29 Things I Wish I’d Known About Living In London

29 things I wish I'd known about living in London

It’s been almost two years since I left New Zealand and moved to London.

Two years since my Essential Skills Visa was rejected and I had to move back to the UK with, like, 2 week’s notice and hardly any money and find a job and somewhere to live in London.

Oh, and in the middle of all that, fly to Dublin for a press trip and Seattle for a work trip because obviously trying to save money and find a flat to rent is even easier when you’re OUT OF THE FLIPPIN’ COUNTRY.

But here I am. Still in living in London, still working as a PR consultant, still rolling with the ups and downs of London life.

Anyway, here are some of the things I wish I’d known about living in London before I actually went and did it:

1. You’ll never get that excited about getting paid because you know that a couple of days later half of that’s gonna fly straight back out again and into your landlord’s bank account. Awesome.

2. Citymapper will become the most important app on your phone and when you visit cities that don’t have it you’ll be, like, HOW DO I GET AROUND I AM LOST HELP.

3. You’ll basically do anything to avoid changing at Bank. Sure, I *could* change at Bank and be there on time but yeah, nah, I’ll take the long way round ta.

4. Nothing is more soul-destroying than looking for a room to rent.  NOTHING. Not even the sob-fest that is watching the Notebook comes close to how your heart feels when you’ve just gone to look at yet another hell-hole with a £800pcm price tag.

5. Blowing black snot out of your nose doesn’t mean you’re dying.  It just means you’ve been breathing in pollution all day and, instead of travelling straight into your lungs, some of it got stuck in your nose! HURRAH.

6. Getting a black cab home after a night out only really happens in movies, or if you’re super rich which, as we’ve already discussed, you’re not.  Night bus it is then.

7. The ONLY place on Brick Lane to get a bagel from is Beigel Bake.  I *know* the queue’s shorter in the other bagel shop but THIS ONE IS THE BEST, ALRIGHT??

8. People will immediately judge you based on where you live in London.  And you’ll start doing it too.

9. Dating in London is much, much harder than you thought it would be. I mean, there’s millions of people here, surely ONE of them wants to spend a couple of nights a week watching Netflix with me and take me out to brunch once in a while? No? Oh, OK cool.

10. Buses will terminate unexpectedly and at some point you’ll end up being dropped off in what feels like the middle of nowhere (but is probably just somewhere in South London LOL) and of course it will be raining and you’ll have left your brolly at home. FFS.

11. Your default mood will be tired but if anyone asks you how you are you’ll still be, like, ‘yeah fine how are you?’ #SoBritish

12. Going to the pub on a Monday night is totally acceptable.  Urgh, you’ve had such a hard week already, best have a glass of wine to get over it.

13. In fact, going out on a weeknight is so much better than going out at the weekend. Saturday nights out are sooo 2008.

14. Your default walking speed will be fast and getting stuck behind someone strolling at a leisurely pace like they have all the time in the world will make your blood actually boil. GET OUT OF THE WAY I HAVE SOMEPLACE TO BE.

15. You’ll get used to going to sleep to the sound of sirens and drunk people shouting in the street. So much so that when you go visit your parents for the weekend you can’t get any shut-eye because it’s actually too damned quiet.

16. Your friends basically turn into your family and you’ll have no qualms about spending an hour on the tube to go have coffee with them.

17. That fantasy you had of being able to put a bit of your monthly salary into a savings account?  Yeah, not gonna happen.

18. Your heels will gather dust in the corner of your room and probably just become a little playground for the mouse that comes to play in your flat at night.

19. You will go on holiday and when someone asks where you live you’ll feel a *little* bit smug when you say you live in London.

20. However long you live here, a train being delayed because of a person on the tracks will always make you feel a little bit sad, despite it probably making you late for something.

21. Your conversations will mostly revolve around how much rent you pay, where you live, who you live with, and which restaurant in Shoreditch does the best burger.

22. You’ll have all the best intentions when it comes to trying out that cool speakeasy bar or quirky pop-up restaurant you read about in Time Out but, 90% of the time, you’ll actually end up just going to the local pub.

23. You won’t actually buy anything at all the markets you go to but they sure do make good Instagram photos.

24. Sometimes the best way to appreciate London is to leave it for a weekend. City break in Amsterdam? Don’t mind if I do.

25. You’ll feel like you know the intimate life-details of the person who lives in the flat above you, despite the fact that you’ve never actually met.  Errr, can you keep it down a bit, please?

26. You’ll get to the point when you don’t want to live in a flatshare anymore but also don’t wanna spend ALL your monthly pay cheque on your own place. Girl’s gotta eat, right?

27. City sunsets will give you a warm feeling in your belly and you’ll be all, like, awww London, you’re not so bad.

28. You’ll have such a strong love/hate relationship with it that sometimes you honestly don’t know whether you should pack your bag right now and leave or stay forever and ever.

29. Every now and then (usually after you’ve paid a visit to the pub) you’ll be walking home and the light will be just right and you’ll suddenly fall for London all over again and you’ll realise that, whatever happens, you did it. You moved to London and survived.  And it feels pretty damned good.


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    • says

      God I feel like my life in Sydney was so long ago that I probably couldn’t remember enough about living there. All I know is that I LOVED it, and I really miss it!

  1. says

    Love this so much. I live near Reading and go to London a few times a week for work, but I still have most of these. Especially the talking about rent, who I live with and burgers. My rent is too damned high.
    Charlotte Steggz recently posted..Friday Links July 31stMy Profile

  2. says

    I’m so glad that when (a lifetime ago) I had to decide where to go to the University I made up my mind for Glasgow, though now everytime I visit London as a tourist I wonder why I gave up my chance to spend a few years of my life in London. Great post :)

  3. Cathrine says

    No. 20 – heck no! If they’re on the line, just get them off asap, either hospital or morgue, there are thousands delayed or re routed for one.

    • says

      Buuuut I still think it’s kind of sad that someone felt desperate enough to do that. That they felt like there was no other way out. That’s what I think of when a train is delayed because of someone on the tracks. Yes, it’s annoying, but it’s also a little heartbreaking too.

  4. says

    Number 2 – I live for Citymapper, although I always want to die a little inside when after scrolling through a load of options which look quite lengthy I see one that’s much less, I get excited, then realise it’s the hoverboard option :(
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  5. says

    Even though I don’t live in London, nor will I ever live in London (I’m not the biggest fan of the city), I really enjoyed reading this! I feel like I’ll be able to relate to most of these the second I land in Sydney and I try to find a place to stay.
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  6. says

    Such an accurate post Beverley! I had my sister up for the weekend and a friend and I got into a conversation about black snot. After about ten minutes of discussing it I realised she was staring at at us like we were crazy!

    Also: everyone also tries to avoid changing at Green Park. No-one’s got time to do ask that walking.

    And you’ve made me realise Ii do totally judge people on their choice of place to live … East London?? Nah 😜😎
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  7. says

    Fantastic article! You are so right that at the end of the day you feel that London is not bad at all. I have a company for moving in London. I love this city. I moved here 2 years ago. Best regards!

  8. Mick says

    Oh dear Beverley, Beverley I feel for you…. I was born and raised in London so all pretty the norm to me, but your description is so damn accurate. I needed a good laugh this evening (at least your keeping the mice happy)!!
    When I do rent a room out to a tenant, I only hope they will have half your sense of humor and that’ll be fine with me. Welcome to The BEST City in the world!!