London: Worth the Squeeze?

London, United Kingdom - October 17, 2015: Rope walk, in SE1 London is a popular Saturday market with artisan food stalls and quirky bars and restaurants in the railway arches.

Rope walk, in south east London (SE1) is a popular Saturday market with artisan food stalls, quirky bars, and restaurants in the railway arches.

If you’re thinking of moving to London, you’ve picked a good location: The city has much to offer, which is why so many people live there. But as with moving anywhere new, you should know what you’re getting into, and take care to pick out the right part of the city to live in.

In general, London’s quadrants break down like this:

  • West London — tourist land; contains many of London’s most famous attractions
  • South London — an affordable part of the city; full of parks and breweries
  • East London — the “hipster” part of the city; has neat entertainment options like a board-game café
  • North London — extremely nice and equally difficult to afford

Regardless of which part of the city you aim for, know that London’s space crisis is extreme: If you’re short on cash, stop thinking about sharing a house, and start thinking about sharing a room. Here are some facts that spell out just how short on space London is:

  • Garage space is selling anywhere from £360,000 to £500,000
  • Old, disused public toilets are being refurbished into bars and cafés
  • In East London there is a container city for retail and residential space
  • City dwellers have begun using self-storage units as long-distance spare rooms

London: Urban to the Extreme

Aside from the housing crisis, another turnoff for potential residents may be London’s lack of green space. Beaches and countryside are nonexistent. There are parks, but they become crowded as soon as the sun appears from behind London’s ever-present clouds. Wildlife is limited to foxes, pigeons, and rats. That said, if you’re up for a full-on urban experience, London has lots to offer.

Creative London

We’ve spent a lot of time on the negatives of London. But the positives greatly outweigh them, starting with London’s creative scene. The city is a cauldron of new and innovative ideas. For instance:

  • The Secret Cinema events company transforms abandoned buildings into extraordinary sets for unforgettable movie-going experiences
  • London stands with New York and Paris as one of the world’s most important cities for art
  • From pubs to stadiums, London boasts an incredible number of music venues, which support a thriving music scene

Food, Drink, and Shopping

Despite British food’s shaky reputation, London actually sports a huge number of great eateries, ranging from pubs to street vendors to high-end restaurants. It has something for everyone, even excellent vegetarian restaurants. Unlike its food scene, London’s drinking scene needs no defending. Famous for its pubs, London boasts 166,000 venues that sell alcohol.

In between drinking and eating, some people enjoy shopping. London has you covered there, too: The Travel Channel named the city one of the world’s best shopping destinations, praising Oxford Street and North London’s Camden Market in particular.

The Verdict

If you like long walks in the countryside and plenty of distance from your neighbors, then London probably isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for an incredible city experience, London should be at the top of your list.