Eight essential things nobody tells you about moving to London

As written by our just moved to London correspondent Abi Wilkinson who has been here all of 5 weeks.

1. Gentrification has changed everything, and your parents’ perceptions of an area are hopelessly out of date

When you say you’re going out in Peckham, your dad will attempt his best Del Boy impression, and your mum will just look horrified.

No one with an actual Sahf London accent has lived there since 1984 – they all moved to Essex.

And when you tell them you’re going there to drink some wine on top of a multi-storey car park they will worry you’re losing the plot. But that’s a thing, it’s called Frank’s Campari Bar and it’s cool.

2. You’ll think eating something simple and familiar – fish and chips, pie, a hamburger – is a safe, affordable option. You’ll be wrong

Restaurants here will take a meal that is comforting and unpretentious, add a few sprigs/shavings of something unpronounceable, and then sell it back to you as aspirational. Somewhere along the way the price will have quadrupled.

If there is a bit of a buzz about a place, people will tell you you’re lucky to have had the opportunity to blow your monthly budget on fast food with delusions of grandeur. Remain sceptical.

3. Your idea of ‘good value for money’ will change overnight

You were aware that housing prices in London were at a premium, but you didn’t quite grasp what that actually meant. Your grotty, shoebox room will cost more each month than your parents’ mortgage does, and you will be grateful for it.

When you go out, ‘just about affordable’ becomes ‘dirt cheap’, and ‘outrageously expensive’ becomes the norm. Even Wetherspoons will want to charge you nearly £4 for a pint. We’ll never get used to that!

4. The judgements you make about people will be entirely location-specific

In Shoreditch: you’ll just assume that is what the cool kids are wearing nowadays. In Clapham: they’re almost certainly homeless, possibly mentally ill. If you’re really stuck for clues, check if they’re fiddling with an iPhone.

5. Hardly anyone you meet will actually be from London – many of them will be in deep denial about this fact

Your course-mate from uni moved here three months ago? They’re old hands, experts, adopted natives even. You are the wide-eyed newbie, an empty vessel fresh from the provinces, into which they can pour their extensive local knowledge.

Of course, their enthusiasm for South-East London totally contradicts your cousin’s recommendation that you find something close to the Northern Line, and that guy from work insists Walthamstow is really up-and-coming.

Don’t panic. Listen to all the advice you are offered, and then feel free to totally disregard any of it. There is no other option.

6. It’s likely loads of your friends have also moved to London – but they might as well be in Aberdeen

They may be brimming with suggestions on Facebook messenger, but actual face-to-face contact is a different story. You might manage the occasional one-on-one after work drink, but coordinating any sort of group meetup is almost impossible.

One of you is working late on Monday and Tuesday, but someone else has a big deadline coming up on Thursday. It takes at least an hour to actually get anywhere else, even if it’s just one stop on the Tube. By Friday, everyone is too exhausted to even think about doing anything.

Save yourself the hassle and subscribe to Netflix.

7. There’s a reason everyone has suddenly stood up to leave – don’t be the mug sat in the pub finishing their drink while the last Tube leaves

You’ve finally managed to get everyone in the same room, and you’re all having a lovely time maxing out your overdrafts with overpriced cocktails.

Suddenly everyone’s on their feet and scrabbling for the door, apart from you and another bewildered straggler, who just ordered a second £16 Singapore Sling.

Quick, follow them! This is a clear sign that the last Tube, and your last shot at getting home in relative ease, has almost gone. Theoretically, there’s probably still a night bus that will take you where you need to go, but who’s up for a two-hour coach trip full of scary, puking drunks?

8. Getting a taxi home by yourself is not a viable option – no matter how drunk/sleepy/fed up you are

Night buses might be confusing, but anything’s better than the ubiquitous London black cab. We once made the mistake of getting a late-night taxi from Camden to Stratford. We were tired and emotional and we just wanted our bed.

£50 later and we won’t be making that mistake again.

So, now you’re a Londoner, just like these guys!


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