Living in London when you're not a Londoner


Living in London When You're Not a Londoner

Living in London When You're Not a Londoner

Anyone who's visited London before will agree that it is a city like no other. It is overwhelmingly huge, diverse and it moves fast. It is an assault on the senses, with so many unspoken rules and cultural characteristics that will seem crazy and downright hilarious to anyone outside of it.

I have now been living in London for just over six months, so I wanted to reflect a little on my experience here so far as I've slowly adjusted to living in this amazing city that I happily call home. 

Something I noticed really quickly about being here is the feeling of busyness that Londoners like to style themselves on. It's what helps to create that image of London being a  place where everyone is constantly rushing about. It's incredibly common to see people carrying two bags on the tube because mid-lunch or after work, lots of people like to dash to a fitness class or go for a run - they really make the use of their free time!

I think this boils down to the fact that Londoners aspire to have a jam-packed day to look forward to, with a chocka social calendar to boot. It's a mindset that affected me because if I didn't plan anything for a few hours, and instead choosing to watching RuPaul over the weekend I used to feel guilty, as if I was wasting my time. I felt a bit pathetic if I wasn't out socialising 24/7.

I doubt I need to prove to you that Londoners are a sociable bunch. They love their Thirsty Thursdays and Friday drinks - on these days quite honestly it feels like everyone is winding down, looking at their watch waiting for 5pm so that the weekend can begin! You really cannot beat the atmosphere when you can relax and catch up with pals. It feels like the entire city exhales after a long week at work (while trying not to count your pennies too much because it's the weekend which means even if drinks even if they are incredibly expensive).

A second difference I've noticed here out of everywhere else I've lived is the feeling that sometimes you are completely anonymous. Even despite living in Spain for a year, where I arrived in a town knowing absolutely no-one, I still after a while started to recognise faces and would bump into people I knew. I realised quickly that here you can easily wander around your local area for a few days and you still may not see one other person you recognise. This can feel quite isolating, especially if like me, you have friends scattered all around London but not nearby.

I found this the hardest thing to manage in the first few months of living here - if I'd had a bad day or just needed a bit of company, I didn't have any friends round the corner I could go and chat to. Holding onto friends is just as hard and you really have to make the effort to see them often, as schedules fill up fast! It's widely known that London is one of the loneliest cities in the world, and as a result, I developed a thick skin to manage the moments where I felt lonely.     

On the other hand, I love that all over London, no matter how small or big the area, you can find tight-knit communities where people look after each other and know each other well. Anyone visiting London may find a Londoner's exterior appearance a little cold (and sometimes downright rude), particularly on public transport and when walking through the city. I learnt that most people are very kind and helpful with others, but Londoners give more a neutral impression to others until they engage with each other. 

It's like watching a curtain coming down. The icy exterior melts and Londoners are usually as nice and polite as any other self-depreciating brit. London has seen its fair share of violence and tragedy the last few years, and then we saw plenty of heartwarming gestures and colossal acts of bravery to protect others, so while to anyone from outside of London, Londoners seem rude or stand-offish, I know that you just have to dig a little deeper to find their warmth and generosity.  

I'm loving that everyday I'm learning something new about London, and I doubt that I'll continue to be surprised by this wonderful city as I get to know it better.

Thanks for reading! Have you moved to London from another place? What did you notice about living here? I wanna hear all about it!

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  1. Lovely post :) I love reading about peoples lifes in London! And I am in love with the flower display.

    Emma -

    1. Thanks for reading! It was during London in bloom - such a gorgeous display!

  2. Sounds hard, but also kind of amazing.
    I always feel a bit guilty if I have a do-nothing day/weekend, I feel I've wasted my time unless I make an effort.
    Cora |

    1. It has been difficult to adjust to the lifestyle, but it's such an amazing city it mostly feels worth it! Thanks for reading :)

  3. This is an interesting read. Delhi is also kind of similar in a way where you'll find almost no one outside the office till Friday 5 pm and it's when suddenly everyone is at the bar, pub enjoying over a drink. I understand when you say it feels a little lonely in the city, it does takes some time to adjust to the rhythm of the city and I am sure you'll meet some amazing people in no time. Also, I'm at @capturesunshyne on twitter if you ever want to chat. We can talk about our cities :D

  4. You could say exactly the same things about New York. It took me a few years to feel at home. I miss many things about it, but I like the more laid-back style in Colorado.