It feels like a long time since I published this post but today marks exactly one month since I moved to England. To celebrate this faux milestone I wanted to share ago today on a handful of things I have picked up on even after many handful of visits here in the past five years. In one month I have noticed:
1 | You Can Drink Anywhere – Outside bars, walking down the street, anywhere you want and it is totally fine. After a month in London it is still so bizarre to me to see people sitting half a block away from a bar with a pint glass or casually walking down the street with a long neck.
2 | Outlet Idiosyncrasies – I’ve known this for a few years now but it’s still bizarre to me that you have you to turn outlets on and off before you use them. But perhaps it’s even more bizarre to me that there are not outlets in bathrooms – they have a little one for an electric shaver but a place for a blow dryer or straightener? Nope.
3 | Companies Are The Same, But Different – Many of my favorite US companies May Exist in the UK, but they aren’t the same – for instance i needed a new Netflix account and same with Amazon. (though amazon prime in the UK is free one day shipping – better than 2 in the US). and the Funny thing about Costco here, not just anyone can join – you have to work for a certain set of companies and even provide a pay stub proving that you work there. Thanks goodness though, at least temporarily, they are honouring US members. (insert praise emoji hands)
4 | Postcodes Mean Something – I thought it was weird the first few times someone asked for my post code but then I realized as I signed the lease on my new flat, the post codes, or zip codes in the US, are so specific that not only does each street have it’s own but usually a street will have a handful. For instance on my road buildings 13 through 21 (with four flats per building) has their own postcode and the even houses on the other side of the street have their own! Thus, from just a post code you can get to exactly where you are going – nuts when thousands of houses / apartments in the US would have a single post code!
5 | The Banking System – Everything, and I mean everything, is contactless. Even the cafeteria at work is contactless payment which can be done via credit card or via Apple pay / Android pay for transactions as small as £1.50. And I was shocked when I found out most millennials have never written a check – contactless cards and “bank details” are the norm. Oh, and when my new debit card arrived from the bank i was shocked that my sort code and account number (think routing and account like the bottom of a check) are clearly printed on the front of the card!
6 | It Is Extremely International – While this may be a bit of a given I have found it even more so than New York City or Washington D.C. which I would not have guessed. It makes sense when boarders within Europe are so easy to cross especially to come and work and the amount of foreign countries within 1,000 miles of London is dozens instead of one from NYC.
7 | They Speak English, But Only Sort Of – I have published a list before of the things that the Brits say differently than Americans but after a month of living and working here, that list is quite long. Some I clearly understand – spectacles for glasses – and others I have to legitimately stop conversations and ask people what things mean, like swings and roundabouts (which has nothing to do with driving or directions). I’m planning on publisher a full list soon because it’s too much to include here! And even in writing this post since I changed my settings to UK it told me I spelled favorite wrong (they wanted favourite) and same with the word realized (they spell it realised in the UK).
8 | The Grocery Stores – You would think all grocery stores are the same but often it’s hard to find things – the eggs are not in the refrigerated section. It may just be me but it took a few seconds at my first big grocery shop until I figured out you have to bag your own groceries – they essentially want you to bag them as you unload your cart / basket. Not only that – and I think this is a good thing – you need to pay for each plastic bag you use 5p, 10p if you decide to double them up . Oh, and for a country that has no guns, they take knife control very seriously – I got carded at the grocery store for buying a knife!
9 | The Real Estate Market Is Softer – I was pleasantly surprised to see that the rent is less than NYC and the broker fee is only a few hundred pounds as opposed to a month and a half rent in NYC both of which were welcome surprises. Oh, and washing machines come standard but it is an all in one washer / dryer which means a single load takes nearly three hours.
10 | Sunday Is The Day Of Rest – On Sunday’s I have found that stores close between 4pm and 6pm if they are open at all and in general, finding anything open past 10pm is a shock on any day of the week. Even the pool I just joined does not open until 6:30am which, while early, would be 5am in New York.
And it did not fit on the list above but I found it very, very strange that not only do I need to register and pay the cable company to get TV, you also have to register any TV you plug into the wall (even if you are not getting cable and only going to watch Netflix) with the government and pay 150 pounds per year. However, I LOVE that the government is giving an exception to this and you will not need one to stream the royal wedding this weekend.
Which of these did you find most surprising from my one month in London?