Okay, so technically it was more like 16 months. We moved to London in December of 2013 because we wanted to explore more of the world. From a personal, social, cultural standpoint, we loved living there. Unfortunately, professionally, it was not the best situation for us. So after 16 months, we left and moved to New Zealand. But that’s a story for another day. This is about London.
Things I loved about living in London:
- The diversity of people and cultures; hearing at least a dozen languages on the way to/from work, from Thai to Polish to Bangla and more
- The great food choices, having everything from Turkish to Malaysian to sushi delivered, and fantastic quality too
- Seeing priceless objects like the Rosetta Stone, a Monet, or a Dali for free any day of the week
- Taking the Tube everywhere
- The energy of the morning rush hour crowd
- The relatively unimportant part religion plays in everyday lives and decisions of most people
- The ease of traveling to so many other places in nearby countries
- Walking among history without even realizing it, e.g. stumbling upon a house where Isaac Newton lived, or the hotel where Ho Chi Minh worked, etc
- The great architecture, from the old to the new (e.g. More London)
- The great friendships we were starting to forge
- Learning to live with a lot less in a much smaller space
- British queuing
- Not being thought of as a foreigner
Things I didn’t exactly love:
- The “tupperware” days — dull days with uniformly overcast sky, like living inside a tupperware bowl
- Not being able to see the sky or stars
- Being jammed in a rush hour Tube
- The subtle but distinct class divisions (although I get somewhat of a free pass as an American)
- The British trait of resigned acceptance of everything and not complaining which often results in tolerating bad service/quality (Sky TV with their 90’s-era interface and online content/quality)
- The Brutalist architecture
- The increasing influence of conservative Islam
Here’s some of what we saw…
Living in southwest London, we took advantage of our proximity to the museums in South Kensington and made many trips.
We loved spending time at the many parks scattered around the city.
We lived very close to the All England Lawn Tennis Club, where Wimbledon is held. Naturally, we had to go.
I worked in the City. Although the work was stressful, it was something to feel the energy of the crowd heading to work in the morning. However, jammed into a Tube carriage was something I could have done without. Despite the Europeans’ reputation (in America at least) of having a more relaxed attitude about work, Londoners work a lot. Tons of serious young men and women perusing newspaper articles about the latest financial trends in the morning, and exhausted workers late in the evenings.
On the weekends we played tourist and explored as much of London as possible.
I loved the various architecture around the city, from the old to the new.
The many markets around London were fantastic. Whether the food at Borough Market or the establishment-sponsored anti-establishment merchandise at Camden Market, it was a fun way to spend a few hours.
Despite the short time, we loved living in London. Maybe one day we’ll be back again.