Life in London and tips for moving there

Cost of living, best districts, jobs, etc.

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powerfull
I am currently considering a few positions in London. I am Canadian and have never lived in London but already have some reservations. So many of you guys have lived or are from London I d like to know a couple of things.

1. Cost of living: the recruiters obviously say its not so bad and that you can live on the same money here as there. Most Germans I have talk to say you need to earn the same in Pounds as you do in Euros to keep up. What would you say?

2. How much does an apartment cost. I have a 2 room apt now 670 Euros. I have heard I should budget 1000 Pounds... Is it really that expensive? Is a 2 rooms excessive?

3. Where is the best place to live. (I don t have or want a car - like to be central with interesting bars and restaurants - noisy is ok but I go running everyday so would need some green space).

4. A salary of 40000-55000 pounds how much would you take home after tax?

5. Any thing else I should keep in mind?
Jimbo
1. Earn the same in pounds as Euros - tricky one, but not to inaccurate I would guess - tax is lower at only 23% below about 30kGBP.
2. Varies wildly from area to area, but about 1k should be about right for a 2 bedroom job somewhere OK in London - will be a small second room though.
3. For that I would say Islington - hardly central but not too bad. It can appear a bit rough around the edges tho, and be careful (or should that be Powerfull (sic))late at night.
4. Errr - 23% on first 30k or so, 40% thereafter - you do the maths! There is also a tax free bit and a small chunk at 10% tho I can't remember the thresholds.
5. Blimey - lots of things. For a start eating out, drinking and travelling on the underground - all very expensive and public transport is unreliable. More importantly tho, if you like cosmopolitan cities London kicks Munich's arse. Certainly a lot busier, smellier and pricier, but I always have maintained, and always will maintain that London has a buzz that Munich just doesn't...
Any more help, either post or PM me...
gus1933gus
Cost of living:

a) I would say at least this, my monthly tube pass cost me €150

b) Accommodation will be 2-3 times as much (unless you compromise which is more than likely inevitable)

Apartment costs:

Rentals have come down as far as I know, however, If you wanted to be central i.e. SW 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 (these are central postal codes) 2 years ago you would need close to €2000 for a 2 room 50m² apartment. You could go further south or North and get a place for €1500.

Best places to live:

a) Not much greenery in London – The odd park and Hyde Park of course (not as chilled as the English Garden though).

b) € 2000 +/- South Kensington, West Kensington, Fulham, Earls Court, High street Kensington
€ 1500 +/- (further North or south) Putney Islington etc

c) There is never a shortage of restaurants and bars.
You may be able to get a central studio (30m² for €1000 or less if you move further out, maybe 700-800, Putney is probably fairly good value for money [/color]

Take home salary from 40-55k pounds: Just over 2000 pounds to 3000 pounds I think
Johnny English
Hi Powerfull. I just moved here from London 6 months ago.

To get an exact figure on PAYE use this calculator:

http://www.e-gismos.com/ukpay.asp

Take home on £50,000 is £2886 per month
Take home on £40,000 is £2395 per month

1. Cost of Living. For sure everything is cheaper here in Munich from beer to clothes to accommodation. I think 1.5 times for expensive sounds about right - depends what you spend your money on of course!

2. Apartments? There was a thread recently citing London as 2nd only to Tokyo on costs. Central London could be up to £2,000 a month for a nice apartment but most people share of course. A "2 room" over here is called a "1 bed" (1bed + 1 living room) in the UK! If you move out to the suburbs (see below) then budget £600-£700 a month for reasonable 1 bed place. You can get 2 bed for £900 which is why people share...but rentals are certainly down.

3. I am biased. I dont think you would need to go truly CENTRAL to get lively bars and restaurants. West London is the only direction to be. Putney/Clapham is a short tube journey to London but rent still pricey. Depending on where you work (e.g. is it close to Waterloo station?) then you could go for the London edge of Surrey/Middlesex such as Twickenham/Richmond/Teddington (my patch!). Plenty of place to run in Richmond Park etc.

Because London is so big compared to Munich (12 Million as opposed to 1.3Million) you almost have cities within cities. You will probably never step foot in East London for example (probably best actually).

£40,000 to £50,000 is enough for you to survive fine in London but you won't be living like a king!

I used to work in the City as a foreign exchange broker in my 20's and PERSONALLY hated the whole frantic/busy/tourists/traffic/smoke/bars scene and couldnt wait to get out to clean air and less stress of the suburbs. Covent Garden etc for me is full of pretentious ****ers. That was 15 years ago, I was earning £mucho per annum, with company car, unlimited expenses and still had a huge overdraft!!!

So in a nutshell - go for it if you can commute from Richmond/Teddington area to work and then you can have the best of both worlds - but the full-on Kensington scene will be a culture shock compared to Munich.
Jimbo
You will probably never step foot in East London for example (probably best actually).
All good points from JE except the one above - some parts are best avoided, but that could be said of any part of London. The East for example has Docklands which can be a good night out now and again (OK, a bit pretentious, but if you live in Munich you should be used to that). The docks aren't a bad place to live either IMHO - always liked the flats by the Royal Victoria Dock for some reason.
Katrina
East London has its' benefits, here are 10 quick ones:
1. You can get home at night. None of that cab driver, "Nah mate, not sarf ova rivvah" malarkey.
2. When the trains/buses/tubes/cab drivers go on strike you can walk home (if you work in the city that is). The tube and bus network is also denser and you probably don't need to get a proper train home (not like to Putney).
3. Trains out of Liverpool Street run late (and the station shops are good).
4. M4 has more jams than Dartford Crossing.
5. Bluewater and Lakeside.
6. Markets. Portobello is hellish (in my opinion), Petticoat Lane is better (but hang on to your purse eh?).
7. Docklands (and DLR), you can get an ok place for not too silly money and there is a big Tesco nearby.
8. Clerkenwell's restaurants.
9. Hackney Empire.
10. Cheap flights out of Stansted.
PICSIE
Whenever I have the option to go and relocate anywhere I always ask myself:

  • Am I leaving to ESCAPE?
  • Am I leaving to CREATE?
Everything else is secondary.

Being Creative is the most interesting option.

What are you doing 'Powerful'?

PICSIE
Brummie
To PICSIE:

but those are surely both good reasons for leaving. How does understanding which is the case help you to make the decision to leave or not?
don_riina
Bah, I knew before coming here that I would want to create myself an escape route.
Johnny English
Katrina - I reckon if pushed I could come up with 10 reasons to live almost anywhere...like Baghdad.

Oh heck I'll give it a go:

1. Warm weather
2. Cheap housing
3. Plenty of employment for Westerners
4. Cheap cost of living
5. No speed limits
6. Interesting religious artifacts
7. Cheap petrol
8. Chance to make history
9. Excitement every day!
10. The only way is up...

Now if given the choice "Where do I live in London?" no-one with a grain of sense is gonna actually choose East over West, and more than you would have chosen East over West Berlin.

The West is the direction to Oxford Street shopping, Twickenham for the Rugby, Wembley for football, Windsor for horses and royalty, Theatres, Harrods, Eton, Richmond, Heathrow Airport etc.

What has the East got? Stansted Airport, Lakeside Shopping Centre and the Commercial Road. Docklands is just an artifical modern creation to attempt to tart up what is essentially a bit of dump.

Now expecting a serious flamefest from people attempting to defend...

(makes a nice change from Yank Bashing!).
Jimbo
I have never read such a load of crap in my life. But I'm about to get into my England shirt and clear off down the pub so I'll leave it. But tell me - Ruislip, better than Docklands??? Come on!
Johnny English
As it happens I have many fond childhood memories of days out at Ruslip Lido:

http://www.ruislip.co.uk/lido/

I assume being from East London you were busy at the same age learning how to hotwire cars, remove hubcaps and stereos, mug old ladies etc etc.

(JE retires to safe distance from PC screen)
Johnny English
Furthermore "The Young Ones" was made at Ruslip Lido:

(as it happens the old Botoxed Left-Pegger himself lives in Weybridge)

Attached image
powerfull
As always, I am really impressed with replies. You guys are great. Mind you I ll weigh in on the Docklands when I get back. I'm doing a week reconaissance in London to check it out. I think I ll print out your replies and check a few corners out especially Islington and Putney (well thats why I ll print out everything so I don t forget to much).

To create or escape? Well strangely I am liking Munich more now that I am thinking about leaving, but I think the oppurtunity to live in London a few years may be too exciting to turn down!

Again thanks everyone! I ll be cheering for England+Owen!
Uncle Jamal
I'm with JohnnyEnglish here. Forget East London and stick with Richmond - a good place where you are close enough to central London and where you will maintain a nice standard of living in a decent area.
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