Possibly Moving back to London- Help?
June 1, 2013 11:54 AM   Subscribe

Hi, I am considering moving back to London after over a decade in NYC. I have a few questions that I am curious about. But after just typing and erasing them- I am just going to ask how other people have found the differences between living and working in (not visiting!) the two cities.

When I first came to NYC I was wowed by how you can 'order anything' (ie sandwiches without butter!) and the 'linear streets' and 'bright sunlight' (all of which I was sorely missing in London that year I lived there) but now I am wondering if there is a different cultural feel? The question about third cultures yesterday made me think- how much of an impact would the external city have on how you feel culturally/personally? I was much younger when I moved previously and also I am looking for other people's opinions and observations.

Has anyone lived in both cities and lived to tell about it? Also, I am very concerned about the money (I would be taking a pay cut from NYC) and the housing factors. Insight into either topic would be helpful but may have to be saved for the next question!
posted by bquarters to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Cost of Living is far higher in the UK. I can't tell you about rents in London as I lived in Birmingham (and now live in Chicago) but the basics of living (groceries and supplies) will cost you more in the UK than in America. Booze is also more expensive. Energy is very expensive. Taxes are higher but it was a wash once you factor in the free healthcare. If you are renter you need to remember you are also responsible for council tax (you can look up the tax band of places online to see what you will have to pay). Brace yourself for the sudden constriction of consumer options. Shopping is more like foraging in the UK. There will be lots of things that are hard to find (though London is probably better stocked than suburban Birmingham). Ebay is more useful in the UK for furnishing a flat than craigslist.
posted by srboisvert at 12:37 PM on June 1, 2013

the cost of living between NYC and London is negligible if you plan to go native. what you sacrifice is the convenient side of 24 hour living in New York for the 'polite' constraints of London, a city that expects you to be sleeping between midnight and five a.m. I am American and live near Birmingham which in my opinion does a better job at 24 hour living than London but does not offer the same range of specialist services. Be prepared to pay more for dry cleaning, repair services, prepared food and drinks. if you can outline where you plan to make your home in the capital, it would be helpful.
posted by parmanparman at 3:34 PM on June 1, 2013

Transport is far more expensive in London - for example, a 7-day unlimited Oystercard covering all zones (the equivalent of a $30 NYC Metrocard) is £79 ($118). Most likely you won't be living out in Zone 9, but even a weekly Zone 1-3 Oystercard is £35.60 ($53).

An idea of likely income and where you'd like to live will be a big factor in the answers we can give you.
posted by essexjan at 7:33 AM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm in almost exactly the same situation as you: I've been in NYC for nearly a decade after living in the UK (including London) and am thinking about moving back. I've been doing lots of comparative research as well.

Cost of living is generally higher in the UK, but some basic food staples are either the same cost or more expensive in the UK. In general, the cost of food can be approximately comparable, given the dearth of big supermarkets in NYC. So that's pretty much a non-factor.

Rent is more expensive in the UK, but not by much. Council taxes are indeed a major factor, so if you're thinking of living in central London, be prepared to pay at least as much as you would for a Manhattan apartment when you're in London.

Transport is much, much more expensive in the UK, as other people have pointed out upstream. Even with an Oyster card (which you should absolutely get), the cost of a single trip is--at minimum--50% more than an MTA trip.

Eating out at restaurants is about the same number of pounds as dollars--so if you'd spend $25 per main dish at a restaurant in NYC, you'd spend £25 for the same dish at about the same caliber of restaurant in London. Factor in tax and a 20% tip on the US dish and then add in the exchange rate, and the difference works out to about a 33% premium for the London dish (assuming you tip 10% in the UK).

Internet access is more expensive, as are basic utilities, in the UK. So on balance, I think it makes good sense to think twice before taking a pay cut to move from New York to London, especially if you want to maintain your current standard of living.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:05 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

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