And no, the long commute isn’t one of them!
Living in London can be tough stuff. No doubt it is a one-of-a-kind, labyrinth of wild fun but it can also be the bane of your existence, especially when living on an almost rock-bottom wage (hands up here!) or just dealing with the stresses of the daily grind (commuting being one of them). Of course, the grass is always greener and when living in London, there were many things I missed about Australia too.
Although it comes with its pressures, London really is one incredible place to live and no other city would measure up because simply, there’s no place like it. Here I highlight the 10 things I miss about living in London.
1. Cheap flights to anywhere
Let’s go back to pre-COVID times, shall we? I am no yogi master, but boy did the girl know to flex her body in unimaginable ways just to score a cheap seat. Low-cost carriers aren’t known for their comforts, but their lack of luxe is made up for their golden, rock-bottom dollar (or pound) price tag.
With travel ever affordable – sometimes cheaper than a Sunday pub roast – I felt like I was constantly living the high life, in a literal sense too, flying everywhere, anywhere I could on my shoestring London budget.
Yes, the flights were often unbearable but to help endure the pain of a teeny-tiny plane seat, I treated pub-chain Wetherspoons as my airport lounge. A pre-flight tickle was just as important as the plane pillow to make the journey that extra bit comfortable.
The best discovery I ever made was low-cost carrier Ryanair’s online Fare Finder. I realised two days out from going to London to Cornwall by train it was actually significantly cheaper to swap Cornwall pasties for Danish pastries and visit Princess Mary in Denmark.
2. You can pretty much do something all the time
London is one of those places where it continuously delivers the goods, morning, noon and night. You can pretty much find something to do all the time. From bottomless brunches, rooftop parties, weekend markets and street festivals, something is always going on for you to channel your socialite self.
One of my favourite nights out in London was catching a gig at Rough Trade Records in East London then deciding to play a boozy round of Junkyard Golf after that. Once the munchies kicked in, I devoured the halo of Shoreditch, a salt beef bagel (more on that on the below) and cycled home into the wee hours on a ‘Boris bike’ (public rental bike). The days and nights just keep on giving in London, and I am all for it.
3. Salt beef bagels
Oh, my bagel! East London’s Brick Lane has a strong reputation for being the place to score yourself curries on the cheap. Sometimes you can even barter for your meal which sounds ridiculous but hey, anything for a free samosa entrée.
But there are other things besides curry houses, epic vintage stores, weekend street markets and overpriced cereal cafes that make this strip as famous as it is: salt beef bagels. Who needs a late-night kebab when you have not one but two bakeries operating 24/7 and churning out the holy grail of street eats. Visually, there is nothing special about these bakeries, but it’s what inside the ovens that count. Both Bagel Bake Brick Lane Bakery and Bagel Shop are East End institutions and attract lines for their moist salt beef bagels. To make the sandwich sing, pair with a pickle and drops of mustard. One bite will make you quickly understand why these two bakeries have stood the test of time in a neighbourhood that is slowly facing regentrification.
4. Supermarket pre-made meals
Marks & Spencer is the crème of the crop when it comes to supermarket shopping in the UK. It also makes you want to be ultra-lazy and keep on purchasing their pre-made meals range as the quality of food is top-notch for reasonable prices.
Then there is the Tesco meal deal, the ultimate cheap eat on the go and (almost) only a street corner away. For only £3 ($5.5), you can get a sandwich, pasta salad or salad combo with a drink and snack. Just think, you could literally live off a tenner if you made Tesco your extended kitchen with this penny pincher deal thrice daily. Happy to report, I didn’t go that far…just.
Related reads: 38 Things Aussies In London Miss About Australia
5. Off licence convenience stores
Imagine a world where you can pick up a beer on the go at almost any time of the day from your local convenience store. The UK is a place where the bottle shop is not really a thing as booze is conveniently available at both supermarkets and off licence stores. Lucky them.
Off licence stores are the hole-in-the-wall neighbourhood saviours when having the urge for a spontaneous park drinking session, with wine and singular alcoholic beverages up for grabs. It’s a place you will find yourself frequently visiting for your last-minute drinking and binge-eating desires.
6. The lack of public transport wait
Waiting for the train, or tube as locals call it, is not really a thing in London. There is no need to map out your journey to the exact minute and trains come and go quicker than a Macca’s order in peak periods. If you miss the train by mere seconds, rest assured the Transport for London crew has got your back, with a train arriving within minutes, if not seconds. If only other cities could replicate this public transport godsent timetable.
7. Long summer days
Granted a sunny day isn’t a familiar daily spectacle like it is here in Oz, but when the sun is out, EVERYONE is out. The mood automatically shifts from gloom to boom with everyone in full swing making the most of the summer rays, even if it does intermittently flirt behind the clouds. Beer gardens, public parks are the places to be. Pubs are also brimming with people piling onto the streets, making the most of a good (and often rare) summers day.
8. Always meeting new people
London is a transient city. People come and go, and that is what makes it so thrilling to be a part of when living in London. It’s a human confetti box with people from all walks of life. And with enough events and places to go to, you are bound to make a new friend or find a new party posse at almost every head turn.
9. The fashion
Seriously, anything goes. Wear what you want to wear and don’t question it. Just do your thang and no one will question it. From cheap Primark threads to ultra high-brow outfits, London is the type of place where no one looks out of place.
10. Street food markets
This could prove to be a bit controversial. Some may say that Asia reigns supreme when it comes to street food, but London is next level. London has so many street food markets, from its famed Borough and Camden markets to local weekend favourites Broadway and Bermondsey markets. Whichever markets you go to, it is always a vibe.
You can find the likes of traditional Caribbean jerk chicken, Scotch eggs and Polish pierogi all within metres of each other. There are also flavour concoctions that you would never dream of being a thing, being a thing like vegan haggis and bacon-speckled brownies. London street food markets really do open up your eyes to a lot of worldly foods you just got to be prepared to seize London by the mouthful.
Feature image: Upsplash
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