I’m 30 years old, and until recent years, have been nested in my comfort zone. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I embarked on a solo journey around South East Asia, I developed a taste for the unknown. Since then, I’ve taken the total of countries I’ve visited to nearly 40, engaged in extreme activities, quit my 10-year long job as a web developer to pursue a dream of running a business, and forced myself into countless situations I’ve felt uncomfortable with, including the most recent, a move to London.
I’ll be honest, I always hated London. The decision to move here was spontaneous. I remember flying back from Romania and moving in on the same day, to a place in Stoke Newington that I hadn’t even viewed and thinking “Why the fuck did I do this again?!”.
Regardless, the city grew on me fast. I went from walking into somebody on every street, trying to buy a return ticket on the bus with coins and not having a clue what direction to take the tube in, to navigating the city like a boss, discovering cool, hidden gems that make London the magical place I have discovered it to be. The people, the places, the culture…I love it here! Here’s what I have discovered in the first 2 months of living here:
1. East London is really fucking cool
I started in Stoke Newington, and have moved to Harringay. I miss Stokey. The whole of East London in fact…Shoreditch, Dalston, London Fields, Bethnal Green – such cool areas, full of hipsters and trendy bars, brunch cafés and tasty street food huts that will have you spending your monthly allowance in the first day.
2. You can’t escape the sound of a Prius
Uber rules the city, and the Prius is the driver’s car of choice. The sound of the electric motor is ever present as day turns into the night. Even the newer buses have hybrid-powered engines.
3. The public transport is efficient
I admit I did try to pay for my first journey with coins in my naievity, to discover Oyster and credit card payments for the first time, but once I had nailed the transport system, it is incredible! In Torquay, the bus comes every hour…if you’re lucky! Here, it’s every few minutes, the tube every minute… AND it’s cheap!
4. The pubs, bars & restaurants are amazing
So much so, I spent an eye-watering £4,000 in the first month here on Bars, Restaurants and Uber rides! I’m paying for it now, as my spend did not match my income…but it was totally worth it! Now, I walk or cycle most places, and eat Stir Fry almost daily. But my god, was the first month incredible! Jamaican, Sushi, Thai…Vietnamese…anything you could ever want, delivered to your doorstep, or at one of the cool venues dotted around the city. Brilliant Corners in Dalston is great, as is Dinerama in Shoreditch…but most the fun comes from just walking around, and discovering these places for yourself!
5. The air and water will slowly kill you
My skin is dry, my lungs feel like they have halved in size and breathing is an every-day challenge. I’m doing things to address this, such as purchasing a Shower Filter to reduce the amount of Limescale, drinking filtered water, buying an Air Purifier, a salt lamp…the lot! Anything it takes to get my health back to pre-London levels!
6. The Tinder matches are endless
I thought it was some kind of glitch at first. In Torquay, I’d be lucky to match with someone attractive after about 300 swipes, and after 500…well, you’re out of matches, and that’s on a 20 mile radius! In London, with a 1 mile radius, you’re inundated with match upon match. At one point I was going on several dates a week, and my standards far-elevated above those in Torquay. Matches would pour in by the hundreds, literally…I was spoilt for choice! It does take its toll though, believe me! (see point 4).
7. Everything revolves around drinks at the pub
Whether it’s meeting friends, a date or even a business meeting, everything revolves around drinking here! Sure, it may start at a café for a coffee, but you can guarantee that it will turn into a beer, or bottle of wine down the pub!
8. People don’t have bladders
I was amazed at how hard it is to find the toilet in London. There are a few at big stations, where you’re charged 30p in coins you don’t have…other than that, you’re left clutching for your life until you can locate the nearest McDonalds, where you’re in with a 50% chance of finding a toilet! Perhaps that is why I hear so many complains of dehydration…it’s not worth the risk of unsolvable liquid retention!
9. Driving is like deciphering complex quantum physics equations
Just don’t drive in London, basically. The congestion is endless, and the public transport have their own, fancy lanes for blasting past you, making it the most sensible choice. When you do get in the car, your Sat Nav struggles. Your location regularly jumps from road to road like a jack-in-the-box, as you’re left attempting this impossible task called “navigation”.
10. The only peaceful place is the elevator from a tube station
You can’t stop in London. The second you do, a plethora of people will instantly pile into you. The only way is to find an elevator in the tube station, like at Covent Garden. Here, people pile in and stand in awkward silence, gently flicking their thumbs up Instagram on phone screens. Eye contact is out the question, as the elevator rises to the second floor. This is the only sense of peace I have managed to locate in London so far – I’ll let you know if this changes!