London is the biggest city in Western Europe and the world’s largest financial centre. Being almost 2000 years old, London is where the contemporary and the nostalgic come together side by side – and sometimes blend in with each other. Dotted with landmarks that are recognisable worldwide, you cannot walk down the street without feeling encompassed by the culture and overwhelmed by its magnificence. But what is it like to actually live in the big smoke? What are the most important snippets of knowledge that you will need to know that the average expat will not think to tell you? No matter whether you are moving after a spouse visa extension, or you are just moving to pursue your dream, here is the insider knowledge on what it is actually like to live in London.
No Need to Tip
A lot of countries have a tipping culture where you are required to pay for the service you received alongside the meal or beverage you have already paid for. If you fail to pay a certain amount on top of the bill then you are to be shunned by your waiters and sometimes even asked where the missing tip is. This is not a problem in the UK. Tips are, of course, welcome, and you are encouraged to leave a tip for a good service, but you are not obliged. Sign the bill and move on without feeling sheepish.
Apartments Come Fully Furnished
No need to worry about sleeping on a mattress on the floor for the first few months until you can afford a bed frame. No need for garden furniture in the living room. Most apartments in London come stocked with sofas, tables, pots, pans, and many other things that you need to set up your new home. Furnished flats can be optional, so don’t feel dismayed if you were looking forward to releasing the interior designer in you and fleshing out your flat the way you want it.
The Tube Closes at Midnight
Greater London is served by 11 Tube lines, along with the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and an interconnected local train network. Underground trains generally run between 5am and midnight, Monday to Saturday, with reduced operating hours on Sunday. But after the introduction of the night tube, selected lines now run 24 hours a day on the weekend!
Banter is Affectionate
Expect to hear some good-natured ribbing from Londoners. It’s called banter and it’s not meant to be taken personally. It’s all in good fun — so let your guard down and hop on the banter bus. Expect to hear a lot of banter regarding the price of Freddos, spoons curry club, cheeky Nandos, the DFS sale, fwiend, Jeremy Kyle, FIFA rage and Greggs (if you don’t know what any of these words mean, you might need to do a bit of pre-London research so you know what is going on if any of these topics ever come up).
Londoners Drink a Lot
In London, it is not uncommon to see work colleagues and friends out for a drink on a weeknight. It is almost considered acceptable to turn up to work every so often with a hangover, or still drunk from the night before. If you’re not used to drinking, pace yourself and don’t try to keep up, you will definitely be sick at some point! It is also not a good idea to respond to ‘why are you not drinking?’ with ‘because I don’t want to’ on a night out, always have a reasonable excuse ready.
Getting on the tube may be annoying sometimes, but when your destination is one of the food markets it is totally worth it! London has so many of them and they are all great. Personally, I consider city’s food markets one of its biggest assets. Camden Market, Real Food Market at Southbank, Borough Market, Brick Lane Market and so on… You just can go there and eat everything (or spend half of a day looking at all these delicious meals trying to decide which one you will finally pick). That’s an awesome way to spend your weekend outside and please your taste buds.
Hopefully these top tips will sufficiently let you know what things you will need to look out for once you have moved to London. It can start off being a bit overwhelming and scary at first, but once you have been living there for a few months you will soon fall in love with the place and all of its weird quirks.