It’s eleven months since I first moved to London – and now I have left London.
Some people love the city, say it’s the best city on Earth. I think that cities are a lot like people, however: there are some you connect with effortlessly, and there are some that, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get along with. I can see the appeal of London to others, but it’s just not for me. Cheap, odd and artsy – that’s how I like my towns.
I made up my mind to leave London in December just gone, almost by accident. With the new year approaching, I promised myself 2022 would be my year, and that I would make the necessary changes to improve my life – starting with finding better accommodation in London. I figured that I could find some flatmates my own age who shared my interests, and maybe even find a sharehouse with the outrageous luxury of a communal living room. One hour into this flat hunt, however, my face grew long and my eyes turned black and my mouth clapped open and closed like a haunted nutcracker: £900 for a single bed in a sharehouse in South London. Every! Single! Month! Forever!
I couldn’t bring myself to do it. There had to be a better way. A way that didn’t involve being jovially nipple-tweaked by chortling Tory land barons.
I began scheming in early January, pacing around Tooting Common on my lunch hour, muttering to myself under my breath, juggling numbers and dates in my head as I hopped over pavement dog turds. My first thought was to save up as much as possible then quit my job and flee the city. Saving money in London on a meagre salary, however, is all but impossible. I worked out it would take me around a year to save a thousand pounds. Hear me now: boo. What a way to lose your youth.
Instead, then, I began looking into the possibility of working remotely full time. I enquired whether it was possible at my workplace, given the fact that we’d all been working remotely for the past two years anyway and had only recently come back into the office. And, after a month of back and forth, I was given the go-ahead. It wasn’t quite the easy deal I was hoping for – in my new contract I am still required to come into the office for occasional important meetings, and my salary has been reduced a hefty chunk – but no matter. I’m as free as I’ve been in a long time.
For now, I’m back in Leeds. I moved out of London at the end of February, and due to a logistical cock-up I was forced to leave behind my TV, my keyboard and my kettlebell. The TV and kettlebell I’m not arsed about, but it’s a shame about the keyboard. I taught myself to play Tiny Dancer, don’t you know.
My time in Leeds is being spent at my mum’s house, working and exercising and playing video games, and seeing family on weekends. I go for long walks most mornings and people say hello to me as they pass. On my walks so far I’ve seen two rabbits, eight pigs, and two dozen horses.
My plan beyond March is still being formulated; I spend each day poring over dusty tomes with a magnifying glass pressed against my eye, making notes with my quill and drawing lines across faded maps with a compass. Everything is coming together nicely. I shan’t write any details here yet, in case everything goes tits up – as my plans are wont to do. I love planning, though. It makes me feel alive.
Suffice it to say I am excited, and a little bit nervous.