We are the most mobile generation yet. Many young Europeans travel and even move abroad to study, work, or visit friends and family. To make the transition easier (and save us from falling for tourist traps), each issue E&M asks people about the best tips and tricks for living in their city. This issue: London.
Best website/app/crystal ball to use when you are looking for a place to live?
Nicoletta: Spare room and gumtree should do the trick.
Anthony: Use the power of Instagram
Valentina: Rightmove, Spareroom, Zoopla, Gumtree, Open Rent (no admin fees).
Ella: Gumtree, Facebook groups, Hackney Wick spaces, Spare Room
Sarah: I wish I knew. But, if you’re not currently living in London, read Joel Golby’s hilarious and grim column about the ‘Rental Opportunity of the Week’, and feel smug about living (and renting) literally anywhere else.
Which tourist attraction is actually worth visiting?
Nicoletta: I love Highgate Cemetery, and whilst you’re there, Hampstead Heath (both the park and the area) are absolutely worth visiting. In the summer go swim in the ponds!
Sarah: Sky Garden – it’s free and the views of London are lovely (as long as it’s not raining…); and the Tate Modern (also free – and still enjoyable in the rain).
Fernando: The Churchill War Rooms.
Anthony: Tate Modern, Borough Market, Kew Gardens.
Valentina: Natural History Museum, Camden Market.
Ella: I rate the Museum of London and the London Transport Museum. Few tourist attractions are actually worth it, except for the museums. We are so spoilt in London, we have the best of the best. The best art, the best colonial steals.
Alex: The Shard is really good. Better than the London Eye for seeing London.
Tell us about the easiest way to save some money like a true Londoner?
Nicoletta: There are loads of cheap pubs that are equally as charming as the fancier ones, some will charge you extortionate prices for a pint and aren’t even that nice- such as the Duke of Argyll.
Fernando: Check if you’re eligible for a railcard and get 30% off all train and off-peak tube rides (if you sync your discount to your Oyster card).
Anthony: Stay at home, give up drinking, give up eating.
Valentina: Get weekly/monthly travelcards! Look out for the reduced items in supermarkets and the ‘Too good to go’ app for cheap food
Ella: Cycle, check for Loyalty Cards. Build informal sharing economies and challenge the market!
Alex: Go to a Wetherspoons when you want to go to the pub.
How (and where) to flirt like a Londoner?
Nicoletta: At the pub already a few pints down. Speaking, let alone flirting, with a Londoner sober is taboo.
Sarah: Dating apps. Not very romantic, but (hopefully) never boring – true to the London spirit.
Anthony: Get inebriated and go to Clapham Junction.
Valentina: Outside an East London club at 4am.
Ella: Everywhere. London is sexy. Everything is about sex and everything is about sex NOW. Be obvious and be direct, no one has the time to beat around the bush.
Alex: Fancy dates. Use the date as an excuse to go to the fancier/more expensive places in London.
Best place to escape to if the city gets a bit much?
Nicoletta: Lots of places are just a train ride away from London for a nice weekend escape, like St Albans, Margate, Brighton (although the latter is peppered with hen/stag-dos so be prepared).
Fernando: Greenwich – you get to literally walk (even if not travel) across time.
Anthony: Any of the parks… top of the list are Hyde Park, Richmond Park, and Hampstead Heath
Valentina: Richmond! Still in London but feels like a suburb.
Ella: Epping Forest, Surrey Hills, Kew Gardens, a walk along the Thames or along the Canals/Regent’s Canal.
Which stereotype about Londoners is actually true?
Nicoletta: People are exceedingly introverted and rude, acknowledge someone’s existence on the tube at your peril.
Sarah: Less about Londoners and more about London: that it really is many different cities and countries and worlds wrapped up into one.
Anthony: We are passive-aggressive (side note:contrary to British lore, we drink more coffee than tea).
Valentina: People are always in a hurry and rarely smile.
Ella: Rude and arrogant. Also anxious. People work hard, with long hours and exhausting working weeks. This usually results in massive coke-fuelled blowouts every weekend.
If London were a person, who would it be?
Nicoletta: Scrooge by day, Rupaul by night.
Valentina: Idris Elba – a bit grime and a bit posh.
Ella: If London were a person, it would be me… or it would be you. It is a hyper-individualized city which obviously has its downfalls, but anyone can find their place in it.
Alex: Frank Lampard. Definitely not the Queen.
I wish people would have told me… about living in London.
Nicoletta: That you spend most of your life on the tube.
Fernando: It is actually as expensive as they say.
Sarah: There is always something going on, make use of that. But also don’t feel bad about spending a whole weekend inside, it’s impossible to do it all.
Anthony: Don’t live in zone 3.
Valentina: Everything shuts so early!
Ella: How far away everything is. Expect to travel 45 mins/an hour to get anywhere and always factor in more time than you need.
London politics are…
Nicoletta: A happy island in a sea of desperation and Brexit.
Fernando: Chaotic, nasty, simple.
Alex: Too many opinions.
A Londoner would never be seen…
Nicoletta: Minding the gap, they’re rather pushing their way on a packed tube despite the next one arriving in a minute.
Sarah: Standing on the left side of an escalator. Seriously. Don’t do that. Ever. Especially during rush hour, you might get run over.
Anthony: On a London Tour Bus, on the London Eye, and at Platform 9 3/4.
Ella: At shit parties at mainstream clubs like the Ministry of Sound. I mean, obviously, you have to go to these at least once so you can anecdotally reference your experience in a passing conversation, but other than that, avoid at all costs.
Alex: Trying to pay for the bus with cash.
Many thanks to our London experts. Some answers have been edited for brevity or clarity.