Don’t Move to London Without Reading This First

Don’t Move to London Without Reading This First

Moving to London in a tram

London’s like nowhere else. No really: living here is a totally different experience to living pretty much anywhere else in the country.

I mean, where else in the British Isles could you imagine a café that only sells breakfast cereal? Or giant ball parks for grown-ups to play in? Or Boris Johnson?

London is a law unto itself. And if you’re planning to move to London (aka: ‘the Big Smoke’) for the first time, let us take you under our wing for just a moment. Because there are some things you’re going to need to know.

  1. If You Stand on the Left Side of the Escalator, You WILL Die

I’m deadly serious. If you’re going to stand still on an escalator like a lesser mortal (as opposed to marching up/down it at a speed that’s just above comfortable levels, because you are a Londoner and your time is precious), for the love of God, stand on the right. If you come to a halt on the left hand side for any reason other than the fast-walking queue has temporary bottlenecked, the rage emanating from the tailback of furious commuters behind you will reach such apocalyptic proportions that you will be immediately incinerated by its force. Don’t take the risk.

Note: I give you precisely 1.5 days before the bemusement wears off and you, too, are consumed with wrathful fury when a hapless tourist blocks your path by standing on the *wrong* side.

  1. London is Bigger Than You Can Imagine

So nice of your new colleague to invite you along to drinks round the corner from her house! I mean, you’ve never actually heard of Penge, but it can’t be that far away, right?

STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND CONSULT TFL JOURNEY PLANNER. And now, start thinking up some excuses before it’s too late.

  1. All Romance in the Capital Takes Place Via Tinder

Coming from a small town, it felt like the pickings were slim: everyone had got with everyone by the time you were 17 and school friends that never left have already started marrying each other. Whereas in London, home of a bazillion young, eligible hotties with fun jobs and free evenings, you’ll bump into amazing people all the time! You’ll just need to spruce yourself up, get out on the town, and you’ll be out getting your flirt on every night, right?


Despite the numbers, Londoners have an inexplicable inability to meet IRL. Instead, they hook up almost exclusively through Tinder. Moving to London and want to join in? Better get swiping…

  1. Without Contactless, You Are Nothing

Ah, the anguish of finding that your Oyster Card/contactless debit card is in your *other* bag, leaving you with the prospect of paying another fiver for a new one or twice your hourly wage for a peak time day return to Kings’ Cross. Or the heart-sinking despair of seeing the little sensor on the night bus bleep red when it’s 4am and you’ve no other way of getting home. Maybe that Tinder match you’ve been ignoring for the past four hours was a better prospect than you thought…?

  1. You Can Do Anything You Like and No One Will Be Shocked

Like, anything. You could salsa down the middle of a Central Line tube carriage wearing nothing but a thong and a giant lobster costume and no one will bat an eyelid. You could tell your workmates that you spent last night at a drug-fuelled One Direction-themed orgy in a deconsecrated church and they’ll likely laugh affectionately and tell you they’ve been meaning to do that for ages. It’s basically a special superpower that’s given to you the moment you move to London and become a Londoner. And like all superpowers, it’s liberating – but potentially lethal. Use it with care.

Moved to London recently? What was the biggest culture shock for you? Share your story in the comments below!


James S.