Living in the capital city of the UK is something that many people aspire to do, and life in London seldom fails to live up to expectations. The area of London, according to Wikipedia, covers an impressive 1570km. Within this you can find sprawling suburbs, tranquil green parks, towering futuristic buildings with fantastic names such as The Gherkin and The Shard as well as some of the best shopping, nightlife and restaurants anywhere on the planet.
Although London is a truly multi-cultural place (see our Living in London page for facts and figures), the traditions and culture that have been ingrained over the centuries are still very much in evidence.
Old and new, living side by side
One of the things that makes life in London so unique is the fact that everywhere you look the brand new is brushing shoulders with serious history. As well as the most modern of buildings and constructions, such as the Millennium Bridge, the first pedestrian bridge over the River Thames build in central London for over a century, the city is home to some of the most iconic buildings on the globe, and boasts no less than four World Heritage Sites.
These are The Tower of London, The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, Maritime Greenwich and The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church.
And what’s so amazing about life in London is that these, and many other places and buildings of historical importance, are around you every day. It certainly makes for a fascinating walk to work or college, and no matter how long you live in the city there’s always another ‘must-see’ site to visit. See our Things to Do page for more ideas about what to visit whilst you’re living in London.
One city, so many traditions
If there’s one thing that Londoners excel at, it’s pomp and ceremony. People turn out in their hundreds of thousands for events such as The Trooping of the Colour, The Lord Mayor’s Show, and the daily Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
But it’s not just the big things that make life in London so special. It’s the little things as well. Depending on where in the world you hail from, you may or may not have good thoughts about the food you can expect to find in London. Two iconic meals in the UK are fish and chips, and the Sunday roast. Both are delicious, but can vary tremendously in quality. For further information on traditional and not so traditional food in London, take a look at our Food page.
Now, if there’s one thing close to any British person’s heart it’s the weather. And once you experience the dramatically changing weather, you’ll begin to understand why. One day you can be basking in 70 or 80 degrees of sunshine, and the next lashed by torrential rain and wind. In fact, the climate seems to be getting more volatile. On August 10 2003, the second highest temperature ever recorded in Britain was at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, when the mercury hit 100.6 degrees Fahrenheit (38.8 degrees Celsius). The hottest temperature was 101.3 degrees and recorded near a place called Faversham, a town in the county of Kent some miles south of London.
In general, the weather in London is quite pleasant. The whole country experiences distinct seasons, something that will probably be quite a novelty if you come from hotter climes. Spring (March, April, May) is a beautiful time of year. Plants begin to show after their long winter sleep, bird song fills the air once again and, if you take a drive outside of London into the countryside, spring lambs are dotted around the green fields.
Summer is considered to be the months of June, July and August, with temperatures often heading up into the 70s or 80s. However, thunderstorms are more frequent at this time, and sometimes August can be a somewhat humid month.
September, October and November herald the season of autumn (or fall, for our US cousins). The leaves on the trees begin to turn, passing through vibrant shades of orange, yellow and red, before eventually falling to the ground as winter approaches. Ground frost is likely during the autumn months, but London can experience some beautiful (and warm) weather during this time.
Winter, on the other hand, can bring with it some severe weather. However, London usually tends to be somewhat sheltered from the worst that the UK experiences. Snow, when and if it falls, is usually short lived, but be prepared for some cold, rainy and grey days. However, the sight of London town on a cold, crisp winter’s morning, when frost paints everything with a glittering white sheen and the winter sun shines down from a pale blue sky, certainly takes some beating.
Life in the fast lane, or take the quiet path
One thing about life in London is that it can be as crazy or as quiet as you like. For those who want to party 24/7, then everything is on your doorstep. But if you prefer a slightly more sedate lifestyle, perhaps taking in theatre shows, cultural exhibitions or just enjoying quiet walks on one of London’s many beautiful parks, then that’s easy to accomplish as well.
London is a city of extremes, and life here will certainly never be dull. Whether you want a takeout at four in the morning or to find a quiet spot outside to read your book on a sunny day, life in London can be everything you want it to be.