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Living in London: a northerner’s view

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If someone told me a year ago that I would be living in London, I wouldn’t believe it. But here I am now, trying to become a local when really, southern cities are just not what I’m used to. I moved here just over two months ago to start a career as a journalist, and I’m still getting used to the big smoke.

London newbies are from all over the UK, and many are like myself – fresh out of university trying to make it in the real world.

London is not for the fainthearted

For anyone who doesn’t already know, London renting is ridiculous. I’m paying £700 a month, and that doesn’t include bills.  However, you can live in London without breaking the bank; accommodation and transport are the only things you need to fork out for. Everything else can be done within a budget – if you try.

Things you need to know

Trust me, you will never feel more like a sardine than when you try to nip through a busy tube station as you might during the morning rush hour. My coordination skills have improved so much as I try to dodge past people in a hurry.

Leave lots of time on either side of your commute, as tubes can be delayed for a number of reasons, and it doesn’t look great if you’re late because you didn’t leave early enough.


A job in London is not going to fall into your lap – we need to be realistic. It’s all about being proactive. As important as your CV is in your search for work, personal contacts are very important for finding employment here. If you can get someone to recommend you it will put you above fellow applicants.

Go to networking events, do an internship or an extra course to get you more prepared, and if it comes down to it, be persistent and nag your way into employment. If you refuse to let an employer forget you, they won’t be able to. Waiting for your application to get noticed in a city with millions of other qualified hopefuls isn’t going to get you very far. My advice is to put yourself out there as much as you can, and London will be kind. I’m here after my four-year degree, and I am now doing an intensive journalism course as it is the only way I will be able to progress in a writing career.

The hours are longer and the work ethic is strong in London, but with patience and determination you could be a real Londoner sooner than you think.

How do you find living in London as a northerner? Tell us in the comments below.

Photo: _dChris / Flickr

Niamh OllertonLiving in London: a northerner’s view

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