Looks like I'll probably be moving to London within the next 3-6 months and I was wondering if anybody has any particular words of wisdom to make the process as simple, efficient, and painless as possible. I'm 26.
Just some things rolling around in my head:
1) Is there a good/bad area for expats to live?
2) Is it adviseable to live within a certain radius of your office?
3) Advice w/r/t apartment finding
4) Stuff I should try to bring with me vs. buy there (clothing and small personal items aside)
5) Brief descriptions of each area within London
6) Transportation advice within UK and within EU
7) What definitely NOT to do.
8) What you wish you had known before moving there if you were in a similar situation
9) Good ways for a 26yr-old to quickly socialize himself in a place where he knows nobody and everyone else in the company over there is over 40. (FYI I can't play rugby anymore and I loathe soccer.)
10) What to tie up stateside before I leave (aside from auto insurance carry-over)
11) Non-touristy stuff I should definitely do
12) Know of any good resources I can check out?
I already plan on buying the MLB TV thing on the website.
I would try buying expsenive, small items over here. Things are a little bit more expensive in Britain. The pound is about $1.5 dollars, I believe. The public subway system is clean and effective. Bring warm clothes. I dont think you will have much trouble finding young people in the clubs. I never went myself, but my sisters did, and they seemed to have a good time.
Learn to like soccer. And never call it soccer, call it football. However, short of moving over a car, you dont want to plan on bringing too too much with you. Will the appartment you will be getting be furnished? Will you be living with anyone?
I'd give help if I could, but I've never even visited over there. Best of luck and I hope things go as smoothly as possible.
Yes doctor, I am sick. Sick of those who are spineless. Sick of those who feel self-entitled. Sick of those who are hypocrites. Yes doctor, an army is forming. Yes doctor, there will be a war. Yes doctor, there will be blood.....
I absolutely love London. I've thought about making the jump across the pond again, but I'll tell ya that London isn't the most expensive city in the world for nothing. My colleague's sister is actually moving out of London to sunny old Manchester because of this.
I've always thought of London as an island; it's an oval-shaped city, surrounded by a freeway (motorway in Brit-speak) called the Orbital. Outside of the Orbital are the counties of Sussex to the south, Kent to the southeast, Essex to the northeast, and I forget the rest of my London geography. In between London are boroughs or districts like any big metropolis you'll find in the world, each with a different vibe; some are more ethnic communities. All the tourist attractions (i.e. Parliament, Tower of London) make up what's called Central London. The West End of London tends to be more cosmopolitan and affluent (Chelsea and Kensington for example), kind of like Broadway in New York you could say, whereas the East End tends to be more working-class (West Ham, for instance), but the same can be said for parts of North and South London.
I don't know much about apartment searching in London, but I reckon you'll find a vacant flat wherever you go. You could consider living outside of London and driving to the subway depot on the fringes of London and take advantage of the park and ride there (it's called a car park not a parking lot mind you). That could be a cheaper way of settling in. My English uncle lives in Essex and this is how he commutes.
No matter what side of London you live in, the city feels a lot shorter when you take the Tube (the London subway system). It's easy to hop on and off in between lines as all the route maps are color-coded. The waits are very minimal (the longest I recall waiting was a minute and a half). Very efficient system. The buses are quite good too. You can find a subway depot on about every other corner. I think it's quite difficult to be lost in London or even any other European city for that matter given the availability of mass transit.
If you must drive, remember that your vehicle is right-hand drive and you drive on the left. You will run into an annoying circle called a roundabout, which basically is England's WTF version of an intersection. Make it a habit to yield if a car wants to cross your path in order to get out of the roundabout and onto another road. It's confusing and so, you'll have to learn on the fly while you're there. You better be good at driving stickshift, BTW as most vehicles there have manual trannies. The penalties for traffic violations are more severe in London also.
As for transport to the EU, you can ferry your car over to say, France and Holland, or take the train. The Eurostar high-speed train will take you to the continent, but you'll have to book months in advance, especially if you intend to go to the continent during the height of summer.
Soccer is religion in England, but I think London is quite a laidback place for the sport (namely Arsenal and Chelsea), unless you ventured into the parts of the city that are hubs for West Ham and Millwall. There's a saying that the farther north you go in England, the rowdier the soccer fans. I advise you don't call it soccer: it's football or footie (just to sound cute I guess). I also advise that you don't wear a club shirt in a neighborhood where that club isn't well received. For example, wearing an Arsenal jersey in a pub in Tottenham is NOT a good way to socialize, as Arsenal and Tottenham are heated North London rivals. By the way, I guarantee you if you stick around England for quite a long time, that you will find a club to root for...and often times, it's the club that chooses which team you patronize. As for me, I love soccer, as I grew up watching it, but as a Manchester United fan, I have to fly under the radar a bit as far as where my allegiances lie.
BTW, you better get used to cricket. Yuck. You think soccer is boring? You haven't seen cricket. I remember India was walloping England by 300 runs over the course of 4 straight days and yet, there are folks who will watch some lopsided rubbish. It's just a game I'll never understand.
What to bring across the pond? I suggest that you buy your electronics in London, unless you have a conversion device that converts American voltage to European and vice versa. The outlets are distinct from ours here. I guess you should bring your clothing with you, unless you want to pay a bundle at the boutiques in London. They don't charge you sales tax in England, but I think it's tacked on in the markup anyway.
Well, I hope this helps. It's a huge adjustment and England isn't great for claustrophobics because the homes tend to be smaller and are bunched up together (terrace houses) with little or no front yard/backyard. Food can be quite expensive (of course), even from the American franchises and the portions are smaller. Get used to talking another kind of English too because American English is quite different from English English that you could swear they're different languages. But hang in there. It had taken me a week or two to get used to life in Europe, but could be longer for you if you've never been used to it at some level.
BTW, the girls in Essex have a reputation for being easy.
The Artful Dodger wrote:BTW, the girls in Essex have a reputation for being easy.
I skipped the rest and just read that part.
Haha, I mentioned that last on purpose, saving the best for last.
I always heard from friends that Essex girls were easy and I thought it was a myth. Last time I was in Essex, I was there for 3 weeks in the Summer and I remember two weeks in, the pickings were quite slim, until one day, my uncle had driven me off to a mall outside of London, and then my fortunes turned. I hooked up with a fine English chick of Italian descent and when I had gone to a party a couple of days before leaving for the States, I had ten drunken girls surrounding me and pretty much enjoyed my company.
I'd suggest, if possible, trying to get a place close to a tube station on the same line as the one nearest your office. It's bad enough trying to get on one train in the morning, let alone change.
I'd say distance is less important than that.
Whatever you do, don't try to drive in- not only is the traffic as bad as in any metropolis, but you get charged for the privilege.
I don't believe American driving licences are fully convertible either, so bear that in mind.
You don't actually need to care about soccer in London, not compared to any other British city, except during a world cup or European championships. Hell, half the ladies will be glad to find a guy willing to talk about anything else.
Try to join a baseball or softball club, if whatever makes you unable to play rugby doesn't impact on non-contact sports. Chris8 plays, and would be a good guy to PM if you're interested in that.
Cricket is easily avoided, unlike in Australia or India. I do (a big part of why I like baseball so much). MLB.tv is a very good call, as you're not 'in-market' there are no blackouts. Do try to watch (or record) sunday night baseball, if you can stand Miller and Morgan, the UK studio guys are kind of an institution.
Stuff to buy before/there: European region DVD players often won't play US discs, so if you're planning on bringing over a collection, bring the player and just buy an adaptor for the socket.
Oh, and if you want to check out the truth of the Essex girl thing, just go out of an evening in Basildon, Romford or Brentwood.
Plus, root for Oxford over Cambridge in all sports, even the ones you don't understand.
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won't be having a car
will be living in the city
99% my apt....er, flat....will have to be furnished
our office is in Mayfair
i can play non-contact sports still
dear god no footie. i just can't do it.
electronics question: is the issue one of both socket type and voltage? will adapters naturally adjust for the voltage difference or will i have to buy something separate? can i bring some stuff over along with a US surge protector/power strip and make ilfe easy that way?. things i'll definitely be bringing: electric shaver, DVD player, maybe an Xbox/PS2. i have a desktop, but i'm not sure what I'm going to do about that yet.
what about cell phones? i have Verizon right now. can i just call them and thell them to "switch me over" when the time comes?