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Tips for Moving to London!

Next Sunday will be exactly one year since I moved to London for the first time and it's only a few days until I'm back again for another year. There's a few things (mostly obvious ones looking back) that I really wish I'd been told this time last year, I don't confess to be any kind of expert, but these are just things that I discovered on a personal level, by no means should you solidly stick to them! It can be the most fun to just throw yourself in and learn as you go along, but some of these websites etc will just save you time or tell you about events you might otherwise have missed! I'm aware this post is probably only relevant to one or two of my regular readers, so "....barewith...barewith..." everyone else and a big "hello and welcome" to anyone who has discovered my blog via this post! I'm also planning on doing a few more posts of a similar ilk soon - my own revised list of things to do in London, a seperate list of must-sees/must-dos and possibly also a post about a non-average moving to uni experience. I'm so so so sorry about the very random and very unedited photos in this post, they don't really go with the content at all apart from being of London! I just had to find some way to break my waffling up a tad!


Time

I am writing this from the perspective of a student and as a first year last year I was blessed with all the time in the world. I know that people moving to London in a professional capacity, particularly those who are freelance, will not be as fortunate. However, if you're lucky enough to be able to not work part-time alongside uni for a couple of months at least or even your whole first year, I would recommend doing so. There's so much to see and do and get used to and it's best to just totally get your bearings/come to terms with your new surroundings for a bit. I understand that this isn't financially possible for everyone, however I did find that only one or two people had a job in the first term of university.



Stay Connected

By this I mean sites such as Time Out (who also release a free weekly(?) magazine) should become your bible. Pick up any 'whats on' magazines, the Metro and the Evening Standard just to find out about events that are on. Also collect fliers from people handing them out on the street, you never know, it might be a really cool gig or something. Make the most of social media's existence... follow Time Out on facebook, twitter and instagram. My other personal favourite is a book called "Tired of London, Tired of Life" which suggests an activity a day for a year and I know they do a kid's version too. Unfortunately I don't yet own a copy of the book, however I follow their twitter and facebook pages for ideas! I'd also recommend the mayor's page, TFL, the museums, @Londonist, @townfish_london, @LDN, @secret_london, @visitlondon, @thrillcityLDN, @london24 and @londonontheinside... that list may seem long and overwhelming at first sight, however they all post different content, so in order to not miss out on stuff it's vital to follow them all!



The Tube

The underground, the tube, whatever you want to call it, will become both your best friend and your worst enemy. It is probably the fastest way to get around London, but it will gobble your money up like nobody's business and the weekend maintenance schedules aren't so much fun either. Last year, the tube line that serviced my local station was shut on approximately 50% of weekends, so make sure you sign up to the TFL newsletter so that you can plan around these inconveniences in advance. Learn your route home - know which tube line gets you there and try to remember where it stops and the connections you might need to get onto that line- it will sink in eventually, even if you're not actively trying to learn it though. I'd also advise that you always carry a version of the tube map with you, whether that be an app on your phone or one of the leaflets that can be found in every station as having it to hand will come in on numerous occasions! You will start to find yourself becoming annoyed if the next train is more than 3 minutes away... don't be! Imagine you were back home, a 3 minute wait for a bus or train would be nothing! And there will be proper, longer delays... but again, try not to get peed off!! The reasons are never lighthearted and on a near-daily-basis there are people on the track/under the train etc, your extra 5 minutes waiting isn't really anything in the great scheme of things.




But Don't JUST Use The Tube

I only used a bus two or three times in all of last year, but I have to say however simple it sounds, I loved it! It's obviously a lot slower, but I saw things out of the windows that I'd never noticed before when I was underground, especially sitting on the top deck of the number 15 (often serviced by an old routemaster!) I got a £1.40 version of the excessively priced bus tours!! You'll hear horror stories about the night bus, but it's really not that bad and the glittering views of night time London are spectacular! :) However the point of this bullet point was actually... use your feet. Within central London, if you're able-bodied, walking is by far the best mode of transport. Everything in zone one is actually within walking distance of eachother, however spread out it seems on a tube map. It's the easiest form of exercise, the best in terms of personal space and you'll still see all the sights - at your own speed. Another way to get around, is bicycle! Boris bikes are actually fantastic and such fun, the first half an hour of every hire is free - buuuut just remember to get it back into its holder properley or else you may be charged for days and days worth!!!!




Be a Tourist Everyday

My favourite quote of all time goes like this:
 "Everyone is a tourist occasionally & yet when you're not one, they seem so very different from you. An average walk for you is an adventure for a stranger. They're still appreciating streets, buildings & experiences that you've ceased to see clearly anymore. It's your home, but they're the ones having fun in it."
I think it's really important that you never just ignore the things you're walking past. You are blessed to have the opportunity to live in London, even if it's only temporary, there are millions of people who would kill to have that chance! And millions more who pay extortionate amounts just to come and look at the things you probably walk by with your head in your phone everyday. Nobody, not even somebody who's lived in London their entire life, can claim to know every single street and back alleyway, so don't confess that you know it all already! Even if you've carefully observed every detail of a street before, the people in it will be different every time you visit! Just for heavensake, walk around with open eyes and a hunger to learn, don't just be on your phone! And visit as many attractions and events as you possibly can, however touristy they may or may not be! There will be places you fall in love with (my affinity was 110% the East End), but don't let going back to the same place stop you from exploring others!!



But not that much of a tourist!

Having said all that, you've got to remember that the fundemental difference between yourself and a tourist is that you're in it for the long run. Which basically means, you're on a completely different budget. To a tourist, buying a £7 burrito for a meal from a street vendor is nothing, it's an expected part of their visit. For you, a £7 meal cannot become a daily occurrence, in order to live comfortably you've got to be savvy with your wallet and know that £7 could, if you were clever, feed you for a week - meaning you'd have lots of cash left for other things! Similarly with attractions, you don't need to be in Madame Tussauds every weekend to be exploring, there are hundreds of free museums and other places to visit that don't cost a penny! Make use of what's tweeted/posted by the social media accounts above and visit these things instead.



Never Become a Stereotypical Londoner

All I really mean is don't lose your manners! Smile at people you see in the street, talk to people, don't be afraid to start a conversation on the tube! The weirdest thing for me when I first moved was the utter awkwardness of being expected to walk around with a straight face and not engage with anyone... it's totally wrong... and I say everyone should go against it! :) Just be friendly, and don't get angry at the child who's accidentally on the wrong side of the escalator! Also, please don't complain about the weather. 



Join In

Go to as many events as you can. Whether that be mass celebrations, like Diwali, or whether it be smaller things like up-and-coming bands playing in areas like Hoxton. Go to as much as possible. Join clubs, groups, societies - within the university and outside of the university. Follow museums/galleries etc on facebook and attend any workshops or special days they put on - and things like London Design Week! Also, especially if you're an art student, go to as many exhibitions as you can whilst you're fortunate enough to have them on your doorstep! Never choose staying in with the TV over going out exploring even if you really really need some alone time, there are corners in museums and quite coffee shops and residential streets where you can still find space in your head!!




Get Out

I know many students don't really have much choice over where they live during their first year of university, however if you are given a choice, I say live in surburbia, or even just zone 3. It may seem boring and you may seem a million miles from the action, but there are times that you will be so grateful just for fresh air. Yes, there are parks in central London, but at the first sign of sun they are PACKED. Live just that tiny bit further out and your rent is less than half for three times as much space and your own patch of air. Live in the very centre of London and you actually see very little of the sky at all! I also advise that you use odd weekends to get trains out of London, whether that's back home to see your family or just somewhere else in the country. The connections out of London are amazing and you will become grateful for both the fresh air and having something else to do on a Saturday when the city is packed. I know I'm making out like there's awful smog or something haa, it's not that bad, but you'll understand the relief (and how wonderful countryside wind feels too) when you've experienced it yourself!Make plenty of trips home to visit your family and friends and invite them back to stay with you too... or even just invite them on a day down to London!



Longest post everrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. As, I said though I'm no expert whatsoever... I just hope that it helps somebody, even just one person! Writing it all down has helped remind myself anyway, if nothing else. But, the most important thing is just to have fun and to make the most of every waking second! :)


Naomi x

2 comments

  1. If I were ever lucky enough to live in London I would definitely need a kick ass tour guide like you! Although it was only for a few days, I'm so glad that my friend downloaded the Tube app on her phone- during the strikes it was our life saviors and even helped us get the last tube back to our hostel the night it started! I can only imagine how it must feel to live in a place as hectic as London but it sure must be amazing.
    Lauren // OhHay Blogs!
    xxx

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  2. This is such a great post! I've been working on my own but you've covered different things to me which is really interesting :) Hope I can bump into you whilst we're both in LDN and good luck with your second year of University :) x

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