Bristol-born Theo Watt explains how his move back home from London has put the two cities in perspective
It’s been a couple of weeks since I moved back home to Bristol following my two year stint in London. Over that time I’ve read countless features and articles which compare both cities on cultural and financial grounds like this one published in i-D magazine.
For me London was the obvious choice to pursue a career in journalism, where else would you make it? I’d spent a lot of time there before as a kid and had family there but mainly because in my head it was just a bigger version of Bristol – which in some ways it was.
I moved up on June 30, 2013. I remember the day because I left Glastonbury festival on the Sunday to start an apprenticeship the next day – not advised.
I remember it playing out like a film. My parents dropped me off at Reading station and it was off to Twickenham where I was staying at the time to begin my new life as a Londoner.
I spent the next two years working at MTV channel, interviewing famous people, going to parties and reviewing gigs for a number of magazines in my spare time. It was a lot of hard work but an incredible amount of fun.
The move back to Bristol wasn’t at all that dramatic. My contract was up and me and my housemates were ready to get out of our South London house. It was cheaper rent, clean air, friends and family that coerced me back here.
My biggest fear was finding work but I was pleasantly surprised to see how much the creative industries have grown in Bristol. Naturally there’s more jobs in London but what’s a job when you can’t afford to pay your rent?
Coming back for weekends at a time when it was very hard to really see how much things have changed in this city, the immediate fear was that it would be a step down from the crazy and exciting fast living that London offers. But I’ve realised now that this is a city that you can take at your own pace and it’s having that freedom which makes living here enjoyable.
Perhaps working as a journalist constantly searching for the story you do learn to look a bit harder for things that are going on, but I’ve hardly had to dig all that hard at all.
So, the question is: have I changed or has Bristol changed? Perhaps it’s a bit of both and in no way is this piece intended as a slight on London – I had some of the best years of my life there.
London, just like Bristol, seems to be going through a real period of change. On average you’re likely to hear the words ‘gentrification’ and ‘living wage’ close to thirty times a day.
I think it’s becoming more and more apparent to a number of young professionals who wish to pursue a future in the arts, TV or publishing that London is no longer the only place to be anymore. In saying that, it was well worth it.