Moving to London
I moved to London back in the now far 2010. I cannot say that it was the most seamless experience of my life. I have been taking my time with writing this post, as I feel it is probably one of the most important posts on this blog. At the end of the day I called my website ‘I’m moving to London’ , as I feel that this ‘move’defined so much of my life. It is also defining everything that happens to me today.
I was surprised by a lot of things. I think it really depends where are you moving from. I would guess that moving from New York or Tokyo might go a bit more smooth than moving from Southern Europe (as I did). Living in Malta for 7 years before moving to London meant a lot of sunshine, and a really slow way of living. Rules were more like guidelines, apartments were huge, and having a 9-5 was kind of being over worked.
You can imagine that coming to London, it was very different for me both with the positives and the negatives. I am not a believer that a place is perfect. Although I have grown to absolutely adore London, it still has its downsides. So, let’s start.
Flats/Apartments/Areas of existence
It is so damn expensive. It is difficult to justify value for money with most properties. Coming from the South where I had an apartment of about 180-sq m for about 650Eur/month including bills to a 40 sq m apartment for £1390 a month, almost gave me a heart attack (prices 2010 before someone tells me it is a bargain 🙂 ). It is true I did rent in West Kensington which is Zone 1-2 (literally where the tube border is). However until this day I think that the prices for the apartments you get in London are insane. If you want space, you need to live out. Zone 1-2 do not allow for that, except if you are willing to spend bags of cash every month.
Estate agents will be horrible to you most of the time. No matter your budget, it will never be enough. Do not take it personal, it is just the nature of the game.
When you arrive be prepared – you will need to deal with a lot of paperwork. Visas, residence permits, N.I numbers, bank accounts, council, water and gas bills. I think I spent a couple of months at the start just going from institution to institution and sitting on the phone with companies to register for services. The funny thing is, that you cannot get a bank account before you get an NI number, you cannot get an NI number before you register for some bills. You cannot pay your bills on Direct Debit before you get a bank account – see what I did there? 🙂 So, arm yourself with a lot of patience, it works out at the end.
Looking for a job
It is always so motivational when you apply for a role and see ‘1700 people applied for this job‘. Ah, well count me in 1701 🙂 Be ready to compete, there are plenty of jobs but there is also plenty of competition. Do not fall for these CV writing services, just be yourself. There are many online, free tips that can help you. It takes time as well, so make sure that you have some spare months to look.
Having a car
Just do not bother. If you want to read my full article on having a car in London visit my post. In short, prepare another large bag of money for all the permits, insurances and parking fines that you will inevitably get. I open a caveat on parking here – it is crazy. Finding parking in central London can drive a saint insane 🙂
You cannot live in London and not mention the weather. I must say in recent years it has been much more forgiving rainfall has decreased in frequency. However, if you are not moving from Northern Europe it will take you some adjusting. It rains – a lot, sometimes all the time. Summers are cold – do not listen to the Brits 🙂 it is cold compared to mainland Europe. I will never forget standing in Trafalgar square in August 2010, waiting for a friend, dressed up in a jacket and ankle boots, holding an umbrella thinking to myself ‘what the &^$$’. I warned you 🙂
Mind the Gap
TFL’s schedule will rule your life. Delays and strikes will be major topic of conversation and you will feel so much passion, towards your commute to/from work.
However, it takes one walk down Westminster bridge for you to forget all of the above and realise you live in one of the greatest cities in this world. Being applicant number 1701 does not matter, being rained upon matters even less because London is hope.
Why do I say hope? It is the history, it is the art and the architecture, it is the innovation – all these things make this city special, giving its inhabitants the hope of success. Success looks different for each and everyone of us, however London can provide for that diversity. It has it all.
It attracts everyone like a powerful magnet. If you are strong enough to survive year 1 and all of the above, you will discover the beauty. The small winding streets away from the hustle and bustle. The cosy pubs, the artisan coffee shops, the book stores, the nation’s love for cats, the stunning streets of Notting Hill or the view from Primrose Hill.
It might have been a tough journey but I would not change a thing (OK maybe cheaper apartments would be good 🙂 )