As cliché as it may sound, the old saying “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” by Samuel Johnson is shockingly accurate. If you’ve ever lived in London for a relatively long period of time, chances you’ll come back for more are pretty high.
For many of us, the journey starts in the early University days, where you decide that it would be an adequate and fitting city to spend the next 3-4 years of your life. As exciting as this might sound to a young student, there’s more to the city than the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the late nights. What many of us (including some team members at TWC) fail to research beforehand, and only realize later on, are the things to know about this 8 million populated British capital. By things, we’re not referring about where to get the best cup of coffee or fish and chips – rather the quirky, intriguing, and downsides of living in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
1. The tube is not as confusing as it seems
But it’s just as expensive as living in London is. Prices increase each year, but when it rains, this is your safest and fastest way to get around this complicated city.
2. When it rains, forget getting anywhere by cab
While black cab drivers are famously known as the best in the world – for both their knowledge (see point 10) and expertise, when it rains however you will be stuck in traffic for a long long time.
3. Carry an umbrella at ALL times.
Even after almost 10 years living here, many of us (including myself) never ever carry an umbrella. Perhaps it’s the space problem and not wanting to carry around a mom bag, but this forgetful move has made us buy on-the-go mini umbrellas one too many times.
4. You might not make English friends
Whilst London is of the most international and cosmopolitan cities in the world, with a blend of all four corners of the world, the same can’t be said about the English people. Some might step outside their comfort zone, but the majority prefer to hang amongst themselves.
5. People drink a lot
You can spot people outside a pub having a pint at 11am on more than just one occasion. But that’s also what makes it one of the most quintessential aspects of London. Don’t be surprised if you’re late to Friday night plans with your S.O. or friends. Generally, the first hour post-work on a Friday will be spent at the pub outside the office socializing with your co-workers.
6. Friends will come and go
The friends you make during your university years may or may not stick around by the time you start your new job or move back after spending a year abroad. And that’s okay — because the good news is that you’ll find plenty of other places to make new friends, other than the student bar or nightclub.
7. The amount of wealth is staggering
If you’ve ever found yourself walking through one of London’s South West neighborhoods, chances you’ve spotted gold and ombré coated sports cars are close to 100%. Between the array of members clubs scattered around the Mayfair and St. James area, you won’t be surprised to catch a glimpse of the occasional Russian oligarch or 90s supermodel.
8. Borough market is a food haven
London’s oldest, and one of the world’s most famous food market is a haven for foodies. You must try a few pasta dishes at Padella and the spicy sausage roll from Brindisa. The vibrant atmosphere filled with mouth-watering whiffs of global cuisine will have you coming back for more, week after week.
9. You can walk everywhere
One of the best aspects of the city is that it’s very pedestrian friendly. There’s no better way of discovering side streets and the beauty of London than by walking through various neighborhoods. Assuming the weather cooperates with you!
10. Swap out an Uber for a black cab
The next time you think about ordering an uber at the tap of your fingertips, think again. What is commonly known as astronomous cab prices is a story of the past. Black cabs are now available via an app, with the choices of paying per meter or agreeing to a preset fare. While an uber is still cheaper, the knowledge, skillset and expertise is lacking immensely. Any given cab driver must master 320 basic routes, as well as all of the 25’000 streets within those routes.
11. You will have a love-hate relationship
On days when there’s torrential rain pouring down the busy streets, we long for a vacation on a beach in Mexico, and the occasional “I hate London – if we lived this and there, we wouldn’t be as pale” can be overheard after a couple successive rainy days. Also, when public transport fares spike. But for the many other days, you’ll find yourself absolutely loving the city and feeling so blessed and grateful to be living here.
12. The lack of sunshine is real
As soon as the first rays of sunshine and warmth make an appearance come Spring, everyone will be outside and in a chirpy mood. By outside we mean every single park in the city, and every single pub with a blooming terrace.
13. Plan well in advance
New restaurants pop up on a worryingly fast pace, and the same goes for closing them down as well. If you have friends coming to town for the weekend – make sure to plan activities, especially the food-related ones in advance.
14. The high-street rush is real
Regent and Oxford Street might sound appealing when visiting London for a holiday, but the excitement will slowly fade as you start living here and roll your eyes when your out of town friends ask you to go to Topshop on a Saturday.
Other odd and quirky facts
– Harrods sold cocaine until 1916
– London is truly very expensive and there’s no such thing as Dollar pizza
– It’s against the law to die in the House of Parliament
– There is one road in London where you have to drive on the right side
SHOP THE STORY
Images: Time Out
PS: If you buy something through our links, TWC may earn an affiliate commission.