In our new column, Londoners get to tell it like it is. This week, Kate Lloyd has an absorbing response to our City Living Survey.
I went to a festival this summer where it rained. Relentlessly. Liquid mud swamped the pathways and slopped over groundsheets. Stalls sold out of waterproofs and wellies. Every day I saw tents disappear as people gave up and went home. The anguished cry, 'It's not worth it, mate. Look at my fucking New Balance!' echoed around the campsite, as soggy disco pants were shoved into rucksacks and value sleeping bags were jettisoned.
My friends and I kept telling each other, 'If it keeps raining, we'll leave.' We imagined the people who'd already headed home now luxuriating in bubble baths ('Yes, Hugo: they're still there, living like animals!'). And yet, we just couldn't bring ourselves to quit. At one point I had to put sanitary pads in my wellies to dry them out, but if I hadn't, I'd have missed all the best bits. Even the bleak moments have become great moments: stories that bond us together. The whole muddy-apocalypse-Always-Ultra thing now seems definitely worth it.
This, in a damp nutshell, is how I feel about London. It's been pretty stormy in recent years - especially for millennials like me. The results of our City Living Survey show that London's under-35s are an aspirational bunch. We value meaningful jobs, good friends and stacks of cash more than our provincial counterparts, and way more than Generation X-ers. But those things can be hard to come by in London, and the children of the '80s and '90s who've moved here on the promise of exciting career opportunities and life experiences have - in many cases - been caught in the deluge of high rents, spiralling living costs, long working hours, job cuts, unpaid internships and an addiction to overpriced coffee. If we're lucky, there'll be a novelty café nearby. If we're lucky.
It makes sense, then, that some of us are starting to consider leaving the city (our survey shows that 32 percent of Londoners are thinking about skipping town). I have to admit I sometimes fantasise about swapping my woodlouse-riddled, £1,260pcm flatshare for a more secure life back up North. I could have a nice job (possibly involving spreadsheets) with a sensible wage and a pension. I could have nice Sunday lunches with my parents in Warrington. I could even buy a nice little house.
But I know that this fantasy would turn out to be a nightmare. I moved to London because I want everything. Maybe that makes me an idiot, but I'm not going to settle for half somewhere else. All the struggle is worth it for the excitement the city does offer. The chance that I might get my hands on a job I love or meet like-minded people is enough to keep me here. And every time another friend leaves it makes me more determined to stay.
When I woke up on Sunday lunchtime in that waterlogged field, to find that the downpour had got Old Testamentally bad, I did think about going home. But I poured myself a plastic cup of wine and just got on with it. Well, okay, I just got drunk. And that's my outlook on London: it's pissing it down and my shoes are full of sanitary towels, but no way am I leaving now.
For more ranting and raving, read Kieran Yates' column on why Nando's is the best damn restaurant in town.