30 Things I’ve learned from living in London

I have a funny way of remembering things. I could spend hours feeling grumpy about a head-to-armpit incident in my morning commute and days rummaging over how annoying it is to get yet another bank holiday soaked in rain. And then – the second I’m over it (the moment I finally leave London for greener pastures), I think to myself: it wasn’t that bad, really, was it?

I admit that I started this post quite a long time ago (back when I was still living in London)  but I could not bring myself to finish it. Now that I’m in Spain, I’m slowly coming to peace with the city that, at times, was so ruthless. In fact, I find myself missing the simplest things (like, public transport, parks and cute and crowded pubs!). Good and bad, this city has taught me a few things I would have probably not learned otherwise:

St Paul's Cathedral, London

  1. The difference between a cappuccino, a latte and a flat white
  2. How to start a conversation by chatting about the weather
  3. Or London property prices
  4. Where to stand on the platform to face the carriage doors – increasing my chances of getting a seat
  5. Never to change at Waterloo
  6. Nor at Bank Station
  7. Bus beats tube (always)
  8. Food festivals are fun but also a rip off
  9. When I see a queue, I feel an urge to join it
  10. However, no matter what critics say – no food is worth queuing 2 hours for
  11. Walking – while drinking a green juice, sending an e-mail, under the rain on Oxford Street without bumping into people!
  12. There is no such thing as a quick drink after work
  13. Wednesday night has become the new Saturday night
  14. £6 for a glass of wine is normal… 
  15. …and so is paying £900 for a tiny room in zone 3…
  16. ….in a shared flat – with strangers
  17. Your postcode is a status symbol
  18. North East London is further away from Clapham than Brighton
  19. People go bonkers when the sun comes out
  20. …and in such rare occasions, it’s perfectly acceptable to cancel any appointments to spend the afternoon in the park
  21. However, cancelling plans with a friend means not seeing them for another 3 weeks
  22. Umbrellas are for out-of-towners – us Londoners throw on a hood!
  23. You burn almost as many calories going to the supermarket as you do going to the gym
  24. Nobody lives in Mayfair – it’s a myth
  25. It’s not sunday until you’ve had a roast and a Bloody Mary
  26. Gordon’s wine bar is always a winner for a first date…
  27. …except if your date doesn’t like wine…
  28. …In which case, it’s probably better to dump them before it’s too late
  29. You know there won’t be a day you’ll be completely happy…
  30. …but hey, at least you’re in London!
  31. (Bonus: you’ll just need to accept that you’ll never be able to buy a house, ha!)

60 thoughts on “30 Things I’ve learned from living in London

  1. I left London to move back home to New York two years ago and I still dream of moving back sometimes. I loved my dingy Camden flat more than I’ve loved any other grown-up, beautiful flats I’ve had here!

  2. Oh gosh, I’ve just moved to London and I already feel a love hate, and I 100% agree with the tube station positioning for a seat, I’ve perfected that already. x

  3. Just happened to stumble across your blog and this post had me cracking up. Love the point about the wine. Can’t agree more! If my date doesn’t like wine, then onto the next! A lot of this reminds me of life in NYC – just the British version 🙂

  4. sounds similar to san francisco with the status symbols but hooray for bloody marys on sundays….people are too healthy over here for me to convince them brunch is alcoholic! 😉

  5. Great post! London is expensive that’s a fact, but going anyway is absolutely worth it. I went there for a weekend few weeks ago and I had the feeling that there is something to do and somwhere to go every single day of the week.

    1. Haha I can’t believe I spent 27 years without knowing the difference… Now I feel insulted if I ask for a flat white and get a latte. And yes, kiwis DO the best flat whites ever!

  6. i really enjoyed reading this! I’m currently in australia but live in london and I miss it so. I just started a blog about travel adventures and feeling like the world is your whole home. Would love to get some feedback and perhaps some tips 🙂 forevereverywhere.wordpress.com

  7. Oh, i love this post! It’s funny how you learn those small things about the people in a city while living there. I stayed in France for a year, and I realized there where so many clichés that were all wrong (and so many that were right, ha). I love discovering a people like that!

  8. I was an ex-pat in London myself a few years ago and this list brought back some memories for me!
    Especially 29 and 30…having worked in a pub I also relate strongly to number 12, every day we’d have people come in for a quick drink and end up kicking them out at closing! (sometimes even coming in for a quick drink at lunch – especially on Fridays!)

    Highly relate to the travelling across the city too and not being able to catch up with friends again for three weeks. I lived in the East for 2 years and saw my good friends in the West maybe 6 times! Too hard!

    …nothing like that evasive summer sunshine to get everyone out onto any available piece of grass either!

    1. London definitely made it harder to keep up with friends who didn’t live in the same area (unless, of course, you worked in the same area – in which case you can at least meet after work!).

      I’m so glad you can relate to many of these points – at least I’m not the only one 🙂

  9. I moved from NE London to Wandsworth and it was like moving to a different city. Love it! I am also really hoping that I will learn to like London from afar…

    1. Yes, NE and SW are SO different! My first long-term rental was NE and I literally couldn’t picture myself there (it was a bit too hipster) but did love the Regent Canal, the weird and wonderful bars in Dalston and finding random graffiti on my way to the tube. Each place has its own charm!

      1. True! I was intrigued by Hackney but never really felt that I belonged. When I moved I imagined myself visiting Brick Lane for events or coffee with friends, but I’m more likely to go to Brighton (or recently Bristol). Crazy really!

    1. It’s funny, isn’t it? At some point I managed to get a “good postcode” and was so bummed when I had to move (even though it was just a 10 minute walk down the road) haha

    1. I think a lot of people move there following an illusion (nobody thinks of the amount of hours a week you waste squeezed between armpits, for instance). It’s not as “easy” as I thought but it was good – however, you’ve got to learn when it’s time to leave 😉

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