Scattered leaves on grass

Leaving London, life and moving on

That’s it, I’m done with London! Although my student visa for the UK goes until May 2017, I’m leaving London in 2 months. Not that there is anything wrong with London. It’s just not working out for me at the moment given life and circumstances.

How I got here

I’m in a joint PhD program that allowed me to spend half the time in Singapore and half in London. I lived in Singapore for most of 2013 and 2014. In January 2015, I moved to London with the intention of staying through until I finished my PhD. I kept my mind open to the idea of staying in London, but wasn’t sure either way. Now a few short months from finishing, I had to decide how I would deal with my living and financial situation.

My sis and me at Big Ben

Why I’m leaving London

I decided over the summer that I would move back to New York right before Thanksgiving. This also happens to be right before my scholarship runs out. In New York, I can leave my things with my parents. Then I will go off to a conference in Australia before submitting my thesis in Singapore in January 2017. It seems to make the most sense this way, especially since I won’t have to pay rent anywhere until I’m more settled.

Also, I’ve found that I don’t enjoy living in the UK as much as I thought I would. London is too expensive. The ultimate scene in the UK is behind what it could be and is also quite elitist at the same time. As for food, I would love to live in a place where really great vegetables and fruit were both local and delicious. With this latitude, I get why it’s harder to get good tomatoes in London. But, if I can live somewhere else with better produce, I will try.

Besides growing tired of the UK, I can’t afford to stay in London without an income. With rent, bills, and food, I can barely save a smidgen of my monthly stipend. It would simply be impossible without an income. And if I can live rent-free in the best city in the world, why not?

Old school New York subway car

The good things

Several friendships have gotten deeper, and new friendships were formed during my time in London. I can’t be more grateful for friends and housemates who have filled most of my free time these 1.5+ years. Office culture isn’t so great in the UK (e.g. everyone eats lunch at their desks) or at least where I am, so I don’t feel as close to my officemates as other people in my life. But it has gotten better in the last year. The few fellow PhD students whom I have bonded with are friends I know I’ll try to keep in touch with afterwards.

I had a great time exploring Yorkshire, Wales, Cornwall, and other parts of the UK while I’ve been here. I may only have enough time left to explore Brighton and places nearby to London. That’s ok though. I’m also planning to come back to the UK for a friend’s wedding in July 2017. I can do more exploring then!
Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire

The plan. What plan?

I currently don’t have a plan for anything past January 2017. I know I will be in Singapore then to hand in my dissertation. But, after that, who knows? I may go back to New York until I have to defend (which would bring me back to Singapore). Or maybe I will hang out in Southeast Asia until then. Part of the problem is not knowing how long I will have in between submitting and defending. This might get sorted out in the next few months, but it’s currently unknown!

I may end up finding a job in New York, but I’m also looking at jobs in other coastal US cities. I would like to stay in the US at least for the next few years. A part of me wonders if I do get a job in New York, if that will be the end of it, that I’ll never live in another place ever again. It is possible, given that I’ve felt more drawn to be with my family the longer that I’ve been away. This doesn’t mean I’m leaving London, the UK or Europe or traveling forever. I’m sure I’ll be back many a time!

Leaving London too? What made you decide?

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Leaving London