Are you heading to the Big Smoke for the first time? London is one of the best cities in the world, but it’s also one of the busiest and can be overwhelming for first time visitors. Whether you’re backpacking, studying or moving to the UK to find work, it will take some time to find your feet. Here are some tips from the HFS London team who have lived in London for decades – if you have any questions, just ask!
Know your zones
You’ve no doubt seen the ‘Mind the Gap’ slogan and the famous London Underground logo before, even if you’ve never rode the tube. The underground train network in London is world class, but it’s super busy and can be very confusing if you don’t know where you’re going. You might also find that commuters aren’t the most friendly and willing to help you out! Plan your journey in advance and know which ticket you need, to reduce any stress when travelling around London.
The city is split up into zones, which mainly refer to the underground map but are also used to describe neighbourhoods and properties. For example, when looking for somewhere to live, an advert for a spare room will usually describe the location as zone 1, 2, 3, etc. Zone 1 is central London and the numbers furthest away from 1 are located on the outskirts of the city. It’s almost impossible to live in zone 1 as the buildings here are mainly commercial, and any residential properties are very expensive.
Try to make friends
Your first few days alone in the city will be hard. If you don’t already have a college course or job set up, you may find it difficult to speak to people and make friends. Try and find out where student events are and where students hang out – you may even find someone who is also from your country so you’ll have more to talk about. Also, most Brits are up for a friendly chat over a pint in the pub!
Choose the right accommodation
If you’re already busy trying to find a job or apply for a university course, then you need some stable accommodation for your first few weeks in London. Hotel rooms can be isolating – not to mention pricey in London – so you’ll need an alternative. It’s too early to look for a permanent place to live as you don’t know whereabouts in the city you’ll be studying or working. The best option is to book homestay accommodation, where you pay per week so can choose how long you stay. You’ll live with a local who can answer any of your questions, and you even have the option of having home cooked meals. Affordable and easy, a homestay will help you find your feet in London.