When I decided to move to London, which was rather a spur of the moment decision mind you [very unlike me!], the first thing I did was hit up Google. Search words: living in London, moving to London, Australians in the UK, dressing for freezing weather, white Christmas, city rentals, weekend breaks from London... you get the idea. But no matter how much research I did there were a few things that caught me out when I got here, aside from the language barriers. Here are all the things I wish I'd known...
- If the weather heats up, don't panic and go out and buy an entire summer wardrobe, chances are it will be cold again within a week and the clothes will sit unworn in your drawer. Note to self: there is no summer in London.
- Where you live in London says everything about you so choose your area wisely. For example, if you live in Shoreditch you are an alternate, red-trouser-wearing artist; Chelsea/Belgravia/Kensington you come from an established line of wealth; Clapham you are 99% certainly Australian; Fulham you are a Chelsea-wannabe whose wallet doesn't extend that far; and if you're in Camden there's a high chance you work in media.
- Expect to be broke, all the time. No matter how much you earn, your rent, bills, food, clothes and daily-required-cocktail-intake will always outweigh your paycheck. Sad face.
- Never, never, never leave home without an umbrella. I don't care if the forecast tells you it's fine and there is not a cloud in sight. Chances are you'll go into a store/work/cafe/tube and you'll come out to the world ending with torrential rain. Don't. Risk. It.
- If you do temp work (yay for finding a job) you'll need what's called an umbrella company. Don't panic it's not as complicated as it seems just Google a few and make your choice; they are all much of a muchness.
- If someone is talking about a 'Chav' they are referring to what I call a bogan - so keep your distance.
- Recruitment agencies are the way to go. Honestly, 95% of jobs here are through an agent. Send your resume and go for an interview and if impressed they'll put you forward for positions. Just call them your guardian job fairies.
- Doing a weekly food shop is pretty much an impossibility; unless of course you are hercules with endless strength. I'm lucky that my walk from the supermarket is about 600m but even that is too far. I've made the mistake twice. I won't make it again. Small shopping trips from now on.
Hope you've soaked up all my wisdom.
Photo by Krissie.