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November 11, 2010
Moving To London: The Busiest Tube Stops
Those who have lived in Paris, New York, D.C. or any resort town will know that tourists are not always the most pleasant of people to live around. They don’t know the lay of the land, get lost, stop in the middle of the pavement to take photos of squirrels, and stand on the left-hand side of the escalator. Not that I’m bitter or anything. The down side of living in a wonderful city such as London is that those who don’t live here occasionally want to share in the wonder. There are the pleasant oddities, like the young man in St. James’s Park who asked me how to get to the British Museum by walking, the 30 minute walk is fine but can be much longer if you don’t know where exactly you’re going. There are also the disturbing moments, such as my friend who grew up on Portobello Road and had people constantly taking photos in his garden and one time in his bedroom. In all, tourists are a sign that there is something worth seeing near you; however, as anyone who has been to the Anchor pub on the Southbank knows, too many non-locals can lessen a good thing.
So when looking for a place to live, how do you make sure you avoid the tourists but still end up in a good area? For one, make sure that you think as little like a tourist as possible. This may be hard for a soon-to-be ex-pat who has never lived in London, but do your best. Research the areas and try to find out where the residential hotspots are that avoid the foot traffic. Especially try to avoid roads and tube stations that tend to have visitors going through in mass. My top five least favourite tubes that mix residential and tourist locations are
- Victoria (always packed)
- Knightsbridge (Harrods traffic)
- Camden (market traffic)
- Notting Hill Gate (again, market traffic)
- Green Park (Mayfair is better served by stations not near Buckingham Palace)
Aside from that, look to see that restaurants, pubs, corner shops, and other stores are designed for residents rather than visitors. The prices won’t be as high and there is little worse on a lazy Saturday morning than finding that the milk was removed to make way for miniature London phone boxes and Team Edward calendars.
When you move to a new city, you want to be somewhere comfortable and understandable, so you look cautiously and toward areas that are well known. But once you’ve gotten lost looking for a pub on a random mews street, you begin to see London for its intricacies. Do your best to find the places that will reflect the ‘you’ who has adjusted to the London life rather than the one who is in a new city. You may find that you become a local faster than you expected.