1. Walk on the right hand side of the footpath
Or maybe it’s the left. I’m really unsure about this one. Maybe its that there actually isn’t any rule. Be prepared to be doing the awkward two step multiple times a day in your first week until you get the hang of it. Basically just follow the crowd and for gods sake don’t get in someones way! They have important places to be 5 minutes ago don’t you know.
You will receive everything via post and it will all be in separate envelopes that will arrive in a staggered fashion. Heaven forbid you should receive all of the information you require at the same time. For example you will receive your Debit card in one letter and up to 5 days later you will receive a letter with your PIN number in it, then you need to go into a branch and activate your card/change your PIN. No risk of the national mail service going out of business here. Cue Rubbish lesson….
Depending on what line you take you will discover that the famous Underground tends to err on the upper side of ground. Some lines only pop up for air on occasion and only two never see the light of day (according to Wikipedia). Once you experience all 3 levels of tube lines you will realise that where possible, an overground tube is definitely preferable. The Central Line (almost entirely underground) doesn’t have the nickname Central Heating Line for no reason.
7. Don’t let terrorism change your ways
Admittedly the recent attacks on London have been scary. I often find myself in crowded areas, busy tube stations and trains thinking that surely this would be an opportune moment for an attack. It would be easy to let those thoughts to run wild and cause one to avoid any events and change your entire schedule to avoid rush hour but realistically none of us have any idea what or where they will target next and sometimes it’s not even where the most people are. I tell myself that there are 9 million people in this city, chances of being caught up in an attack are super slim so we must just Keep Calm and Carry On!
8. Drivers are courteous to pedestrians
This one takes a bit of getting used to. On a pedestrian crossing at home you expect cars to stop but you still stop to check they are slowing down before walking. In London you don’t even need to be on a pedestrian crossing for cars to stop and let you cross. It’s all a bit confusing at first because we are so used to timing our road crossing/j-walking to walk behind a moving car so when they start slowing down to let you go first you find yourself doing the awkward sidewalk two step with a car!
9. Get an NZ bank statement sent to an address in the UK before arriving
This was hands down the best advice we received before coming to the UK. No doubt you have heard that setting yourself up with bank accounts, NI number (IRD number equivalent) etc is a vicious cycle of impossibility. Lloyds bank used to only require your passport to open a bank account, now they require a utility bill in your name that you have received via post to the flat you already have which requires you to have a bank account to pay rent… oh or a bank statement in Pounds, because of course you already have a UK bank account prior to needing to open this one…. poor form Lloyds. We went with Barclays who also require proof of address but happily accepted our ANZ statement in NZ dollars. This MUST be received via post and not a printed online statement. (refer Royal Mail facts above)
10. Allow a good 40 minutes to get anywhere in the City
Heading from the suburbs to the city centre – allow 40 minutes. Heading from home to work – allow 40 minutes. Heading between two suburbs next to each other but not on a tube line – allow 40 minutes. The tubes are a fantastic public transport system but as soon as you want to go somewhere that’s not on a direct tube line – be prepared for some admin and get a side of fries with the combo of public transport systems you are going to have to use. Or there’s always Uber. I would highly recommend downloading the Citymapper App PRIOR to arriving at Heathrow – you will use it on the daily for almost your entire stay in London – and it works in other big cities worldwide so it’s a no brainer really. And the Uber app if you don’t have it already – you’ll get sick of walking eventually.
11. Your personal bubble will reduce in size
If you’ve been to Asia before you will be aware that a New Zealanders personal bubble is exceptionally large because we can get away with that in our spacious country. In a city with more people than our entire country however, be prepared to get up close and personal with strangers on a daily basis. Your mind will be blown when it comes to your first Monday morning Tube commute. There’s no other way but to get your shoulder pads on and scrum your way on there! It’s an experience the first few times but then you succumb to having your head in someones armpit, someones bag poking you in the back and being able to read someone’s paperback novel that they’ve managed to wedge between people to get in a morning commute chapter.
To some up, I thought I’d share with you some of the App’s that have made our London lives possible so far.
Must Have Apps
- Citymapper – route planner
- Skyscanner – find and book cheap flights
- Uber Eats – food delivered
- SpareRoom – find a flat
- Fever – Cheap and sometimes free events/activities
- Groupon – cheap deals on errthang
- Been – to skite about and keep track of how many countries you’ve been to
- Go Euro – find and book train/bus/flight tickets Europe wide