Living in London is a learning curve for most people.
Coming from a small city like Brisbane, it was more like a sharp left turn. There’s so many things about it that are exactly the same, but just as many that are starkly different. If you’re going to make it in London, you have to embrace an “adapt or die” attitude. It’s true, there are plenty of people who don’t last long in London, Australian and British alike. It’s loud, it’s lonely, it’s dirty and it’s huge. But it’s also beautiful, peaceful, exciting and ever-changing.
Here are 9 of the many ways I’ve adapted to life in the big city, how I’ve started to think of London as home.
1. The sun coming out is less of a nuisance and more of a religious experience
Gone are the instincts to slather on sunscreen for the 5 minute walk to the train station, or to revel in the air conditioning under artificial light. As soon as the temperature hits 15 degrees Celsius and the sun starts shining, people head out in droves to the local green spaces in singlets and shorts, bikinis and even lingerie to enjoy the sun – and it isn’t long before you’re doing it too.
2. Your social life will ebb and flow according to how close to payday you are
It seems like everybody in London gets paid on the 1st of the month. That’s when flash sales happen, that’s when the parties start-up again and when we go for a cheeky midweek dinner at the pub. When planning dinner dates in advance you’ll very quickly find yourself pushing them back a week so they fall the week after pay-day instead of before. The days immediately following pay-day are a flurry of transactions, paying utilities, buying fancy food and paying your mates back for all the pints they shouted you. Plus, checking out the flash sales and booking a few flights…
3. Paying £900 a month for a single bedroom with no window doesn’t seem that unreasonable
I have the good fortune of living in quite a nice flat in a very large room (larger than my room at home by a long shot) and even better, I pay a pretty good price for it (by London standards). But while I was looking, and even now as the listings still cycle my Facebook news feed, I see some pretty astonishing prices. The most memorable would be the ad for a double bed in a room that had another double bed in it for £650 a month plus bills. All in all, I’d probably rather the windowless single bed.
4. You start carrying a flask to pubs again even though you’ve been legally buying your own drinks for 10 years
You’re starting to get the “London is expensive” theme aren’t you? When you’re looking at a minimum of £6 for a gin & tonic (sometimes that’s not even for a double), a flask quickly becomes a damn good idea. Sixteen year old Laura was really on to something.
5. A 30 minute walk to save on the £1.50 bus fare is the logical option
This is the last money based one I swear. This might also have something to do with the stifling heat, but I would never walk anywhere in Australia if it was more than 15 minutes away. Now, with traffic forcing buses to regularly move slower than I can walk, it just makes sense to me to walk everywhere. Plus, I get to save a few pounds in the process.
6. A 90 minute commute doesn’t seem that bad
I remember the good old days back in Brisbane when I thought my 30-45 minute drive home seemed like a pain in the ass. These days I’m lucky to get home before 7 (finishing at 5.30) and there are just a stupid amount of people who get home much later than that.
7. You are surprised when you find somewhere that doesn’t allow dogs
As an avid dog lover I was always so excited by Europe and that canine love we seem to share. Pet friendly flats are easy to come by, and dog walking websites are plentiful. You will get used to seeing little puppers on the train and most pubs will, at the very least, have water bowls out (if not snacks). Coming from somewhere where only assistance dogs have the right to be anywhere that isn’t a park, my dog spotting/creeping is really getting a workout.
8. You realise that sneakers suddenly go with literally every outfit, no matter how fancy
Londoners take casual to a new level. I guess in a city where most people are walking or getting public transport, sneakers as a wardrobe staple is just logical. I now own more sneakers than I ever have and I’ve worn them with everything from jeans and a messy top knot, right up to an expensive dress and curls. But it escalates so quickly from there. First, it’s sneakers with a fancy dress, and then before you know it you’re convinced it’s totally fine to wear track pants and Ugg boots as a legitimate outfit choice suitable for public consumption.
9. Friends are family. Friends ARE family. Friends are FAMILY.
London is a lonely city, and your family (I assume) is very far away from you. Your friends become your life; you tell them everything, spend way too much time together and depending on how many women that includes, your period will freak the fuck out trying to sync with everyone and it will just generally be a nightmare.
But an amazing nightmare that you wouldn’t change for the world.