7 things I wish I'd known before moving to London

London Underground - Paul Grover

London is a beast all of its own. It moves at 1000 miles per hour, as does everyone who lives there, in the rush to make the tube to work (there's one every two minutes - why are you sprinting?).

Perhaps it's not much of a surprise, then, to find that recent graduates have been running away from this monster, with the net number moving to London nearly ten times lower than it was in the 1990s.

Instead, millennials are sticking to the familiar comforts of their hometowns, with the proportion of under-35s moving regions and changing jobs having fallen by 20 per cent since 2001.

So, should you stay or should you go? London may be a minefield, but if you fancy the challenge, here are seven things I wish I'd known before moving...

If you think London is the road to certain fortune then you've probably watched to much of The Apprentice Credit: NIKLAS HALLEN/AFP

The streets are not paved with gold

Many graduates are sold the idea that because London is the home of multi-nationals and big business they will be earning significantly more by moving to the big smoke. However, on the graduate salaries league table, London sits in third place, with the average starting salary nearly £4,000 less than top placed Liverpool.

Unless you've sold your soul to the banking sector - sorry bankers, but you can wipe those tears away with all those £50 notes in your wallet - then you will be counting the pennies as a twenty-something in the city.

Even if you do earn a healthy wage, it gets spent quickly

This leads me onto my next point. Despite being rammed full of gourmet restaurants and haute couture, all tempting you to spend your hard earned dosh, everything is at a premium. Your heady days of £3 triples are over. In London you'd be lucky to find a small glass of wine under a fiver.

Even the streets of Chelsea aren't paved with gold

You can still basically only afford a student flat

The golden rule is that you shouldn't be spending more than 30 per cent of your household income on rent. With the average graduate in London earning £30,000 (a figure skewed by City trainee schemes) and the average rent on a one-bed flat being £15,168 per year, you don't need to have a maths degree to see the sums don't add up.

More than likely, you'll be house-sharing into your early 30s, something you thought you'd waved goodbye to along with fancy dress nights at the student union. Also, give up any hope of owning your own home - unless you want to live off crackers for a year. 

Deals are your best friend

Scrimping and saving is now your life. If you don't keep your eye out for deals, you'll be over your overdraft limit, or stuck watching Netflix at home (at which point you may as well not be in London at all). 

Everyone outside London lives for the weekend, whereas in London you live for that once-every-solar-eclipse '50 per cent off' voucher at Franco Manca, so keep your eye out for offers in Time Out. Hook your 18-25 student railcard up to your Oyster card. Sign up for the under-25 discounts at the cinema and shows at The Barbican. Go to free art gallery openings and stock up on nibbles. Anything, anything to keep the costs of living down in this penny pinching town.

You become anonymous

Everywhere in London is painfully busy all the time (the pain is coming from those elbows shoving you out the way to get that free Franco Manca pizza). You can easily get lost in a city in a city of 10 million people, nearly five times the size of the second most populous UK city, Birmingham.

Choose where you live wisely. London is made up of tribes, except for the centre which is full of tourists, who come and go as they please. The areas around central London are their own little communities, where it is far easier to get to know people. Brixton, Dalston, Clapham - take your pick - all have happening vibes while being affordable on the millennial purse.

Oh night tube how we adore you Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Think of the transport

Get yourself on the right tube line. Like the different areas of London that they all connect, the tube lines on the London underground are their own little ecosystem with their little nuances that you have to be aware of.

The Northern bisects the city, but painfully slowly and with its own peculiar odour. The Victoria line is quick, with a train every 100 seconds, whereas the Central line is always late. We now have the Night Tube, which is great, but bear in mind that buses are a good late night option too.

The average Londoner spends £118 on travel, but with all the mayhem that can ensue on public transport it may just be easier to walk. You could live in Archway and walk to Angel in 45 minutes, saving on those all-important coppers.

 

You'll be worked to the bone

Earlier this year, the Office for National Statistics found that Londoners work on average two hours longer a week, which might not sound much but amounts to three weeks a year.

Get set to toil until 7pm, which after a tube ride means you're not getting home till 8pm, which means you're not having dinner till 9pm, which means you might just make it to the sofa by the time the 10 O'Clock News is on. By which time you've fallen asleep, drooling in a half-comatose slumber. It really does put a whole new spin on the saying, 'if you're tired of London, you're tired of life'.