44 Things you should know before moving to London

Before we start, I would just like to remind you that this is not a " How to move to London guide ". If you're looking for...

Before we start, I would just like to remind you that this is not a "How to move to London guide". If you're looking for this, read THIS blog post instead.


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Last updated: January 2021


London is a very well known city all over the world.

We learn about it at school, we've seen photos of Big Ben and Tower Bridge on our English books and all over social media, and it's also a quite popular filming location, so we've all seen it at some point. Thanks Harry Potter!

The thing is, London is a dream city for many. And if you're reading this, chances are, London is a dream city for you too, and you're planning on moving here! Congrats - I guess...

When you're planning to move to London you have to consider a lot of things. This is a place like no other, with specific rules that don't apply probably anywhere else, and with a reality that not always is a as glamorous as you think it might be.

But let's not ruin your dream of a perfect London life (just yet), because it's not all bad (but it's also not all good!)


westminster bridge

TABLE OF CONTENTS


LONDON RULES

So let's start with rules that everyone should know before moving to London (or even visiting to be fair). These rules shall apply the moment you step into the grounds of a London's Airport (if you're flying) or anywhere that belongs to the County of London and shall have no effect as soon as you leave the area (either through an airplane or by any other means that take you away from these holly grounds).

Now jokes aside, by all means, please try to respect these, or you will certainly receive bad looks from angry Londoners (yes, because they prefer to stare rather than talk - such unique creatures, aren't they?)



1) Keep left, unless you're on a escalator!

At this point I think this is widely known, but people in London like (or need, or got used) to rush. So while you're still relaxed and used to the slow paced lifestyle, make sure you do not stand in the way of those who prefer the fast paced one - which trust me, are more than you think!

You might hate them for forcing you to stand on the right, or screaming "EXCUSE ME" in a rude manner, or because they seem to rush for no reason, but trust me, if you're going to move to London, that will probably be you in a few months time: rushing and internally cursing everyone who keeps left on the escalators.


2) Do not walk slow

Of course everyone is entitled to walk at their own pace but, don't say I didn't warn you. Londoners hate slow walkers so if you're one of them, be ready to be an annoyance to other people. 

If you're walking on a open area where there's plenty of space to move, this will not be an issue, but when you're close to busy areas, like a tube station, and people cannot walk faster because they can't get past you, you will probably be the person they will hate for the rest of the day. They will use you as the reason why they got late to work, to their date, to a concert, or anything else they were rushing to.

Is it your fault? Not really.

Walk at your own pace, but just be ready to be confronted with some scary eye gazing.


3) Do not stop when walking

This one is another golden rule in London. While walking slow can be forgiven because well, not everyone has the lifestyle of a busy Londoner, suddenly stopping while walking is a big NO NO. 

There's nothing more infuriating than walking behind someone who is already walking at a slower pace than us, and that suddenly decides to stop, forcing us to remove our eyes from our precious phones, think about our next move in under one second so we avoid physical contact with a stranger we almost bumped into, and having to deeply inhale and exhale so we don't start swearing out loud. It's just too much to handle.

Please be kind, and avoid causing such hard time to a harmless individual. We're innocent and calm. Until you stop in front of us out of nowhere. 

If you do need to stop, watch your surroundings so you can safely walk to a corner where it's safe to stop. London is like a big highway: you should always take safety measures (AKA look around you) before stopping.


4) Have your oyster card ready (at all times!)

london underground oyster card

And that reminds me: why people do not have their Oyster Card / Contactless ready when leaving the tube station? Or entering the bus? That's another mystery to many of us Londoners, which really, it's easy to solve. Tourists and non-Londoners do not know when exactly they will get to the card reader. Some even forget you need to tap in and out, so they expect the turnstiles to open on their own (sure, why not?). On bus stops, they are too busy figuring out which bus to take, so they forget they actually need to have their card ready to tap as soon as the bus arrives.

What is the issue with it you ask? Bus drivers generally do not close their doors until everyone has tap in their cards. And if the person who is looking for their card is in front of you, even if you're ready to go, you will often be left waiting for them until you can tap yours. And you know, sometimes it's cold outside, or raining, or (most of the time) you're in a rush. 

Similarly, if you're on the tube, you want to leave as quick as possible. But if the person in front of you stops right at the turnstile and only then starts looking for the card, you will probably lose your patience as you could have gone for another turnstile and be out of the tube station by the time the person is ready.


5) Do not eat on public transportation

I mean... Yes, eat if you need to. But be considerate and ready to receive attention from other people who might be hungry, offended by the fact that you are eating in public (silly you!!) or might just enjoy watching other's eat (you will be surprised!).

When I said be considerate, this is what I meant:

  • DO NOT eat smelly food on public transportation (avoid eggs, fish and hot food for example);
  • DO NOT eat messy food on public transportation (for example: steak, pasta, sushi or burger if you can't eat them without having part of your meal on your check, hands, on the floor or even worse, on the person that is seating next to you);
  • DO eat quietly. No one will like to hear you slurping or munching your food on the way to their next stop (cookies, crisps and nuts are some examples);
  • DO take the litter with you, and leave the space as it was previously (a bit obvious, but it seems like sometimes people need a little reminder);
  • DO be prepared to receive negative/judging looks, even if you do all of the above.

Personally, I try to respect this as much as possible but sometimes, I just need to grab a bite - and I take full responsibility for the eye gazes, but my belly comes first.


6) Do not talk randomly to strangers on the tube and avoid eye contact

I mean, you can look at other people, but it's somehow so awkward that at some point you will feel forced to look the other way. And do not worry, with time, you will learn. You will learn to look up to the advertisements and tube stops map, down to your phone / newspaper or even to the horizon. Anything to avoid eye contact.

The stereotype is that Londoners are self-centred, cold, rude and impatient. And while that is a stereotype, I can't blame people for believing in it. Londoners come across impatient because many of them have such a fast paced lifestyle, that anything that moves slower than that is annoying, meaning they can be both impatient and very rude to those that are not on the same page. Not only that, because many Londoners live mostly for work, and some even for appearances, that will explain why people consider Londoners self-centred. To make things worse, city life than be pretty though, and dealing with difficult costumers, competition at work, busy schedules, lack of sleep, damaged relationships and family problems, worsened with a depressive weather, I guess the last thing on someone's mind is being friendly and positive. 

And before we continue, I would like to say that while I do agree that a certain group of people might have similarities, originating stereotypes, I honestly believe that there are all sorts of people in all sorts of places, and that being a Londoner does not make you self-centred, cold, rude and impatient. If you are, you cannot blame it in the place that you live in (at least not entirely).

Londoners are generally quite reserved, and it's common knowledge that here, people respect the need for privacy. Some would even declare that talking to a stranger during peak time on the underground is considered breech of etiquette. In other words, starting a conversation with a stranger in a place full of people where the only thing you can hear is the high pitch sound of the train moving along the line, can lead to an uncomfortable situation where everyone stares, creating an awkward atmosphere.

On top of that, you don't really know what that person is going through, what are they focusing on and how many stops they have left until they get off. For example, you could be potentially interrupting someone who has decided to take the time of their commuting to prepare themselves for a big meeting they would have at work as soon as they arrive, or you could start a conversation with someone and have that conversation finish in less than 2 minutes because they were getting off the next stop - talk about bad timing!


7) Do not invade other people's personal space

packed London underground

This is a bit impossible when you're squeezed like a canned sardine at pick time on the tube, but rather than that, it is common sense that people like their own space, specially here in London. So if there is space, avoid getting too close to others, as this will make them anxious and uncomfortable.

Here's an example: if you would like to seat, and there are two seats next to someone, choose the one at the end. Some people find it extremely uncomfortable when someone sits right next to them, specially when there's other seats available. They will feel like you're trying to see what they're working on their laptop or what they're typing on their phones.

Other good practices include not holding onto the hand rail on the tube if someone is there and there is space elsewhere for you to stand and not asking private questions to a stranger.


8) Don't take it personal when people yell at you

As I mentioned previously, Londoners are often in a rush, stressed, sometimes anxious and lonely, and often miserable due to the weather - and if you don't understand why, spend 2 months under the grey sky, and you will see how miserable you become (for real!).

Being rude to someone is not OK, specially when they did nothing wrong. But unfortunately, people often have different notions about what is right and what is wrong. And while I do have a hard time trying to deal with rudeness in this city, not because Londoners are rude, but because there is a bit of a cultural shock to me here (I was raised in a different country and environment where people are straightforward and talk about the problems instead of hiding them with a fake smile and politeness that comes across rude), I quickly came to the conclusion that often times, I shouldn't take it personal.

For example, when people get annoyed because I am walking slower than them, it's not that I am a bad person for walking slow, they're just having a stressful day. If someone gets angry at me because I am talking in a foreign language at the bus (excuse me if my mother speaks Portuguese and as a good daughter I call her frequently to check in on her), I will do my best to not be loud, but I will remain aware that I am doing nothing wrong. And if someone has a strange behaviour and suddenly screams at me even though I did nothing, I understand that there are also people with mental health issues that they cannot control.

And while again, I do not think is fair nor OK to put our frustrations on others, I do realize I am better off understanding that I did nothing wrong (if this is the case) and so I should not have a miserable day because someone acted unfairly to me. And you shouldn't too.


9) Do not wait for the green light to cross the street

green light london

This was obviously a joke (in case you didn't get it), and very bad advise of course - but it was intentional. In case you didn't know, there isn't a law that forbids pedestrians to cross a road without a cross walk, at least in the UK. According to the Green Cross Code, pedestrians should use nearby crossings if available and if not, they should make their own judgment on whether it is safe to cross or not in a particular location.

This opens doors to pedestrians not waiting for the green light to cross, and when cyclists do not respect the traffic lights as well, accidents occur.

London is (as you already know) a busy city. This means that there are loads of different vehicles on the roads, and they are often moving fast. Specially if you come from abroad, you might not be used to the fact that here, vehicles drive on the left hand side, which means, you will instantly look the other way, and you can get hit in seconds. Not only that, when there's a lot of traffic and you feel like you can walk through, remember that there will be cyclists as well as motorcyclists moving through the little space between vehicles and if you don't watch out, you might get hit by one of them.

So moral of the story: do wait for the green light and take extra care when crossing the road.


10) Be aware of your belongings!

Being a big city, there's no surprise that London is full of pick pockets, bag and phone snatchers. Even though it never happened to me (at least until now), I have heard horrible stories of people who got dragged along the pavement for holding onto their bags while a guy on a motorcycle drove past and tried to snatch it, or those who lost their phones while they were on a call, as a stranger ran by and stole it from them.

But of course there's more: leaving your belongings unattended is a big NO NO, and leaving your bike parked without two good lockers, one in the front and one in the back, is another NO NO. I've heard way too many stories about people getting their bikes totally or partially stolen.


11) Leave the swans (and geese) alone


I hope you enjoyed the video above! ๐Ÿ˜ And in case this is new to you, yes, Police are often given the task to escort geese off the roads. Delightful to watch.

Also, you might not know this, but all swans in England are the property of the crown since the 12th Century, and so, only the Queen can kill them if she decides to do so. They are protected, and killing or stealing them would be considered an offense.



LONDONER'S STRUGGLES

Now that we mentioned the golden rules of living or visiting London, it's time to talk about the struggles that almost all Londoners have or had at some point in their journey in this city, so you can get prepared to when your time comes.



1) Paying the rent 

The first one could not be any other than paying rent. Housing in London is extreeeeemely expensive, and when you move here, you've got plenty of options: live with other people and save money (which is probably what you're going to do for a while), or live on your own and spend all of your wages on a flat that is not even impressive (this if you can actually afford a flat, since most likely you will get a studio. Forget about a house).

You can choose to live in a house managed by a sketchy landlord that you found on Gumtree, or you can get a sketchy agency that tricks you into rent a house that looks good (which you will completely disagree one week after moving in), and then charge you a ridiculously expensive Council Tax on top of the rent you've agreed on (which you didn't realize you were going to pay for as well - rookie mistake!). 

And in case you're not getting the full picture here: houses are so expensive, that if you work and receive the minimum wages, you will not be able to afford living on your own, and a shared house will be practically your only choice. I mean, you might be able to afford a super small studio (bed and kitchen in the same place) as long as you don't pay for transportation and you get free meals at work. IS THAT BAD.

Oh, and forget about having a garden - they say! But I would disagree, after all, I have never lived in a house without a garden in my whole 5 years here in London. If having a garden is important to you, you will be able to live in a house with one. Just bare in mind that you will have a lot less options when you're looking for one and chances are, these will be higher priced for that reason. But the reward is great if you are a BBQ fan who loves to invite friends over during Summer.


2) Dealing with mould and mice

mould in London
Photo taken from one of my bedrooms in London.

Remember I just mentioned that houses are often not as good as you thought they were? This can be because they have terrible isolation, old furniture that is falling apart or even worse? Mould. And I am not talking about occasional mould. I am talking about walls full of mould (like the one above) that you only see once you moved in because, guess what, it was either hidden behind furniture, or completely cleaned just before you moved.

Condensation is a thing and mould is a massive problem in many houses across London. A problem that you don't want to have for your own health, so getting it fixed (or moving to another property if your landlord refuses to do so) should be a priority.

And as I mentioned on the title, mice is another common thing Londoners have to deal with, specially if they live in a ground floor, with a garden. Although I think they are extremely cute creatures (I know many of you would disagree), I am fully aware that they should not be living in our houses. Yet, from time to time, we have a new tenant that is not paying the rent... And we have to catch it.

You will have a whole story around the mouse. You will try mouse traps, poison, glue and every possible certified method to catch it (even running after it with a broomstick, which needles to say, will not work). If the mouse is clever enough, you might give up on the idea of continue fighting it and will eventually just name it and accept is existence as a new family member...


3) Paying for public transportation

I mentioned this previously, but London is expensive and public transportation here is no different. You can easily spend £150 a month just going to work and back, specially if you use the tube. Since commuting by bus is a lot cheaper, people often try using buses as much as possible.  The problem with buses is regular delays, longer journeys, traffic, the odd bad driver leading to you almost throwing up your breakfast and the occasional bus breakdown. How wonderful.

But don't think that the underground is flawless. It's pricey, packed at peak times, extremely hot during winter (helping you to get that seasonal flu) and Summer (leaving a lovely sweaty odour in the carriages), and sometimes, delayed due to people who decide to terminate their lives on that day (sad I know, but Londoners get extremely insensitive after a while because they keep getting late to work thanks to it). Oh, and the occasional bomb threat or unattended bag which forces people to leave the station - yep, that happens too (but not as often I promise).

You might be thinking now - is train the best then? Well... If you think underground is expensive wait until you take the train. And don't be fool by how comfortable and empty they generally are, because that means nothing when they get constantly cancelled and delayed due to a malfunction or staff problems...

So yes, it is expensive (to a point we prefer to walk than take public transport) and often a pain. 


4) Packed tubes and smelly people

underground smelly

This leads me to the next point... Packed tubes and smelly people are a thing in London, specially in Summer because let's be clear, this city was not prepared for hot days like we have experienced in the last few years.

If you definitely have to use the tube for work, and you have a 9-5 job, you won't be able to escape the morning and evening peak times. Meaning, you will be delighted to experience such incredible event on a regular basis. Good luck to you fellow future Londoner!


5) Getting on time to work

Getting on time to work will be a struggle? But I am a very punctual person... 

I get it, you're always on time. But if you're going to live in this city, you need to be prepared to give up on that title because often, things that are out of your hands will happen and guess what? You will be late for work.

Getting late for work is so common in London, that employers have to accept that it happens to every employee every now and then, and as long as you call the company straight away to notify them of your situation, you will be ok. But don't think that you can just get the public transportation card every time - even though this happens, you can't use the same excuse over and over again, so be honest!

You are certainly advised to leave earlier than what you should to avoid any delays, but sometimes leaving early won't be enough. Here are a few reasons why people get late to work in London (some of them previously mentioned):

  • If you lose your first connection and you only have another one in 20-30min;
  • A person committed suicide on the underground or train platform;
  • A bus had a breakdown and you're unable to find a good connection from where you were left at;
  • Sudden traffic that prevent you from moving for a good amount of time (applicable to cars and buses);
  • All underground services or trains in a specific time frame where cancelled due to some technical issue, or one of them had to stop on a certain platform and could not move, preventing all others to move;
  • An occasional strike.


6) Having a car

If you want me to be honest, having a car in London is just not worth it.

Why? It's quite simple actually.

Having a car is expensive: parking in London is very limited and extremely pricey. For example, you might get changed £15 just to have your car parked for 3h on a certain location! Not only that, London has a congestion charge zone that covers pretty much most of central London and nearby areas, and to enter this area with your vehicle, you will get charged £15 (and if you're not aware of the zone and are not paying attention to the plaques when you drive, you might end up driving through the zone without even noticing).

And it's not that practical: you will get stuck in traffic. A LOT. You will end up saving more money and time if you travel by tube than if you drive to the location yourself and get caught up with traffic. Not only that, it will be extremely hard to park specially during the week, and you certainly don't want to be left with no other choice but to pay for parking for 8+ hours.


7) Saving money

saving money

After all of these points, it's not surprise that one of the biggest struggles will be to save money. I mean, accommodation is expensive, having a car is expensive, public transportation is expensive... And did I mentioned that eating out, going out and visiting places is expensive? It gets thought.

Not only that, London is a city where people are highly consumerist. Many Londoners dress to impress and can't resist a good sale. You have access to so many things, and deliveries are just one click away, so it's very easy to spend loads of money on takeaways or Amazon (or other online shopping). On top of that, people tend to work a lot, so they find comfort on buying things when they're off because "they deserve".

But you will soon learn your ways to start saving more: you will swallow your pride for a while to leave in a house with 7 other people who are not as clean and organized as you are (it sucks, I know). You start walking to work instead of taking the bus or eventually invest in a bicycle and start cycling to work. You will be grateful for the coffee and the not so good food you have at work, so that you don't have to pay for those meals yourself. You will start getting your clothes at charity shops and you soon realize Marks & Spencer and Waitrose might not be places you should be doing your shopping at regularly. And you will be googling "free things to do in London" more often than you think.

And then, you will start saving some money.

This will obviously depend on the type of job you have and how much you earn a year. Still, as soon as you get a promotion and you get paid more, you start looking into getting a better house, which will probably cost you the salary raise you just got. So saving money in London is a real challenge.


8) The weather

This is another obvious one. We are all aware that the weather in London is not glamorous (it's actually far from it). While some people think that the sun is only out once a year (like how bad do you think it is??) it is actually close enough (joking).

Jokes aside, it is totally possible to have gloomy weather for 2 months straight. And that kills a person's mood. All people talk about is how terrible and miserable the weather is. I mean... what else is there to talk about?

Contrary to what people think, it is not raining all the time. It's gloomy very often (more often than I wish it would be), but drizzling is actually more common than rain. People laugh at me when I say that the rain in Portugal is way worse than here - and I am serious! While we do have a lot more sunny days there, when we get rain, it is the real deal. You don't want to leave your house without the umbrella and even if you have it, there are occasions where you can't avoid getting soaking wet.

The only problem with the weather here is that is too depressive and mostly the same throughout the year. Yes, it does gets colder during the Winter and hotter during the Summer, but Winter feels like Autumn and Summer like Spring if we're comparing to other European countries.

And people don't see the sun enough days of the year, because it is hiding behind a massive layer of grey clouds (and pollution) most of the time. And when the sun comes out, sometimes it does only for few hours or even minutes. We are not blessed with blue skies and rainbows on a regular basis (but don't be fooled, we occasionally get them too!).


9) Dealing with tourists

Dealing with tourists is a struggle as a Londoner for various different reasons already mentioned above: they walk slow, stop suddenly while walking, don't have their Oyster cards ready and don't stand right on the escalators, they ignore their surroundings and hit people with their selfie sticks, they are loud on the tube and they act extremely relaxed and happy when Londoners are stressed and miserable.

If you work in a non-touristy area of London, you will be way less likely to struggle with tourists.


10) Oxford Street

oxford street crowds

I mean, the crowds in Oxford Street. If you're not familiar with it, Oxford Street is a 1,9 km long street full of shops and it's extremely popular for all kinds of shopping, but specially clothing. It gets to the point where some brands will have two different stores in this same street. Is that extreme! 

Oxford Street is loved by many and hated by many others, and I can't blame them. After all, even though this street is wide enough to fit in a huge amount of people, it can get to the point where is nearly impossible to walk here, specially during Black Friday Sales and Cyber Monday Deals and also straight after Christmas. On any other regular day, you should still avoid visiting it between 5-7pm as it can get pretty crowded.

Oh and if there are special events happening there, by all means, don't waste your time. I got stuck in the middle of the crowds both during the Switching of the Christmas Lights (for approximately 3h) and during the Pride Parade (for about 1h30), because I couldn't get past a certain point no matter how hard I tried.


11) Meeting up with friends

Meeting up with friends is a struggle to Londoners, and don't start assuming that it's because we're antisocial creatures! I swear we're not that bad...

First of all, everyone is crazy busy. Busy busy busy. All the time busy. You literally have to plan weeks ahead to meet up with a friend. And when the day comes, sometimes it's too cold, too far, too late, or you're too tired, and you cancel (or you wish internally that they cancel for whatever the reason). Is not that you don't love the people, is just that they're busy living their lives, you're busy living yours, and city life is extremely tiring, and it drains all your energy out of you.

Another reason why meeting up with friends is so hard is because London is just too big. Big to a point when one of your friend moves away to a different location in London, if it's over 30minutes commuting from your place, you almost feel like terminating your friendship, because you know how much energy you will have to invest into keeping this friendship alive (Joking. Or maybe not, it will depend on the importance of the relationship)


12) Dating

Similarly to meeting up with friends, dating can be tough in London. Don't get me wrong, there's a looooots of people in London, so lack of options won't be a problem. The issues will be different: 

  • because there are so many options, you are very likely to meet some interestingly weird ones; 
  • You will meet people from cultures that are extremely different to yours and sometimes, you will experience cultural shocks (which is normal and it shouldn't prevent you from dating people from different cultures);
  • You will meet people who can't stop bragging about how much they make a year and how big their house is (if you're attracted to people like that, by all means, go ahead) and those who can't stop talking about their job because it's all they have in their lives.

And of course, you will have the same problems you do with friendships: distance, difficulties to get your schedules to work together, tiredness from work and life in general, and lack of time to invest in a relationship.


13) Exercising

And the final struggle for Londoners: exercise.

Exercising is actually commonly valued in this city, and I love that about London (specially as a Personal Trainer). But if in other cities, where people work a lot less and have a lot more free time, they struggle with finding time to exercise, imagine Londoners!

The truth is *PT talk*, if you really want to do it, and you want to prioritise your health, you will find ways to do it. The sad fact is that, they might not be the easiest. It can be, for example, waking up a lot earlier before going to work so you can squeeze in a workout session (because at the end of your working day you simply won't have the energy for it).  And paying for a quite pricey health club or a budget gym where you can't use any equipment you want during peak times, which happens to be exactly the only times you can go to the gym. Many Health Clubs are old and fitness classes aren't always the best as unfortunately, getting qualified is not that difficult and I have had the "pleasure" of meeting people who have enrolled courses without any knowledge or experience on exercising, simply because they though it was an easy job (wanna guess? They passed).

Oh and my final advise on this: have a padlock with you. Most gyms have lockers but they will not have padlocks available, so you will need to bring your own.



THE REALITY OF LIVING IN LONDON

After going through some basic rules and struggles that Londoners have, we'll go over the reality of living in London.


1) Living in London doesn't mean you actually live in London

What I mean by this is: when you tell someone you live in London, they think about the historical landmarks and every popular location they might have heard about such as Notting hill, Covent Garden, Camden Town, Shoreditch, etc. 

But if you live in a place like North London, or South East London, you will be living everything but the London life. When you work from home or you spend most of your hours at work and you don't even need to take public transportation, you won't be experiencing many of the things I mentioned on this list: you don't deal with tourists, you're not rushing, and you don't even have to deal with packed tube carriages. 

You can easily live in London without living the London life. London is a very big city, and every area is different, so living here will feel differently according to the place you live, the job you do and the lifestyle you have.


2) You work to pay for your bills and you do extra shifts to buy stuff, because you deserve it

As I mentioned before countless times, living in London is stressful and tiering. And I mean it! Most of us are hustling and working our butts off for a promotion, a better house, a better future. It's not like people don't do the same in other places, but the competitivity, responsibility and demand of the work here cannot be comparable to similar jobs in other cities.

So you will be probably spending your days working and taking on extra shifts (because somehow, they keep increasing and we don't know how to say "no" to extra cash), to then spend that extra money you earned on things you probably don't need, because you're too depressed due to your life being nothing but work. 

Of course this depends on who you are, what your priorities are, etc. but let me tell you that it's easy to fall into this trap when you living in a big city such as London.


3) Your friends and people back in your home town think you're now rich

car london
Sure! This is my car and I spend my nights at Shangri-La Hotel because I prefer to have a skyline view over central London.

It's a joke right?

I wish it was, but this happens to most people who move to the big British capital. And that's because people don't know the whole picture, and they  (obviously) did not read this blog post, otherwise they would ask us "how are you able to do it?", rather than "so, you're earning a lot of money now, ahn?".

I guess after a while I got used to it and now I just ignore it instead of spending my time and energy into explaining over and over again WHY living in London is not cheap and WHY working on an average job will not make you rich.

 

4) You are always tired and you don't care anymore about how you look or where you seat

Your legs will hurt. Your head will hurt. And all you want is to finish work so you can go home. To sleep. It gets to a point when you don't care about anything else in life.

You stopped caring about your hair being frizzy or your makeup not being on point. At some point you might not even care about your make up at all to be fair. You will start seating on the floor of the tube station because you can't even stand for two minutes while you wait for the train. And you'll start missing your stop because you fell asleep on your journey to or from work. 

And that brings us to next point...


5) You will eventually be more productive on your commuting time

sleeping on london undergrounds

Since London is such a big city and so much of your time will be wasted on commuting, you will soon learn to do more than just seat and wait during that time. You will probably start with listening to music or a podcast, reading the newspaper, watching series and/or playing games on your phone. You will get used to the fact that the person next to you will also find some interest in what you're doing and will discreetly follow along. At some point, you will probably turn the newspaper or phone slightly sideways so both can enjoy the gossiping about a new Love Island drama or watch a series that will contain later on scenes that you are too embarrassing to watch with a stranger (but now it's too late to turn the phone the other way).

Soon you will start replying to e-mails and working on your laptop. And when you think you've gone to far, you will eventually hit rock bottom and start napping, having your breakfast and doing your make up on the tube because you can't be bothered to wake up an extra 30min earlier to get those things done.

And if exercising, stretching or sleeping with blankets it's not included on your to-do list, than you can consider yourself mentally sane and everything you've done so far is considered accepted.


6) Taking 40-60min to get to a location is no longer "too long" after a while

In the topic of commuting for a long time, you soon start getting used to the fact that it takes forever to get to anywhere. And while, I do agree, over 40min is a very long time commuting, you still accept the the job that will require 2 extra hours of your day in commuting only, and you convince yourself that it is doable. Oh, how naive...


7) You will be using Google Maps and Citymapper to get to everywhere

While many people defend that Citymapper is way better than Google Maps, and I completely understand why, I still have to say that I have always been using Google Maps in my 5 years of living here, and I have not been disappointed (well, at least most of the time).

And no, you won't know all of the ways to get to everywhere in London, and you will soon get used to rely on these apps to organize your trips to work, meetings and events. You won't use the tube map anymore because the apps tell you exactly where to go and which line to take, and you will start using the buses app because time is precious and knowing exactly when the next bus is due will allow you to organize your time so you can do your shopping and catch the next bus.

I start wandering how people survived back in the day when Google Maps and Citymapper weren't a thing. I am sure I would lose my mind looking at all the maps and organizing the tube lines and buses with it!


8) It might get lonely

lonely in london

People come and go, specially here in London. Not only it is a big city and everyone is busy living their own lives, you then have the additional issue that most people live here temporarily - which means, sometimes you get to know someone you really like to spend time with, and one year later, you're saying your goodbyes as they go back to their home town. Sad.

Nevertheless, if you ever feel lonely, make sure you give something like Couchsurfing events or Meet up a try, and you will understand that getting to know likeminded people is easier than you think!



LIVING THE DREAM LIFE

So, you will be living the life ahn?

Although there will be struggles along the way, there are certainly great things you don't get to experience in any other places in the world, so rejoice! Here are some of the things you will be able to enjoy when you move to London!



1) You can now be officially called a Londoner

And you're living in one of the most incredible cities in the world!

Many will envy you for living in such a unique place and you will feel equally unique! As for the rest?  It doesn't matter if the last time you saw Big Ben was 4 years ago or if you're spending your days working, eating and sleeping, no one else needs to know that!


2) You now "have" a house in London

As I mentioned before, paying for accommodation will be a struggle, so you'll very likely not have your own house. Or you will, and you will be paying mortgage for the rest of your life. But who cares? Whether you're renting or you own a house, you will will "have" a house in London!

You can invite your friends over and you can be proud to call this place home!


3) Traveling has never been easier

london airports

This is my favourite thing about London (for obvious reasons).

London has six different airports and good flight connections to almost anywhere in the world. Not only that, you can find some of the cheapest flights here, like flying to Brazil for under £350 return or visiting Mallorca for £25 return. You don't generally get these prices from other locations!


4) Work might be intense, but it's rewarding

Sure, you're going to work a lot. Probably more than you ever done before. But you will be rewarded for it. And if you don't, you will just have to change to a different company (it's as simple as that). Of course what I am going to say next will depend on the field and company you work for, but bare with me. 

London offers career opportunities you can't get anywhere else in the world. Here you can be (almost) anything you want: you can start from scratch, you can take a course for almost every job, you can easily apply for jobs and get experience, and you can progress and get promotions, a lot easier than anywhere else. If you're good, and you know how to use your talents, you will get rewarded. Not only that, some of the most amazing and popular companies are located here and you might get a chance to work for the best!

One of the things I appreciate the most about working here is the worker's rights and the flexibility companies often offer to their employees: unlike where I come from, here it's possible to have two different jobs (or more if you wish!). Employers are flexible enough with your hours and schedule so that you can study and work at the same time; jobs are flexible enough so that you are not forced to take all of your holidays on a specific month and if you decide to take a little extra than what you're entitled to, you won't get fired. You'll just not get paid for it.

And here, working from home is totally not impossible. There are so many different career paths you can take in this city, that you will surely come across those where you're allowed to stay in the comfort of your home while you do your job. And even better that? Getting a job where you need to travel to meet business partners (or for any other reason) is actually not that rare, so here, travelling for work is more common than you think.

If all of the above wasn't enough, in London, workers have quite a lot of benefits (obviously depending on the company you work for). There will be Christmas and New Year's parties, meaning FREE FOOD! You will often get discounts, free business meals, a special payment for working extra hours or during the holiday season, and you will have access to benefits within your own company and sometimes partners of your company too. This can include stuff like health care, gym memberships, and so much more.


5) Free Museums!

You will be living in a city with some of the most incredible museums (well over 130), and many of them with free entrance! 

"Wait, but if life is as tiering as you said, I probably won't even see them..."

Oh you will! If you don't manage to visit them in your first weeks in the city, when you're full of energy and excitement for being a Londoner and having access to everything you've always dreamed of, you will soon get the chance when friends come over and ask to stay at your place and having you (the person who sometimes have no clue about where the touristy stuff is) to be their tour guide. Eventually you fight your tiredness and against your own body, you go on a touristy day out with your friends - and you ask them to do the following day on their own as your body cannot do that kind of lifestyle anymore ๐Ÿ˜‚

Soon, you will get so tired of those same free museums you take everyone to, you will feel like you've seen them over 30 times (which maybe you have?)


6) There's always things to do (paid and free)

Something you can't say when you're London is that you're bored. I mean, you can, but if you want to stop being bored, there's a whole list of things you can do - and it's constantly changing!

Whether you're broke or you got a budget for going out, Timeout Magazine will be your guide on what is there to do in London and what free stuff you can get. Because guess what? we all love free stuff!


7) Free newspaper and samples! 

newspaper london

So that takes me to point number seven: free newspapers and samples. Yes, London is full of free things! You can pick up a free newspaper every day on your way to work or back, and on specific days, magazines too (Timeout London for example).

About the samples, it's not uncommon for a brand new shop to offer free stuff on their opening day, or for some companies to give out free samples of a new product they just launched. And in case you are wondering how you're going to know where are these free samples, check the weekly Timeout London magazine and read the pages with information on what you can eat for free on that week! 


8) Different cultures and cuisines

Thankfully! Because British food is certainly not my thing... (it might be yours though!) In London, you get to meet people from all over the world and you have access to all sorts of food: from Lebanese to Mexican restaurants, Greek to Turkish street food, you get the idea. I don't think there is a single type of cuisine you cannot try in this city - and that's amazing! You have the whole world in just one place - not only in terms of food, but also people.

Here you can learn any language in the world, and you can cross off your list metting people from country X, because I'm sure you will do that at some point.


9) Different areas with different vibes

And since we're talking about diversity, one of my favourite things about London is the fact that every area feels like a completely different city on it's own. Let's have the example of Canary Wharf, an area full of glassed skyscrapers and water cannels, that in many occasions, looks like New York. However, if you visit Camden Town, you will feel like you've travelled in time, to the rock & roll era, as you walk past the street markets full of vintage clothing and you find the blue hair punk asking for tips to go drinking in the pub. But there's a lot more! Shoreditch for street art, Notting Hill for the typical colourful houses, Hampstead for the millionaire houses and the posh areas of Richmond and Primrose Hill / Regent's Park.


10) You will see swans, geese, ducks, pelicans, foxes, squirrels...

squirrel london
Aren't they the cutest? ๐Ÿ˜

Oh, and rats too of course!

London might be a big city, but there's a lot of animals to admire here (and no, not just the rats and mice you might occasionally see on the tube lines or hiding behind a bin bag in the street). Squirrels and foxes are one of the most popular. While squirrels tend to be fast and hide from humans, there are certain locations in the city where they are particularly friendly and will approach you, in hopes of being fed. Foxes are generally not approachable but if you walk at night, I am sure you will get to see them, as they are literally everywhere.

As for the birds... Just walk along St James Park or Regent's Park and you will see them (but remember: even if they look cute or tasty - I mean, what kind of person are you, honestly - do not try to steal them! Unless you're looking for a free night in London's police station) 


11) And you've got the parks when you're tired of the city life!

London has around 3 thousand parks, where 8 of them are the so called Royal Parks: Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, St Jame's Park and Green Park, Regent's Park and Primrose Hill, Greenwich Park, Richmond Park and Bushy Park.

But there are also Reservoirs, the massive Hampstead Heath and places like the Regent's canals, where you can freely walk and enjoy nature as you forget that you're actually in London.


12) Nothing is impossible

And lastly, prepare yourself, because you're about to live in a place where nothing is impossible, and sometimes, nothing is too weird. Remember when back at your home town seeing someone with green hair was weird and everyone would be staring? Not in London.

Go to Camden and you will see all sorts of different colours and outfits.

You will see people dancing and exercising in the Tube - sometimes not even to get tips, just because their life is too busy to squeeze in an exercise "sesh", so after analysing their schedules, they got to the conclusion that utilizing their commuting time to exercise would be the only option available. And you know, we got to look good.

You will also see people with headphones listening to their favourite rock song while they practice their drum skills (of course, without the drum, let's not get too extreme). 

And the obvious, you will find lots of talented people working in the streets of this amazing city.


And that was it, you made it!

I hope you learned something from this list, and if you're a Londoner, I hope this was fun and relatable. Also: I hope you had a laugh and did not take everything I wrote seriously, or else you will think that every Londoner is miserable and what they call a "prick". I swear we're good people!

I mean, I will be the first to admit: we're special creatures. And no matter how much you judge us, you will turn into one of us not longer after you move here.


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GOT EVERYTHING YOU NEED?
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Will need to rent a car? Rentalcars and Economybookings are two well known companies that I have been using for every road trip.

Renting a motorbike or bicycle? We got you covered! Use Trainline when traveling in Europe for a easier, queue and paper-free trip.

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Make sure you've got everything you need. Save money abroad with a free Revolut debit card (no international fees), and learn the basics of your destination main language.
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