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Things I wish I knew before moving to London

Ainhoa Canales

London has so many things to offer and is well-known to be one of the best places to live in. As Samuel Johnson once said: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” In fact,  while it’s hard to get tired of London — it’s full of great people, bars, restaurants, and entertainment — living here can be a tiresome experience. Especially if you’ve moved to London from a calmer, less chaotic place. But there are ways to make life in the capital more manageable. Here are 10 things that you should know before moving to the big city:

1. Don’t panic when looking for a flat.

Finding a flat in London can be one of the most frustrating things you’ll ever have to do as a Londoner. If you’re planning on moving to the big city, you’ll notice that rents are relatively high and usually the good and affordable flats get snapped up incredibly quick. The easiest way to find a flat to share or room in an apartment is doing your research in Uniplaces, where you can find not only the cheapest and most secure deals but also useful information about the neighbourhoods and which is the best area to live in.

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2. Think of London as loads of tiny towns rather than one big city.

London is one of the crowdest and biggest cities all over the world. Moving to the British capital is definitely an experience and if you come from a small town, it can be a little bit overwhelming. But here’s the key: think of London as loads of tiny towns together rather than one big city. 

Every area in the capital has a different ambience, atmosphere and local tribe. Shoreditch is the bearded hipster crew while Chelsea is where you’ll find the red-trouser wearing Sloane. First of all, think in which part you want to live in: the West, East, North or South of the city according to what matters more to you (parks, cute restaurants, parties, bars, art…) and then do your research. 

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3. Transportation Apps will be your best allies

Apps like CityMapper are a must for everyone who lives in London, as it will save your grace when navigating around the streets of the capital, or finding your way to a new destination. This App allows you to set your desired destination whether it’s an address or name of a shop or a restaurant and will tell you which is the recommended way to get there as well as information on taxi and Uber prices and public transport. Another really useful app is the Cycle Hire App, which helps you find your nearest station.

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4. Take the ride Easy!

Even though there are heaps of transportation apps that will help you save time and effort, you have to understand and accept one thing: it will take you at least an hour to get everywhere. London is such a spread-out city, so you might have to plan in advance when going to an event or meeting someone. Forget to improvise or take the 45 minutes ride easy.

Related post: https://blog.uniplaces.com/uk/london/5-things-students-living-london/

Photo by Tomas Anton Escobar on Unsplash

5. Choose correctly the airport you’re flying to

There are six airports in London:. Heathrow is London‘s main hub and one of the world’s busiest airports. Gatwick is probably the cheapest one but also the least convenient for the city as it is located 25 miles away from the city centre and choosing this option can be time-consuming and not that cheap at the end. Stansted is the one with more scheduled flights to Europe than any other UK airport and has many budget flights. However, City is the most convenient airport, as it’s nestled in the heart of the Docklands area, only six miles from the City financial district.

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6. Life can get a little expensive here 

Okay, this is a well-known fact. As well as rent, remember to factor in the cost of water, gas, electricity and taxes. If you’re moving to London from abroad, you may also find that groceries, restaurants, drinks, petrol and public transport are more expensive here than in most other places. If you’d like to have a broad idea of how expensive is living in London compared to your city, you can use Numbeo

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7. Avoid expensive gym memberships

London has ridiculously expensive Gym memberships. However, like every big city, it has countless of cheaper options to practice sports. The best and cheapest option is to get a  ClassPass and try many different fun exercise classes around the city. Also, as the weather gets better,  the city makes the most out of its parks and celebrates many outdoor and free concentrations. You can check them here.

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8. Make the most of the discounts and freebies that the city offers

As we said, London can be really expensive, but if you are smart enough you’ll also find really good deals!  There is always something happening around the city that is free. Some magazines such as Time Out show every Tuesday what’s on throughout the coming week.  Also, there are a few great apps – such as TodayTix, Wahanda, Fever or Groupon – that will help you to save money as they offer many discounts for different activities and events. You can also get a Taste Card, if you love going out for lunch, as you’ll get many discounts and 2-for-1 restaurant meals in many places. You can also take advantage of the great number of free museums, art spots and events that take place in the city every month! 

Photo by Mike Stezycki on Unsplash

9. Get a contactless debit card

This is a must when you’re moving to London. If you don’t already have a contactless debit card, you definitely have to get one and get used to using it always. Contactless payment is accepted everywhere and it saves up so much time!

Photo by Tomas Anton Escobar on Unsplash

10. Get an Oyster Card and don’t forget to insure it

An Oyster Card is a card with access to all London Transport Networks. It is the cheapest and most flexible way to move around the city and will save you time and the hassle of buying daily tickets. A great tip is to ensure it by registering it on the TFL website, so that, if you lose it – which is really common –  you won’t lose the money on your travel card. 

London is an incredible city with plenty of opportunities, but unlike any place, you have to make the right choices and get the right information. Moving to this big city can seem a little bit scary at some point but it’s all about trying new things, meeting new people and learning from their experience. With these 10 tips, we hope you have the best experience and that you avoid the most common mistakes. 

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Do you know any tip you’d like to share with us? Leave it in the comments! We’d like to hear from you! If you like this post and you’re considering moving to London, check out how to survive in London with a student budget!  If you’re looking for a room to rent, a shared apartment or a studio in room X you can find your ideal place in Uniplaces.

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