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10 Things I Learned When I Moved To London

September 8, 2014

When I told my family, they all had dramatic predictions about what would become of me: “It’s such a dive!” said mum. “It’s so expensive!” said Dad. “Why would you want to do that?” said about seven other people. Yep! London doesn’t have a particularly good reputation ‘up North’. Here are 12 things I learned when I moved…

1. First of all, you don’t live here…

You live here…

Well… maybe not quite that bad. But with rents for a single room being up to £800 PCM, your rent could be as much as 50% of your monthly income. Out of your window you can probably see a wall, or if you’re lucky, a car park. If you want the iconic London views, you better have tens of millions to spend on a pad… Or I guess you could just buy a picture…

2. You drive a heck of a lot less and actually don’t really need a car

Yes, ‘up North’, unless you’re a student, a car really helps you get anywhere or do anything. In London, on the other hand, most people walk a lot of the time (because it’s free), busses aren’t only for hoodies and old people; and the London underground is your standard way of travelling longer distance. On the other hand, in a car you’ll be lucky to average 10mph a lot of the time and the less said about the M25, the better.

3. Most days, there’s nothing as quiet as the tube in rush hour

But on the subject of the tube, it isn’t all that sociable of a place: First thing in the morning, it’s largely filled with well dressed, well shaven, sometimes nice smelling zombies! Everybody basically ignores everybody. You literally could hear a pin drop. (I tested this by actually dropping one). I bet in some carriage on some line, there is a carriage full of Buddhist monks, just meditating. Nobody says a word. Or even makes eye contact. I bet you could start a fire in the isle and everybody would ignore it. I haven’t tried that one yet though.

4. There’s no such thing as personal space

The other thing to know about the tube is this. Personal space does not exist.

busy tube

5. And 1 minute in London, constitutes a delay…

This one surprised me. Anywhere else in the country, if the train is delayed by one minute, nobody would even notice – it’s almost expected. If your train is supposed to arrive at 8:12, what that really means is some time between ten past and quarter past. And even twenty past is acceptable. But in London, a delay of one minute actually gets announced and apologised for!


6. There’s so much theatre…

I haven’t counted yet but there’s a theatre around every corner in London. Even if you discount the ones in the West End that show the same musical every night for twenty years. For a guy like me, this is pretty awesome!

7. It really is expensive…

Yes, London is expensive. Even after only a couple of short months, whenever I go back to Yorkshire, I marvel at how cheap things are. Though, I have found, there are ways to make it cheaper if you know where to look…

8. For example, cinema tickets cost double what they cost anywhere else…

Yea, movie lovers! If – as many people did – you have a general undirected gripe that cinema tickets are expensive at £7.49, which is what they cost me in Newcastle, then think again. Without using a deal coupon, I don’t think I’ve come across a cinema ticket anywhere in London – not just Leicester Square – where tickets cost any less than £13 each, with the Odeon in Leicester Square being the highest at £23 each…

9. But there are a lot of nice girls…

Yes. Seriously – if you come to London single then no matter what your taste or persuasion, there will be some part of London that has – in plentiful supply – whatever kind of girl you’re looking for. I, a guy well known by friends for being notoriously selective, arrived in London single but within a couple of months I’d met someone awesome.

10. And whatever you’re into, there’ll be other people who are into it too…

As somebody who has spent a lot of time alone pursuing hobbies that nobody else I knew did, it’s kind of cool being somewhere where I’m never the only weirdo.

11. Londoners are not as unfriendly as the rest of England thinks they are…

Outside London, throughout the UK, London is known – rightly or wrongly – for two things: Being expensive (already covered) and being unfriendly. However, I don’t think it’s quite as unfriendly as its reputation would suggest. There are times of day and particular localities when and where London is severely unfriendly. But in the right place at the right time of day, it’s tolerable.

12. And the city is every bit the playground everybody thinks it is…

Yes. It may be extortionately expensive. It may have its own social culture completely different from the rest of the country, but it is still a playground. There’s always something fun going on and there are spectacular iconic views.

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