This is the second part to this post. The first is available here
While I was in London, thankfully I did not have to worry about paying for accommodation. However, even travel can be so expensive. Each day I went out, I could have been paying almost £10 GBP, just to get around. I had to use some cunning to devise longer routes to get everywhere by bus, but that still amounted to almost £5 GBP per day.
And then let’s talk about rent. I’ve just done a quick search on the Rightmove website around the London area I am familiar with in North London. There the least expensive (and expansive!) accommodation I found full stop was a room in a shared flat, costing £320 per month. The cheapest self-contained accommodation cost £550 pcm for a single room property. This means that someone would be paying well at least £74 per week to share with others, or well over £100 per week, for their own place – for this most basic need.
There are definitely more affordable parts of London, as well as areas which are far more expensive. However, this is the area I am familiar with, and it represents a leafy suburb, somewhere considered quite a nice area.
And then another reason I judged them was because I automatically assumed that each one attends a “You will be blessed” church, as these are so popular among Nigerian Pentecostal Christians. To be honest, the probability of this is so high that I am sure that I am 99% likely to be right. The so-called Prosperity Gospel has infiltrated the Nigerian church so deeply that it is almost safe to assume that almost every young Nigerian Christian professional that you meet attends one of these churches, unless they come from a different tradition, for instance if they are Roman Catholic, and even then many young Nigerian Roman Catholics attend these Prosperity Gospel churches. And yet the effect of attending one of these churches would be to make people feel even more self-conscious about their financial status. That is because there is unspoken but intense pressure to demonstrate how financially “blessed” you are by living an outwardly lavish life. So this might make a man feel less than adequate if he were to take a girl out to a modest restaurant, or – heavens! – somewhere where he did not have to pay money at all. No, you always have to be throwing your card around, doing everything to impress someone financially. And then the same thing goes for where you live. I’m guessing that it is almost unthinkable to expect a would-be wife to start off with you in modest accommodation, to work together, to grow, to persevere (although many people must do this, of course).
And to think that it is church, conducted in the name of God, that is exerting this kind of pressure on people.
To be honest, a big reason why this thinking has permeated so deeply into the Nigerian (Yoruba) church is because it corresponds so closely to the native Nigerian (Yoruba) mentality, which is extremely materialistic and extremely status-conscious. And we Yorubas are so prominent and so loud in the Nigerian church (which is itself so prominent in African Christianity) that we have managed to draw other Nigerian cultures into our way of thinking, as well as other West African cultures.
So I daresay, in this kind of church environment, a man would not feel comfortable asking a wife to join him in a studio flat, but would need to at least offer her a one bedroom flat!
There the cheapest property I found cost £750 PCM for a flat with a small bedroom, and other restrictions.
This means that accommodation alone would cost £9000 per annum. I was not able to find details of the costs of annual travelcards for travelling around. However, assuming a very conservative cost of £5 per day for a full travelcard (including trains and the London Underground tube alongside buses), that would come to a total of £1825 per annum. This means that before you think of anything else, including food, paying your tithe(!), socialising, you need to be making almost 11K a year after tax just to keep a roof over your head and to be able to get around. And these are the very cheapest rates. And then of course you do have to think of everything else – like food and clothes and bills.
And from experience, I know how hard it is to get even a seemingly basic job in London. Because the competition is so intense and everyone is under financial pressure, you cannot afford to take any risks with your job. I’m guessing that for many people they essentially have to be prepared to jump just as high as their bosses demand, and be constantly pushing themselves to achieve more and more with less time and fewer resources, until their lives essentially revolve around work. This becomes increasingly true the more senior the level attained. So no wonder lots of dating sites have sprung up specifically to cater to “busy Londoners”. Of course Londoners are busy – they are busy slaving away each to keep a roof over his head and to afford the transport fare to actually be able to get to work! If I were to move back to London, this would also become my life.
When moving back to London, you are forced to become money-oriented, whether you like it or not, which is not very compatible with business start-up mode.
I remember when I was actually living there. Among a certain circle of friends, we would make plans months ahead to meet up. And yet so many times, these plans would fall through at the last minute, because various things would invariably come up for at least half of us.
So yes in theory, London is a magic land of marital opportunity, where the streets are paved with golden men. And yet in practice, yes, you might meet these men at these social events, but then to actually be able to get to know them, to be able to spend time together, to expect to be able to invest solid time into your relationship once you are married – ain’t nobody got time for that!
That said, I guess that that still compares favourably with not actually having anyone to meet up here!
And then there is also the fact that I am theologically very fussy; I refuse to attend one of these “You will be blessed” churches. Unfortunately because they attract so many young people, social activities do tend to revolve around these churches, and the social life present in those very rare churches with genuinely biblical theology does seem to be drastically more quiet – exactly like in my present churches! So that considered, not much point moving back at all then!
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
1 Timothy 6v10
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil….
Photo of London Underground sign by Giuliamar on Pixabay