When I was younger I only wanted two things out of life. I wanted to live in New York City and I wanted to write.
The latter of those, I do. Evidently. Here I am doing it right now.
The first of those things however, living in New York City, still has yet to come to fruition. I'm still dreaming of those skyscrapers.
Where I do live is London. The next best thing. The amazing, outstanding, cultural city (which I don't need a green card to reside in). And I know, that to many people, their NYC is London. They dream of living here, they dream of the cobbled streets, and of The Thames, and of the georgian houses - the same way I dream of Central Park and Bagels and Union Square.
But what is it like to live in London? Well let me shed some light on it for you...
1. If you have a normal job, you'll never live in zone 1.
It's the hard truth of being in the city. If you want a half decent apartment (or room... because let's face it, you'll probably end up flat sharing) you'll need to bump those zone 1 expectations down to zone 2 (if you're lucky) or zone 3 (if you're realistic).
Bridget Jones lied to you. A single woman on a normal wage cannot afford to rent her own place in Zone 1. No. Nope. Doesn't happen. Unless said 'place' is a pint-sized basement studio.
Not that it is a bad thing. You'll learn to love the suburbs of London more than the centre of it. I rarely leave my leafy suburb of Balham at the weekend, and if I do - I only venture up the road to quirky Clapham - which I'm equally in love with. I love the feeling of community the city boroughs give me, the cute independent coffee shops, the beautiful houses and treelined streets and the huge parks and greens.
And even if I could afford to rent a place in zone 1 now - I'm not sure if I would anymore.
2. You'll start to take everything for granted.
In London, buses come every 2 minutes. Tubes every 1 minute. Even the overground can be counted on to rock up 7/8 times an hour. Supermarkets are open until 11pm. You can go clothes shopping after work, and they close at 9/10pm - not 5pm. THE WORLD DOESN'T SLEEP ON A SUNDAY.
This all becomes so normal to you within weeks of moving here, that everywhere else you ever visit in life (with the exception of other cities) will seem slow, too slow, SO SLOW.
"What do you mean the bus only comes every hour?" will become a frequent complaint of all other small towns and villages, and you'll start to become impatient by accident. Hell, if my tube station says I have to wait 4 minutes to wait in the morning, I'm already planning another route.
3. Time will never pass faster, than it does here.
London swallows you whole. You'll meet amazing people here. You'll go drinking until 2am on a Wednesday night and then roll into work the next morning looking like an extra from The Walking Dead. You'll be so in love with the city and it's energy, that you'll forget the time, the month and then the day of the week. Seasons will rush past you like some kind of weird time-lapse movie. And then it's been another year.
4. You'll forget what 'normal' means - especially when it comes to pricing
Rent will cost you four times the amount friends in other towns and cities pay. A pint of beer will cost you twice the price, maybe more. You'll probably always pay more than £10 for a nice cocktail.
But it's a price to pay - for living in the incredible, beautiful city that is London.
Maybe I don't need NYC after all?