Life can throw unexpected, yet very appealing options our way from time to time. There may be a perfect career waiting for you half-way across the world, and in this modern world of ours, it isn’t that uncommon to see a good deal of migration based on work opportunities. In Europe especially, you’ll see a lot of traveling businessmen with plenty of experience with different cultures and versed in several languages. While I can’t speak for all First World countries, if your career should ever take you to merry old England – or, more specifically, London – then I’ve got a few bits of wisdom to share with you. People from English speaking countries should pay special attention, as they often tend to expect a lot of cultural similarities and end up being surprised when they find out just how different things are across the pond.
Expect a Healthy Dose of Culture Shock
It takes a bit of time to get used to the more compact European architecture, especially if you come from the US. The whole driving on the left side of the road thing, complete with cars that have a manual gearbox and the steering wheel on the right side, can be really frustrating at first – it just doesn’t seem logical to you until you’ve had time to adjust. I guess the biggest issue is that, although the language is technically the same, you’ll encounter plenty of problems when talking to the locals. First of all, the typical clear and cultured British accent that you hear in the movies is nowhere to be seen. You are met with the Cockney accent, incredibly convoluted slang, pop culture references that just fly over your head, and God help you if you start talking to someone from Liverpool or Cardiff. It will take a few months to develop an ear for the different accents, pick up on slang and get used to the ol’ British stiff upper lip, the rampant binge drinking and brush up on all the celebrity gossip.
Property Prices Are Quite Steep Compared to the Rest of the Country
Let’s be brutally honest here for a second – average property prices in London can be up to twice as much as in other areas of the country. If you are looking to settle down in a nice neighborhood like Bloomsbury expect to make a big investment. Even if you are just looking for a decent flat to rent, things can get quite expensive, so be prepared to pay a bit more than you’ve expected. Of course, prime real estate does come with a bunch of perks, and you’ll just have to weigh the pros and cons, and find the best option based on your lifestyle and budget.
Be Sure to Get All the Necessary Documents If Traveling with Pets
If you live within the EU, you can bring your pet with you, as long as it has a pet passport. However, pets from outside the EU will have to spend about 4 months in quarantine and require a rabies import license. It’s important to make sure that your pet is ready for the big change, which can be very stressful for animals.
If You Have Children, Think About Moving Close to a Good School
The good news is that there are plenty of excellent schools in London, and the British school system does a fairly good job of providing education to students of all ages. However, there is one thing that you have to keep in mind when deciding on the best school for your kids – the Brits give priority to students based on catchment areas. This simply means that those who live close to the school tend to be given priority. Private schools are a different animal altogether, and this rule does not apply to them. Still, whether you choose to send the kids to a private or a public school, being relatively close saves you the hassle of dealing with the infamous London traffic.
Traffic Is an Absolute Nightmare
Narrow streets, chaotic traffic and the daily congestion charge are just some of the realities of trying to drive around London. Factor in the cost of gas and paid parking, and you’re much better off using public transport – it’s both more economical and less of a hassle for you. The London tube is a fairly effective way of getting around, and you can’t beat it for the price. If you have to drive a car, be prepared to go through some infuriating situations.
All in all, London can be a great place to live, but there are a lot of little things that you need to get used to. From the language differences and higher property costs, to the gloomy weather and chaotic traffic, it takes a bit to grow on you.