Few jobs and room mates who are literally mice (this is not a metaphor, repeat, this is not a metaphor). So why do graduates still move to London? New resident Anna Silverman explains the ups and down of post-university migration - and why she wouldn't have it any other way...
I always knew I was going to move to London after graduation. Trust me, cautionary tales of high rent and unemployment barely register when you're still at university, downing trebles in a bar with a floor so sticky you deserve a medal for leaving with both shoes intact.
When the economy imploded in 2008, worrying about future prospects was in the same little back-of-mind box as repaying my student loan and re-arranging the sofa to hide shisha pipe burns on the carpet. So, when my moving day to London arrived, reality hit – this was going to be tough.
Why? Well, recent figures on what the chances are of getting ahead these days in London are a mixed bag. According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), London has the highest proportion of graduate recruitment vacancies at 42.4. It also offers the highest starting salary in the UK.
But (of course there's a but) the Office for National Statistics says one in five new graduates are currently out of work. Argh.
Never one to back down, I proceeded with my London move in the face of these stats along with (what felt like) every other grad in the UK. The first grim reality check hit while house hunting. I quickly realised with my budget I'd be lucky to get a tarpaulin stretched over a blow-up bed in Zone 9. In the end, I got a box room in an East London house that was loved by all who lived there, particularly the mice. At the price I was paying - £600 a month - it was occasionally tempting to move back to my affordable, friendly neighbourhood in Leeds. But the idea was met with horror by London friends, a bunch who refer to the rest of the country as "Zone 10".
After settling in to my new dwellings and arranging posters around my room to hide past occupants' failed attempts to erect shelves, I resumed my job hunt. As everyone predicted I was frequently up against hundreds of people vying for a single post but eventually struck gold with a job at the Department of Health.
Familiarising myself with the London transport system was another battle to be fought. A night bus from Greenwich to Bank appeared to take longer than a train from Penzance to Aberdeen. And, who knew a single bus journey could instil a humbling sense of your own insignificance? Also the time of the last tube remains a closely guarded secret that no Londoner seems prepared to share. "Oh, it's around midnight. Or 11.30pm. Or maybe 12.30am."
But despite poor housing, empty pockets, long commutes and a constant fight for that big break in journalism I do love London living. Who needs money when the city is your entertainment? And what's the point of a big house when there's too much to see to stay indoors? Yes I'm still new, but I wouldn't want it any other way.
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