5 (less obvious) things I love about living in London

Tower Bridge, London
Tower Bridge, London (photo credit: Karolina Kulach)

In London EVERYTHING can change overnight: this is a city where job hopping and flat hunting are more regular than breakfast. Change is always possible: for better or for worse.

It’s not uncommon for people living in London to be in a love-and-hate relationship with this city. This was my experience, too. I saw London as a place of contradiction: a place that can break your heart, draining you of energy and money, and the next moment it can make it sing.

Living in London was never easy for me, but loving London definitely was. Here’s what I love about living in London.

London: a city of opportunity

London is generous in nature. One day the city smiles at you and gives you the opportunity to thrive. Another day the metropolis can be ruthless, but still generous in giving you the opportunity to hone your basic survival skills.

I remember a situation when my friend’s landlord unexpectedly told her to move out of her flat within three days. Having nowhere to go, she ended up sleeping in a chair in her office. This went on for a few nights, but luckily her boss never found out that she had turned her workspace into a half-star hotel.

She never felt secure in London and would say: “In this city your life can fall into pieces without any warning. Suddenly you’re homeless or without cash. The opposite can happen, too: overnight your life may turn into a fairy tale. But not knowing what to expect is not good.”

One evening, whilst strolling by the River Thames, I came across a very empowering sentence written in the sand:

There is great power in our hands.

The sentence was accompanied by a drawing of the iconic London landmarks. The combination of the drawing, the power sentence, the sand and the immortal Thames had a very empowering effect on me.

The Thames, London
Embankment, London (photo credit: Karolina Kulach)

Living in urban jungles like London, you may experience days when coming across the reminder that you do have great power in your hands can change everything.

Questions started popping in my head:

  • Who made this drawing?
  • Were they tourists or locals?
  • What was their motivation?
  • Were they bored and started playing in the sand? Or maybe they intentionally wanted to send the message to the Universe?
  • Were they hopeful or attempting to get their hopes back?
  • Did they find London empowering, or quite the opposite, taking their power away?

My love for London

Living in London was never easy for me but the city swept me off my feet. Being out and about in the British capital, I would make starry eyes at almost everything: buildings, monuments, bridges, cathedrals, the Thames, flowers, trees, theatres and underground signs.

London was a wonderful place for my inner explorer. I loved the fact that every time I thought I had seen it all in Central London, I’d unexpectedly come across a landmark, a view or a lovely little street that I hadn’t seen before.

Fleet Street, London
Fleet Street, London (photo credit: Karolina Kulach)

This is why I loved coming back to the same spots, markets and parks to discover hidden gems. This is how I began running around London with my phone camera and capturing everything that took my breath away.

I fell in love with this marvellous city at first sight. I continued to feel that way for years to come. I could walk by the Tower Bridge for the 100th time and my breath would still be taken away.

Eventually I left London: the urban jungle. However, I visit the city regularly and … I always see it for the first time.

5 things I loved about living in London

  1. A city of opportunity in every possible sense so expect the unexpected. There are so many people and jobs in London that you don’t have to be stuck with anything or anyone you detest. In London there’s always something better (somewhere) so you don’t need to settle for the mediocre.
  2. A centre of architectural pearls, breath-taking royal parks and cultural icons.
  3. A capital well-connected with the whole world. You can fly to virtually any place on earth on any day. Additionally, your friends are likely to visit London for all sorts of reasons, which makes London a fantastic global meeting point.
  4. You don’t feel stigmatised because you’re not a born and raised Londoner. In fact, most people living in London come from everywhere but London. This city has brought together billions of people of different backgrounds. It’s an extraordinary cultural blend and human observatory, full of beautiful faces from every corner of the world.
  5. London as a massive collection of stories told by the people of London. Each story may offer a tiny bit that we can relate to. It can be comforting, reassuring, heart-warming and encouraging. So can it be depressing, disturbing and an alarming call for action.

The stories of the people of London are probably what I love most about this city. Many of these stories may illustrate the most acute form of displacement. These stories, in all their diversity, share at least one thing in common: the London cityscape in the background.

If you’ve lived in London, feel free to share your experience in the comment section below!

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Karolina Kulach

Non-fiction writer & content manager. Author of “The power of displacement”. Keen reality and people observer. Loves writing catchy, rhyming poems.