London, United Kingdom Report of what it's like to live there - 09/07/08

Personal Experiences from London, United Kingdom

London, United Kingdom 09/07/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, Kuala Lumpur.

View All Answers


2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

View All Answers


3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Travel time from East Coast, USA is about 8 hours.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is small for the most part, but the further you are from central London the bigger the homes get. Commute times vary. Embassy personnel commute times can be anything from a few minutes walk to an hour using public transportation and walking.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Expensive!!

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Everything is available but it's twice as much.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Many American chains are here but don't be shocked by the costs. Restaurants are very expensive and not very good.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I have APO.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very expensive, help starts at 8 pounds per hour which is about US$16 per hour.

View All Answers


3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Widely available, just check with your bank about charges for using a foreign bank.

View All Answers


4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

They are available.

View All Answers


5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Absolutely.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Although English is the local language, you may want to find out what a fort night is and how much a stone weighs.

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Getting around will be a problem as many of the tube stations are not accessible. The buses seem to have ramps and are not a problem. Also the sidewalks are not level and may cause a problem. It is also very difficult to get disabled parking.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Driving is on the left side of the road in the UK.

View All Answers


2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The black cabs are safe and expensive. Local trains and buses are every where because this is a pedestrian city.

View All Answers


3. 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?

Small, many of the roads are quite small. If you are not government, perhaps a hybrid would be suitable to avoid additional charges in the city.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes about US$50 a month.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

They are a must have!

View All Answers


3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

There are many options. We have a Voice over IP.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Good I believe.

View All Answers


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?

Unsure.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

There is a lot of pollution in London because of all the traffic and buses.

View All Answers


2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Not more than you would expect from a major city.

View All Answers


3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

I'm not impressed by the quality of the hospitals. The first time I went in a hospital I was surprised at the lack of cleanliness. You also have to deal with National Health care and the pluses and minuses of it. Private health care is available but it is very expensive. American insurance companies will reimburse but many only at American rates so your out of pocket may be huge.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Rain and cool most of the year. In the winter there are very, very few hours of sunlight.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are many International Schools in London. My children attended the American School in London (ASL) is excellent but not very diverse. My children loved the school and were challenged academically. Make sure that you start the admissions process early because many of the schools have waiting lists.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

ASL make accommodations.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very big.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Varies, some are very happy because of the access to Europe and the ease of travel. Others are stressed by the expense because of the slump of the greenback.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There is plenty to do.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It can be - just be prepared to use the public transportation system.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

There seem to be a huge population.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not any more than any other major city.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The sky is the limit. There are museums, parks, theater, films, movies, sporting and cultural events. I'm sure if you dream it up, you'll be able to find it here.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Pottery.

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

No way!

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Maybe.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Big car/SUV because gas is about US$10 a gallon.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Patience because although this is 1st world many things move at 3rd world speed.

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


Subscribe to our newsletter


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More