality. Neither is my leisurely lunch break, where I spend two hours people watching in a gorgeous café.
It’s hard loving the city, when it costs so much. I suppose that’s why I’m still half-foot in the country. Unless my situation with the person I’m dating changes, I’ll be half-footing for a few more years. Most women I’ve known, have ended up leaving London, because there sick of being left with short change.
Train tickets are a fortune, and when my country friends gasp at how much I spend, I have to remind them career is in London, and I’m merely following.
Prices ignored, the city still calls
It’s such a shame I’m not Carrie Bradshaw, and can’t just have an unexplained apartment. Ignoring the ridiculous expenses and time wasted on train delays, there’s no reason for me to not love city living. I’m starting a new job on Monday, and it’s as a full-time content writer. It’s what I wished for back in school, and here I am.
I’m writing this to try to soothe and remind myself that waking up an hour early for a commute is a-okay. I like the idea of endless new people and endless possibility. I like being in the centre of it all. And I suppose if that ever changes, I’m still half-way in the country, with my dog and endless fields.
Are you a country or city living person? Would you sacrifice living standards for your career or dream job? I’d love to know if anyone can relate.