Finding Home | Work/Life Balance – Feeling Alone in a Big City

This Geeky Tangent Finding Home

The ideal work/life balance. That’s what we’re all reaching for, in the way that suits us best. Whether that be finding the job that works for you, of finding the best way to use your downtime in the most fulfilling way. I’ve been finding the transition back into the UK a hard one, especially in London.

Let’s look at the obvious differences:

London Hong Kong / Korea
Shops open c. 8.00-9.00 Shops open c. 10.00
Shops close c. 18.00 Shops generally close from c. 22.00, earliest
Cafe’s close at a similar time  24 hour cafes… I kid you not!
Cafe’s are where you go to have coffee Cafe’s are where you go to work/study
Eating out is eye-wateringly expensive Eating out is cheaper than cooking at home!
So. Much. Choice. You can choose from 10 of the same thing
Sunday closing hours… Sundays are like any other day!

The difference in opening hours (and Sunday hours) have been a tricky transition for me. I can’t finish work and pop along to a cafe. By the time I make it back to my own patch, it’s 6pm and everything is winding up to close. Anything that is open is a restaurant or bar, or not conducive to work (see table, row 4). And then there are Sundays. The worst day of the week. A day that is over by 6pm because, even in the Capital, most things are closed by 6pm. Having enjoyed 6 years of life where Sunday’s function much the same as any other day (bar the closure of the large supermarket chains every other week in Korea, to give the little guys a chance), returning to archaic Sunday opening hours is not a fun time!

What these hours mean is that socialising spaces, or out-of-home work spaces, are taken away from you – especially for the night owls who’d like some degree of separation between home and work. It removes an easy, and affordable way to meet friends mid-week for a post work coffee. Not everyone works in the centre of London, and mid-week drinks or dinners aren’t for everyone, never mind the affordability aspect! Additionally, small though London is in many ways, it can also take best part of an hour to get from A to B depending on the direction in which you’re trying to travel. Long story short, the hours can make you feel lonely, even if you live with someone.

I kicked off my time in London living with my best friend. She gave me a home and the time I needed to get on my feet, find a job, worm my way back into the UK. I now share a home with my boyfriend, and it’s the most beautiful flat imaginable (I would say that, I decorated it!) But still, despite living with people, despite being so fortunate that many of the friends I made whilst living abroad have made their way to London, despite both my siblings being here, I feel alone.

Everyone is busy, and everyone is working damn hard, and everyone is counting every penny. This is life now. This is London. We’ve wilfully jumped onto the hamster wheel and are now trying to catch up with ourselves, and finding a work/life balance within that, is tough.

But after all this, after the Sunday blues, the lack of face time with friends, and the loneliness that hovers on the peripheries, I don’t for a second regret my decision to come home.

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  1. Honestly, this is too real. I don’t live in London so some of this I don’t quite understand. But the other stuff….
    That I get.


    • I feel it’s pretty universal, well, not the Sunday hours… antiquated christian rules there. Are there laws regarding store operating hours in the States?


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