Cultural Quirks: Living in London as an American

by | Jun 24, 2018 | ABOUT LIVING IN LONDON

london in a nutshell a guide for newcomers ad guests of the capital
Updated 06 May 2024

London as an American is not all apple pie. What would you do if your kid lost a tooth? You’d put it under a pillow, tell a tale about a fairy, and swap the thing for a couple of bucks at night. That’s what any sane person would do, right? Well, in Greece, they toss lost teeth on rooftops, and it seems like a pretty darn fine thing to do for everybody.  I’d bet you loved your colored pens in school. They were so useful when you needed to highlight the important stuff shared in class. If you are anything like me – you liked that one Pilot pen with glittered red ink more than anything. And if you are anything like a South Korean, you would avoid that red pen-like fire. Red ink is used specifically to write down the names of the dead there.

My point is that everything you do or like or are okay with might seem like something wrong or wretched to people from another culture. The same can be said about London and Londoners – they have their own unique sets of traditions you are to follow if you wish to blend in living in London as an American.

So what are the basic rules you are not forced to follow in London but should nonetheless?

Moving around the city

They say that the Tube is London’s number one way of getting around the city. “They” also say they’ve seen the Loch Ness Monster playing the violin. Don’t believe everything “they” say, but rather check your facts.

Londoners, for once, prefer walking over any other means of transportation. And why shouldn’t they, really, when getting from Charing Cross to Leicester Square is faster on foot than via the tube?

Walking has two practical benefits in the eyes of a Londoner: it is faster at times, and, of course, it is free. Your feet can save you a lot of money in the long run. Moreover, there is that healthy lifestyle thing dragging alongside all of the other benefits but who cares about that, right?

Ok, walking is good. We got that. What’s next? The proper way of walking, of course.

If you need to make a pause, fix your backpack, tie the shoelaces, stand for a breather or die in agony – please, do it on the right side. If you are going to stand still for longer than a quarter of a second, the right is your friend.


we have to interact with other people. Your golden rule of thumb would be to not touch or talk to anybody whatsoever. The only applicable reason to speak to a stranger is a complaint. Something is wrong with the weather, or the bus is late again? Congrats, you’ve got yourself a conversation starter. Cheerfully saying “hi” with a wide smile on your face, on the other hand, will make you look like a psycho in the eye of a Londoner. These are important aspects of living in London as an American.

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Live the life

Your cultural and social lives as an American in London will be starting on Tuesdays. Get used to that, because the TimeOut magazine is released on a Tuesday morning each week and it is the best collection of things to do and stuff to see in London.

Don’t get this wrong, plenty of events are happening in London every minute, from rare food festivals to live shows and events for kids, but how can you tell where to go if you haven’t seen them all? That’s why I’d recommend that you wait until Tuesday to make your plans for the week.

Sunshine is love; sunshine is life!

You don’t need terrible flatmates to grow tired of your tiny cramped home. That is why the rare days of great weather are an entire holiday of sorts. Get out, stretch those sore feet of yours, enjoy a picnic in a park. What else are sunny days made for?

Find your tribe

There are a lot of things to see and do in London. You don’t have enough time to attend them all. Pick a neighborhood that’s close to you by spirit, study it, and make a few friends there. That’s what everyone does in the capital – they form small, yet tight tribes where people actually care and look out for one another. This is a common practice for those adjusting to life in London as an American.

The pub of life

The best way to meet someone when you are new in town is to go down the pub. First of all, there are plenty of awesome places to choose from in London. Secondly, it’s pretty much a norm to go there on your own. Lastly, given the number of themed parties like karaoke nights all local pubs host – it’s an excellent place for an American in London to meet new people.

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Discounts are your friends

Life in London is expensive. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you are smart and savvy in the art of finding discounts. “Two beers” at the price of one may cut the budget of your night out in half, and the same can be said about everything “two for one” or “x% off”.

You’ll need to follow your favorite brands on social media as a Londoner in order to find special offers or promos. You’ll need those papers with coupons, and you’ll need at least one app that alerts you about special deals happening near you.

Go art yourself!

What I am about to say to you now is probably one of the most definitive traits about London: a lot of museums, libraries, and art galleries are free of charge! Yes, the city wants you to educate yourself and, by an awful paradox, most Londoners don’t have the time. Don’t be that guy or girl or Apache helicopter or whatever you are – go, enjoy, learn, and have fun for free while you can!


In conclusion

navigating London as an American offers a unique blend of challenges and delights. From mastering the art of walking and understanding the reserved nature of the locals, to enjoying the vibrant pub culture and making the most of the city’s bountiful free cultural offerings, London offers a rich tapestry for any expat. Remember, living in London as an American can be made smoother with the right support.

For expert help with finding the perfect neighborhood, navigating the logistics of relocation, or simply making London feel more like home, consider reaching out to Let professionals guide your journey, making your transition as seamless as possible. Contact today to start your adventure in one of the world’s most exciting cities.

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