A Beginner’s Guide to Living in London.

Recently moved to London? Just starting to make heads or tails of this place? That was me 9 months ago. I still have moments where I pinch myself to check if this really is my life now! Flying the nest. Moving jobs. But most importantly I’ve moved well out of my comfort zone.

Even though London has always been accessible to me, my experiences were limited to mostly touristy things and then I would run away to the outskirts again. Now I’m inhabiting, socialising, dating, shopping and surviving as a city gal (or as my mum now likes to call me ‘metro gal’??? Thanks mum). Mental. I didn’t even think this was possible having suffered with, anxiety and panic attacks that at times are crippling. But I’m doing it, somehow.

This all got me to thinking – what have I learnt since living in the capital?

Have I picked up any tips or tricks? Found anything novel? Anything shocking? So here we go…a beginner’s guide to London, from someone who is still kind of a beginner, but who has learnt a lot in a short space of time already. I know that sounds a bit like the blind leading the blind, but stick with me here.

City Mapper is your new best friend

Being a driver I couldn’t live without Waze. It sorts me out every time, getting me to my destination, the quickest and often easiest way possible. Well Citymapper is like my new Waze. It has sorted me out. I have little to no knowledge of how to get my butt all over London. And now I don’t need to worry. Even if you don’t live here, if only for the times you’re just paying a visit, it’s such a useful thing to have. I use it almost every day. It’s an app. It’s free. Enough said.

‘Time Out Tuesdays’ becomes your weekly Signpost

Time Out London Magazine stack

Every Tuesday morning on the way to work I pass a station, and subsequently a man standing outside, handing out free magazines! Often glossy! That’s right folks, free! And it’s always so interesting to read! For free! Literally my favourite day of the week. And it contains all you need to know about current event, food and social happenings all over London. (#notsponsoredbutwishiwas)

Drinking is more like a culture / way of life here

To put it in context, I’ve never had to monitor my drinking before. The majority of the time back home I would have to drive everywhere, which helps control consumption. London, however, has different plans. I hate to think how much I’ve pickled my liver so far but if you’re moving to London any time soon from a similar background to me, brace yourself for multiple opportunities, per week I might add, for a bit of a booze up.

You will spend more, but there is so much more to do!

People say that living here is expensive and to some degree this is true. I have never spent so much in my life! It is literally the land of convenience! But I do believe there is a correlation between this expense and accessibility. You spend more because there is more to do! There are more places to see, more activities to try and more social spots to frequent. You just need to be aware of this. It’s difficult not to act like a kid in a candy store, but just don’t forget that you can only get as much as your pocket money will allow. I have found Monzo to be a great way to keep an eye on my spending here. Again, not sponsored, just a very happy customer.

You are going to smell weed aggressively, everywhere

To be fair, I personally am incredibly sensitive to smell. I swear I can pick up a particle of smoke on a person within the first 10 seconds of me encountering them. So this point may affect me more than the average person, but I can literally smell weed all the time, everywhere! I guess I’ve been sheltered up until this point, but it is shocking how much London appears to be inhaling this stuff! I open my window to get some fresh air in, and I end up passively and unassumingly high by default! Apparently this is normal, so I thought I’d mention it as a heads up. In other news, my anxiety is at an all time low.

Having headphones has become a form of personal security

Even if they are bluetooth and have run out of battery. Keep them in your ears when you’re walking around! I’m not saying don’t be aware of your surroundings but it gives you an excuse to block out drama, people trying to pester you for money and the crazies that you will definitely encounter whilst you’re out and about. Also, I find that by taking them out and making someone repeat something to you, you get less taken off guard and more in control of the situation if someone has approached you. I know it sounds awful, but I feel like headphones have helped me avoid a lot of awkward situations.

You will walk more than you ever have in your LIFE

Seriously, I was not prepared for this. Or I was incredibly out of shape. It’s probably the latter. Still, living in the capitol is definitely the time to hook up a pedometer to your ass because those numbers will be off the charts! Put aside all the opportunities that London offers for a wander, just getting about, to work, to get some groceries…lets just say I really took my car for granted.

Carry a book on you at all times

There are so many beautiful spots and opportunities to just chill and read in London. You’ll find them when you least expect it, so always carry a book and be prepared. Yes it can be all go go go, but sometimes you get to be that pebble in a stream and let it wash over you and enjoy the moment.

I still have one question though – when do you get to consider yourself a Londoner? Does it come automatically with the change of address? Or is it a right of passage that you have to physically tick off stuff to complete? Or is it just a feeling?

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

This website is using Google Analytics. Please click here if you want to opt-out. Click here to opt-out.