As soon as I moved to London, I heard “Don’t move South”. Even worse, “don’t live on the Northern Line”.
All the cool kids want to live near Shoreditch. In Hackney. London Fields for the run, BoxPark for the booze. Bikes, beards and freshly-brewed craft beer.
Here is the truth that they didn’t tell me.
Flats with no living room, which was converted to an extra bedroom and yes, of course, that room is already taken. Four-digit rent for a tiny room where you can’t fit a desk. Strict policies about cancelling your contract – who said you’d afford the fine to leave the house before the end of the contract, which you only found out after cursing the broken boiler for the 17th time after a cold shower in the morning?*
Don’t worry, mr. landlord. As soon as I leave, someone else will take my room, just a couple of hours after it’s posted on Spare Room.
“Don’t Move South, they said”
I must admit, though, that I hadn’t had that much of a choice, given my limited student budget back in 2014. I breathed in and went to live in Bermondsey.
(Let’s be honest. I was lucky to find a place I could afford in SE16. And Bermondsey is technically South of the river… but it’s still pretty Central. Yes, Londoners. YES.)
Who cares? I fell in love.
Parks where people wear simple sporting clothes instead of the brightest last-generation-Nike-something-which-was-so-expensive-I-could-buy-my-Summer-holidays;
Latin American local shops with all the cassava starch and beans (100% natural, no tomato sauce, not in cans) I need to survive;
Bars where beers are beers. Ok, you can find craft beer. But there will always be a lager;
Weekend walks that make you feel you aren’t in London;
Fish and chips under £10;
Full English breakfast under £7;
Cycling as a way of life;
Train rides avoiding London Terminals;
The agitated life around train stations and its surroundings, reminding you of the past of a place that might have been a town.
Living South became an option. I was heartbroken to leave SE and come south west to Clapham Junction. Two months later I was already longing for bargains deals at Northcote Road and my mornings cycling to enjoy a few hours at Battersea Park, getting out of the bed and walking to Wandsworth Common at any sunshine – even if it was a freezing Sunday morning.
When I moved to Clapham, I started enjoying it even more. I don’t even care about the Northern Line – it gets me there. The Common is an extension of my house, giving my energy when the sun rises and the calmness when the sun sets. The Victorian and Georgian houses fascinate me.
Don’t let them fool you. South is beautiful.
*Actually, this isn’t an exclusivity of the North… it’s London. In general. I know.