So I am back. I have been away from blogging on this site for two years and a half since moving to London. So what happened? Life got very busy during this period. I completed my Master’s, got married, started a new job, and traveled around the world mostly visiting families.
I am getting over the travel bug. I no longer fancy traveling anywhere else except to see families. Europe is nice to visit, but horrible to live in, especially London. I’ve come to my senses and I want to leave London. I did not want to leave my loved ones behind when I moved to London anyway. The more I visit my families in California and Taiwan, the less I want to stay in London. There is nothing attractive to me about living and working in London considering the quality of life here is poor. Here are the major factors that make me dislike London more the longer I live here:
- The weather:
- Despite the 4-5 weeks vacation time I get in England, which allows me to see families in different continents, I do not see much sunlight in London most of the year, which leaves me vitamin D deficient especially in winter. I cannot really tolerate vitamin D tablets and function properly when I’m low on vitamin D, so I end up using my vacation time just to go to sunnier climes. When I am not on vacation, I return to flu and SAD epidemics in London caused by bad weather.
- Cost of living:
- London is known as one of the most expensive cities to live in. They do really make a fine art of nickel and diming everything such as customer service and providing unacceptable service for the amount they charge.
- Public transport fares increase each year, by approximately by 2.5% to make the transport more reliable and to increase the capacity. In my experience, it is not reliable at all. They have not increased number of train carriages during rush hour and the train in my neighborhood has been delayed or cancelled for the last two months straight.
- Taxes–40% tax on salary over what I consider from a San Franciscan perspective, a minimum wage of £31,865 and even higher if you make over 150K. And if you inherit some estate from a UK resident, you still get taxed at 40% if it is worth over £325,000.
- Toll free numbers for customer service rarely exist. Most likely you have to pay for each phone call to customer service.
- The crowds and anti-social behaviors:
- Overcrowded trains filled with rude people during rush hour. Go to Waterloo station after work and you will risk being run over by several people running in all different directions to catch their train. And majority of time, you cannot find a seat on the train or the tube during those hours.
- People can be quite daringly rude and dirty here that I need to get out of London to relax. The crowds in London can bring out the worst in people. Commuters like to push and cut others off when they are in transit during rush hours, as if they are rushing to go to hell. Stop and smell the roses, Londoners! Also, there is littering everywhere, even the real estate agents like to litter their for sale signs in my front yard in my presence.
- There is no talking, listening to music or mobile usage allowed on some quiet carriages of the train.
- People are screamingly loud in restaurants that it makes me feel like I am in an American bar during SuperBowl. The posh ones can be even louder and ruder–they are essentially chav.
- Drinking culture:
- Bars everywhere.
- People get drunk early and either pester passengers or vomit in public transportation on weekend evenings.
- Buying-rounds and excessive drinking.
- Conservative career progression:
- It is hard to get promoted and learn innovative things and cutting edge technology that can help advance your career here. Employers tend to be resistant to innovations and change that can lead to increased efficiency. So you are stuck with doing things the old-fashioned way and not learn new marketable skills, especially when those people above you hold the same job for a long time until they retire.
- The salary:
- Salary is relatively low if you do not work in banking, which sucks when you live in the most expensive city in the world with high salary tax and a retirement age for generation Y women at 68. Take for example the average salary for statisticians in California and London. According to Indeed chart below, statisticians living in the San Francisco Bay Area make an annual average salary of over $100,000 which is two times higher than an annual average salary of £34,193 ($52,792) that statisticians make in London. Also keep in mind salary tax is lower in California than in the UK.
As statistics is what I do for a living in London, this salary comparison is the deal breaker for me. I am definitely going to try to get a statistician job in California.
So what is the major drawback if I move back to California? Pay taxes on my UK salary, but I am willing to put up with that if there is no way around it for a substantially higher salary, better career progression, and being closer to my family. And better weather is always a bonus.