The challenges of living at home and commuting to London

Monday, 27 November 2017 London, UK

The Challenges of Living at Home and Commuting to London
You may be aware that for the last four months, I have been working for a PR agency in Central London. I was over the moon to find my first job out of university in such an exciting place (I mean who doesn't dream about working in London at some point in their lives?!).

However, as everyone knows, living in London is incredibly expensive. Since my commute from home to the office is just over an hour each way, I decided to move home again whilst I found my feet in my new job. As you will see, there are some benefits to living at home, but they come with just as many disadvantages.

I know plenty of people who are aboout to go through, are going through, or have just finished with commuting to London from home, so I thought I would discuss the (small) joys and challenges I've faced with commuting to work in London.

Home comforts

Undeniably, one of the nicest benefits of living at home is the comfort of being around family in a homely space, compared to the studenty, less than homely houses I lived in during university! Coming back to a hearty meal is wonderful, especially after a particularly long or stressful day at work. Since returning from university, I really appreciate being able to unwind and spend more time with the family at the weekends. It's a great antidote to the 9-5 grind of city life.

Of course, I can attempt to save money! Attempt is the key word... I live in a pretty and safe area in the South East, so having time away from the stress of life during the week has sometimes made all the difference, as by Friday I'm left exhuasted from work and commuting.

The commuting nightmare

That said, there will always be downsides to living at home and commuting into London. The biggest downside for me is the lack of free time I have to myself in the evenings: on a normal day, the earliest I get home is 7pm, and I leave the house at 6.30am. Essentially, this leaves me exhausted by the time I'm finally home - for the first few months all I could do was flop on the sofa and do nothing.

The fact is that commuting takes quite the energy and time out of your day. It can also be stressful, infuriating as well as ridiculously expensive! I have weeks where the endless travelling can sap all my motivation and I struggle to keep up. I find this especially when trains are unreliable and delay my journey even further.

Factoring in commuting often dampens my plans and I'm left in the position where I have to cancel seeing friends or going to fitness classes after work because I'll be home too late, knowing I'll be waking up early again the next morning. If I ever want to stay a little later in London after work, it's a real headache working out who will be able to pick me up from the station and what time I'll be back home. This often makes anything fun to improve social life and enjoyment seem like more of an effort than it's worth. 

The impact on well-being and work-life balance

I've found that some weeks I have no energy or motivation to push myself outside of work, whereas others I'm full of energy and I throw myself into seeing friends, doing more sport and generally having more of a good time. I've noticed my moods swing more dramatically and I tend to get stuck in negative or positive moods for entire weeks and this can play havoc with my outlook on everything else, which is frustrating. I would love to squeeze in more time to exercise, as its great for fitness and mental health, but finding the time is difficult.

Some weeks, I feel isolated because I don't spend a lot of time at home or in the area where I work, so it can feel like I don't belong fully to one place. I struggle with the lack of regular friends nearby me. With university over, friends have dispersed to separate parts of London or other countries, my boyfriend studies in Southampton and home friends are busy with their work so I don't see any of them on a regular basis. Knowing they are all just as busy as myself is a comfort, but the lack of face to face contact with them is hard.

Enjoy the small pleasures

Talking about these things can be hard to admit, but I've learnt graduate life is hard for a lot of my friends, for all the stresses and time constraints working life can bring. For now, I'm trying to keep my commute interesting, with podcasts, music and good books. I'm making the effort to do fun things after work, and accepting the fact that I will get home later to provide more balance to my social life.

I also make the effort to explore the area during lunch breaks whenever possible, to connect a little more with the city and to get as much joy out of it as possible!

Thanks for reading! Do you commute to another city for work? How do you overcome these challenges?

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The Challenges of Living at Home and Commuting to London

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