For the thousands of Americans moving to London each year, the biggest part of adjusting to living in London is learning how to use public transport. Having a private car in London is expensive and unnecessary. As soon as you have settled into your new London apartment you need to start learning how to make your way around the city using the tubes, trains, and buses. Learning how the tube works is all a part of getting settled in London, and the faster you “mind the gap” and catch a tube, the better. When you are moving you will be using public transport every day. It is vital that you familiarize yourself with the different forms of transport available to you. This is a massive city and most people do not have the budget to take a cab everywhere.
The first aspect of transportation that you will have to learn is that London is divided into different transport zones. The center of London is called Zone 1 and includes the City of Westminster, which is a suburb, and a few other small neighborhoods. Zone 2 is a concentric circle drawn around Zone 1, just a little further out. The transport zones continue to spread in circles until you reach Zone 6, which is on the very outskirts of London. You will also find Zone 7 – 9 in concentric circles covering the northwest of London.
Transport is the government body that manages all of the transport. They are well represented in every tube and train station across the city and you can pick up a free map showing all of the zones and different transport areas. The reason it is so important to understand the different transport zones is that you will more than likely be covering a number of different zones in your daily commute. Very few people live and work in the same zone.
The zones also denote the different prices that you will have to pay on a daily basis. The ticket prices can be a little confusing, and there is no doubt that transport will play a large part in your budget when you are planning your relocation. It may even affect where you chose to live more than any other aspect. Ask your relocation agents to help you with the basics of transport zones when you are looking for an apartment.
Peak travel time for all forms of public transport is between 4:30 am and 9.30 am Monday – Friday. If you purchase a 7-day Travelcard loaded onto your Oyster Card you can travel at any time of the day and not pay any more.
The London transport system is coded by name and by color. The easiest way to remember which line you need to travel on after your relocation to London is to remember the color, but you will soon find out that all Londoners refer to the line by its name. When you’re still making your way through the maze after moving to London, stick to the colors! For example; the Red Line is called the Central Line. It just makes it easier to understand in a hurry if you can easily identify who line and station you need to get on and off.
If it is your first time in the city, you need to be armed when you travel, with your Underground Map and the incredibly useful A-Z street map. Never leave home without both of these guides after your relocation. After a week of commuting though, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. NB There are loads of apps you can purchase to have a map on the go after arriving in London. I like the Automobile Association App because it’s simple to use and very functional.
The London Underground Map, in particular, is not to scale, so when you read it, you might find that you save more time with a five-minute walk than by taking the tube to the closest station. The tube maps that you see are drawn schematically and do not represent distances in scale. In London, it is sometimes quicker to walk!
Peak travel time for all forms of public transport is between 4:30 am and 9.30 am Monday – Friday. If you purchase a 7-day Travelcard loaded onto your Oyster Card you can travel at any time of the day and not pay any more. Living in London for the first time can be confusing, but armed with your Underground Map and you’re A-Z street map, you’ll be right at home in no time at all.
Did you ever feel like the Queen of England? If the answer is a definite “yes”, then you probably live in zine 1 – arguably the best place to live in London if you don’t mind the noise. Everything is at arm’s reach, your stroll to work does not require any commuting and it almost seems like the sun is shining here brightly more often.
One might even believe that zone 1 is paradise on earth, but it most certainly is not. And, like any other great thing on our Earth, it has its flaws. This brings us to fact 1.
1.) The prices are steep
And they bite quite hard. You may own a gorgeous studio in zone one that looks cool but can barely hold your shoes inside. The ad will say that there will be a vintage staircase or some cool stuff like that in your flat, but in reality, it will the only way for you to reach your honorary square feet at the attic while the word “vintage” itself usually stands for something old and needing repairs. A studio like that will cost you anything from 750L to a million.
What can you get for the same money elsewhere?
750K will get you a lovely two-bedroom flat in the second zone. Your flat will be located on a Victorian terrace, you will enjoy a large kitchen fit for cooking rather than simply storing empty pizza boxes, the windows will be as large as life and the flat itself will be as roomy. Alternatively, you could go for an entire three-bedroom house in zone 5 – a place where you can start a family and raise wonderful children.
2.) Lots of People and Noise
Zone 1 has it all – museums, galleries, theaters, restaurants, and pubs. But do you know who goes to all of those places? People. A lot of people. From locals to tourists – each and every soul wishes to get a slice of the London pie in zone one. Forget about peace and silence, learn to enjoy wreckage and other people’s ways of having fun and you’ll be peach perfect.
3.) Lots of Benefits
Frankly, there are many more upsides than downsides to living in zone 1. Yes, it may be a bit too overcrowded or noisy, but the game is totally worth the effort once you think about how you don’t need to spend countless hours commuting to work or school on a daily basis.
All of the coolest places I’ve mentioned before like the galleries, the museums, the pubs, and the restaurants are at a hand’s reach. Countless events are taking place in zone 1 from dentistry seminars to Comic-Cons to wine degustation shows. You will get to experience life in the Big City like never before. If someone were to ask me what the most priceless thing in life is, I’d say that this is it. It really is, at least for me.
4.) Study the Map
It matters little if you’ve just moved in – you are now a zone 1 dweller. You will need to sit down with Google Maps in front of you, study the area you stay at, learn about a few cool places and you are all set. Now, when the next person will ask you about getting from point A to point B you would say something like, “Kind sir, you’ll need to take a left here and then turn right, but if I were you, I’d choose bub A over pub B. The drinks there are just too exquisite to miss out on”. That feeling when you know your way around the city, especially the part that goes after “but if I were you” – mmm, priceless!
It’s not as bad as I thought. You live in the very heart of London. There’s not much in this world that you need and that’s simply amazing. But what if you do? What if there is a need in your heart for something very specific that lies outside the rational length of a lazy stroll?
London is big, you know, really big. Especially to someone from zone 1 who is used to having everything at his or her fingertips at all times. Well, you could use a car and drive, says someone who doesn’t know London very well. The thing is that with a behemoth of a city as large as the Big Smoke, a car will only slow you down in traffic jams.
An Oyster card linked to the railcards that you own would be the most rational solution. You will pay less for your travels, you will have access to amazing discounts and, all in all, you will pay a small fortune given that I have an amazing pro tip for you: use your Oyster card combo to shop outside of zone 1. Sure, they say that the entirety of London is expensive, but the prices here and the prices there are heaven and hell in comparison.
Did you enjoy my list of five things to know about zone 1? Did you know about any of them earlier? Or perhaps you have something more to add to the subject? Please, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!
It seems like everyone in London is racing to find a decent property as close to the city’s center as possible. People are attracted to Zone 1 as if there was a giant magnet installed in the middle. This raises a question – maybe there is one? If so, how does it work? Why is it so attractive to millions of people? And, lastly, what’s it like to rent a flat in the center of London, really?
The Noise: From the alluring lights of pubs and nightclubs to major tourist attractions and non-stop business, the center of London is filled with lights, crowds, and traffic 24/7.
In simpler words, things here tend to get noisy. Nothing a good set of soundproof windows can’t fix, but still, a vibrant, urban area like that is obviously not everyone’s cup of tea. That’s why we have decided to start our list with this warning: central areas of London are designed for those who are fascinated with the cosmopolitan nature of a megalopolis.
Properties: First thing’s first – we are talking about London’s most historic attractions. Some of the stones forming the center of the city have seen ancient Romans, Celtic tribes, the Industrial revolution, German bombs and much-much more. Needless to say, the architecture here is simply out of this world, both in terms of exterior and interior. Sure, some may believe that the older buildings are simply not fit to handle our modern way of life, but with the millions of pounds invested into the renovation, repairs and infrastructure prove the claim as false.
There is also a wide selection of purpose-built buildings (apartment complexes) in Zone 1. They are much more recent and don’t have the ancient vibe, but the cost of living in one is moderately cheaper in comparison. If you feel like living in a modern studio apartment or a family-friendly two- to three-bedroom flat, they’ll be your go-to choice.
Pets: The situation with pets is a little bit bizarre in the center of London. On the one side, there are many parks and green spaces, and on the other, many landlords don’t allow tenants with pets in their buildings. It’s not that it is impossible to find a pet-friendly place in Zone 1, but it is definitely a challenging task you’ll need professional help with.
Commuting: Commuting is the bane of everyone living in London. It takes some people a couple of hours just to get to work and as much time is needed to get back home in the evening. This is where a flat in the center shines brightest because everything you may possibly need is an arm’s reach away from you.
Shopping: The center of London is a shopper’s paradise with entire streets dedicated to boutiques, vintage stores, food stalls, and massive malls.
Celebrities: You’d be surprised, but Londoners in general and those of us who are lucky enough to live near the centering particular see celebrities all the time. So much so, that reacting to seeing a face you’ve just watched on BBC during your morning routine with the TV on is considered as something much weirder than actually being in the same store with “the guy from the telly”.
This is happening because the more celebs you see minding their own business without the flair, the makeup, and the costume, the more you realize that they are as “normal” as the next guy.
Pros and cons
In conclusion, we would like to sum up the pros and cons of living in the very heart of London.
Successful UK relocations hinge on knowing the best neighborhoods to live in—“best,” however, is subjective and really means what is best for you in particular.
The challenge of finding a place to live is the fact that there’s no MLS whereby local estate agencies share their individual listings on a comprehensive database. Flat-searching on your own means walking into multiple lettings agencies to fully exhaust a given area, so determining where to even begin makes knowing neighborhoods an imperative.
A SNAPSHOT OF LONDON NEIGHBORHOODS
If you’ve visited here before, you are likely most acquainted with the major sites to behold in its historic centers like Big Ben and Trafalgar Square. London’s city center houses predominantly governmental and corporate buildings, museums, and other tourist sites, but it does have a selection of personal residences. And if you’re looking for an edgier, more diverse, artsy, and somewhat less tourist-trodden locale, the east side of this area is a good find with an active day and nightlife.
The postcodes for central neighborhoods begin with either WC of EC for West-Central and East-Central, respectively. And though the modern-day city stretches rather far and wide, residents will refer to this central district specifically as “The City,” just as Americans would say “downtown.” Neighborhoods in this area that London Relocation services include: Bloomsbury, Kings Cross, Covent Garden, Russell Square, Chancery Lane, Barbican, Clerkenwell, Farringdon, Old Street, and Liverpool Street.
The north postcodes are a popular choice for ex-pats—they can also be more expensive than other neighborhoods yet central to many tube lines as well as trains and buses. Having plenty of open, green and leafy spaces, many of the northwest areas have a distinct village feel to them and are great for families. Some spots of north/northeastern London, however, are more urban and commercial yet artsy and good for trendy nightlife and shopping.
The postcodes for northern neighborhoods begin with either N or NW for North and Northwest, respectively. Some that London Relocation services specifically are: Angel, Islington, Shoreditch, Finsbury Park, Highbury, Highgate, Holloway Road, Camden Town, Marylebone, Primrose Hill, Chalk Farm, Belsize Park, Hampstead, Queen’s Park, West Hampstead, and St. John’s Wood.
West London is the popular favorite among North American, Australian, and continental European ex-pats. Filled with regal garden squares and posh shopping districts, it’s overall an economically upscale area, and its neighborhoods are close to Heathrow Airport, gentrified, and relatively family-friendly. They also have great nightlife, schools, and parks and are just minutes from the City. And going into the southwest, you enter into more residential, even family-friendlier neighborhoods that offer pretty walks along the River Thames and an abundance of green space.
Postcodes for west London neighborhoods begin with W and SW for West and Southwest, respectively. At the risk of confusing you, however, there’s a bit of a divide between the SW postcodes—some are more commonly associated with west London versus south, either because they geographically border the west postcodes north of the river, are along westbound transport lines, or otherwise simply offer a similar environment and lifestyle.
West London neighborhoods that London Relocation covers include but are not limited to: Marylebone, Park Lane, Mayfair, Belgravia, Pimlico, Knightsbridge, Sloane Square, St. James, Soho, Tottenham Court Road, Bayswater, Chiswick, Ealing, Hammersmith, Kensington, Maida Vale, Holland Park, Notting Hill, Shepherd’s Bush, Earl’s Court, South Kensington, Fulham, Putney, and Wimbledon.
South London is more urban than the leafy north and west where many of those moving from outside the UK do tend to congregate, yet growing familiarity with the city over time usually opens their minds to moving south or eastward where you get more bang for your buck. While not as conveniently linked with public transport and a little gritty in spots, south London is a lively area near the city center that has undergone a great change in the past few years, offering some charming and dynamic areas with interesting nightlife and growing appeal for young families.
Postcodes in this region start with either SW or SE depending on whether they’re Southwest or Southeast. I already listed some SW areas above that tend to get lumped with west London, but to follow are some additional southwest neighborhoods that fall south of the Thames, along with their eastern counterparts popular with LR clients: Clapham, Dulwich, Balham, Wandsworth, Greenwich, London Bridge, and Canada Water.
Once considered the dodgy end of London, the East End has turned its bad reputation into a selling point. Now a thriving business and residential area, it still retains its colorful character as one of the most culturally diverse areas. East London is likewise a good value with lower property prices than in the north or west. Urban renewal along the river and massive money into the area has also meant that its demographics have changed as more and more locals and ex-pats move there—as I just blogged about last week, hosting the 2012 Olympic Games has brought even more money and development to it. Mind, though, that there are certainly still pockets of low income that feel rough around the edges and unsafe, so it’s a matter of knowing which city blocks to sidestep.
East-end neighborhoods begin with E, and the ones London Relocation commonly covers include: Shoreditch, Whitechapel, Spitalfields Market, Bethnal Green, Dalston, Hackney, Canary Wharf, and Stratford.
The overwhelming task of narrowing down the best neighborhoods is why LR exists! Rest assured, your LR agent will step in as your own personal MLS, catering to your criteria and doing the major legwork for you. Together, you can brainstorm which of the many lovely neighborhoods are best suited to you and readily make one of them your home!
Welcome to London relocation where people find their home guaranteed. We’re an all-inclusive service that’s helped 100% of our clients find their perfect property sign a lease and move in within their desired timeframe.
You might be wondering what’s so difficult about the London property market that you can just do this on your own. Well, agents in London only hold private stock in their area they don’t share with other agencies through a multiple listing system. This means you can’t just go to one agency and see all the available options. That’s why you need London relocation. We will be your Multiple Listing system and exhaust the market. We guarantee you will find your flat through us. We start by conducting a needs assessment so that we know what type of property you’re looking for when you’re looking to move into it and what area will best suit your lifestyle and your community. Our team will handhold you through this process to offer you personalized attention and to educate you on the local market so that there are no surprises.
Come viewing day on that viewing day your personal agent will show you 18 to 25 properties. When a certain property has captured your hearts we will help you negotiate the rent and lease terms on your behalf. Customer service is our top priority. So remember we work with the Leddy’s agents and landlords but we work exclusively for you. Our team of London ex-pats has been there, we understand the unknowns you’re facing and we can translate the difference. We want you to settle into your new life fast and seamlessly.
So just kick back let us do all work for you. You can take my word for it or have a look at our client testimonials I think you’ll like what you hear so give us a call or fill out a web form and start your move today