Hampstead Heath London

Before moving to this crazy city I was told of an important milestone for Londoners: once you reach five years, either you stay forever or you leave. Five years in I decided to leave.

My love-hate relationship with this place is shared by many – maybe this list too.

1. Food
To miss: dishes from every corner of the world, cooked either by your friends or in one of thousands of restaurants.
Not to miss: Sainsbury’s tomatoes tasting like cucumbers, Kenya-injected avocados and peeled Thai prawns making us forget what living prawns look like.

2. Job market
To miss: being able to apply to virtually any job.
Not to miss: Brits calling me European.

3. People
To miss: making friends with friends of friends who became friends for life, come from every corner of the world and understand my London struggles so well.
Not to miss: only seeing them every five weeks and accepting that once one of us leaves we’ll never live in the same city again.

London skies4. Weather
To miss: 10 million people appreciating every single minute of sunshine.
Not to miss: ten months of winter.

5. Culture
To miss: so many things to do and places to visit – still making the last tube home.
Not to miss: failing to organise things that need booking three months in advance (including speeddating, which implies the optimistism that we’ll still be single in three months time).

6. Outdoors
Will miss: making the most of parks, exercising outside and spending long afternoons in beer gardens.
Not to miss: no free seats in the summer, ice cream shortage, far too much hummus and refusing beer in parks because there’s nowhere to pee.

7. Public transport
London public transportTo miss: going anywhere I want, bumping into all sorts of ethnicities and social levels, barely seeing cars on the street and walking freely at night.
Not to miss: needing at least 30 minutes to get anywhere, suffocating in a tube carriage when my day has only just started and having to stretch my arm to the ceiling to read a newspaper.

8. Travel
To miss: every destination is so cheap when you earn in GBP.
Not to miss: returning from holiday straight to the office when it’s winter in July.

9. Openness
To miss: it’s a capital of fashion but nobody gives a shit about others’ body shapes, clothes or hair colour.
Not to miss: knowing that so many Muslims can’t walk down the street without being looked at – or shouted at.

10. Working culture
To miss: after work drinks with colleagues from any level of seniority, free training, finding my dream job and being recognised for my work.
Not to miss: commuting in the dark, being told that eating is cheating and finding kebab & chips as an acceptable Friday dinner.

(11. Housing
Let me skip this one since there isn’t anything to miss about it) 

London office

Most of all I will miss the place that changed me for the better over five years. But will never miss the grey days that made me want to be anywhere but London.