Sunday, 30 October 2016

Tips on surviving London

I've been in London for just over one year now. It's been pretty intense and I feel like I'm only just starting to get used to being here. There are a couple of things that I wish I'd known before moving however, that would have made the transition from small-cute-and-quiet-Nottingham to omg-wow-slow-down-London a little bit easier to handle. Without the experiences though, I guess I wouldn't have learnt all the lessons and isn't that what life is about - make mistakes and learning from them? Still, here's a heads up on small ways to make it a bit easier.

1. First things first - Do not, I repeat - do not, move to London

2. No, but really - Re-read point number one.

3. Citymapper it - If you, like me, are incredibly stubborn and decide to move to London anyway, the first thing you should do is download Citymapper. It describes itself as the 'ultimate transport app' and it certainly lives up to this description. It's an app that will show you all the options available to you in order to get from A to B. It will tell you how long it'll take, what time to leave and all the different routes available. You can save regular journeys, keep up to date with the latest travel news from TFL and has the tube map available for easy reference. Simply put, it's great. All it needs to do now is make me pancakes in the morning and it'll be perfect.

4. Flat hunting basics - When looking for a place to live, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Never sign up to a place without viewing it and never feel rushed to put a deposit down because 'some other people are really interested too' or 'you won't come across a good place in such a prime location at a great price again'. If you find a place and the stars don't align so that you sign the contract, don't worry - there will be others. Don't let estate agents and/or landlords pressure you into making a decision you may later regret. On the other hand, however, if you do find a place that you immediately like and have no weird feelings about, then act fast. Spareroom.com will become your best friend and worst enemy and estate agents... well, the less said about them, the better (apologies to anyone who actually is an estate agent, it's just that there have been one too many unforgettably bad experiences...)

5. Get out and explore - No matter how long you're in London for, there will always be lots of (sometimes free) things to do. Apps such as Dojo and YPlan along with free magazines like Time Out are great for uncovering events, hunting down fun things to do in the evening and seeking out adventure even on the most mundane of days.
London also has great links to the rest of Europe - pick a weekend and get a train from Kings Cross St Pancras International Station and you could be in Paris by lunch time.

6. Explore both sides of the River - Following on from above, don't forget to explore both sides of the river. I've already become one of those 'North Londoners' who dislike going South of the River because of how long it can take. But when South London boasts of Greenwhich, Richmond Park, Kew Gardens, Battersea Park and Brixton, the journey doesn't seem too bad.

7. Walk around as much as possible - London is a vast, thriving, metropolitan city with a transport system so interconnected that there isn't a corner of the city that is not easily accessible by public transport. When you're in central, however, it's surprising how close everything is to each other. One of my favourite routes sometimes is to walk from Central to East Central (Holborn or Chancery Lane) to uncover that the streets that are usually packed with lawyers, bankers and analysts are now deserted and empty over the weekend. Walking everywhere is also a great way to build up a mental map of London that soon you find your feet taking you from Soho to Covent Garden without a seconds thought.

8. Keep connections and meet new people - I haven't quite mastered this yet but I think I'm getting better at it. You become surprised by how many friends and old acquaintances are also in London that it's great to re-connect. It's also extremely difficult as, naturally, everyone is super busy and trying to figure out their way in the city just as you are. But deciding to make the effort can make all the difference. Meeting new people is a tricky one, but events, talks, joining a club and even dating apps can introduce you to people who you otherwise would not have met.

If you have moved to or currently living in London, what tips do you have on surviving and thriving?


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