As of yesterday, I have officially been living in London for seven months. (Not counting the two months I spent here in 2010.)
I haven’t quite decided if it feels like a long time or not. Though, I have started thinking about going back home.
Looking back at the time I’ve spent here, I can definitely say that this experience has changed how I view the world. Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned is how to make do with a very small budget. I’ve learned how to cook for myself and have cut back on the amount of eating-out I do in a week. (Definitely good life lessons for the future.)
I’ve also learned not to worry so much about where I live. I share my house with several mice, and somehow it doesn’t really bother me.
I got a few messages from friends of friends who are planning to move to London themselves in the near future and were hoping for some advice. I thought I’d share some of what I learned, so far with all of you.
Things I wish I knew before I got here…
1) It is standard to only get paid once a month
2) Most rent prices are advertised by the week
3) There is no summer.
4) Apartments disappear quickly; when looking at flats, bring money with you and prepare to make an offer right away.
I was also quite shocked by the disparity in this city when I moved back the second time. The first time I lived here, I was in Bayswater, which is one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in London. Everything is very leafy and clean and massive Hyde Park is only a 10-minute walk away.
Now that I’m living in east end, I realize how little money people have to survive on.
There are, of course, plenty of cheap or free things to do in London, (https://thriftyabroad.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/free-things-to-do-in-london/), but sometimes it’s just nice to have money.
For example, I was looking at the prices of the Ice Bar in London earlier today. It costs £14 for 40 minutes in the bar. Now this bar is pretty cool, the entire thing is made of ice, but I could almost buy a week’s worth of groceries for that money. I guess my next project should be to find more cheap underground places to go out.
As for any advice…
I would recommend looking for a houseshare in zone 3. I’m living in zone 2 and it’s really expensive. In case you are wondering, I used Spareroom.co.uk to find the house I’m living in now. I love my roommates, but I wish I had gone for something cheaper.