Once, Samuel Johnson famously said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. Basically, there’s more to do in London than you can possibly imagine. When you visit London, the chances are that you spend all of your time rushing around and checking out as much of the exciting stuff as possible before you have to get the train, or plane back home. But what’s the case for people who live in London?
Living in London is a world apart to living anywhere else on earth. There are so many unique things about London that Londoners have created their very own culture and way of living. Non-Londoners often arrive on the capital to quickly find that you have to start developing some pretty specific skills fast, or you’re going to end up getting lost in the crowd.
Here are 20 things that make London, London, and 20 signs that you’re London-born and bred, down to your very bones.
1. You Can Never go To the Natural History Museum
As a free attraction, you’d think that people living in London would spend days at the Natural History Museum, hanging out with their friends and making the most of the educational opportunities. Unfortunately, the gigantic queue of tourists will constantly be bumping into you, and ruining your experience, so that you end up giving up and going to sit at a Starbucks instead. Though many people in London intend to visit the Natural History Museum at some point, the truth is that they end up giving up hope, and interest somewhere along the way.
2. Drinking is Always Acceptable
When you live in a world that’s full of tourists constantly drinking around you, you find yourself feeling more comfortable ordering a drink with your lunch on a Monday too. In London, there’s no judgement for when you’re drinking ahead of the curfew that exists for the rest of the UK. Although you might start to feel a little more uncomfortable when you visit the doctor’s office and he or she asks you how many martinis you generally have in a week. Just try to make sure that the London Lifestyle doesn’t lead you into an early grave.
3. You Know What Football Rivalry is All About
From Tottenham, to West Ham, Chelsea, and Arsenal, there are a bunch of reasons why the world of football rivalry is alive and well in London. It’s a good idea to stay away from any Wimbledon games if you want to make sure that you don’t get caught up in the mess of ugly fights and shouting matches. London is where you often see a lot of hooligans throwing things and ending up in hospital because they got a little bit too carried away at the last match. If you’re not someone who’s willing to get a few stitches for your favorite team, it might be best to stay on the sidelines.
4. You Never Have Money
Living in London is incredibly expensive. No matter how much you earn, it turns out that your rent for a tiny one-bedroom apartment, mixed with other things like expensive food and drinks, your regular drinking habit, and other spontaneous trips with your friends will end up draining your bank account dry in no time. The truth is that most Londoners have gotten used to being perpetually broke. Basically, anywhere else in England is less expensive when it comes to living costs, but then again, nowhere else has the same appeal as London.
5. You Always Consider Moving to the Country
As much as the people of London love where they live, you’d be a liar if you said you’d never thought about moving somewhere a little quieter. A lot of Londoners consider moving out to the country, but then once they’ve had a look at what their wages would be, and what the average nightlife looks like outside of the big city, you end up sulking and drinking wine instead. Londoners make a lot more money than people in other parts of the country, and let’s face it, they pay more for their lifestyle too. However, once you’re addicted to the call and experience of living in London, no matter how many times you imagine moving away, you’re pretty much hooked.
6. Waiting 5 Minutes for Anything is Too Long
London is a city where absolutely everything is given to you instantly. You turn up at the tube station just as your train is arriving, and you expect your food to be delivered to you at a restaurant within a matter of minutes. With that in mind, waiting five minutes for a bus can feel like agony. Though you might want to just walk to avoid standing around for more than a few seconds, you probably know that it’s going to take a lot longer to get to wherever you need to go if you do end up storming off in a huff.
7. You Move Fast or Get out of the Way
London thrives on a population of commuters, and you know that if you want to survive, you’re going to have to move at their pace, or get out of the way. Commuters are angry, fast, and populate most of London. If you walk a little slower than they do, then you’re going to need to learn how to move. They don’t care what the situation is, they will straight-up mow you down on their way to their chosen destination. Living in London means moving quickly, and knowing where you’re going, even if that means leaving your friends behind as they struggle to find you after tying their shoe.
8. You’ve Basically Forgotten about Cars
With constant busses and tubes running at every hour of the day, to anywhere you need to go, most Londoners have never even driven a car in their lives. The fact is that learning how to drive in London really feels like a waste of time. This is particularly true when all you need to do is swipe an Oyster card and listen to an audiobook while you’re transported quickly from one side of London to the other.
9. You Have to Create an Illusion of a Party Lifestyle
People who live outside of London often expect that people living in the capital have lives that revolve around roof terrace parties, cocktails, and dinners at the latest restaurants. While there’s definitely a lot of different and exciting things going on around London, the truth is that if you live here, you’re probably not going to have the time or the cash to experience it all. Chances are that you’ll spend most of your time curled up under your duvet in your tiny flat watching Netflix.
However, you’ll have to go out from time to time and grab a few pictures that make you look like you’re living the luxury lifestyle, for the sake of social media.
10. Nobody Cares What You’re Eating
In other parts of England, you wouldn’t dream of going to a McDonalds by yourself, and ordering a large meal that you can sit and devour while staring at your smartphone screen. In London, nobody cares what you’re eating, whether you’re alone, or what you’re doing. Everyone’s so wrapped up in their own stuff, that you can sit nursing a pile of hangover cheeseburgers for a couple of hours and no-one is going to look at you twice. In a city that’s so overrun with people, it can be nice to simply blend into the background and do you when you need to.
11. You’re a Walking Pro
In London, since you’re not going to learn how to drive a car, and you’re only sometimes going to bother with riding a bike, you’re going to quickly become a pro at walking. From walking in heels, from walking while you’re eating, to walking while you’re holding onto an umbrella in a pile of other people, you know exactly how to walk at super-fast speed, and still avoid the crowds. You can Instagram, check out your phone, and be totally detached from the rest of the world, but your feet know where you’re going, and you’ll get there just fine.
12. You Miss Gardens
There’s plenty to love about London, but it’s tropical garden spaces aren’t one of them. The chances are you’ll get used to never seeing any greenery or flowers outside of parks, and eventually you’ll find that you miss the gardens you had in other locations. Of course, this is only true if you lived outside of London once. If you’ve been born and bred here, then you probably won’t mind missing out on gardens too much, although you might daydream about sipping a cocktail in a sunny garden space one day.
13. You’re an Expert at Avoiding People
It’s difficult to be an introvert in a city that’s literally brimming with people, but you’ll learn how to manage it. You’ll have a few close friends, and the rest of the time, you’ll keep as much to yourself as possible, and simply ignore the people who try to talk to you. You might even find yourself staring at tourists on the tube as they try to start conversations with your fellow passengers, while praying that they don’t end up coming too close to you.
14. You’ll Do All your Reading on the Tube
If you love a good book, the chances are that you’ll do most of your reading on the tube, or on busses between destinations. There’s not a great deal of places that you can really sit down and enjoy a book in London, which means that reading has become a key way to simply avoid other people around you during a commute or when you’re travelling.
15. Nothing Shocks you
Once you’ve lived in London for a while, you’ll find that you can basically ignore just about anything. Nothing is shocking anymore, because you’ve seen everything from a guy trying to eat a pigeon, to people spouting nonsense about the end of the world. There’s plenty of crazy people around London, and although you might have noticed them more often when you first moved to the big city, the longer you live there, the more they’ll fade into background noise.
16. You Never Have Enough Time
In London, you make a lot of plans, but you really don’t have enough time for all of them – ever. From working late to make a little extra money so that you can go for a drink, to hanging out with friends and watching Netflix, to simply getting a couple of extra hours of sleep, you’ll end up with a pretty full schedule. That means that you won’t have enough time for the pedicures that you can’t afford, joining a gym, or even heading to the store for food. Time to order pizza again.
17. You Refer to Zone 1 as Central
Some Londoners that are new to the area, and tourists call Zone 1, Zone 1, but if you’re a real Londoner, you don’t tell people that you’re getting the tube to Zone 1, you say that you’re heading to central. Whether you’re heading to Oxford Circus, Waterloo, or Piccadilly, as far as all of your friends are aware, you’re getting the central tube, and that’s all that matters.
18. You Know How to Get on and Off the Train Fast
After years of navigating the tube, you know exactly where to situate yourself on the platform, so that you can walk through the doors ahead of anyone else, and you also know which carriage to get on so that you can get through the doors and to your destination faster. It’s all about being efficient when you live in London.
19. You Can Apply your Makeup Anywhere
If you’re a woman in London, then you’ve probably learned how to apply your make-up on the go. That means if you’re walking down the street, standing on the tube, or heading to the bus, you can basically apply everything from eyeliner to lipstick. There’s no time for vanity mirrors in London.
20. You Say “Innit” Too Much
Finally, you know you live in London when you say “innit” after everything. It’s just another form of slang, but it’s something that we Londoners use every single day. Life in London isn’t about speaking like Hugh Grant, it’s all about the fun little colloquialisms.