London has changed me. I have no doubt about that, but I do have doubts about London.
I’m not sure you can judge somewhere based on two years, especially so if you spend both years working for the same place and living within 3 miles of it, so I’ll preface the rest of this post by saying, this is just what I feel and think about where I currently call home.
When I first moved to London, I moved to Camden. This was good, I grew up in Manchester and grew up with the Rock scene there, I’m used to seeing punks everywhere, I used to be one of them. I found Camden almost a home from home in some respects then, the loud nights followed by streets full of life in the day, a market that sells questionable ‘smoking utilities’ as well as band t-shirts that are most definitely not profitable for the artist, at least in direct sales. I guess one of the problems is, in the creative (insert, tech agency) industry it seems, Camden is rated pretty uncool, it’s too west.
If you’re not a Londoner, let me explain. There are micro communities all over London, but generally, West, East and South are the dividers, based on pricing, community and style. The west is smart, pricey and generally what you see in films (Notting Hill, Shaun Of The Dead), the East is where you drink craft beer and make bespoke handmade furniture and the south is where you can get a balance between a fair place to live and affordability of a mortgage or rent, albeit with an increased difficulty to travel into the city.
Of course, that was a stupid guide, but it paints a picture. So when it comes time to find somewhere to live, your options are essentially dictated on money. You can live with strangers and rent a room, you can live with friends or of course you can get a studio/1 bedroom.
I’m not keen on living with strangers, I don’t know enough people to live with friends and so I think really, I’m left to finding a nice studio or 1 bedroom flat. This has been problematic…
The property market in London is as insane as it is in other cities of the world (New York, San Francisco, Paris etc) but I’m not sure what the Landlords are smoking here that isn’t available in those countries. In the past week, whilst looking for flats, I have seen over half a dozen that have no bathroom or shower at all, over a dozen that have “a shared bathroom and kitchen” (I’m sorry, but that is a fucking room) and quite a few that “would prefer a tenant who only occupies the flat on weekdays”, all of these flats are over or around £1000 per calendar month.
Whilst the rent in other cities may be equally severe, from only quick browsing, it seems other cities don’t have this problem half as bad. But then maybe I’m naive.
You may be wondering then, what on earth am I doing here? Well, to put it in simple terms, I work for the best company I’ve ever worked for. A small group of some truly brilliant people of whom I adore and respect in equal measures and a day doesn’t pass without me learning from others and my experiences in both good and bad ways. Clients attainable only by a major city presence and our reputation come in waves so large we choose the ones we want to work for and produce work that may be agency work with little change to the world’s problems, but work I’m damn proud to be a part off. The company I speak of, is of course the wonderful Made by Many.
I’m at a loss then, whilst I’ve changed to love parts of city culture and adore my work, I despise the living conditions of this city. I wonder if a balance of great work, beautiful living and happiness can be found?