Boy, where do I begin. I started writing a similar post that’s been sitting in my drafts since 2015, on why I left Bali to move to London. I never finished writing it and it’s probably because deep down I knew it was based on a lie. I tried convincing myself – and everyone around me, that I wanted to put digital nomading on hold because I needed more stability. Because the unknown became my comfort zone and I got bored of it. Because I couldn’t wait to swap a suitcase for four walls where I could finally hang a couple of pictures. Because London was a place of opportunities that would stimulate my growth. All these reasons were partially true, but the main reason was, I moved to London for a guy. Yep, I know, eye roll.
As I was busy moving from a villa in Bali to a room in the East End, having completely failed to as little as consider the costs and logistics of living in London, I also failed to notice something far more important. That the person I so eagerly moved continents for was completely and utterly incompatible with me – on an emotional, spiritual, self-development, cultural and practically every other level, a fact which my friends seemed to realise with perfect clarity but which somehow missed me completely.
Another issue was, and I know how ridiculous this will sound, is that I never loved London. Sure, I liked it. When I first moved, I would wake up early every day, get on the tube holding a cup of takeaway coffee, the only person in the midst of Central line’s morning rush happy to start the day. The chaos and the noise excited me; everything seemed like an adventure – even the somewhat mundane life I was settling for, purely because it was so different from the life I was used to living. Other people’s mundanity was a novelty to me. But loving London? Love is not something I’ve ever felt for this city.
As my relationship inevitably began to crumble, dragged out for another two years as both of us were too much in love to leave, another – quite wonderful – thing happened. My blog, which I started about 10 or so months before the London move, started growing. I might’ve been wrong about my relationship but I wasn’t wrong about London being a place of opportunities. With London blogger and PR scene being one of the most vibrant in Europe, it didn’t take long for AGWT to get noticed. From one event to another, from one press trip to the next, my network of contacts grew and with it came paid gigs and opportunities I once only dreamt of.
Yes, I might’ve come to London for all the wrong reasons but I believe there was a bigger reason behind all this.
I’ll be the first to admit that there’s little chance my blog and social media presence would grow to what they are today had I chosen to stay in Bali. The people I’ve met and the incredible experiences that came my way were all a result of being part of London’s influencer community. You can say a lot of things about the influencer scene, but the London travel blogger community is wonderful and very supportive. I got to meet some beautiful souls thanks to it, and for that I will be forever grateful.
So, why am I leaving?
There’s a lot of reasons I suppose, but it all boils down to three things – I’m sure those of you living in London, or any other big city, will relate. Perhaps it will help you to know that you’re not alone!
- A sense of isolation that started accompanying me day to day. In a big city like London where most of my friends live at least an hour away, it’s easy to feel separated especially when, like me, you don’t work at an office. When I wasn’t travelling or event-hopping, I’d spend the majority of my time alone, working from home. When I broke my foot a few months ago, travelling (and moving around in general!) became more difficult and that’s when it really hit me how much I missed having more of a close-knit community. Having friends that don’t live two train changes and a bus ride away doesn’t seem like too much to ask for – except it is when you live in London!
- The fact that simply put, I’ve had enough of London – it no longer inspired or excited me. The love was never there in the first place and without it, there was little foundation to build on. All the things I used to like about it when I first moved- the noise, the rush, and the crowds – would now annoy the living life out of me. So much so that I started skipping events and postponing meetings, simply because I didn’t want to spend hours commuting on the tube! This, of course, only made me feel more isolated and the cycle continued.
- The third, and most important reason that triggered the decision to leave is that, somewhat randomly and completely unexpectedly, on a rather rainy day in summer 2018, I visited a city for which I felt in less than two days what I haven’t felt for London in nearly four years – LOVE.
Stockholm is a place I ‘discovered’ by chance. I visited it last summer only for a couple of days and I’ve never given it much thought prior to the trip. In fact, I visited only because I happened to be in the area.
It was raining when I got there but I remember thinking that the city looked beautiful in the rain. I spent the entire two days walking around tirelessly, surprised how beautiful everything was and how at home I felt. There was something special about this city that just spoke to me. I couldn’t quite place it. It wasn’t just how beautiful it was, or how much more laid back it felt compared to London – it was the way it made me feel.
In Stockholm, I was happy simply by just b e i n g.
More than anything though, Stockholm felt like home.
Naturally, a girl who skips continents on a spur of a moment wasn’t going to sit around when faced with such discovery. So what was the first thing I did after returning to London from my trip? Yep, I booked a one-way flight to Stockholm and ended up staying for a month and a half.
This only proved what I’ve already felt in those first two days.
I believe we all connect to places in different ways. Perhaps you’ve visited Stockholm and have no idea what I’m going on about and I get it – for me, Stockholm just matches my energy.
It’s relaxed and laid back, with that slight continental European feel that London just doesn’t have (for obvious reasons). It’s small enough to easily get around but big enough for me not to get bored. There are lakes and forests literally 10 minutes drive from the city centre, in fact, the whole city is built on lakes! On top of this, people are friendly (yep, the stereotypes turned out to be all lies), polite and mellow, in a way that puts you at ease. Oh, and have I mentioned that Swedish men are basically demi-gods in a human form?
To top it all off, flights to London are cheap (we’re talking £30 return) which means I can easily commute between the two. This brings me to the next point!
Am I leaving London forever?
Absolutely not! While London isn’t somewhere I see myself living at the moment, the plan is to visit at least once a month. That’s where most of my clients and business contacts are and there’s no way I’d wave it all goodbye. I feel so incredibly lucky to live in times where travel is cheap and the length of the flight between London and Stockholm is that of a commute from East to West London.
In short – my life will be divided between London in Stockholm, but with a base in Stockholm.
Leaving London isn’t exactly easy – I’ve lived there for three and a half years and it was home, after all. But the moment you realise that your home becomes your comfort zone — not in a way that offers safety but staples growth, excitement and creativity – not because London lacks any of those but because I allowed all the things I didn’t like about it to affect the quality of my life — that’s when you know it’s time to go.
I may move back some day, but for now, it’s time for a new adventure – and I have a feeling that it will be one of the best ones yet! ❤️