London is truly singular. It is both vibrant in its authenticity and diverse in its culture. This wonderful city is filled with unique opportunities and welcoming to newcomers. The culture is second to none and the city is wedged in history like no other European city. While pamphlets might suggest the education, street food, pubs, and architecture are incredible—which they are—they are the true London, the real London.
The Big Smoke is a malevolent behemoth of stone and glass devouring nearby towns while housing more than 8 million people not including tourists. London is charming but also has an undertone which is mean-spirited. While it might be considered colorful in some ways, she’s quite dull in other ways.
While some might disagree with that assessment there is one absolute truth and that is London is not a great fit for everyone.
We aren’t trying to necessarily terrify you but rather give you food for thought. Now that we’ve dropped the bomb, let us tell you some of the weird things that no one would likely tell you about this metropolis.
The Fearless Bookworm?
London is huge and divided into 6 zones like an oversized dartboard. Obviously, everything you’ll ever need like, say, your office is located in the first or the second zone. Your home, on the other hand, is probably somewhere around zone 3 or further.
While this might not sound too bad on paper, in reality the scale of the city is such that it could take an hour to go from one zone to the next and that’s on a good day. The city is generally so choked with traffic both vehicle and foot that the streets can become mired with throngs of people and bumper to bumper traffic.
While people generally have a love affair with their cars, always wanting to see next year’s model and the features it comes with, it is simply an impracticality in a city as tightly packed as London. Between the people, vehicles, and tourists, there is rarely a time when traffic truly flows down the city streets. Another problem with this great city? There are still a great many roads that were built over 2000 years ago by the Romans. That’s right the Roman empire. Do you honestly think they designed the roads handle all the SUVs puttering around? I think not.
Because of the traffic problem you essentially have to options available:
Is It Raining Outside?
One thing about London, if you don’t like the weather just wait for about five minutes and it’ll change. Not saying it’ll change for the better but it will definitely change. This crazy city has some of the most bizarre weather in all of Europe. Part of it is being on an island. Part of it is the ocean currents. And part of it is someone up there hates us.
One bright side to the rather wild weather is that it never becomes too hot or too cold. And no matter what you choose to wear, it’ll go with the weather. Well, at least at some point it will.
You Are Never Alone
No, this isn’t a reference to the celebrated song by The Police “Every Breath You Take” where Sting professes to always be watching you. Shivers. What I’m referring to is in a city this size and with this many people living in close quarters there is always someone in rather close proximity.
In most cases, the living expenses are such that you’ll likely need a flat mate who can help. It is not uncommon in London for people well into their thirties to have roommates due to the high cost.
Think about it. You wake up with your flat mate, partner, or family and hope on the Tube or bus and commute to work where you are surrounded by strangers you don’t know. At work you go to the office where you are surrounded by colleagues. After the work day is done you head to a pub and have a pint or two with your colleagues before venturing off into commuter hell with another group of strangers before finally coming back to your beloved home with your flat mate, partner, or family. See? You’re never alone in London.
It’s Not as Bad as it All Sounds
You’ve read enough to probably wonder if London is as bad as all this then why on Earth do 8 million people live together in such a state? It’s a good question. I don’t fault you for it.
The easiest answer is just that it’s not that bad. That’s not to say it’s great all the time. No city this size is. But London has her good points. It’s amazing. Like a living, breathing thing. She is always vibrant. There is always someplace to go and someone to see and great food and drink to be had.
There are plenty of reasons to stay. Just off the top of my head I’d say:
I could go on but my wrist was cramping from writing all of those down. Look, this city isn’t for everybody. There have been plenty of people who have come to stake their claim and not made it. People either come and thrive, loving the vibe and the chaos that comes with the Big Smoke or head somewhere else.
Is she right for you? Why not come and find out?