The Highs and lows of a graduate moving to London

For most people, moving to a new city is a pretty big deal and I thought I’d share the highs and lows that I have discovered since moving from the sunny south coast to the capital of Britain in September 2019.

Misconception alert: the streets are not paved with gold. I feel like people, especially graduates, are sold the idea that London means, amongst many things, high paying jobs. Unfortunately, unless you’re a Banker or high up in business – the wages are pretty average.

I’m certainly not trying to deter you from living in the big smoke because, hand on heart, I love living in London. Pinky promise.

Therefore, I’m going to start with the highs!

Highs

You blend in

I have never felt more fashion confident – I could wear my knickers on my head in Central London and I’m not convinced anyone would bat an eyelid. Genuinely.

I have never been super self-conscious, but I certainly feel more confident to wear clothes I like in London. It’s really refreshing.

Lemme tell you a lil secret: I face planted while running for a tube the other day, got back up, dusted myself off and leapt onto the tube just as the doors were closing. Did I care that a bunch of commuters saw me fall? Nah, I’ll probably never see them again! #LondonLife

Cultural heaven

One of my favourite things about living in London is how beautifully diverse it is. You have people from every walk of life and every corner of the globe living in the same culturally rich city. It is visible in fashion, food, art – it’s everywhere and it’s wonderful.

Travel

It’s so easy to get anywhere – the tubes/ trains/ buses/ taxis/ trams/ coaches/ flights are incredible. I am dreadful with directions (no seriously, I’m dreadful) and I can navigate my way round. There are maps everywhere (and google maps for when we are really struggling) and there is even a cap on how much you can be charged depending on where you are. For example if you’re only travelling in Zone 1 -4 at peak times, you can be charged a maximum of £4.70 when you use any of these: Tube, DLR, London Overground and TfL Rail (adult rate). So, yes London can be expensive but if you are spending a day exploring the city you have all your travel covered for under £5!

Entertainment

I never get bored. Never, ever. I look forward to the weekends because there are endless possibilities! From romantic restaurants, floral coffee shops, theatres, cat cafes, concerts, cute places to eat pizza (Leicester Square) or even just sit with a Prosecco in hand while you watch the hubbub of the capital – it’s amazing.

Not t0 mention the amount of FREE things you can do. For example: the British Museum, Greenwich Park, Natural History Museum, Wimbledon Common, National Gallery, Imperial War Museum, Chinatown, Hyde Park, Covent Garden, Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross, Millennium Bridge, Harrods, Buckingham Palace, Carnaby, Sky Garden, Westminster, The British Library, Tate Modern, Oxford Circus… I mean, I could go on forever.

Exercise

My gym is £24 a month, is right across the road from my flat and I get a discount because I’m a student – I mean, that’s not bad is it?! Things can be more pricy, but you have to be looking for a bargain at all times (groupon is your new best friend!).

Some gyms are more expensive, but it’s do-able and a lot of them offer really cool bonuses and classes that go with your membership. There are also so many amazing parks and park runs that you can take part in.

There are so, so many wonderful bonuses to living in London!

Lows

From student accommodation to basically-the-same-but-without-pasta-in-the-hoover

Mortgages go out the window.

Moving to London as a graduate usually means that you’re renting. It’s a choice between a mortgage in a different part of the country, or a rental in London. Don’t get me wrong, renting in London is not cheap BUT I’m doing it and I’m on a trainee graduate wage so it’s definitely do-able!

Savings who? 

Saving in London is HARD. I keep trying and I’ve practically given up. To be clear, I am on an average-for-a-graduate, but definitely below the average in London, wage. I just find that I eat into any money I put to one side because the cost of living is more. 

The cost of a bag of 30 chicken nuggets is the same as a punnet of strawberries and you’ll be lucky to find a small glass of wine for under £5 (though I appreciate this is not an essential purchase!).

To be honest, this could probably be said for a variety of locations, but LORDY, the cost of food is more. Top tip: find yourself a Lidl or an Aldi- I am right next to a Tesco’s express and they totally raise their prices in the knowledge that they are the local food shop! 

Another thing to consider is that a big part of the appeal of London is the London-lifestyle – the beautiful, floral cafes, the gourmet restaurants and the quirky bars. They, too, cost a pretty penny.

Being aware of your environment 

I come from a little village with minimal crime – so London is very different than what I’ve experienced before, but you just have to be sensible. I try my best to adopt a moody face and I’ve sort of learnt not to smile at people as much. Which sounds so dreadful, but people approach you less when you have headphones in and carry yourself with a “go away” vibe… 

Commuting 

Commuting can be pretty manic.

You get used to it really quickly, but when I first started using the underground in rush hour I was shooketh. But now it’s second nature to be bumped into by grumpy commuters (probably all trying to adopt my method above!). Just get yourself a good podcast or playlist. Sometimes I wonder how I actually got home because I don’t recall the journey itself. 

If you’re thinking of moving to London and you’re looking at potential locations, looking at the tube lines is probably where I would start. We are near the District Line and a DLR station (that leads to a Jubilee Line) and that means that hopping on and off tubes to get to central is really easy. We made sure that we were an equal distance from each of our works and that neither of us had a crazy commute to do.

Each of the tubes have a different reputation too, which may also be useful when considering where to live. For example – the District Line has air-conditioning (halle-freakin-lujah), the Northern Line cuts through the city but can be pretty slow and is a bit old/ stinky, the Victoria Line is very quick, the Jubilee Line can be ridiculously busy in rush hour as it cuts through the business hot spots and Central has a reputation for being late… We also mustn’t forget the Elizabeth Line that is opening 2021 that is definitely a good one to be near!

Of course, you can use buses too, it’s definitely worth checking these out before you move,

I was wondering whether or not to share this lil detail with you, but I shall because I really didn’t have any idea how much it would cost before I moved. I commute from South-East London to outer London for work and, because my place of work doesn’t fall under the Oyster card zones, it costs me a whopping £350 a month minimum to travel to and from work. I appreciate that a car may cost this too, but that is a pretty hefty chunk of my wage and it excludes travel on weekends!

Here are the current monthly Oyster Travel card prices:

  • Zones 1 – 4: £199.30
  • Zones 1 – 5: £237.00
  • Zones 1 – 6- £235.50

So if you can commute within these at least you know you have unlimited travel and a discounted price!

For more prices and maps you can look on the Transport For London website.

Noise 

I don’t hate the noise, I actually quite like the nee-norr-ing of sirens and the chatter. When London’s quiet, that’s when it’s scary. But some people do find the noise frustrating and difficult to sleep through. So if you’re a light sleeper it’s something to consider!

So there you have it, all the highs and lows of living in London from a graduate that moved here 7 months ago!

I love, love, love it, much more than I ever thought I would. I am a home-bird and moving to London was so scary and felt a little bit like the end of the world – and it’s been so much better than I ever thought.

Whenever people visit we have so much to do and make wonderful memories, Jack and I are never bored and it’s just always so exciting. You just have to be willing for savings to take a back seat for a while – which I think is just part and parcel of starting any career and being in your twenties!

I hope you find this useful,

Love Bee xoxo

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