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Living in London

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on: Jul 16, 2020

If you're a global nomad in London or living in London, expats there have a lot to share to newcomers. Here are 11 things to know about living in London.

Expats in London - Living in London

London is a City-Lover's Paradise

"London is definitely a love it or hate it city. After travelling through many countries in all continents, I have to say that London is the city that offers the most. It is almost as if a bit of every part of the world is present here," wrote one expat. "London is a huge city, and there is always somewhere new to explore here. World-class art, music, and culture come through London, and the city has great diversity and rich history. As a travel writer, I also appreciate that it is easy to get almost anywhere in the world from here," said Julie Falconer, a blogger and travel writer, said in an interview about her life in London.

Americans Don't Adapt to British Culture as Easily as You'd Expect

One expat said, "London takes time to know and understand, as do Londoners. Do not take our common language for granted - it takes effort to make friends and to settle in, learning English rythms, ways of seeing the world. Do not mistake friendly responses for friendship; in most cases, it's simply their being polite. Be patient and you will eventually feel as though you're accepted."

Falconer added, "One of the common mistakes that American expats make when they move to London is in thinking that British culture is the same as American culture (the same goes for language). Be prepared to discover that they are very different in many ways."

Many London Museums are Free

National Gallery London

What to do on a rainy day in London? Stroll through one of your favorite museums. Many of the best museums are free (for everyone, every day). The National Gallery, The British Museum, Museum of Natural History... ALL are free. These are just a few of a long list of free museums in London. What to do on a rainy day in London? Stroll through one of your favorite museums.

Healthcare in London

London Hospital

Our article, Healthcare in the UK, provides an overview of the National Healthcare System (NHS) and private healthcare system in London.

Where Expats and Global Nomads Live In London

London Kensington

"Many of the working American expatriates congregate around the Hampsteads, Swiss Cottage, St. John's Wood, Fulham, the area between Earl's Court and Gloucester, Primrose Hill, Richmond, and South Kensington. South Kensington also has a large concentration of American students living in London," wrote one expat in London.

Best Neighborhoods in London highlights some of the most popular expat neighborhoods in London such as Wandsworth and Kensington.

Consider Commuting Time When Deciding Where to Live in London

London Westminster Station

"I would suggest you first decide what is most important to you, like an easy commute, near parks for the dogs, things like that. Obviously, your budget is going to be a huge factor, as well. Get yourself a tube map and a map of London to see what you're dealing with. At 659 square miles, London is huge. For us, we wanted to be in central London, wanted a 1 tube commute (no changes) and wanted to have ammenities (grocery store, drug store, etc.) within an easy walk," shared an expat in London.

"Look on the website Transport for London (tfl.gov.uk) and try a few example commutes before you pick an area in order to get a good idea about the length of your daily work commute," advised an expat in London.

Parking Is an Issue. Period.

London Kensington Chelsea

If you need to have a car while living in London, one expat had great advice, "Check out an area at dinner time, so you see how good/bad parking really is, rather than just looking at a property during the day, when the street may be empty. Very important if you don't get off street parking guaranteed with your place," advised one expat.

International Schools in London

London Students

If you're moving to London with school-aged children and plan to enroll in an international school for an IB program or other reasons, our article, International Schools in London, provides maps of the most well-known international schools in London and the suburbs of London.

London's Parks

London St James Park

Urban life is meant to include greenery. If you're living in central London, we recommend living within walking distance of a park. London's parks are incredible: St. James Park, The Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are just a few of the beautiful Royal Parks. See a full list of The Royal Parks.

Bringing Your Pet to London

Dog Walkers in Kensington Gardens

The British government has a helpful guide, Bring your pet to the UK: step by step , that walks you through the process of bringing a dog, cat or ferret to the UK.

One couple moving to London asked, "We are a young couple in the process of moving to London with our two cats. Also, from what we've seen, it's quite difficult to find flats for rent that are okay with pets. Any suggestions on the best way to broach the topic with potential landlords? Or areas that usually have more pet-friendly options?"

"I was able to find a place with a pet dossier, I simply wrote a summary of my pets with pics and letters from my vet and neighbors, and I had no problem," commented one expat. Another expat added, "Writing a pet CV is a good idea. Also agree to have the property professionally cleaned when you move out. If you haven't done so already, check the Pet Travel Scheme so that your cats can arrive to the UK without problem."

Crossing the Street

London Crosswalk Sign

We all know that if you plan to drive in London, you'll have to adapt to driving on the other side of the road. But, what you may not realize is that you'll also have to adapt to this while walking. When you come to a crosswalk, you'll need to look the opposite way than what you are accustomed to. The "Look Right" and "Look Left" warnings are only in some areas. We advise you to put down your phone and make sure you are paying attention when you use a crosswalk, because it's not an easy habit to change.

Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

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More about London

Best Places to Live in London

Best Places to Live in London

Here's a guide to the best neighborhoods in London. There are a lot of options for a lot of different situations. We'll be adding new neighborhoods and updating it regularly.

Cost of Living in London

Cost of Living in London

The cost of living in London routinely ranks among the highest in the world. Here is some basic information about the realities of living in London and what you'll need to consider when deciding whether or not to move there.

Healthcare in UK

Healthcare in UK

Expats in the U.K. are able to utilize the public health care system, which is managed by the NHS. Many expats want to have private health insurance to help reduce wait times and several other reasons. Read for more details on how to navigate the system. Plus, a list of the best hospital in London.

Schools in London

International Schools in London

Families moving to London who are interested in an American curriculum, IB program or bi-lingual education for their children, may be interested in these popular expat schools.

Moving-to-London

Moving to London

Expats describe London as a love it or hate it city. With it's high cost of living and rainy weather, it's not for everyone. But, those who move to London and love it will tell you that the city's tremendous diversity, vibrant nightlife, incredible restaurants and varied neighborhoods.

Expats describe London as a love it or hate it city. With it's high cost of living and rainy weather, it's not for everyone. But, those who move to London and love it will tell you that the city's t...

5-Best-Suburbs-for-Expats-Living-in-London

5 Best Suburbs for Expats Living in London

Expats moving to the UK who plan to work in London often want to live in a village or smaller city and commute to the city. Here are a few options to consider.

Expats moving to the UK who plan to work in London often want to live in a village or smaller city and commute to the city. Here are a few options to consider....

Living in London

An American expat in London offers some advice on what it takes to get settled in the UK's capital city.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Join our UK Expat Forum

Visit our UK Forum and talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in London, UK.

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Moving-to-LondonMoving to London

Expats describe London as a love it or hate it city. With it's high cost of living and rainy weather, it's not for everyone. But, those who move to London and love it will tell you that the city's tremendous diversity, vibrant nightlife, incredible restaurants and varied neighborhoods.

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Comments about this Article

jenniferyusi
Jul 16, 2020 23:37

I lived in Brighton for a while, and travelled to London several times. When i read your article, I miss the life when i was in the UK

River Thames, London
Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in UK from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

Guide to Living in LondonGuide to Living in London

If you're a global nomad in London or living in London, expats there have a lot to share to newcomers. Here are 11 things to know about living in London.

Healthcare in UKHealthcare in UK

Expats in the U.K. are able to utilize the public health care system, which is managed by the NHS. Many expats want to have private health insurance to help reduce wait times and several other reasons. Read for more details on how to navigate the system. Plus, a list of the best hospital in London.

Best Places to Live in LondonBest Places to Live in London

Here's a guide to the best neighborhoods in London. There are a lot of options for a lot of different situations. We'll be adding new neighborhoods and updating it regularly.

Cost of Living in LondonCost of Living in London

The cost of living in London routinely ranks among the highest in the world. Here is some basic information about the realities of living in London and what you'll need to consider when deciding whether or not to move there.

Schools in LondonInternational Schools in London

Families moving to London who are interested in an American curriculum, IB program or bi-lingual education for their children, may be interested in these popular expat schools.

Restaurants in LondonRestaurants in London

Support your favorite restaurants in London as they recover from the pandemic. Submit a free listing for them on Expat Exchange to help spread the word about them to the expat community.

Moving-to-LondonMoving to London

Expats describe London as a love it or hate it city. With it's high cost of living and rainy weather, it's not for everyone. But, those who move to London and love it will tell you that the city's tremendous diversity, vibrant nightlife, incredible restaurants and varied neighborhoods.

Expats describe London as a love it or hate it city. With it's high cost of living and rainy weather, it's not for everyone. But, those who move to London and love it will tell you that the city's t...

5-Best-Suburbs-for-Expats-Living-in-London5 Best Suburbs for Expats Living in London

Expats moving to the UK who plan to work in London often want to live in a village or smaller city and commute to the city. Here are a few options to consider.

Expats moving to the UK who plan to work in London often want to live in a village or smaller city and commute to the city. Here are a few options to consider....

Healthcare-in-the-UKHealthcare in the UK

Expats in the U.K. are able to utilize the public health care system, which is managed by the NHS. Many expats want to have private health insurance to help reduce wait times and several other reasons. Read for more details on how to navigate the system.

Moving-to-LondonMoving to London

Expats describe London as a love it or hate it city. With it's high cost of living and rainy weather, it's not for everyone. But, those who move to London and love it will tell you that the city's tremendous diversity, vibrant nightlife, incredible restaurants and varied neighborhoods.

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