London Bridge

Little Differences When Moving to London from NYC

So the big move is on the cards. It’s soon going to be time to up sticks and move your life from the buzz of New York and head across the water to the excitement of London. You’ve probably done a stack of research – you may have even taken a short trip to London for a taster session. But however much you prepare, it’s inevitable that there’s going to be at least a small amount of culture shock.

But actually, that’s half the fun of moving to another country. And moving to London from NYC is likely to be one of the most exciting times of your life.

Of course, there are the big issues, such as finding somewhere to live, work, school the kids, bank accounts etc. But bizarrely, it tends to be the little things that make the two cities seem so different. So let’s take a look at what, in our humble opinion, are some of the everyday things that make living in the two cities such a contrast to one another.

The roads don’t go in a straight line

Nope – they sure don’t. There are no such things as blocks in London, meaning that finding your way around at first can seem a challenge. So thank goodness for the power of the Internet.

There are some great apps that make finding your way around simple. City Mapper is great for when you need to find directions from one place to the next.

Food portions are way smaller

Yep, it won’t take long for you to notice that when you order food in London, you certainly don’t get as much bang for your buck.

For example, in a McDonalds in London their medium size is the same as a small in the US. And when you order a meal in a restaurant, don’t expect to get the gargantuan size portion that you’d expect in NYC. But hey – it’s certainly better for the waistline…

Taxi’s can refuse to take you

It’s true! Whereas in NYC you just hop in and tell the driver your destination, in London, the cabbies ask you where you want to go before you get in. And they can say no! You’ll also find London’s black cabs somewhat more expensive that a yellow taxi in NYC.

There are no electrical outlets in bathrooms

That’s right – there’s nowhere to plug in your hair straighteners or other electrical appliances. If you’re lucky, you might have a two-pin shaver plug that you can use to charge an electric razor or toothbrush. But apart from that, you’ll have to adapt to using your electronics outside the bathroom.

The Tube is delightfully clean and safe

London’s underground train system, known as ‘The Tube’, is safe, pretty clean, and has a great amount of staff on pretty much every station if you need to ask for advice. And starting this year (2015), the trains are going to start running 24/7 on Fridays and Saturdays.

You’ll be shocked at the price of gas (petrol)

One of the biggest price differences you’ll notice is the price of gas. It’s around double the price of the US, and is a common subject to moan about.

However, if you live and work in London, the need to own a car is pretty obsolete. The transport options include the above mentioned “Tube’ and also a pretty excellent network of London buses. Be sure to get yourself an “Oyster Card’ before you start using the public transport in earnest.

Not only does it mean you don’t have to queue for tickets, but it works out your journey and charges you a flat daily fee, which usually works out far cheaper in the long run.

Toilet paper is so cheap!

Sometimes it’s the little things… And you’ll be amazed at how much cheaper toilet paper is in the UK – by around 40%! And there are so many different types and colours. Forget plain white, you can colour co-ordinate with your bathroom…! In addition to cheaper toilet paper, you’ll find that most toiletries are also less expensive in London. This includes deodorant, soap and toothpaste.

It’s cheaper to keep fit

If you go to the gym, that is. On average gym membership is slightly cheaper in London than it is in New York. There are many excellent gym chains, including Virgin Active and David Lloyd. And before you sign up to any contract, check out if there are any deals available, such as a free multi-day pass or if a ‘pay as you go’ option might work out more economical.

Independent money saving website, Money Saving Expert, has a list of current offers.

The bacon is completely different

This may well be a total shock when you order your very first breakfast. Bacon in London (and indeed the whole of the UK) is of a completely different kind to what you’ll be used to in NYC. But hey, the Brits love it, and likely you’ll come to as well. But if you hanker for the crisp, straight, crunchy bacon that you remember from home, then purchasing what is known as ‘streaky bacon’ in London is about as close as you can get.

No-one bags your groceries

That’s right, you have to do it yourself. Although you may well be asked by the cashier in the larger stores, such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, if you want help. However, be prepared to wait if you say yes, because then someone has to be called over, by which time you could have bagged them yourself, paid and be on your merry way.

There’s also been a big crackdown on the amount of free plastic bags used, and most supermarkets provide really flimsy ones that will break if you dare put in much more weight than a single bottle. They all sell more substantial bags (for a few pence), and it’s now the normal for people to bring these re-usable bags with them to the store.

All of the big supermarkets provide an online shopping service, and you can either pick up your purchases in store or have them delivered to your home at a time convenient to you.