London is a great city; there are so many opportunities there, especially for those with bigger career aspirations than their hometown can provide. However, moving to London represents a major upheaval in your life. It will likely take a lot of adjustment, which is why it is important that you do your research beforehand to prepare yourself for the move. Below is a guide that outlines all of the major considerations that you will need to be aware of to ensure that your move goes as smoothly as possible. Let’s dive in.
Travelling in London
Public transport is king in London. It is often the cheapest and easiest way to get around the city. If you drive, you might want to consider what you want to do with your car because driving around London is not easy, nor is it affordable. If you are going to use the underground, then there are some things that you should be aware of. Firstly, it is only acceptable to stand on the right of an escalator; there are no exceptions to this rule. Blocking the path on an escalator is a cardinal sin in London, and it makes it incredibly obvious that you aren’t a local.
Try to always match the pace of those around you, especially during rush hour. It is the same idea as the escalator thing; you don’t want to get in the way of a Londoner who is on their way somewhere. One common characteristic that most Londoners share is that they have a destination in mind, and they want to get there without delay. So do not be the delay; try not to dilly dally or get in the way and interrupt the flow of traffic. Your fellow Londoners will not thank you.
Buses, trams, trains, the underground, river buses and taxis are all perfectly good public transport options. However, walking is also a great option. Sometimes the stops or stations are really close together, so it is not worth the hassle of using public transport. Within the city centre, the public transport is chock full of tourists who don’t know where they are going or that there are alternative routes that they could take. Use Google Maps and check whether or not you could feasibly walk to your destination; sometimes it works out quicker, sometimes it doesn’t, but it will always be the cheapest option, so if you aren’t in a rush, it is something to consider.
Living in London
London is a notoriously expensive city to live in; while this is offset a little with slightly higher wages for those who live and work within London, that doesn’t mean that living in the city is affordable. It is highly unlikely that you be able to afford a place by yourself to start with. A single person living alone can expect to spend around £2000 on their living costs. You are much better off looking for rooms to rent or people who want housemates. You can share the costs of living, and it means that you will have more spare money to enjoy.
Before you begin to look for people who are accepting housemate applications or rooms to rent, you need to get a better idea of where you want to live. Some parts of London are more expensive than others. So do your research to come up with an option that would work for you in terms of commuting, safety, local culture and amenities. Cheaper areas include Dagenham, Sutton and Croydon, to name a few.
There are a lot of methods that you can use when looking for a roommate or a room to rent. There are several websites like Spareroom, Roomgo or Roommatesuk. Depending on whether or not you have a job to go to or a career in mind, you might be able to consult a career-specific publication for ads. You could also reach out to friends who might be able to help through their friends or family. When you find something suitable, remember to vet the other roommates, landlord or owners too. It is not just about checking out the space. You need to check them out, too; you will be sharing a space and living together, you need to be comfortable around them.
London is a bustling city; there is a lot to do and see. Whatever your tastes may be, there will be something for you in London. However, as with almost all aspects of London, a night out doesn’t come cheap. Saving money on a night out is why the great British tradition of pre-drinking was invented. Either way going out often probably won’t be within your budget, at least to start with. House parties or dinner parties can be just as fun ad they are often cheaper. So on sunny days, why not make use of the local green spaces, take a speaker and a couple of beverages and meet your friends at one of the vast parks in the city.
Apart from simply nights out or having drinks with your friends, London has a lot to offer. There are many free things to do in London – if you know where to look. There are many free museums and art galleries that you can wander around to educate and inspire you. There are also a number of free attractions – granted, most of them are quite touristy, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun. Check out China Town, Piccadilly Circus or Trafalgar Square. You can find a lot of free or cheap activities to take advantage of.
London is incredibly culturally and socially diverse. Its diversity is one of its biggest draws; people from all backgrounds and walks of life can find a home there. You can be yourself in London. There are so many cool subcultures that have found a home in London. You are free to dress and look how you want; you will never have to worry about standing out or looking out of place. London is truly a melting pot which is evident from all of the cultural events throughout London, from the Notting Hill carnival to the Diwali celebrations. However, Londoners also have a culture their own culture too. In order to fit in, it is important to understand the cultural nuances expected of you in London.
First and foremost, friendliness and engaging with strangers is mostly reserved for the midlands and up. Most Londoners avoid talking with strangers. Striking up a conversation is a no-no. Smiling at strangers in the street will also likely be met with some confusion. There are a few exceptions to this rule, though. For example, if you are experiencing a delay on public transport or the weather is particularly bad, you could comment on this and expect some murmurs of solidarity. However, the one exception is if you are lost and in need of directions, the British impulse to be polite and helpful tends to override this, and most of the time, you will get the directions you need.
A lot of Londoners don’t carry cash opting to use contactless cards instead. This is for a number of reasons; cash is more likely to be pickpocketed from you, and it also causes delays. This is why a number of services across London, including some buses, refuse to take cash at all. You either have to use a contactless bank card or a prepaid Oyster card. Using cards are also more hygienic because there aren’t any germ-ridden coins exchanging hands. You don’t have to wait for your change or fumble with your purse or wallet; a lot of people don’t carry them at all anymore; they have their cards on their phone and use apple or android pay.
London is a bustling metropolis; it is an incredibly busy city. There are people wherever you go, which makes it difficult to have a cigarette without blowing the smoke directly into a passer-by’s face. The smoking rate in London is on par with the national average, but the rate of vapers are on the rise. Vaping in public is far less frowned upon because it smells better, and the vapour doesn’t contain the same harmful and dangerous chemicals as smoke does. In a city as expensive as London, smoking can constitute an additional expense that you might not be able to afford. While obviously not free, Vaping is a lot cheaper than smoking; you might be surprised about how much you can save from making the switch.
The Bottom Line
Moving away from your hometown takes a lot of courage, and you should be proud of yourself for making that decision. As mentioned earlier, it won’t be easy by any means, but nothing worth doing is. This move could be the making of you, which is why it is important to try and make the transition as easy as possible. Take some time to do your due diligence, use the list as a jumping-off point to inform the rest of your research. Make sure that you are as prepared as possible before the move.