London is an extremely big and overwhelming city to get your head around. Here are a few things you should know before making the big move.
Everyone knows the basics of London: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Tower Bridge…there are heaps of must-dos. However, moving from a small town in New Zealand, with a population of 65,000 people, it was hugely overwhelming to move to a city that is always busy, old and has double the population of New Zealand as a whole.
It was a huge change, and took a while to adapt to and get used to all the differences. There a few things I wish I knew before I moved to London that would have made it easier for me to adapt to the city and allowed me to be more prepared for it.
Everything in London is ridiculously expensive. I already knew this, but I don’t think I was quite prepared for how expensive it actually is. Rent prices are insane, and I was aware of that but I didn’t take into account things like transport and the currency conversion.
Because London is such a big place, traveling costs a lot and it takes a while to get around. The tube is the quickest and cheapest option, but even that can add up—the more you travel and the further out of the city you go, the more expensive it is.
Currency conversion also sucks, especially for the New Zealand dollar, which is more than double the pound. This makes everything seem even more expensive in the UK. However, I did notice that drugstore makeup is a few dollars cheaper in the UK when you convert the pounds, which is a bonus.
When I arrived in London, I had to catch a tube to where I was staying, so as soon as I left the airport, I purchased an oyster card to use on trains and buses.
It cost about 5 pounds. You definitely need one of these for public transport! They are quick and easy and you just load money onto them as you go, rather than purchasing tickets each time.
This app will seriously change your life. I don’t know anyone who lives in London who doesn’t rave about this app. You put in your location and where you would like to go and it figures out how to get there.
The app tells you which tube or bus to catch, how many stops and where you should get off. I can’t imagine how I would have got around London before technology because this app makes it so much easier and does everything for you.
Everyone in London is always go, go, go, so if you want to relax while going up or down the escalator, make sure you stand on the right hand side. Be prepared for people coming past you frantically.
I was really confused when I arrived in London, and was always asking people where the city center is, to which they responded that London doesn’t have a city center, but rather heaps of little cities that make up the city.
This baffled me a bit because I was used to cities having a center, where everything is and then suburbs around that. However, you get used to this and realize that every area in London has its own uniqueness and attractions.
London’s weather is quite unpredictable and you never know when it will rain. It is wise to invest in an umbrella to chuck in your handbag because you will most likely need it more than you think!
Some of London’s best attractions are free, so make sure you take advantage of them. There are dozens of museums in London that are all free and amazing: The British Museum, Natural History, Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert.
They are all massive and incredible and will definitely take up a few hours of your day. I also recommend going for a walk around Leicester Square and Soho. The atmosphere here is really cool, with all the lights and theaters and there is usually a lot of street entertainment.
Londoners tend to avoid conversation and eye contact on the tube. Most of them are glued to their smartphones, reading the paper, sleeping or staring off into the distance. This is not unusual, so it might pay not to stare at someone for too long or it could get awkward.
There are many scammers who target tourists and people new to the country when it comes to housing. When you contact agents about houses and they ask you to deposit ridiculous amounts of money before viewing the house, don’t do it until you have seen it.
If it doesn’t seem right, it is most likely a scam. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof that they are actually an agent as well to make sure you aren’t being scammed.
If I had known all these things before moving to London, it would have made it a lot easier and I would have felt at home straightaway. London is huge and busy, and will take a bit to get used, to so let me know if you have any more London tips as I am still very fresh to the city.
Shannon, a Communications and Public Relations graduate is a keen traveler who loves the outdoors and being amongst nature. A lover of beauty, fashion, and animals as well as everything bohemian. She ventured out from her small home country, New Zealand to explore the world, find herself and experience different cultures.
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