Two Years In Edinburgh: How Did I Get Here?
Strap yourselves in, this is a chatty one...
Today marks two whole years since we packed up our belongings (again) and waved goodbye to London life, hopping on a train to Edinburgh from Kings Cross, with a removals lorry following behind. In some ways, I can't believe it's been two years already, and in others, it feels like we've been here for far longer - so much has happened that it feels surreal to have squashed it all into just two short years.
For a bit of background - in case you didn't know, I'm from London, but had spent around eight years in Scotland from the age of 15, living in Aberdeen and Glasgow. After we'd graduated and settled into our jobs, the opportunity came up at work to relocate to London, and we decided to go for it. Lewis had always wanted to try living there, and I was at a point where I just wanted to be closer to my family again, so it seemed to make sense.
But London living was much harder than I anticipated; our flat in Crystal Palace was tiny, cramped, damp and noisy - a world away from the spacious two-bed we'd left in Glasgow's West End, and double the rent too. The commute was mind-numbingly expensive, overcrowded and stressful, especially given the contrast from our casual stroll to the office back in Glasgow. But we loved the atmosphere, the possibilities, the things to do - being at the heart of everything. London really is the centre of the universe when you're living there.
We had been saving like maniacs for a year or two and less than a year after we moved to London, we bought a beautiful Victorian one-bed in Zone 4, ten minutes from where I grew up, ticking every box on our wishlist. It was top-floor, with our own front door, had big rooms with windows in each one, an attic, a car parking space, even a little balcony - it really was lovely and we could barely believe it was ours. But as lovely as it was, I think I knew deep down that it would never really be 'home' for me, and in the eighteen months we were there, I never felt properly settled. I was missing our old life, missing our friends, missing our family too.
I didn't know what it was exactly that was bothering me, so I decided to change things up and get a new job, in a fashion PR agency that I'd known of for a couple of years. I got the job and was so excited to get started - but it was this job that was the final push to get out of London and return to Scotland. A few weeks in, I adored my job and all of its hectic ways, but a month or two later, I couldn't bear to be there. The atmosphere was like nothing I'd ever experienced, nobody seemed truly friendly, and the working culture was set to 'burnout'. It really wasn't for me.
With everything combined, I knew that enough was enough, and was spending all my time daydreaming about the balanced life we'd enjoyed in Glasgow - and so we just decided to do it. Lewis spoke with his work about relocating, and I decided to email a woman who'd contacted me a year earlier about a role in Edinburgh, thinking I was still in Glasgow. Luckily, she still wanted to meet me, and even luckier, we had a trip booked to Edinburgh two weeks later for a family wedding. We hit it off instantly and she offered me a job in a new agency she was launching - she told me to take a while to think about it but I knew on the spot it was right for me.
As soon as we were home, the flat got put on the market, and we started making preparations. I handed in my notice and started counting down the days, we began boxing up our belongings and booked our train tickets for the first Sunday in September.
When the day came, I obviously cried my eyes out but I was just so excited for us to go off and start a new adventure. It was like I felt the weight of the last two years fall away the further the train got from Kings Cross - it was amazing. But I knew from the moment the train stopped in Waverley that it was the best decision we could have made, even weighed down with three suitcases each and with the knowledge that we were moving from a one-bed flat to Lew's auntie's spare bedroom.
And two years later, I still think, hand on heart, that it's the best decision we ever made. We spent two months being looked after by Lew's auntie, which was just what I needed after such a bruising past six months in London, and then we moved into what can only be described as an enormous flat in Edinburgh, twice the size of the one we'd bought and far cheaper than living in London. It was big enough that we hosted Christmas for 80% of Lewis' family that year, and for the first time in years, we both felt settled and comfy and relaxed.
We wanted to get back on the property ladder, which was quite a stressful experience as Edinburgh is very oversubscribed and our budget was the same as basically every other buyer out there, so we were all competing for the same properties - but last August, eleven months into Edinburgh life, we got the keys to our own little nest in the New Town and couldn't believe our own luck.
And now it's been two years, and so much is different that it's strange to comprehend some days. I love my job, and look forward to going to the office instead of getting Sunday Night Dread. Lewis can walk to work! We can both be home by 6pm, instead of still sat at our desks with two hours' of gridlocked commuting ahead of us.
We see our friends every week and see family much more often too, and it's not a hassle to get there - just a simple day trip. We have a flat that we love, right in the centre of town - it's not the biggest but it's just what we need, and every time I come home, I feel glad to be here. And of course, we've gotten engaged since we moved to Edinburgh too, and that's just pure magic in itself.
Life is just much happier, smoother and more balanced since we made the move - so I guess that the moral of the story is: if something isn't right and you know it, change it. Be brave and make the leap, do what you need to do to make your life a better, brighter place. I've never regretted it, even for a second.