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London’s Calling – but I can’t afford it

I love London. It’s the city where everything’s happening, in every part of culture. From the huge stores of Oxford Street to the food stalls at Borough Market, the vibrant nightlife of Soho, to the alternative scene in Camden: it seems as though there is nothing London fails to offer.

Each location can be reached by only a short journey on the tube, enabling us to experience all the culture the capital offers in one sitting. I even got beach vibes relaxing on a deck chair in Hyde Park one summer before venturing back to the not-quite-so-relaxing Liverpool Street Station within a matter of minutes.

Because of this, I, like many people, would like to experience living in the city while I am young – when I can appreciate the utter madness and vibrancy of it all whilst aiming to put my foot in the door of the working world. I am, however, slightly put off by the knowledge that a single pint will set me back a fiver.

But it’s not just the cost of post-work pinots that will make us poor: it’s the sheer cost of having a roof over our heads. Last year, according to figures from HomeLet, the average monthly rent for houses and flats in the capital was £1,500, the highest it had ever been. And this figure is only rising.

So how are so many people doing it? Research shos that the average wage in London is double than that of the rest of the UK. If you’re in a top job, you’re winning. For those of us wishing to work in the media and arts industries in particular, the big smoke is often regarded as the place to be.

Don’t get me wrong: it is a scary prospect knowing that your salary will need to match your extortionate rent, but this is exactly why the capital is suited for the young and free. I do not plan on having a family to feed. At this point, it’s just me. It is likely that my starting salary would not match my rent; I will have to be a cliché and live off baked beans; and I will get into some debt. But if it is something you want to pursue, perhaps it should be seen as an investment in experience.

Maybe it has been growing up with sitcoms such as Friends, where big-city living is promoted as the lifestyle for single twenty-somethings trying to find their feet, but I know the city is where I want to be before I have to do all the boring stuff growing up entails, and I don’t think I am the only one who feels this way.

The conflict between moving back home on minimal rent and moving to the city on maximum rent is one many of us may deal with – a case of sensible versus perhaps slightly foolish. Sometimes we may just have to take the plunge and pray it all works out.

I can’t afford London, but maybe I’ll just go anyway.


About Author

Alice Mortimer

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January 2022
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