City vs. Country.

Waking up to the view of endless fields sure can do wonders to the soul. Giving you the feeling that you’re the only one around and you could run wild through those fields if you really wanted to. Or waking up to the sound of buses and trains and sensing the hustle and bustle can give you the buzz that you need to get through the day.

When moving to a country like England, I think there are more choices than just living in London. So once again, I shall share my thoughts with you lovely people.

London’s such an enticing place, and if it’s your first big trip away from home it’s such an easy choice to make as to whether or not you’ll have a go living in the big city. And most people do. I did.
Although I didn’t live there as long as most expats do, I still feel like I got the right impression of how it is to live there.

First off, London can be very overwhelming and fascinating all at the same time, your head might just want to explode! Especially if you’re from a small town or have never really ventured to big cities. There’s lots of traffic, sounds, lights, and people. All the typical things you’d expect to find in a world famous city.

London City Collage The Wanderer

I’ll let you in on a secret that’s not really a secret at all. If you’re hoping to travel on a budget, London can be very expensive. If you take into account rent, (which is usually between £400-£600 a month depending on your zone), day-to-day travel expenses, attempting having a social life, feeding yourself, earning minimum wage (which is about 10 Australian dollars) and trying to see as much of the country and Europe whilst your there, it can be tricky and really take a toll on all the hard work you did to save up all the money in your bank account.

I attempted to live in a share house that cost me about £92 a week or every two weeks from memory. It was full with 10 other people – all Australian or Kiwis. If you think of how big the houses are in London, living with 10 people in a share house wasn’t the best experience I’ve ever had. It was also filthy, and in Ealing. Which is closer to Heathrow than it is central London, taking me over 30 minutes to even get into the city.

There are other ways to live smartly in London, and I wish I knew more and could give you more options. However bear in mind that you will pay a lot of money for a room that is probably smaller than the one you’re sitting in right now. But you will be paying more for location than anything else. So if you’re willing to do that, then go for it! There’s so much to do and see in London that you won’t get bored. And you’ll meet a lot of interesting people. (Probably from Australia, but that also means potential travel buddies!). For people wanting a touch of excitement in their life, London obviously has great night life, and there is also a tonne of free things to keep yourself occupied – keep your eye on Time Out London.

On the other hand, there are so many more places in the country that are much more affordable and are still either close to London or another major city. If you think about it, the state of Victoria in Australia is bigger than the entire area of England so it’s quite easy to move around and get from place to place.

Places like Yorkshire, and Leeds, which are up north, are so much cheaper than in the South, and the people are lovely! If you lived in a village in Yorkshire, there are loads of ways to get into Leeds. Which is also a really cool city with lots of nightlife and has a great reputation for travelers. There are Uni’s out there too with quite a few people studying abroad. That’s just an example, and there are a lot more.

I moved to a village in Buckinghamshire, which is the next county west of London. It takes me 40 minutes to get to Marylebone station, which is almost quicker than what I was traveling when I lived in London. I’m paying a lot less rent, and have my own double room in a flat on the high street of the village. And I walk to work.

The Wanderer Countryside England

If you want to get the real ‘English experience’, I can’t suggest living outside of London more. London is great for it’s multiculturalism, however you’ll miss out on witnessing everything that’s so quintessentially English, like going to the quaint pubs that are more or less dark and dingy, watching the cricket in the sun on a warm Sunday evening drinking a beer, getting to know everyone in the village, and eating proper fish and chips and Sunday roasts. It’s a completely different experience. I honestly do feel more English, and now have an English boyfriend funnily enough. I think if I stayed in London, I would have just stayed within a clique of Australian travelers, which is totally fine, but it wasn’t what I was aiming for. I can do that back home.

If I’m honest, I can get a bit of cabin fever if I’ve been in the village too long though. It can get frustrating and I begin to feel a bit isolated, but then again I got a little too overwhelmed in London and wanted to get out for some peace and quiet at some stages. Both places have their pros and cons, and it will essentially come down to personal choice.

There’s something so peaceful and calming about the countryside. Everyone’s on a different level than in the city, not feeling like they have to be somewhere in a hurry, and simply a little more chirpy. It’s very cruisy. Don’t get me wrong, I love London. But I also love to be able to escape from London. And being in the countryside allows that. I can have an entire day, until 11pm if I wish, in London, and then grab the train back and I’ll be home. It’s simple. And gives me both the city and the country lifestyle.

I am by no means putting down London, or saying ‘don’t live in London you fool!’. I think it’s definitely worth living there, for many reasons. Not only to experience it, or to say you’ve lived there, but to test yourself. It’s a completely different experience that anything you’ve done before. An entirely different way to live.

I don’t want to come across as a negative Nancy about London. I just wish I was aware of my options before I jumped on the plane myself. And wish I could have read something like this to put more thought into my plans. And yes, I admit,  I’m biased to the countryside as I’ve lived here for a while now. But it’s nice to have the city not too far away.

Have you moved to England and lived in London or in the countryside? What did you prefer? Do you have any other tips? Please do share!

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  • Charmaine

    Definitely Katherine, I lived in the UK for just under 5 years and only stayed in London for weekend trips. Nottingham, Farnborough, Daventry, Byfield, Portsmouth were the wonderful places where I lived. We used to choose a pub in a small village to drive to and have sunday roast and then go for a good walk as there are always paths to discover in the countryside. Rugging up in jackets, scarves and beanies, beautiful scenery, the greenness of the farms, fresh crisp air and the smell of chimney fires are amongst some of my greatest memories. So glad you escaped living in London!

    • katthewanderer

      I wish I knew more about your time in the UK before I left home, Charmaine! Would have loved to hear about your experience. The places you lived are ones I’ve never been to before so they are now on my list! You’re right, there’s nothing better than the smell of the countryside! I’ll have to get some more tips from you! x