I am having a cup of tea while waiting for my laptop to turn on. It seems lately the sky has been covered in a thick blanket of fog. The air is cool and crisp on this very day and it takes me back to my first night in London. I take another sip of tea and it transports me to another place – I quickly realized I have underestimated the cold in England as it crept under my clothes, spreading across my skin. My teeth were gently chattering and my hands were shaking trying to hold on to the old Samsung phone that was clearly leading me to the wrong address. Not long after realizing that the battery died. I wrapped my thin coat around me tighter and looked at a printed sheet with a map on it. ‘Ok, I can do this’ I remember saying to myself. And not long after, I made it.
Welcome to London!
Your bank account is full of savings , you have the whole world in the palm of your hands, the city is so big and so busy and so alive. You spend the first few weeks in a hostel, eating at a restaurant every day, buying beers at the pub, putting off the job hunt for a little bit, because why not? Because you will be poor soon, that’s why.
Because why not? Because you will be poor soon, that’s why.
When moving to London some people want to travel for a little bit first, some people want to find a house straight away and some people enjoy living in a hostel. One thing we all have in common is that bank account going one way – DOWN. 🙂
I have prepared for you a few survival tips I wish I knew when first moving to London:
1.) Stay in a hostel (with a kitchen)
Sitting on the stairs of the hostel, breathing in the smell of rain, tucking my hair behind my ear after the wind made it fly wild in all directions. The autumn gold and rust coloured leaves sang a melody of comfort under the feet of Londoners in a hurry. And as London was in a rush, the time stood still for me. I moved to London. I did. All by myself. The soft wind caressing my cheeks filled me with a calm happiness I have no memories of feeling before.
Staying at a hostel can be rough as well – you can end up in a room with tourists partying till 4am, people working night shift getting up at 5am, job hunters, creeps staring at you all night or simply fun people. When I first moved here it was mostly just fun. A lot of fun. 🙂 Sure, I was flat out most of the time – because of the people coming into the room at 4am, but most of the time, I was that person. When I first moved here I stayed at Astor Hyde Park – I loved it. It is in South Kensington so most of the buildings were tall, white, Victorian houses – I though London was SO pretty. I loved the stairs up to the fifth floor where my room was, I loved dragging my suitcase all the way there and I loved the big lounge room where I could sit on my laptop and plan my new adventure.
Staying at a hostel was also the perfect way to meet new people
Staying at a hostel was also the perfect way to meet new people – the people I got along with most were actually the people working at a hostel. They were mostly people that moved to London, just like me, looking for a new experience or better life. Most of them, just like me, eventually ran out of money and decided to work there or just simply loved hostel life. I remember being so afraid and excited at the same time when I first moved here – after hearing their stories I was left with just excitement. They truly inspired me and for the time being they were like my small little family.
Why did I mention kitchen? So you can cook yourself meals. According to Lonely Planet the average price of two-course dinner with a glass of wine is £35. Sandwiches are between £3.5 – £4.5. If you buy your own food a loaf of bread is under £1 and packed ham is about that price as well. In my opinion sometimes ingredients here are cheaper than the ones I used to buy in Slovenia. Next thing is the drinks. I’m not talking water here. Alcohol is expensive AF. Standard says the average price of a pint in London is £3.92. I’ll be honest – it very rarely gets under £4. I used to cringe every time I had to buy a round – if I pay £4 for a pint now I consider it a bargain. Don’t even get me started on spirits – it’s better to just get used to drinking beer. If the hostel however has a kitchen and not a pub it’s usually allowed to bring your own drinks – that means 4 cans for £4. A lot cheaper.
2.) Have savings
I feel like I don’t have to explain this one too much. A week at a hostel is going to cost you around £140, usually more, because it gets more expensive during the weekends. The ticket won’t cost you much if you’re coming from Europe (I think I paid less than £20 for mine coming from Italy), but if you are coming from Australia or US, it can be around £300. If you buy your own food and you’re not planning to cook masterchef meals it shouldn’t be more than £40 a week. We usually spend around £60 a week on groceries, but as you know I love cooking. You can drink the water in London – it tastes weird, but you get used to it. If you top up your Oyster it gets expensive quickly, but a Travelcard for zone 1-3 (you won’t need more) is £38 (Transport for London).
3.) Find a job
It might not be your dream job, but it might be a good idea to have some income and not just money flowing out. I would consider doing something fun if you are not ready to fully commit to 9-5 job yet – like working on a pub crawl, at a hostel or having a part time job, so you can meanwhile look for something else that you would really love doing (if you’re not lucky enough to have it already) :).
4.) Make friends
As cliché as this sounds your friends become your family. This new family will probably be the weirdest, most random but best family you could ask for. The people that pack up their life to live overseas are a different breed. Whether they were seeking greener pastures or new experiences they have alot to offer you. There is nothing in London like going to a pub with mates, sharing stories and tips for your next adventure. Many will be with you for just a short time, but if you’re lucky a few of them will stick around for the long haul. And when you give up on constant wetness, bad hair days and commuters fighting their way to the train with their elbows rushing to work, your friends will always be there convincing you to stay.
5.) Find a house
I wanted to dedicate a whole new blog to house hunting afterall it is really hard to find a flat/house in London – it feels like every single person is after the room you want (and even a tent in the living room for £500) and if it’s too good to be true – it really is. In addition to that there are so many scams that you have to be careful of and I will try my best to include as many as I heard of in one of my future posts.
Do you want to know more about boring part of it like bank account and NIN? You can find it here.
Thank you for reading.
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