People often ask me, ‘should I move to London?’ and whether or not I like living here. I do absolutely LOVE living in London now, but there are some things I don’t like about it as well. And, when I first moved here, some things definitely took getting used to.
This article contains my in-depth analysis of the best and worst parts of living in London.
Pros of Living in London
Okay, let’s start off with the good parts about living in London (there are lots!).
1. The pubs and nightlife (well, not at the moment, but, usually!) are great.
You might have guessed I’d start with this one. There is nothing better on a cold, dark, dreary day than sitting by the fire at a traditional pub in a cosy leather armchair with a pint of ale and some friends (hopefully, with some furry friends too! 🐶). London has no shortage of AMAZING pubs throughout the city. If you’re interested, I’ve done a post on my top 15.
In addition to pubs, London has some of the best clubs and music venues in the world. No matter what kind of music you like to listen to, you’re sure to find a club or live music venue playing it! London is a top European tour spot for most artists so you definitely won’t miss out.
2. London has lots of free, amazing museums.
I absolutely love the museums in London and there is really something for everyone. Most of them are free as well. My favourites are the Saatchi Gallery, the Natural History Museum, and the Wellcome Collection.
One of my favourite things to do is go to museum late nights. Basically, they have food and drinks and you get dressed up and visit the museum after it normally closes. They also often have lectures and activities. It’s the perfect start to a girl’s night out!
3. Public transport is super reliable.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before about London, but the public transport here really is great. Yeah, sure, sometimes there are issues, but it’s honestly better than most of the cities I’ve lived in. Between the tube, overground, busses, and normal trains, it’s super easy to get anywhere you need to go.
For tips on getting around London, check out this article.
4. Three things: jobs, higher pay and good unis.
It’s no secret that the job market in London is better than much of the country. Salaries here are still lower than, say, New York, but much higher than you’ll find elsewhere in the UK. Yes, the cost of living is higher, but there is still much higher earning potential beyond that adjustment in London.
You can also take your pick of top unis in London, making it a great place to move for higher education.
Looking to go to uni in London? Check out my advice here.
5. There’s loads of delicious food.
This has one that has changed dramatically since the first time I came to London probably 10 or so years ago. London has always had some of the top restaurants in the world, but, there’s way more variety now, on par with any other major city. Whether you’re vegan, want Peruvian food, or want homemade, fresh pasta, you’ll be able to find it in London.
If you’re interested in reading about my favourite vegan restaurants in London, click here 🙂.
6. It’s beautiful.
This one probably won’t shock you—London is very pretty! From the old buildings to the quirky skyscrapers, it’s got it all. I mean, just look at these pictures:
7. Different neighbourhoods in London have a TOTALLY different feel (more so than other cities).
Looking for something quaint and village-like with lots of local pubs? Check out Wapping. Looking for more of a gritty, city feel? Try East London. Want somewhere that feels like its own self-contained town? Go to Clapham. Want somewhere that feels suburban and family-friendly? Hampstead or Finchley are the places to be. Then, there’s obviously all the great places in central London if you’re looking for historic buildings and the hustle and bustle of the city.
8. London is multicultural.
If you move to London, you’ll meet people from all over the world. I probably don’t need to tell you why this is important and beneficial. I’ve learned so much from making friends in London with people from different places. Plus, you’ll always have somewhere to stay when you travel 🙂.
9. There’s actually some pretty great nature.
London’s parks are fantastic. Honestly, when you’re in Hampstead Heath, it doesn’t even feel like you’re still in London. I’m particularly partial to Kensington Gardens and Richmond Park.
10. Healthcare. Healthcare. Healthcare.
Okay, so, obviously, the whole of the UK enjoys the NHS, but if you’re moving from a place that doesn’t have universal healthcare like the U.S. it’s a novelty. Also, I’ve found slash heard that a lot of NHS services in London are better than in other parts of the country. We’ve got some of the best hospitals in the UK and I’ve had really great luck with my GP surgery in terms of getting appointments quickly and getting referred to specialists when I needed.
Cons of London Life
1. Should I move to London? Well, maybe not if you don’t like crowds. Some places can be quite overwhelming!
Anyone who’s ever commuted during rush hour on the northern line knows what I’m talking about. Or who’s ever gone to Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon. That being said, the longer you live here, the more you learn to time your tube journeys and trips out so that you can avoid some of the traffic. And, now, I guess we’re unlikely to be anywhere particularly crowded for a while!
2. London is pretty expensive.
Okay, we’ve all heard that London is expensive compared to the rest of the country. I mean, a normal pint is almost £5. That being said, it is possible to live more cheaply in London. For example, living further outside of central London is MUCH cheaper. If you’re student, take advantage of all the student discounts in the UK. If you’re looking for a cheaper pint, check out my article on the best pubs in London which includes some discount options.
It’s important to budget in London. Even one shop at a slightly more expensive supermarket can send you over the edge of your weekly budget. Some people tested out prices of different items at various UK supermarkets and found that even a shop at Tesco was £20 more than Aldi.
3. Housing is difficult
Finding a flat to rent in London is notoriously a bit of a nightmare. Estate agents can make the process of relocating to London from abroad way more difficult (even if you’ve lived here for years and especially if you’re a student). There are also quite a few housing scams in London.
However, if you know what you’re doing, it doesn’t have to be *that* stressful. Check out this guide on finding a place to live in London (particularly form abroad).
4. People aren’t as polite in London as in other parts of the UK (but still more so than most countries).
People, especially from up north, always talk about how rude people are in London. Now, people are less friendly in London than elsewhere in the UK, but I’d say they’re still more polite than a lot of other places I’ve lived. Plus, I’m pretty introverted and am slightly put off by excessive friendliness so I don’t mind it 😉.
5. It can take a long time to get between parts of London.
45 minutes is a pretty normal commute time in London. I’ve had friends who have lived almost an hour and a half away from me on public transport when I lived in central London. This is certainly different from other cities.
6. It can be hard to get a visa to move here and, once you’re here, it can be very hard to get ‘set up’ and settled in.
I’m here on my European passport and now can get citizenship so I haven’t personally had to deal with this, but I know a lot of people who have struggled with it, particularly my North American friends. Though, in the coming months and years, it’s likely to become more difficult for even Europeans to move here.
Basically, to get a work visa, your company has to prove that no British person was qualified for your position and pay a huge fee. Now, if you’re working in law or finance or something, this isn’t an issue. But my friends in other industries have had to leave the country because of this. That being said, if you’re Australian, you can move here for two years to work!
Once you get here, things like getting a bank account can be pretty hard when you first arrive and don’t have any proof of address (especially if you don’t pay the bills in your flat) or a UK mobile number. To get a bank account you need proof of address, but, if you don’t pay the bills in your flat, your primary way of getting proof of address would normally be through a bank statement. However, with new, online banks like TransferWise or Monzo, it’s much easier.
7. Most young Brits move to London after uni, so, many people already have established friend groups with their friends from school or uni.
I haven’t personally had this issue, since I also went to uni here, but some people have said it’s harder to break into social groups in London than in other places. In addition to my uni friends, I’ve made friends with people I’ve ended up living with and people from work, but, if you work from home or don’t like your co-workers, it could be more difficult.
8. The weather can be pretty grim (though, it might be a pro for some!), particularly the super dark winters.
Now, when I first moved to the UK, the winters really got to me. I mean, some days it gets dark at 3:30 PM and I was NOT used to that (though, the light until 10 PM in the summer is great!). Also, because I was working long hours and generally didn’t get a lunch break, I went to work in the dark and left in the dark. And, it does rain a lot. We do get some great weeks in the summer, but it can also be pretty cold and rainy even then.
9. There’s quite a lot of crime in some parts of London.
I mean, depending on where you live in London, there could be quite a lot of crime. I remember the first time someone got stabbed in the park across from my first flat in London and, not gonna lie, it freaked me out. But, generally, day to day, I’d say, London feels decently safe.
10. Things close early.
Stores and such close pretty early in the UK. Obviously, there are ones that are open later (big Tescos, for example, and shops on Oxford Street), but, on average places close pretty early.
The same goes for pubs and clubs if you’re used to going out in Europe. A lot of pubs close as early as midnight and only a handful of clubs have a license to stay open past 2 AM. When I’ve been out, I’ve often found myself leaving one pub and frantically searching ‘pubs still open near me’ to find somewhere else to go (obviously, not any time in the past several months, but you know what I mean).
So, that’s it! Have you found yourself asking, ‘should I move to London?’. Already live here? What do you like and dislike about it? Let me know in the comments below.