London is a perfect city to start pursuing acting. There are many benefits that come with living in London, but if you’re actually planning to stay here, I highly recommended reading some of these tips from current Londoners (#4 is a big one!)
Just moving to London itself can become a little stressful if not done right. The same can be said about living in London, traveling and finding entertainment here.
London continues to experience increase in population, and there’s always more things to do and reasons to move here. A lot of actors are moving to London to apply to some of the best acting agencies that may skyrocket their level of fame, or because it’s also easy to find world’s top-notch acting training in London’s best drama schools that are abundant here.
To many foreigners, Londoners may seem to carry a reputation for being unfriendly and rude. However, a new viral video campaign shows that actually, we are happy to help a stranger in need when lost in this town. We are also a whole city of strangers ourselves, many of us having moved to London from elsewhere in the country or elsewhere in the world.
All of this mixture of strangers and different people contributes to London’s rich culture that I’m always proud to be a part of. But if you’re going to be moving to London and trying to live like a local from the get-go, there are some essential things you need to know about living in London and doing it right.
20 Tips on Living in London (From Londoners to New Arrivals)
For this article, I’ve done some “heavy” research. I went on social media and asked around my fellow Londoners on what they believe anybody moving here and staying should know about settling in, surviving and living in London – a scary, confusing and sometimes unfriendly to newcomers metropolitan city that it is.
There are many great things for actors and non-actors to do in London, from taking some of the best dancing classes, joining summer drama courses, improving your movement and flexibility with yoga classes and so much more. But do you know where to do these things, and how to do them like a true Londoner?
From me and my wonderful friends, tailored especially for you and other actors looking to join the hustle and bustle of London’s artsy life, I’ve wormed out all of their best tips on how to survive in London. From their best kept secrets to classic London culture, there’s everything here to help you live and feel like a true Londoner.
When travelling in London, it is not acceptable to stand anywhere else on an escalator than the right. Always, without exception, even if you are with friends, drunk or dying you must stand on the right side.
There’s a reason I’m listing this one first. Nothing irks a Londoner more than someone blocking the path by standing on the wrong side, and this is the most common way we distinguish between a foreigner and a local.
2. Go contactless.
Depending on where you’re from, if you’re going to be living in London, either register your contactless bank card with Transport for London, or get an Oyster card. This will make your travelling around London so much swifter.
Oyster and contactless payment (which, apparently – and to my big surprise – doesn’t even exist in the USA) will automatically calculate the cheapest fare so it’s never been simpler to travel around London. Also take note that London buses don’t even accept cash anymore, it’s all high-tech. Catch up, America!
3. Don’t talk to strangers. Unless…
There are some unwritten rules about talking to people whilst travelling. The general rule is don’t do it unless you want to freak someone out and convince them you belong in an episode of American Horror Story: Asylum. However, there are some key exceptions.
For example, when the weather is doing something freaky, you can comment on this and you will likely receive a response with some solidarity. If the transport system is having a fail, you can comment on this and will most definitely get a response.
If you’re ever lost in London and you need directions, know that most Londoners LOVE giving directions. Although majority of us also haven’t got a clue what we’re talking about so make you sure you download apps like StreetWalk or GoogleMaps to be on the safe side.
4. Don’t dilly dally, especially with big stuff.
When travelling in London during peak hours, try to keep up with the pace. Especially in the morning.
After asking around, it seems that the only thing that drives a Londoner more insane are people who dilly dally carrying massive backpacks who aren’t in a hurry to get somewhere. The same goes for your Oyster or contactless card – be speedy and keep it to hand so it’s ready when you need it.
5. Walk where possible.
Don’t just get the tube everywhere. Some stations are so close it isn’t worth the money or the hassle. It’s actually quicker to walk from Leicester Square to Charing Cross than it is to get any kind of public transport!
Not only will you get to know the most of the major London streets but you will also save money. The tube is quite expensive here in London. Using the bus is the cheapest option but often the roads are so clogged, it’s quicker to walk.
6. Tuesday morning is a big deal.
This is when TimeOut magazine hits our fingertips full to the bursting with the latest listings from cultural events in London to the ‘venues de jour,’
Some of these may include things like street food markets, West End shows, best London events to see and other entertainment options. As a new Londoner, TimeOut is your weekly bible and cannot be missed.
7. Go green on sunny days.
Similar to the lifestyle in New York, many Londoners live in tiny apartments with little to no outside space so it’s not surprising that on every glimpse of sunshine, you will find us hanging out at one of the many beautiful parks.
Personally, I love Greenwich Park these days and grabbing breakfast at Chapters in Blackheath. We always sit outside under the heat lamps and watch the world go by, while pondering on our artistic endeavors and future acting career plans.
SpareRoom.co.uk is a great place to find flatmates (roommates) and rooms to rent in London. I have used it three times and have never had a bad experience yet.
House-sharing is not only a great way to meet like minded actors or just new people in London, but it also cuts down on bills, especially if it literally is someone just renting out their spare room for a bit of extra cash.
9. Go digital on grey days.
British TV drama has never been better in my opinion. Take advantage of streaming and get on to the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 to catch up with some of the latest and greatest new drama.
If you need recommendations, I’d say “River” has become my ultimate favourite this year. Dark, gritty and very, very British. Check it out for the ultimate British experience.
10. Join Meetup.
Nearly everyone I’ve met who moved to London from elsewhere is on Meetup.com and in at least one group.
I’m in an actors and writers groups because those are my “things.” However, there’s plenty of other hobby and professional based groups to get involved with for those living in London, and it’s a great way to meet new people and start making friends in London.
11. Get yourself “down the pub.”
This is a guaranteed way to meet people. I’ve met some of my closest friends in London down the pub. When you’re living in London, get to know your local and you could be surprised who you might meet.
It’s perfectly acceptable to go for a drink alone in London. Take a paper, a crossword, a book, your tablet, whatever you fancy and pull up a stool at the bar. With karaoke nights, quiz nights and live music events, the pub will always be the place de jour.
12. Sign up to Emerald Street.
This is probably one of London’s best kept secrets and now I am sharing it with you. A step up from TimeOut, Emerald Street offers reviews of everything you need to do and everywhere you need to go in London.
If it’s hot, it’s in Emerald Street.
13. Go to the theatre.
Actors must watch plays. Even though West End theatre tickets are insanely expensive these days, you really need to go to the theatre. One top tip from a Londoner Laura is to get your tickets on the day as they are often cheaper.
There are hundreds of stalls selling tickets in London. If your budget doesn’t stretch, leave the central zones and head to the outer boroughs like Bromley, Croydon and Barnet where touring musicals, plays and various artists from comedy to music can often be found for half the price.
14. Leicester Square.
Leicester Square (pronounced “Lester”) has got to be the most cheesy, touristy, glitzy part of London (like Times Square in New York City), but you still have to go and soak it all in.
Behind all the gaudiness and thousands of pigeons lies a rich history of London. I’m also told that a trip to Waxy O’Connor’s is obligatory and a rite of passage for any a new Londoner.
15. Sadler’s Wells.
For any true artsy person, a trip to Sadler’s Wells theatre should be high on your list.
You’ll know what it is when you’re there.
16. London loves every culture.
There are districts all across London that attract pockets of other cultures but you can find pretty much every country in the world dotted around the whole city in shops, bars, cafes, restaurants and more.
Favourites and classics of mine are China Town (check out The Four Seasons for the best roast duck you will ever eat) and Brick Lane (check out anything there for one of the most authentic curries out of the East).
17. Knowledge, history and art, baby! It’s free.
Unlike majority of other world’s metropolitan cities of this size, London encourages people to get educated while having fun. Many of London’s museums and art galleries are completely free to enter.
As a new Londoner on a budget, you can soak up knowledge, culture and history without spending a penny. It’s also perfect for those times in the month where purse strings are tight but you don’t want to be housebound.
18. Don’t just stay in Central London.
When living in London, you must explore. You will be missing out on so much if you don’t get out of Zones 1 and 2. Public transport, when it’s running on time, is a great vehicle to experience all the different neighbourhoods of London.
Crystal Palace in South East London is the new hotspot with quirky restaurants, bars and cafes. Stoke Newington in North London has always been cool to anybody living in London, particularly its boutique and vintage clothes stores.
19. To the market…
Of course a trip to the gentrified Borough Market selling deliciously fine wares should be on your agenda, but it’s not really reflective of everyday London culture. For this you need to head down to your local market where you will find a hustling, bustling place of toiletries, veggies and tat.
You can always find a bargain and a decent cup of tea in these places. If you want something with a little more finesse, farmers markets are more on-par with Borough Market but because they’re local, they are less expensive and a lot smaller. This means smaller vendors selling local produce.
20. Love your library. It’s also free!
All of our London public libraries are also free and there are literally hundreds of them. Not only can you take a trip to the beautiful British Library but you can also sign up to your local library.
The Crofton Park Library is architecturally beautiful as well and also houses a community café. There are often other events going on too. LGBT History Month often has events going on at local libraries for example.
21. Anything else?
Are you a long time Londoner or a new arrival that just recently started living in London with more tips for those moving to this famous city? Leave us some of those down in the comment sections below!