10 Things We Wish We’d Known Before We Moved To London


photo: Alicepoint


Samuel Johnson said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” Funny that, because I followed his footsteps from our hometown of Lichfield to London wondering why he betrayed our little-cobbled city. I guess when a woman is tired of London, she’s just tired of London…because it happens all the time to me.

Turns out London is big, bustling and beautiful. After a while, you grow to love it because it’s so connected and there’s always something going on.

1. Get on the bus to learn the city

If you’re struggling to know where the hell you are, hop on a bus and watch the city as you go. Get off, then get on the bus on the opposite side of the road and make your way back. When I first moved to London I used to go to work solely on the bus, which took me one hour, when the tube would’ve taken me 10 minutes. But I learned where everything was really quickly (and it was cheaper and I always had a seat!).

2. Avoid the tourist areas

Avoid Oxford Street. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Unless early morning weekday or middle of the day weekday. Similar tourist areas are a nightmare on weekends, most Londoners stick to areas that aren’t so crowded.

3. The overground is better than the underground

The overground is superior in that it has air conditioning, you get a bit of a view sometimes and you might even get a seat. The tube is good, but entirely frustrating at peak times. Around 9am you can expect to be squashed against the double doors.

4. Use the TFL website

Instead of walking around the tube station scratching your head, use the TFL journey planner to find out what tubes you need to use to get where you want to be. If you don’t know the nearest tube station check on Google maps and plan beforehand. You can also insure your travel cards!

5. Don’t wear heels

Even the most fashionable of women wear a pair of flats during the commute. That’s because you might have to walk an awful lot. If heels are essential to your outfit, bring them in a bag and change when you arrive. Standing still on the tube doesn’t help your feet either.

6. Find a good rooftop bar

A view of London is not hard to find. We love the Radio Rooftop Bar, but there are tons more dotted around London. Grab a cocktail, take it in and enjoy the view. You don’t need to pay for the London Eye.

7. Go see a museum

Take the time while you’re in London to do some of the free things like museums. You aren’t a Londoner until you’ve traipsed around the British Museum. My favorite is the Natural History Museum!

8. Use a weekday to go shopping (if possible!)

For example, Christmas shopping. The kind that requires you to actively visit stores. If you can do it on a weekday you are sorted. If you can’t get time off to go shopping (the life!), drive to a shopping center after work, like Brent Cross or Westfields. It’ll take you a while to get there because of after work traffic, but the shops will be empty.

9. You will not be able to sit outside of a pub after work

No matter how hot it is, no matter how early you leave, it just won’t happen. On the hotter days of summer, we couldn’t even sit outside a café at around 11am. There are lots of people who are better at saving outside seats.

10. Use contactless

Contactless cards are the way forward. Everything is paid for with contactless, and you can use the tube and public transport with your cards, too. It’s pretty futuristic if you ask us. And only takes a tap.

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Managing Editor

Beth is the Managing Editor of CGD. She is a graduate of the Penguin Writer's Academy, has published a short story and loves to read creative writing manuals in her spare time.

  • Natalie Harney

    Great advice. I’m definitely a bus person, if I could take one to work I really would, and the pub thing is so true – even in winter there’ll be people crowded outside.

    – Natalie

  • Aya Oguri

    Depends what part of London with the pub thing… if you venture out into zones 2 & 3 I always find somewhere. And I’d say swap the TFL website for the Citymapper app – much more detailed and easier!
    xo Aya


  • Camille Beygui

    This is such a great post ! Made me wanna live in London even more

  • rae

    Great post – I do not live in London, but just reading this post made me feel like I have a better grasp on what daily life is like when living in London. And as far as not wearing heels goes, the same can definitely be said for Berlin!

    Rae | Love from Berlin

  • WineAndWhine

    I would love to live in London but i can imagine the difficulties, its such a beautiful city though x


  • Elishia

    These are applicable to visiting London and also living in big cities :) my life in New York looks a lot like this. I’d always prefer to walk anywhere then the subway, it’s always painful.


  • Cafebiblioart

    True and true. After living in London for so many years I could not agree more. Flats are a good idea, but I would suggest wearing some with a ticker sole as the pavement is really harsh, at least that is how it feels to me. PS: I am also bored at times.

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