Meet the English

5 thing I wish I’d known before moving to London

Things you should know before moving to London

Things you need to know before moving to London

I am from a small Siberian town where everyone knows one another. The town is called Divnogorsk and is famous for its stunning mountains and a hydroelectric power dam. It’s a town with a population of 40 thousand people living in close proximity to all the shops, schools, a hospital and a church. When I moved to London I was slightly overwhelmed. London was a much bigger city but felt even more confining than my hometown. The Russian capital Moscow is vast and spacious with still lots of space available for new buildings. London, on the contrary, has almost no room for expansion with millions of tourists coming in every year. There’s no chance you will ever be left on your own in London. However, I do like the business and festiveness of London. I also like London’s amazing history and its embodiment in the city’s architecture. Divnogorsk was too serene for me and Moscow alienating.

So let me tell you 5 things I wish I’d known before moving to London. If you’ve never been to London this will forever change your perception of the city.

Nightmare Commute

Coming from a very small town I couldn’t imagine the tube being so busy. We only had two buses in Divnogorsk and a little train station.

In the rush hour everyone is desperate to get on the tube in the process squeezing fellow commuters. So you end up breathing in someone else’s neck cuddled up with a couple of other people. Some try to push their way through with a large suitcase in hand and a hairy dog on the leash. 

Another contributing factor to a dreadful commute is poor ventilation. Getting the Central Line is like being in a 120 degrees Finnish sauna. You come out sweaty and struggling for oxygen. I try to avoid the tube as much as I can and take a train to work instead. 

London has its dirty sides

London is a dirty city and it’s always been like that. If you commute to work on the tube, blow your nose afterwards and you’ll be shocked at the amount of dust sitting in your nostrils. Buses are always full of food wraps and other litter. Once I even got stuck to chewing gum and couldn’t get it off my jeans for ages.

Please leave me alone

Fancy living on your own in a nice flat? Well, you have to at least earn 50k a year to afford such ‘luxury’. Otherwise house sharing is your only option.

Although salaries in London are noticeably higher than in other parts of the country, the rent isn’t as affordable. In fact, after you’ve paid all the expenses your salary is almost impossible to live on.

Bargain hunting

This leads me into my next point. Despite earning a good wage, scrambling and saving is your only way of survival. Primark, Top Shop and Zara is all you can now afford. And if you don’t look out for deals, you’ll be in overdraft before you know it.

Once you’ve grown to a director level, you can finally relax and enjoy London’s premium side. The job market is very competitive and feisty. So it won’t be a very quick journey. And while you are making your way up the career ladder, let me give you a few saving tips.

Hook up your Oystercard to your 16-25 railcard. Register on to claim back a small percentage of your expenditure. Go to free museums and galleries. And look out for offers on the TimeOut site.

Stressful weekends

You’ve worked really hard and finally made it to the weekend. And here’s the disappointment. Going out to any place in London at the weekend is really stressful. On a very sunny day all outdoors attractions are packed with people, on a rainy day you can’t get a table in a restaurant or cafe. 

So you get a Netflix subscription and just chill at home (at which point you may as well not be in London at all).

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