When moving house to a different country, people often have certain expectations based on stereotypes or what they have seen on TV. Or, if they have already visited the country as a tourist, they use what they have seen then as the fundamentals of potential life here. But let’s get one things straight: visiting the UK and living in the UK are two completely different things. These two concepts are world apart and you will see that for yourself as soon as your removal company drops you off in London, where the British culture is most concentrated and leaves a mark on its citizens. When visiting London, you only get what you want to see. When living in London, you get accosted by the full force of radiating Britishness the Londoners keep within. So while you are doing the moving checklist, here are some facts you should know before jumping on the removal van and going off to live in London.
• Stop idealising, start realising
When people move to another country, they typically have an ideal version of it in their heads. They have already planned how they will live their lives, how everything will be better, how they’ll find a job or work part time as they introduce themselves to the country. In reality, you are an ant on a very big anthill. The job struggle in London is just as fierce as most other countries, and you will still have to be better than others to prosper. London is a city like any other – with people who want the same as you, and people who will compete with you for everything you want, including the can of frozen peas in the supermarket.
• There is not stiff upper lip
Londoners, more than any other British people, often get accused of keeping their distance not only from tourists, but from one another as well. That is, of course, another stereotype you need to forget about. British people are friendly enough to help you with moving into your new house, and they won’t even steal anything. You can see the full force of British friendliness by going to a pub and joining in the conversations about sports and politics, and how horrible the cursed Irishmen are.
• ‘Londoner’ does not equate to ‘British’
As you might imagine, your idea of moving house to London is not a unique occurrence. There are actually others who might have had this notion centuries before you did and acted upon it. And that is exactly why London is actually very culturally and ethnically diverse. It is one of the hotpots in the world, and it’s not the American ‘salad bowl’ or ‘melting pot’; it has its multicultural aspects which are celebrated throughout the city on different occasions and you will find that the citizens here are some of the more accepting ones throughout the world.
• Forget about attractions
You might be thinking that since you are now spending time in one of the biggest places in the world, all its attractions will be yours to behold. Wrong. Attractions are for tourists. Unless you have a free day and you have nothing to waste it on other than waiting in queues behind visitors from all over the world, then you better stick to your hobby or find a nice local cafe to read a book in. You have to wake up pretty early in the morning to beat the curious eyes of the tourists to the front of the line of the Natural History Museum, or the V&A.
• Get used to public transport
And finally, let’s face it, London is a HUGE place. Walking from one end to another is not a feat you can commit to and you will have to start using the transport the city provides you. Don’t worry, there is a lot on offer there – you have all sorts of convenient buses to all areas of London, and there is also the renowned London Underground, one of the most convenient and cheap methods of transport in the UK.
Ready to live your life as a Londoner now? Well, you already have the gist of the things you should know. Finish up the moving checklist and start making arrangements with the moving company, because the British life is waiting for you. Observe it, familiarise yourself with it, embrace it, and you will thrive just like so many other Londoners do.