In 2013, I spent six months working and living in London, England. During my time there, I learned a few things about this fantastic city. Here are some tips for anybody planning to visit, or even live, in London.
The majority of those you meet won’t be from London
One of my favourite things about London is how international the city is. It was an anomaly to meet somebody who was actually from London. When I lived there, I met people from all over the world; Australia, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Egypt, Sweden, and Greece to name a few.
Big city = long commutes
While the Tube (the local subway) is extremely efficient, walking to the station and transferring can add to the time it takes to get around. Expect to take at least 30 minutes to get anywhere in the city.
If you don’t hail the bus, it will drive right past you
I remember one night waiting at the bus stop with a friend. We were so preoccupied with our conversation that we didn’t see the bus coming to hail it in time—it drove right past us, twice!
The washroom is called “the toilet”
I rarely came across those who called the bathroom “the loo”. Most Brits call it “the toilet”, which is really completely appropriate (and makes more sense than the Americans’ “restroom”).
Pubs close early
The nightlife in London is pretty amazing—you can find somewhere to go any night of the week. In a city as big and touristy as London; however, I was surprised to find that bars close extremely early, even on Friday and Saturday nights! While many nightclubs will stay open until 3-4 AM, most pubs close by 11 PM.
The street tells you which way to look
Remember how your mom always told you to look both ways before crossing the street? Well it definitely gets confusing when the cars are driving on the other side! Luckily, the streets are painted with signs telling you to “LOOK RIGHT” or “LOOK LEFT”. Convenient, right?
Rush hour is not fun
Trying to take the Central Line into the city at 8:30 AM? Expect to get on the third train. Rush hour on the Tube is a sweaty nightmare, so packed that only 2-3 people can squeeze in at each door. At least the trains come every minute…
Mind the gap
Transport For London never fails to remind Tube passengers to “Mind the gap between the train and the platform”. As annoying and repetitive as these messages are, some of the gaps really are huge! One time, a train was out of service because somebody got their foot stuck in the gap.
Time Out is the best thing ever
London is an extremely exciting city with so much to do. Every weekend there are always festivals, markets and events—sometimes too many to keep track of. Time Out London is an awesome guide for finding the best events and things to do.
I know this isn’t new information, but I figured I would provide my perspective on how expensive London really is. As a Canadian living in London, I found that the price of goods in the UK and Canada have the same number value. For example, a reasonably priced sandwich in Canada is $5; in London, it’s £5. With the exchange rate, however, you’re really spending $8 CDN. The prices of rent, transportation and other expenses are all comparable in the same way.
Have you visited or lived in London before? What was your experience like?
|Kaylie Tam is a travel enthusiast and marketing and social media guru. Follow her on Twitter @kaylie_elyssa|