DISADVANTAGES OF LIVING IN LONDON
LONDON IS (INSANELY) EXPENSIVE
There are tips and tricks to save your hard-earned dosh but there is one thing that, as a resident, you cannot escape. London is an expensive place to live. Super expensive.“The Independent” recently reported that London is the third most expensive city in the world to live in, just behind the Cayman Islands and Zurich, and that (surprise, surprise) London also has the second most expensive public transport in the world, the third most expensive utility costs, and the fifth most expensive theatre tickets. What else? In June 2015, London rents were more than double the national average. London is 36% pricier than Manchester, 38% more than Glasgow, and 40% more than Belfast.
Tip: do the maths before moving in.
WHEN YOU BLOW YOUR NOSE, BLACK SNOT COMES OUT
Image copyright: DAVID HOLT
THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN LONDON MAY BE GENERALLY LOW
London is a fantastic place to be, but if you move there expecting to find a good quality of life, you should consider this report from Mercer, a consulting firm which publishes an annual Quality of Living Index. According to Mercer, London is ranked 40th out of 230 countries. London was the highest-ranking UK city, trailing behind places such as Paris, Oslo, Berlin, Melbourne, Singapore and Barcelona. Seen from a taxi or a double-decker bus, London seems to be doing pretty well, with its endless array of neon lights, local hippie colour, good (if expensive) food, shops, theatre, music, newly-polished monuments, and carefully-cultivated parks. Yet most Londoners, residents and commuters alike, know that this is pleasant but superficial urban icing. The bus service can be erratic, the tube trains can be dirty and painfully overcrowded, unfurnished flats are difficult to find and pricey homes to buy are beyond the means of the vast majority, and transport fares go up every year.
LONDON UNDERGROUND RUSH HOUR AND STRIKES
Taking the Train or Tube in London during the rush hour can be quite an experience, considering that, in the luckiest of the circumstances, you’ll feel like being squeezed into a tin of sardines in tropical temperatures. The British maybe haven’t considered global warming, as many trains don’t have air conditioning. You’ll therefore get out completely drenched, with the obvious risk of pneumonia during the coldest season, as the outside temperature is likely to be 20° less. After a few too many morning commutes jammed under a smelly armpit, you may have had enough. Lugging groceries home via train, bus, tube or on foot is not fun either. However, even least funniest of all is experiencing a London underground strike if you use The Tube for commuting.
THE (DEPRESSING) BRITISH WEATHER
It’s not true that in London it rains all the time and despite what is generally thought, the issue is not bad weather. As a matter of fact, it rains much less than many other European countries such as the Netherlands or Ireland; it rains even less than in New York or Shanghai. The real problem with British weather is that it is unpredictable. One may get used to it, but variable weather in the long-run may have quite an impact on your everyday life and mood, especially during your free time. The weather forecasts are saying the weather is going to be good and you’re planning a weekend at the park or an outdoor barbecue? Britain teaches you that if the weather is good, it’s wise to carry an umbrella with you. You can’t really “plan” any outdoor activity in the UK.
PLANNING A “SERIOUS” WEEK-END AT THE SEASIDE OR ON THE MOUNTAINS? MISSION IMPOSSIBLE!?
If you live in London, the sea and the mountains are not an option for most of the year. The nearest mountains are remote (the Lake District) and going to the seaside in good weather may be possible only a few weekends throughout the summer. The reality is that to enjoy the sea and the mountains, British people often leave the UK, which means getting on a train or plane and taking at least a week off work. This also means you need to schedule in advance. Sometimes, it’s nice enjoying your leisure time without too much planning.
IT MAY BE HARD FOR AN EXPAT TO BUILD DURABLE FRIENDSHIPS IN LONDON
This is not exclusive to London. It’s quite common of all big cities. Social relations in London require a great effort. This is due both to the great distances of the city and the mobility of people who live in the capital. For many expats, London is only a temporary place to stay to start or pursue a career, but most tend to move elsewhere or go back to their original countries. This means that when you build a friendship, you already know that in all likelihood you’re going to lose it because the friend in question will likely decide to move elsewhere. There are expats coming from other countries that feel the problem more than others. If you come from a country where finding work is an issue, like Italy, Portugal or Greece, you are more likely to be stuck abroad than people coming from countries where the economy is stronger.
EVERYONE IN LONDON IS OVERWORKED AND IN A RUSH
It’s no secret that London is very competitive and working more than 40 hours a week is quite common. This is the reason why on the weekend and in the evenings, people may be too knackered to commit to weekend plans or travel huge distances to meet you wherever you are.
AN EVENING OUT IN LONDON REQUIRES PLANNING
If events started at 9pm and you could eat out until late, as in many other European cities, life would be more relaxed or at least more manageable . Going out in London requires organization. Most events start at 7:30-8pm and end before 11:30pm. That goes for theatres, concerts and most of the pubs. This means that, if you work outside Central London and your job is not 9 am-5pm, you will have to rush to get there in time. Sometimes, you may wonder why it is worth getting so stressed just to enjoy an evening out. When you get out of the theatre, finding a place to grab a bite to eat may prove to be not as easy as anticipated. Kitchens in pubs close at around 9pm, restaurants often before 10pm.
Let’s face it. Traditional British food isn’t that exciting. If you come from countries where the food is great and healthy, you’ll soon need something different from… Fish & chips, bland sandwiches, steak pies, cheddar cheese, sausages.. and peas. Thanks God London is also renowned for being one of the capitals of “International Cuisine”…
LONDON HOUSE-SHARING NIGHTMARES
London is really expensive nowadays and unless you are a top-earner, you’ll have to resort to flat-sharing. Flat-sharing, in general, means giving up part of your privacy…it’s not uncommon to live with 5+ other people in the same flat. In addition, finding a decent flat-share in London at a reasonable price is an ordeal to say the least. You may be interested in checking out this article about flat-sharing which will give you a reality-check and some useful tips.
BINGE DRINKING IN THE UK
Binge drinking at the weekend is a reality, whether you like it or not. People tend to be strict and workaholic during the week and then get totally pissed at the weekend. The issue is that at the weekend they need to unwind, and most of the time the British need to down a few pints to do so. If you stick with the culture, join the party. If you don’t and are keener about much more “sober” entertainment, you may find it odd to witness your colleagues, bosses and friends (maybe very strict during the working week) get totally tipsy at the weekend or during work parties. Don’t pay attention to half-naked young girls vomiting in the street on a Saturday night, either. Beer is the Queen in the UK.
QUALITY OF LONDON HOUSING VS PRICE
New developments are new and nice and compliant to European standards, however the quality of housing is generally low. Buildings in London are generally old, with cramped spaces, and are sometimes badly maintained, which doesn’t justify the sky-rocket prices required for purchase or rent. This is why it’s hard to find a decent place to stay at a reasonable price.
Not to mention that the British are quite wedded to tradition, which includes the very impractical separate taps you will find in most of the households, and the hateful carpet everywhere, including in bathrooms.