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Living in London 101: A 5-step guide for newcomers 

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC London chapter.

Whether you´re a new student in London or moving here for work, this famous capital city can easily intimidate. Despite having lived in London for the past 3 years, I still feel constantly challenged and amazed by this vibrant city, and it has kept me on my feet my entire university experience. So, to help make the transition into this potentially overwhelming city a bit easier, I will be sharing my top 10 tips for newcomers who are moving/have just moved to the city. Though these recommendations are specific to London, the theory can certainly be applied to other cities worldwide.

1.Don’t worry if you don´t find your forever friends right away

You´ll soon notice that in London, everyone is busy and in their own bubble. This makes finding friends a bit more difficult than high school, where the environment was far more conducive to quick friend-making. The first step is accepting that establishing a good friend group in a big city takes effort and more time than expected. And that’s ok! Friends will come eventually, though there are definitely ways you can speed up the process.  

Put yourself out there. If you´re at university, join societies and clubs related to your interests – this is a great way to meet people with similar interests. If you´re working, go to afterwork drinks, or – if your colleagues don´t match your vibe – join an out of work club. There are so many across London. Whether its pottery, running, books, there´s a club for you out there filled with potential friends. 

2.Visit as many of the city´s sights as possible

Orientating yourself in the city is a top priority for any newcomer. Knowing where you´re living – its history, culture, gastronomy – is essential if you´re planning to call this place your home for the next how many years. 

Luckily in London, there is plenty to see. No site is too touristy. Think Buckingham Palace, Borough Market, Chinatown, the Natural History Museum, Hampstead Heath… the list goes on. If you´re lacking inspiration, visit the blog secretlondon.com for all the up-to-date things to do. 

My suggestion would be to make an epic bucket list of all the places you want to go to and slowly but steadily tick them off. The more places you go, the more you can allow yourself to fully experience the city and – dare I say – fall in love with it. 

3. See ALL the shows

Personally, my favorite part of London is the West End. The West End is the theatre district in the center of the city, where around 40 venues host amazing shows year-round. The theatre is a great way to immerse yourself into the cultural capital that is London. Granted, theatre tickets can be expensive, however, websites/apps likeToday Tix offer great discounted tickets and lastminute deals. 

Not sure what to see? See our last article: ´Five Theatre Shows to See in London This School Year´ to see what theatre shows we recommend to see this season. Apart from the theatre there´s also a bunch of gigs across the city. Your favorite artist is likely to play a concert in the city at some point, so look out for tickets on websites like ticketmaster.co.uk. And for those wondering – yes, Taylor Swift is coming to London next year. And yes, I will be going. 

4. Establish a good home routine and prioritize your health

So I think it’s clear there´s a lot to be excited about when moving to London. But I´d argue that if you plan on living here for a long time, you MUST establish a healthy routine. Healthy habits are essential to enjoying your living experience anywhere, but prioritizing your physical and mental wellbeing is crucial in a city marked by hustle culture.

It might feel like listening to a stuck record, but having a healthy diet, good sleep, and exercising will help you feel secure and happy in the city. In London, it´s easy to fall out of these habits. Ready-meals are convenient, health food expensive, time to exercise feels hard to come by, and sleep is too often disrupted by the stresses of city life. But this doesn´t have to determine your experience. By investing the time and effort into taking care of yourself (a spa day on Sundays, a consistent workout routine, meal prepping healthy meals) you can take control of your health and ensure you are living to your fullest potential every day! 

5. Understand its ok to feel overwhelmed

Not to end on a gloomy note, but realistically, every day in London is not going to be great. London is a challenging city to live in. Rental prices are high, the pace of life tiring, and the weather too often grey. It´s ok to feel overwhelmed and out of place sometimes. The trick is to remind yourself of the amazing parts of the city. The experiences that come with living in a big city are no doubt worth every challenge. Indeed, focusing on the positives rather than the negatives can change your whole perspective of a city. So embrace the chaos, and soon you´ll be the Londoner you always dreamed you would be.

Helena Lochery

UC London '24

Hi I'm Helena, a History undergrad at UCL in London. Before UCL, I went to school in Portugal where I've spent most of my life. I love travelling, reading, creative writing and yoga. This year I was elected as Vice President for UCL HerCampus society.