five months a londoner

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For the last five months I have been lucky enough to have some more experienced Londoners sharing their tips, tricks and advice with me on life in London – you know who you are – thank you! I’ve been listening to them in awe, wondering how on earth I would ever become a ‘Londoner’ myself when there is just so much to learn. It dawned on me recently, after speaking to one of my favourites about his impending move to Lun-dun – that actually in the five months I have been here, I have acquired some of my own knowledge. So to celebrate I thought I would share my five top tips on transitioning in to being a Londoner;

1. Budgeting
A girlfriend and I recently had a hilarious chat about our financial woes here in London…

“Think of the poorest you have been being – back to how you were living as a student  – now divide that by two….this basically equals your financial life in London!”

Even before I relocated, my best friend would always explain how poor she was living in London. I didn’t get it when I first arrived…groceries are so cheap, h&m and Primark and are everywhere you look meaning clothing never has to cost a fortune…yes rent is expensive but otherwise I initially saw this place as totally affordable! …five months later I completely, utterly and painfully understand what both of my friends have been talking about….London is expensive, I have never been this broke!

If you’re in London or about to get here – set yourself a budget – it will do the world of good to start seeing your financial situation on paper. It might be a hard-hitting reality that you’re going to be poor – but you know what? All you can do is laugh (& be sensible perhaps…). London may be amazing, but it comes at a cost.

2. Heathrow Injection
Everyone warns you of the 5-10kg you put on in your first few months in London… “pffft this will never happen to me!” says the naïve young Kiwi arriving in London straight from an NZ summer. With the prospect of having no car and therefore walking everywhere, I even wondered if actually I would lose weight. Ha! Nope! Dream on young blood. Convenience food is so much more available here, a lot more common and completely acceptable. I’m not a fan, but when you’re working and commuting such long hours, the temptation is definitely there – especially when the meat and veg is not of NZ quality! My biggest battle though? The junk food readily at my fingertips.
Be warned…
chocolate is crazy cheap,
sweets are everywhere,
crisps come with everything,
and hot chips are just as expected at the pub, as a pint is!

3. Public Transport etiquette
Right, this is something that needs to be learnt and needs to be learnt fast. If not, you will undoubtedly be the victim of severe tutting, rolls of the eyes, sighs and shakes of the head. Classic English passive aggressive-ness.
» When on the escalators, stand on the right and walk on the left
» During  rush-hour, walk off the escalator. Standing for those last few steps will bring the whole thing to a crashing halt within seconds – not a good look to be at the front of the collision!
» For heaven’s sake, if you dare to make eye contact, smile, or be slightly friendly to fellow public transport users; you’ll be looked at like you’re a complete weirdo (common occurrence for me – I refuse to adopt to this attitude!

Oh and – you will be pushed around – get that head down, shoulders and elbows at the ready learn to hold your own.

4. Location, Location, Transport Station
When searching for your new London abode, just like at home, location is key. But more importantly over here is the tube station it’s near. I can not stress enough how much more simpler London life is when you’re near good transport. Some parts of London are fantastic to the eye when chosing somewhere to live; they’re safe, cute and clean (very rarely will you find all three from one place just FYI). But even if they will give you a post code to write home about, if it’s poorly connected, in my opinion, it just isn’t worth it.

For example, Finbsury Park is no Primrose Hill or Mayfair – don’t get me wrong… but the nice end is nice, there is a lovely park (in the name in’it!), and it’s local is the well known Faltering Fullback – but hands down, its biggest draw card has to be its transport connections. It’s on the Victoria and the Piccadilly lines – meaning you can get all around the main parts of London easily and quickly – great shout F’ Park! 

5. Get out of London
As a fellow Kiwi in London, we all move here with the high hopes and intentions to travel every weekend to all the European hotspots on our new doorsteps. However more often than not, the reality is that the pub becomes the drain on our commonly low bank accounts and travel gets delegated down the needs/affordability list – regardless of where it sits on the wants/priority list.

My advice? Set up a travel account and save regularly. This way, even when you’re broke (ha – always!) – you still have some money to book the cheap flight that’s just come in on your skyscanner alert. Travelling Europe is so much easier in London than from down under, don’t waste the chance to see an array of cities you never dreamed of visiting for a pint down at the pub – save for it and plan it – simple!

So, there you have it – my  five top tips from my first five months in London. There are so many more – obviously! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m a London Oracle; these tips aren’t in any order of priority or preference and I’ve probably missed a million more important ones but I also don’t think anyone can know London completely – it’s ever-changing and that’s its beauty. But – the biggest tips in my eyes?…

〉 Do it

〉 Experience it

〉 Live it

〉 Breathe it

London is an amazing place with something new to see, do eat, drink or try every day or night of the week. Don’t be boring and don’t stay within your comfort zone – soak it up!

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Sarah x

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