20 Things To Know About London

February 20, 2014 11:00 am

A Fast-Track Guide to London

Below is a comprehensive guide, compiling 20 things you must know about London – both before, or after you visit England’s central hub.

* When travelling and making a connection, there are several stations that everything seems to revolve around – Baker Street, Embankment / Bank, Kings Cross and, occasionally, Waterloo. Once you get to grips with these stations, there is nowhere in the six zones that is barred to you.


*  Don’t move anywhere within the six zones and think you’ll never be woken to drilling at eight o’clock on your day off.

*  An hour-and-a-half commute is fairly good going.  That’s why everyone you see on the trains and tube in the morning is either asleep or reading.  If you’re travelling less than an hour to work, you have a sweet deal.

*  If you have family out of London you want to visit often, bookmark Megabus.com, or get used to spending out c. £50 for a return ticket, depending on how far out they are.  That, or get a car and driving licence pronto.

*  It’s only okay to interact with other people on public transport if something everybody finds amazingly funny or horrendous is happening.  If you stop to say hello to people, they may assume you’re about the rob them or ask them for money.

*  There’s no room for racism here.  This is one of the most diverse places you’ll ever find.  Either learn to love thy neighbour regardless of colour, background and your own prejudices or rethink coming here.


*  There is a thing called the London Living Wage, which means you get what you would in the same job anywhere else but a little extra, as people are aware how expensive it is to stay afloat in this city.  If you’ve moved here on the promise of what seems a really well-paid job, a lot of that cash will be going out on increased rent, council tax, utilities, commuting, food…

*  If you’re looking for a nice area to live, ask someone who has lived here a couple of years.  Better yet if they’ve moved around and seen different places.  An area that looks nice and green might be a nightmare commutes-wise.  A place that is really convenient for transport might be right above a clubland.  And a place where all is quiet but also convenient will be REALLY expensive…


*  As a  rent guide, I rented a small studio apartment in Lewisham (south of the river), all bills included and shared bathroom for £650 pcm last year.  My boyfriend and I now live in a two bed flat out in zone 6 in Harrow (north of the river) and our rent recently went up to £825, no bills included.  Council tax is about £90 a month.

*  If you’re going to the cinema and don’t want to go crazy on spends, DON’T go to Leicester Square.  I’m pretty sure they work in a tax for the air in that place into the ticket.

*  No matter how close to what you might class as ‘The Country’ you live, you will still pick up a couple of visible city miles, with the rides on the Tube one of the biggest factors.

*  You will have more independence if you own a car, but don’t purchase one  until you’re earning at least £25k plus a year or it will be too much of a waste.

*  Go out and make friends.  Lots of them, and harness as many close friendships as you can.  It’s easy – even for people who have been here for years – to get swept away in it all and suddenly have a real problem and need a friend with a solution.  Somebody who will help you out when you’re stranded in town at 2am with no money is worth their weight in gold.


*  You will be unable to throw parties or travel to most places in London in under an hour if you do not live a five minute walk away from a Tube stop.  People get very confused about how to get to you.

*  If you’re looking to stay here permanently, either buy before you get here, or look into Shared Ownership properties in the area you either already live or where you work.  Rent will guzzle up your income all-too-easily.  People from the north of the river turn their nose up at the idea at living in the south, but there are great pockets of the southern boroughs, and the housing market is much better for buyers.

*  In case you hadn’t already got the picture, it is VERY expensive here.  Make sure you can always pay your rent, and on time.  Asking someone to pay it for you for a few weeks is like asking them to sell a liver.

*  If love and real companionship are important to you, start online dating.  People don’t really have time to initiate much of it in the flesh here, unless you’re rather lucky and again, this place is such a mixed bag, you may never meet someone suitable for you.

*  Make sure you get the London Walk down pat.  People will hassle you if you don’t walk with confidence or like you know where you’re going.  Don’t make eye contact with anyone.  You’ll get hassled, followed by strange individuals, or possibly mugged.


*  It is fairly easy to find out where you’re going, whether you have a GPS on your phone or not.  Most of the streets in the first three zones will have maps dotted along certain corners, tube stations are well sign-posted and the bus stops often have detailed maps and stops outlined on them.

*  For travel, download the Tube Deluxe app and the Bus London Pro app to let you know what’s running, what’s got problems and any alternative routes you can make.  They run off central databases which are kept up to date religiously.  If you like being super economic with your time, download Tube Exits, which tells you exactly what carriages to get on and off to cut chunks of time off your journey (there’s lots of walking to be done Underground).


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