Leaving London: A Life Update and Why I Did It

Leaving London

You’re leaving London? Why? What are you going to do? Wont you be bored/lonely/broke without a full time job?

A few of the questions I was asked by well meaning colleagues and acquaintances when I announced that I would be leaving London at the end of August.

It was just over two months ago now that I left my full time job in London, changed my phone number, moved out of the city I’ve called home for 7 years and stopped living within a few miles of my best friends.

In truth, I was fucking petrified of this decision, of leaving London, but I was in search of something better.

It had been a long time coming. I had often romanticised in my head leaving London, heading back to live in the countryside with less stress, less need to be busy and more freedom (I imagined). And yet I couldn’t quite make the jump. I couldn’t imagine my life without London, without the stress, the busyness and the routine of a 9-6.

Rebecca Campbell writes in Light is The New Black: “I was stuck in a life of my own creation” – and in truth that is how I felt.

I had the life that I created: a good job, a flat in Hackney, walking distance to yoga studios, my best friends, iconic street food and Michelin star restaurants. The life that I dreamed of at 17 when I had to spend 45 minutes driving to see any of my schoolmates (and to get to school).
Yet without drinking too much and hangovers and the distractions that came from the alcohol-fuelled drama I created, I became very aware that London life wasn’t working for me anymore, office life wasn’t working for me either.

The office stoked my anxiety, the routine went from something I craved to the very thing I dreaded. I felt overwhelmed by the choice of London and like it didn’t quite suit my new priorities.

I loved seeing friends every day, but I craved seeing my family and a slower pace of life.

A year ago my story looked so very different – and the things I wanted were very different too.
Last October I got so drunk I had a massive argument with a friend, headed back to Hackney with a man (not sure who he was – couldn’t have identified him even the next day) ran away from him in Bethnal Green before going to the pub for one final drink alone and going home – somewhere along the line I’d left my laptop, iPad and bag in a pub I’d been in (the next day I had no idea which pub). I laughed all of this off as if it was ‘fun’.

And in reality, I have individualised that story for effect but it wasn’t out of the norm for a Thursday/Friday/Saturday night. Drinking a lot, staying out too late with friends was my normal, and it was my idea of fun.

In the last year I’ve changed my story, and I’ve achieved things I wrote in my journal as far off dreams.
I’ve documented my sobriety journey on this blog, my path to alcohol free and across my Instagram account.

It has at times not been an easy ride, but sobriety has opened my eyes to a new way of life.

With a bit of distance from my hamster wheel of living for the weekend, and a bit of money saved: I began to see that leaving London was possible. It could be a reality.

I trained to be a yoga teacher at the start of 2017 and now it’s my job! I’m a yoga teacher, a writer, a marketing consultant and I help my parents run their pub (yep sober pub bar tender over here!). I work everyday to make not drinking cool.

No one day looks the same for me any more. In fact, using today as an example:

Woke Up / Read / Drank (decaf) coffee

Did an hour of marketing consulting for a company I work for

Now writing this blog post

Later I will drive to Cambridge to teach my two Hot Pod Yoga classes

I don’t have the office routine anymore, or the regular salaried pay-cheque, but I do have the countryside air, freedom over my own schedule and my anxiety and depression are fading into the background.

Leaving London isn’t for everyone, it might not be forever for me. But right now. It is the best decision I have ever made for myself.

This life is magic.

All my love, L xx

This post is lovingly linked to: Brilliant Blog Posts

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14 Comments

  1. October 27, 2017 / 10:38 AM

    Amazing well done for being brave and doing the right thing for you!

  2. October 27, 2017 / 12:27 PM

    I grew up in Norfolk and have lived in London for the last 3 years. I love London (particularly the food scene) but I 100% agree about the “hamster wheel”. Last year me and my partner quit our jobs to launch our own company and just being away from the office politics/routine and the freedom it gives you is a breath of fresh air (although not literally as fresh as it is in Norfolk!). I love the sense of community in Norfolk and the food scene in Norwich is going through a complete revolution at the moment. Well done you!

    Meg x

    https://www.nomeanfeast.co.uk

  3. October 27, 2017 / 12:59 PM

    A lot of this story resonated with me. I’m a passionate city dweller, my natural state (e.g. No alcohol) buzzes off urban places and it’s where i feel most at ease, but I can see so many of my friends sharing your experiences, managing city living by drinking too much, creating drama and ultimately hurting themselves. Good on you for breaking the cycle and finding where you feel st ease xx

  4. October 30, 2017 / 1:04 AM

    So wonderful to discover your brilliant blog, it’s so refreshing, honest and wonderfully written. You have to follow your heart. After having my first child, a move back to Yorkshire was absolutely the right thing for me…as has been moving to Windsor 7 years later. Trust the timing of your life and congrats on regaining control of your life. It’s the most important thing x

    • Girl & Tonic
      October 31, 2017 / 4:51 PM

      Thank you so much Vicki 🙂 much appreciated, I love your blog and what you are doing so means a lot x

  5. November 8, 2017 / 4:16 PM

    Congrats on making the move! Last year I (an American) went to London for a few days. I went out after a meeting with some sober folks and while they loved London there seemed to be a bit of hesitation. Even those who had been sober for many years! Cities are sooo high energy and even though I have more energy as a sober person, I like things slow. Funny how that is. So glad you were able to make the change 🙂 And glad to hear your anxiety and depression are slowing down (I’m not changing cities, but moving out of a stressful job I had pre-drinking and almost 2 years into sobriety. I already know the anxiety will be much better to manage once I move out of it.)

  6. November 24, 2017 / 10:29 PM

    This is so incredible! I’ve written you so many times asking about ‘what is like leaving London for you?’, because it resonates so much to me the fact that we created our “”dream lives”” by living a “””glamorous life”” in the capital of Europe… but in the end, was it what we really expected?? Were we actually happy?
    I feel you so much, and leaving London is actually one of the hardest decisions – yet there is always the feeling that this city who has its own life never leaves you once you two merge…

    But as we live our days in less busy and stressful cities, we learn to appreciate the time passing slower but still miss the always happening events in town 🙂

    Sending you love, wishing you best and appreciating so much your work <3

    • Girl & Tonic
      November 26, 2017 / 8:19 PM

      Thank you for your lovely comment 🙂 I am very much enjoying the slower pace of life in Norfolk … may it long continue! L x

  7. Suzie Taylor
    March 13, 2018 / 8:42 PM

    Norfolk – so different to London but it still retains so many things to see and do! How wonderful for you. We found our own slice of leaving-London paradise in Wiltshire! So many lovely villages to choose from so our selection (you could use this check list for any county) was based on the following criteria OFSTED Outstanding school, church (for community spirit), pubs, post office and village shop. It was important that it wasn’t so far off the beaten track that we’d run out of employment options – We ended up picking a pretty village called Ramsbury ( https://www.ramsburyraven.com/ramsbury/ramsbury-property/ ) owing to it’s proximity to Bristol or it’s 1 hour on the train to Paddington. I’m glad to have left London. Best thing I ever did.

  8. May
    April 15, 2018 / 5:59 PM

    Your post has really hit a chord with me albeit I can’t say that I have ever loved or will come to love London. However…I feel that I can’t admit that openly since everybody I meet absolutely waxes lyrical about it!

    I moved to London from a tiny town up north in Lancashire because my boyfriend got a job here so I thought “Eh, let’s do it!”. I have lived in Scandinavia and America, both were great but have slowly found myself becoming a different person since moving to the capital. For one, I was always pretty chilled but have found myself becoming agitated, stressed and increasingly anxious – especially when I started a job in the City as I had to commute 50 minutes on the Piccadilly Line from West London (I do not recommend this even for the chillest of folks, haha). Unfortunately I resigned only a fortnight ago, due to severe panic attacks which sucks but I am now in a better place mentally.

    The biggest factor though for me, is the culture of drinking and the extent of how much people drink – even on work nights. Now I am totally partial to a class of wine now and again, love a good tipsy giggle with my mates and absolutely do not judge anyone if they love to drink, but I found it unsettling how much my work colleagues drank. Not just that, it felt as though conversations evolved around alcohol too, or their latest drunkscapades (admittedly they were funny and all, but I couldn’t help but feel concerned for them). The thin end of the wedge though is how much my boyfriend has been drinking since he moved here too and I’ve openly told him to cut back. He hasn’t though, mainly because his work colleagues do the same and he probably doesn’t want to lose the social side of his work. I find that it is a viscous-cycle when it comes to working in London and the drinking culture that is heavily integrated in to its culture. If you don’t drink, you often risk cutting yourself off socially (not always but it is often the case).

    You are very brave to not just leave London (a city that it seems most people are in love with) but to openly admit why you had to do it. It’s not an easy thing to admit and I think you’ll find that you will prosper just as well where you are now, as long as you’re happy and enjoying life! 🙂 I certainly like particular elements of London, but I know that I will be much more happier when I leave and live somewhere with a slower pace of life!

  9. June 20, 2018 / 3:22 PM

    I am glad that found a place were you feel comfortable. I find curious that my story is the opposite of yours. I used to live in the countryside, had a regular job , few friends, and life was very slow. Then I moved to the city and found it so refreshing and new. I personally love the city and all the amenities it brings but I can see and understand what you find appealing living in the countryside. Great post. Take care.

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