London, United Kingdom Report of what it's like to live there - 08/17/22
Personal Experiences from London, United Kingdom
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, previously in Western Europe, Middle East and Africa
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
WMA-6 hours or so
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
There are four of us in a three bedroom. Its definitely smaller than any townhouse in northern Virginia and things fall apart all the time. We are located in central London and love the location. My spouse bikes to work most of the time or takes the tube the other time, takes about 30 min on bike and 40 min or so on the tube.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
More expensive but I walk to the store everyday. Everything is available.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Anything your heart desires except good Mexican food
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
DPO but the local Amazon and post is great
2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
3. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
I think it would be difficult but doable. Not all tube stations have an elevator and there is just a lot of walking involved.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Yes when they are not on strike. I think taxis are expensive.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
We did not bring a car. On one hand I am glad because parking and driving in the city would be such a huge pain and I am sure the car would get dinged up a bit, on the other hand I am sure we would have gotten out more as a family if we did. We rent a car to go on long trips from time to time which seems to work fine when there isn't a train strike but I could have seen us going on more day trips with a car. I would just weigh your options depending on where your housing is.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, it takes awhile to get set up. I think it was at least a month.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
We have a UK plan. It is less than half of what we paid in the States. I also use a Skype number for US phone calls.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
Yes, good vets. No quarantine. There are kennels but they are about 70 pounds a day from what I can find. We have taken our dog on all of our local trips. He has gotten used to the train, tube, bus, ect.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
Wide variety. Yes to everything.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
My son volunteers at one of the local charity shops.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Just the usual, be aware of your surroundings. Sadly, being assaulted is quite common.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
We have used private and the NHS. I don't have any complaints.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
I have year around allergies for some reason here.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Aside from the heat waves, I love the weather here.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
I have two kids in High School at Southbank International. We have generally been happy. I hear good things about ACS Cobham and Hillingdon and ASL as well. Depending on preferences, there are lots of good schooling options.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
I think it depends on the school
3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Yes through the bigger schools. Both my kids are in local activities, soccer, dance and kickboxing.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Huge and good morale.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
I think there are clubs through schools ect. There are loads of ways to meet people.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
I think it's great for everyone. If you are looking for the full-time live in nanny lifestyle then this might not be the place for you.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
I think so
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
So many! The countryside is lovely, trips to Scotland, Wales and the Peak District/Lake District.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
London is amazing. It has something for everyone.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Sure but you might go broke
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
I love the ability to walk everywhere
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
There is so much to see and do. Plan your time accordingly, we won't make it to everything we wanted to see before we have to leave.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
In a heartbeat. I would stay a few more years if I could.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Most of your high heels
4. But don't forget your:
If you forgot it you can buy it here