For Aussies, living in London is superb experience, but, as you’d expect, moving to the other side of the planet provides a very different living experience. There are the obvious differences, such as the weather, but also more subtle changes that only become apparent once you’ve moved and lived there for a little while.
So, with that in mind, here are out top 9 tips for Australians living in London…
1. You’ll need to learn those little language differences
We might speak the same language, but there are some things that have a totally different meaning in Oz to what they do in the UK.
- Thongs – whilst these are what you wear on your feet, in London a thong is a skimpy pair of undies. In London what you call thongs is a pair of flip-flops.
- Esky – in London, this is known as a cool box.
- Glad Wrap is cling film – the Brits won’t have a clue if you ask for Glad Wrap…
- A sealed road (bitumen or asphalt) is a tarmac road in the UK. However, there aren’t many unsealed roads in the UK, so they’re simply referred to as “roads.”
- A station wagon is known in London as an “estate car” or just an “estate.”
- In the kitchen, what Aussies call a bench is known as a worktop or kitchen top in London.
- You don’t sleep under a doona in the UK, you sleep under a quilt…
2. The weather
Oh yes, the weather… Something that might come as a bit of a shock to the system. In London, a day when the sun is shining is a day to bare your skin to the elements – and that’s without having to worry about slapping on the factor 50! In fact, in London you’ll mainly see factor 15 or less on the shelves…
Get ready to be prepared for any type of weather, any day of the year. You’ll get used to carrying a small umbrella at all times, and dressing in layers – so that you can warm up and cool down with ease many times throughout the day.
In fact, as soon as the weather begins to warm up a little (you know, heading towards the temperature you might expect on a winter’s day in Sydney), you’ll see heat warning signs appearing everywhere…
3. You’re in an amazing location
One of the best things about living in London is the close proximity to the rest of Europe. This means that making a trip to a completely different country and culture for the weekend (or even for just a day trip) really is possible.
4. Everyone (yes, everyone!) is going to comment on your accent
There’s something about an Australian accent that makes people want to comment on it, and that’s a good thing!
Because the Brits love all things Oz, and they’ll want to know exactly where you live in the country, about the little differences between here and there, and naturally, what you think about the British weather (us Brits are obsessed about the weather!).
Oh, and you’re going to have to listen to endless comments about Neighbours and Home and Away as well…
5. Learn where to shop (and more importantly, NOT to shop)
Oxford Street looks amazing, doesn’t it? And yes, if you’re into high street stores, then there’s everything you could hope for and more.
But because it’s so great, the world and his wife like to visit – and this means for busier crowds than you can possibly imagine. One top tip is to steer clear of Oxford Street at the weekends, and definitely on the run up to Christmas.
If you must hit the popular places, try to visit mid-week for a less crowded time. But if you’re looking for a nice day out during peak periods, why not head to the outer London shopping places, such as Richmond Upon Thames or Greenwich for some uber-nice shops and a far less stressful experience.
6. Learn to love the completely different wildlife
Okay, so there aren’t any koalas, wombats, or kangaroos (except at zoos, such as London Zoo), but London boasts an extremely, and sometimes unexpected, plethora of wildlife.
Foxes roam the streets – especially at night (and you’ll soon learn to ensure that your rubbish is tightly sealed in bins), squirrels are seen on a regular basis, and London has its very own wild parakeet population.
In recent years, otters have returned to live on the banks of the River Thames, and incredibly, seals, porpoises, and even dolphins have been spotted in the river.
7. Embrace the international music scene
Artists of all kind, world famous through to local bands and singers, can be found playing any night of the week. Top venues such as The O2 and Brixton Academy feature the best of the best, whilst local pubs and clubs feature all manner of smaller and lesser-known bands and artists.
8. Christmas is a magical time
Sure, you can’t beat a BBQ on the beach on Christmas Day, but in London, Christmas is all about wrapping up in warm clothes, marveling at the Christmas Lights during the dark evenings, and enjoying mulled wine and other spiced drinks that are served all over town.
It probably won’t snow, but like everyone else in the city, you can hope that maybe, just maybe, this year will be the time that it will.
9. Get a pair of comfortable shoes
Because even though London has a great public transport system, you’ll spend a lot of time relying on your own two feet to get from place to place.
And actually, London is a great city around which to walk. Explore the many parks, marvel at the historical buildings that are around every corner, and simply soak up London street life – it really is the best in the world…