The Good, The Bad and Ugly of Life In London

Ah, life in London – it’s been interesting.  This is my second year making my way through these busy streets. I landed in this city looking like the stereotypical wide-eyed girl from a small town; in five minutes I figured to squint a bit so my naivety wouldn’t be obvious.

Moving here was accidental; I needed a place that could offer me more and somehow London ticked the boxes. I flipped a coin, prayed to the ancestors and hello London.  Before anyone asks, yes I do live here legally; don’t try me.  Bunch of Trump Jrs.

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Nobody warned me about the intensity of this city, but then again I never asked.   Let me tell you, this place is not easy.  I’ve lived in busy cities before and each has its own vibe but London’s is on a whole different level.

Guess what?  It’s one of the things I appreciate about my time here.  When I think about my last two years in the big smoke I have to break it down to “the good, the bad and the ugly” (that’s a pretty good movie btw).


The good – things I like about life in London

I adore how art and culture are weaved into the fabric of the city.  Despite my being an artist I have never lived in a place where encountering the arts is as normal as breathing air.

Everywhere I turn there is an opportunity, a show, a chance to experience. It’s why I enjoy moments like watching ear for eye by Debbie Tucker Green.  To encounter something like that so casually on a Wednesday like it was a cup of tea before bed to warm my soul, I felt blessed.  Plus that show inspired the heck out of me!

The opportunities for people of color are here waiting for us to take advantage of them. That doesn’t mean it’s easy being black here; if I thought that for one second (I didn’t) books like Slay In Your Lane reversed that thought.

Books like Slay In Your Lane and What a Time To Be Alone, written by young black British women also show there’s a movement happening where black people in this country (and poc) aren’t asking for a seat at the table – they are setting up entirely new tables and the occupants of these seats are looking mighty different from previous days. I am here for this.

I particularly love how diverse this city is; the diversity in London is something else.  I know some people don’t find it attractive *cough racists cough* but it works for me. Can I just say, I find it really strange how racists here will gladly order “ethnic food” for a takeaway and will munch on said food while spewing racism.  But anyway.

In London, there is always something to do! Don’t mind me saying I don’t go anywhere, I’m on a budget. Even though I might not venture into the actual city itself every day, there is always something going on.  Sometimes I just like to walk around my neighborhood and discover something new.

When opportunities arise to explore the city, like a recent chance to enjoy a blogger’s brunch with delicious Jamaican flavors, I try to enjoy those experiences.

The biggest joy about being here is I’ve been forced to grow up. You can be “old” (I’m in my 30s) and still need to grow. I struggle immensely with owning my womanhood and adulthood and my time here is forcing me to tackle those struggles head-on.  That’s a whole other blog post lol!

As this city waits for no one, you have to keep pace and I’ve noticed that my usual island girl stroll had gotten quicker recently.

The bad – the hard parts of life in London

Most of the things I don’t like about living in London are silly, first world problem things. Why can’t it be summer all the time, or why can’t Taco Bell have a central location?

Why does rent require you to sell your soul to the devil?  They’re not terribly serious complaints.

Perhaps the hardest issue I’ve had to face is the cultural clash; I’ve discovered there’s this air of “let’s sweep it all away, let’s be very polite and always smile and throw passive aggressive shady jabs all the time and it is weird!

I don’t understand passive aggressive – I just do aggressive.

The other thing that has been difficult for me is owning my blackness here. People think all black people and black culture are the same. It’s not.

There are many times when I’m in a black space and it’s hard for me to relate to what’s going on. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a good time but sometimes I can only enjoy so much because whatever I’m experiencing is not a part of my culture. I might not catch all the jokes, I might do something incorrectly or I don’t get a reference to something. Add to it that I’m usually doing things by myself at a function and of course I’ll feel a little left out.

I’m not upset at this fact; it is literally cultural differences. I faced the exact thing when I lived in America.

When it comes to my blackness in the UK, I think the weirdest things I’ve faced from other black people here have been being judged for being from the Caribbean.   Apparently there is some big Caribbean vs African vs African American vs the universe beef that no one told me about.   I’ve also been judged for not fitting into the stereotypical mold that has been constructed for me (you don’t act like “a Caribbean”) and also I guess for not sounding Caribbean? That last one always gets me.

And obviously because I am just walking to the beat of a different drum I have been judged for not being “black British enough” but I can’t be…there’s nothing wrong with being black British and being down with the black British culture, but I can’t be that 100% because I haven’t grown up here.

So I face a general British culture shock and then a black culture shock.

That feeling of where do I belong here pushes me to seek more from my city.  I am not one of those people who live in a country and expect it to bend to their expectations. I know one day I’ll find my sweet spot here and if I never do, I thank this city for allowing me to observe the culture.


The ugly parts of my life in London

One of the things I absolutely I don’t like about my life here, and this is just me, is the difficulty of making friends here.  I’ve spoken about this before (click here to read about my issues with loneliness and lack of friends in the city) so I won’t get too dep on that.  Lonlineless is a real issue here in London and if you’re thinking about moving here just note, it is hard to make friends here.  This shit is real.

The other ugly part has more to do with the people who were and are around me. It has nothing to do with the city itself because ugly people are everywhere.

If you’re thinking of moving to a new city make sure you have a secure support system in place or make friends with genuine people.

When I started living here I was depressed which allowed negative people to enter my life.  I didn’t knowingly  seek them, but being depressed combined with living in a new place meant I was vulnerable.

I’ll make it clear, each person helped me in some way but the amount of negativity that came with that help makes me wonder if it was worth it.

The ugliness of London for me has been my struggle to become independent of these individuals.  I’m not complaining, I’ve never had to struggle like this until I moved here. I took a lot of things for granted in my past life and even on my worst days here I still have a lot of good things going on for me.

The ugliness of those people, of certain life situations, have encouraged me to start wanting more for my life.

Previously when I was making bank and was living a carefree, brunching every weekend, buying steaks for my dog kinda life, I was so depressed that I never thought I would live past 35. I never planned, I would get my paycheck and spend everything because there was no point.

Now, I actually make plans. The biggest plan is to never have to lean on toxic as the people again. I know it won’t happen overnight but that’s why I’m using 2019 as the turning point in my story.

The silliest parts of living in London

Just to lighten the mood,  here are ten things that make me laugh, make me wonder, make me say a little curse word in London.there are a lot of things about this country that regularly makes me laugh (in a good way).

  1. The lingo: for the longest, I couldn’t grasp the saying taking the piss. I recently learned what I call pants are considered panties over here, that was embarrassing! It took me a whole 1.5 years to learn what this peng thing is – ya girl ain’t peng. She might be pe.
  2. The food: I don’t understand hotdogs on pizza. What the…? And hotdogs come in jars???? Also, I get table manners are more on point over here but not every food should be eaten with a fork and knife. We can’t be friends if you’re trying to tuck into a crab boil with utensils. HANDS BABY.
  3. Flatmates: I think this is the one thing I will never get used to or enjoy in the slightest.  I haven’t had the best of luck with flatmates so far. I feel so sad that millions of people here who will never know the joy of living on their own. Plus why don’t the doors here have locks in the house?
  4. Dating: Looool dating here is different. People expect you to only date one person at a time. Nah, that’s weak. There are two types of dating: dating to get to know a person and dating the person/people you’re committed to.  In my opinion, if I’m dating to get a feel for someone I can date as many individuals as I desire.  That doesn’t mean you’re sleeping with everyone you date (and if you want to have sex that’s your choice just practice safe sex), it means you’re going out and getting to know a person. And getting free food and drinks (don’t act like that’s not true).  What it look like for me to date one person for three months playing “getting to know you” and we’re not compatible? Y’all playing yourself.
  5. The Underground:  I am not a fan of being pressed against strangers for hours in a hot tube (Central Line) so I take the bus.  I don’t care if it takes me a day to get somewhere, the bus.  There’s a greater chance of you getting a seat and the view is better.
  6. British celebrities:  Why do all the shows here feature the same three people?  The first few times I watched tv I was very confused cause it’s the same set of people over and over.  Everywhere.  Also, I find it amusing that you can go on Love Island and basically have the same pull as any other “celebrity”.
  7. A warm day:  I used to laugh whenever anyone would joke about people wearing “summer clothes” at any hint of sun but it’s true.   If it warms up in the slightest, everyone has on shorts and a cute dress.  Mind you, it’s still freezing to me but to everyone else it’s summer!
  8. Dogs:  This one might seem weird but I am not a fan of people walking their dog’s without a leash/lead and this is allowed over here.  I am a fan of dogs, but some of these dogs are aggressive and people are out here talking bout “Rexy is my baby, wouldn’t hurt a fly”.  Rexy just tried to bite me.  Bye.
  9. Accessibility:  While I think there is still room for improvement (how many tube stations don’t have elevators/lifts?), I have to make note that this city at least considers accessibility.  Some major cities have little consideration for people with mobility issues, disabilities, conditions etc.
  10. Nando’s:  I had to laugh when I went to Nando’s because everyone hyped this place up.  And I was so confused about “a cheeky Nando’s”?  What does it mean?????  Halfway through the meal, I realized life wanted me to eat there as a reminder you can always cook at home.  Lol.  Nando’s isn’t that bad but it didn’t live up to the hype for me.

Can I see a future in the city of London?

Yes. London is helping me make changes to my life and it’s helping me really put on my big girl panties. Before living here, everything was easy and now I’ve thrust myself into one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced.

I am so excited for this city to be a part of what will hopefully be one of the most transformative years of my life.

With this city challenging me, I can see myself getting healthier mentally, emotionally, financially. I can see myself living life and having adventures.

The only question left to ask is, are you interested in moving to London? Let me know below if you’d like me to share a guide to moving to this interesting city.

The Good, The Bad and Ugly of Life In London

Hey guys, glad you liked this post!  The fun doesn’t have to stop.  Here are a few of my fav posts!

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  • Shayla-marie
    November 27, 2018

    Your post has me ready to risk it all and move to London. Even the bad and the ugly parts and I’m super just interested in the ,off in ,ondon. I’ve been drawn to the place since I was a kid. Studied it I school.. I’m gel weird about it lol. I felt li,e k just sat and had coffee with you. Whe r in themselves did you live ? And where are you from? You’re just so cool with your globe trotting. I’m just even more intrigued after creating this post. Lovely read. I hope you have more “good times in London than bad my friend.

  • Cordelia Moor
    November 27, 2018

    I moved to London two years ago too! I moved from a small village in Devon, so despite it being the same country it was still a huge shock. I realised the other day I’d truly become a Londoner because I a) wear trainers everywhere and b) get REALLY frustrated when people move slowly! I’m also only just beginning to find my tribe, the first year and a half was so lonely – but this city really does change you for the better.

    Cordelia ||

    • Olli
      November 29, 2018

      Hello Cordeilia! Thanks for reading my post and happy two years in London! Lol I’m laughing at your London realizations. Since I work from home I don’t do the sneakers bit yet but there are days I’m really tempted to when I’m running about the city. I feel you on the loneliness but I’m so happy you’re finding your tribe. I hope you continue to flourish.

  • HannahAlex Moody
    November 27, 2018

    I love this post! Everyone hypes up all of the best things about living in London. I used to live there and it is refreshing to see someone give an honest review and include the bad parts!

    • Olli
      November 29, 2018

      That’s the whole point of this blog, honest views!! Of course I was going to share the other aspects of London living. Truthfully, it’s not the worst place I’ve ever lived but I think it’s fair to present a rounded view of life wherever you’re at.

  • Rih
    November 29, 2018

    The silly parts made me crack up.
    I’m Kenyan and I highly doubt I would survive a day through winter, 😂😂

    What a lovely post. It’s highlighted so much differences in culture that I can’t wait to experience myself when I visit London someday.

    Best part of this post is the fact that people color aren’t asking for a seat at the table. They are coming up with a an entire set of different tables for themselves.

    Loved this!

    • Olli
      November 29, 2018

      Thank you for reading my post! I think my winter last year was brutal because I lived in a different part of London and the house I lived in, they NEVER used the heater so it was always cold. This year I’m living somewhere different…with heat. And the new area I’m in isn’t as cold in general.

      As for the part about the tables, it is so true. For black people and people of color, this is a place that you can really shake it up. It’s still not easy but the opportunities here are astounding in comparison to other places. I hope you visit and enjoy.

  • Allegra (@roguenrougeblog)
    November 29, 2018

    Oh, the old passive-agressive brit style.
    This is for sure the one code I did not manage to crack while living in London, and I am still wondering if I ever would.

    I truly agree making new friends in there is quite of a challenge: national idyosyncrady is not as opened as in the Mediterranean countries for instance, and being Spanish it was exhausting sometimes. After reading your post I am truly curious now, and I really hope you met nice worthy people.

  • Ashley Firth
    November 29, 2018

    I live in Manchester and it’s also really hectic. I also found it difficult to make friends – I had to venture out of the city for friendly conversations 🙂

    • Olli
      December 10, 2018

      Wow!! I was actually considering moving to Manchester, lol I guess no matter where you go in the UK the friend issue exists.

  • Johnny
    November 29, 2018

    I highly rate your perspective on London. It’s very fresh! As a Black British guy I even sometimes struggle to fit in with the entirety of the black culture here and have been told stuff like “you’re not a typical black person”. Don’t feel isolated by people who say that. Part of being black is owning yourself like you said, creating your own identity so that you’re not saying that you need certain traits or interests to be “black” “white” or whatever and you’re encouraging other black people to express themselves freely. Also having awareness of the difficulties and pain you go through day to day a black person.

    Sorry this was a bit of a passionate one lool.

    Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures

    • Olli
      December 10, 2018

      Hi Johnny, thanks for the comment!! I find it interesting that even a black British guy finds it hard to fit in with the culture but I’m happy you understood where I was coming from. I don’t mind when the comments get passionate because that means I’m reaching that person! It really is about creating your own space and energy in this city. I am looking forward to finding my place.

  • Georgina Nderitu
    November 30, 2018

    Lovely post…

    I hope you’ll find genuine friends over there. They will come in handy during your transformative year. Say NO to bad energy

    Georgina |

  • Sophia Ismaa
    January 22, 2019

    Have to disagree, Nando’s is the shit! You must be taking the piss 😉 Woah. I had no idea that people still used the word peng? I haven’t heard that word in ages. Although, we still use butters. If you don’t know what that means, it means seriously ugly. Like, seriously.

    I do agree that London can be a lonely place. Unless you’ve grown up here, went to secondary school, college and university here, it is difficult to meet new people let alone make friends. And by that stage, for those of us who’ve lived here all our life, we already have our core group of friends that we don’t stray from or, if not, a family. Your best bet is work friends and you will have to put the energy into that! Otherwise, yes, I love that London breathes art, fun, variety and diversity… and that’s why it costs five kidneys to live here. It has so much to offer, so you better pay a lot. That’s the way it is. I hope you eventually make some friends here and, if you haven’t already, do visit the Barbican!

    • Olli
      January 25, 2019

      Nandos is okay but I just don’t get the hype. You have to realize, outside of England Nandon’s is HYPED UP!!!!! When I moved here everyone was like “did you try Nando’s” and when I did I was so confused. I really thought it was going to change my life! I was real mad.

      Lol as for the peng thing, girl I see ppl on my Twitter timeline using it all the time. I know butters, but peng was a whole new vibe!

      • Sophia Ismaa
        February 2, 2019

        LOOOOL maybe it was too hyped up that anything less than 1000/10 would have been insufficient.

        Haha, I take it you like the word peng then, that’s great! 🙂

  • Anmol Gaur
    September 15, 2019

    I have been living in London since last year and I still am adjusting to the place. I really related to the article. Good read. I’m NOT the only one who thinks this way about house share and I AM GLAD!!!

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The Good, The Bad and Ugly of Life In London