A woman was forced out of her flat in London due to astronomical price hikes – but has since settled down in Essex. MyLondon reporter, Lea Dzifa Seeberg, has moved to the beautiful historical Essex city of Colchester – and has no regrets.
Paying half the price for a flat that is double the size, Colchester is the perfect place to settle down to away from the hustle and bustle of London. At just £1000 per month for a two bed flat with two bathrooms, its worlds away from her former London abode.
Forced out of her London home due to a total rent price of £2,200 per month for a one bed, one bathroom gaff, Lea absolutely loves her new Essex life. This is what Lea said.
Growing up in Oslo, I used to visit London every summer with my mum. Those weeks spent among the high-rise buildings and wandering along Southbank were my favourite. I always knew I wanted to live in London and as soon as it was time to apply for university in 2018, I chose only London ones. By some stroke of luck, I got offered a spot at one of them and I packed all my belongings into two suitcases and set off for the Big Smoke.
That first year, my life was pure bliss. I lived centrally in Clerkenwell and it took me a while to wrap my head around the fact I could leave my student accommodation and London was right there. I’d hop on buses into Chinatown (thanks, under 18 Oyster), wander along the Thames and revel in the fact that I could eat, do or see anything I wanted. I did all that while stoically ignoring my debt.
Fast-forward three years, and I was living in the most stunning flat any 20-something journalist could hope for with my now-fiancé. It was modern, bright and I had a view of the entire London skyline and Canary Wharf. We secured it during the height of the pandemic by signing for it based purely on a video viewing. As such, we got what the letting agent called a ‘Covid discount’.
‘Priced out of London to settle in Colchester’
For one bedroom and one bathroom, we paid £1,400 per month. After one year of blissful sunsets over the buildings, it was time to renew the lease. Lo and behold, they were asking £2,200 per month. I was furious at being priced out of a city I had come to think of as mine, but with combined paychecks of just over £3,000, we had to move.
We had been talking about leaving London for some time, and the price increase solidified it. We settled on Colchester in Essex, initially just because of how easy it would be to commute. But after one visit, we both fell completely in love with the quaint town. It reminded me of Oslo in a way – all cobbled streets and independent shops with a cafe on every corner. And I haven’t looked back since.
For £1,000 per month, we secured a two-bed, two-bath flat 10 minutes from the train station in one direction and ten minutes from town centre in the other. The size of the living room alone matches that of my entire old flat in Tower Hamlets.
It’s so bright I always wake up thinking I’ve left the lights on, the kitchen now has enough space to actually cook in and the amount of storage space is unmatched. The second bedroom is being used as an office and my fiancé and I now have a bathroom each.
And did I mention it’s only £1,000 per month? London’s rental market could never. With bills being roughly the same as they were in London, I’m saving £400 per month. That money is going towards paying off our car, which gives us the freedom to explore Essex. I can also walk everywhere now, which saves money and just feels nicer than hanging out on the Central line. I’m so happy I was forced out of London and if I ever miss it, it’s just a 40-minute train ride away.
How has the cost of living crisis affected you? Let us know in the comments