Real Life in London: 7 Things You'll Need to Be OK With To Love Living Here

Real Life in London: 7 Things You'll Need to Be OK With To Love Living Here

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Eleanor Büsing
Sep 30, 2017
(Image credit: Eleanor Büsing)

Years ago, I wrote a post about surviving and thriving in London, and it's one of my favorite pieces I've written for Apartment Therapy. I occasionally get emails from readers who've read it and are considering moving to London, want to meet up when they're in town visiting, or just want to chat about the city. As an expat who'll take any opportunity to talk up her adopted home, I love this.

This month marks my own "Londonversary"; to celebrate —and help out anyone thinking of moving to the city — I canvassed my friends, from born-and-bred Londoners to long-term expats and recent arrivals, for thoughts on living here. Here are 7 things to consider before making the leap across the pond. London might be right for you if...

One way to beat the commuting crowds: leave the house really early.
(Image credit: Eleanor Büsing)

You Can Embrace the Commute

First things first: London is a beast of a city. It sprawls and swallows up once-distinct villages in its wake. Divided into 6 concentric "zones" like a bullseye, most of the city's action is in Zones 1 and 2, but I only know a few people lucky enough to live a stroll from their office.

Most of my friends, like me, are Zone 3 dwellers, and others have moved even further afield in the quest for peace (or affordable mortgages). But as long as you have a relatively straightforward commute (to me, 50 minutes with only one change trumps 35 with a bus, train, and tube combo), a book, and some music to listen to, you'll be fine.

Commuting by bike is increasingly popular and is another option for the athletic (and fearless).

In London, breakfast meetings might look like this: worth it to be up before sunrise?
(Image credit: Eleanor Büsing)

You Work Hard... But Not Too Hard

Think of the UK, particularly in regards to working, as being a halfway point between North America and continental Europe. My US-dwelling friends work ridiculous hours and seem to be involved in some kind of exhausting who-has-the-most-demanding-job game, while those in Europe are sent home at 5 and given a talking-to if they haven't exercised their right to holiday recently.

Here, you'll work as hard as you want to: I'm happy to work late for a deadline, but I'm equally likely to decamp to the pub with my co-workers as soon as possible, rather than working all hours just to be seen at my desk. The old "work hard, party hard" feels particularly apt in this town.

True story: my flatmate and I sometimes throw dinner parties together.
(Image credit: Eleanor Büsing)

You Can Share Your Living Space

I'll admit this is entirely finance-dependent, and some singles can afford to live on their own. But in this city, it's totally normal for people to flatshare well into their 30s and beyond. It's not the total drag you might think it is: flatmates become friends and an ersatz family, someone with whom to watch the Great British Bake Off and re-hash the details of your most recent Tinder date.

The closest I've come to finding spontaneous love in London.
(Image credit: Eleanor Büsing)

You're Chill with Online Dating

Speaking of Tinder, if you're looking for love in London, online is the way to go. I can count on one hand the number of couples I know who met in "normal" ways (i.e. at a bar, through friends, etc), but the ones who hooked up via a site or app? Legion.

In fact, British people didn't really date as others might know it before this technology. They met and coupled up somehow, but the notion of meeting someone new