Expat Files: DEciding to stay in London

I’ve been wanting to write this one for so long. We are in our seventh year of London life – I actually can’t believe it, we never thought we’d be here longer than two years, yet here we are.

I wrote our story of how we came to England, and how it all worked with visas and everything here. Today, I thought I would write about the reasons that we’ve stayed, through all the doubts and fears and hard times.

The ability to come to the UK from the US is something I still consider a huge privilege. Even through all the paperwork headaches, the constant visa/ID cards/passport woes, I know we are fortunate in that we have two places to call home, each with opportunity and a healthy economy – that is definitely not lost on me!

When we came to London, it took us a full year of living here, then moving to a new neighborhood, to find our footing. Even still, I would say we haven’t fully settled in. I love West London, but we’re not in our forever neighborhood or forever house by any means. I think constantly about moving elsewhere in London (or even outside!) but can’t ever seem to make the decision. We love where we live, and love the life we’ve carved out for ourselves here. The kids are happily settled in school and life is generally good.

Even with all the pros, it isn’t easy to live here. The older our kids get, the smaller our house feels. The more I want to give them the kind of normal suburban American childhood I had with more space to run around, fresh air, ease of transportation with a car instead of walking everywhere, often in the rain and wind.

Yet. We’re still here. And I can’t imagine any other life.

Since I was a kid, I always craved change. I was that child always rearranging my bedroom and furniture in the house to reset perspective. London gives me that every day: there are still so many parts that I haven’t explored, new neighborhoods, new cafes, new parks, new people. This city is constantly evolving and changing, and I find endless inspiration in that change.

What are the things that make us fall in love again and again?

It’s the parks and museums. We have our favorites (V&A for me, Science Museum for the kids, Tate for the mister) and visit often.

It’s the community that we love and have embraced us back.

It’s the food (this is a huge part of it, I won’t lie, haha).

It’s that you can hop on a train and 30 minutes later pop up in the middle of an English village. Add another 30 minutes on the train, you’re in the middle one of the best food market in the world.

It’s the schools that encourage our children to be their best selves and offer world-class educational opportunities.

It’s the lazy summer evenings in the parks with friends. It’s the ability to book a super cheap economy flight to Europe and be on a Spanish beach the next week. It’s the kindness of strangers on the train and in cafes.

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It’s the beautiful houses with character, and the urban gardeners that make London streets as beautiful as they can be.

London gives us so much. It takes a lot, too, don’t get me wrong! But there’s a reason so many people cram into the small flats and don’t mind sharing a seat on the train, or sitting next to a stranger at the park. Never a dull day living in London. If we ever move, I know I’ll come back to this post and cry because this city has made me who I am today and I’ll be forever grateful for how it’s shaped me.

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londonispink

Finding the bright side of life.

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