Yesterday I began to speak of ways in which London is similar and different to NYC considering the number of Americans moving to London from New York every year. I discussed, in a nutshell, my observations of NYC (particularly Manhattan) as a frequent visitor as well as drawing from my husband’s experience as a one-time New York resident. So, today, I’ll delve into how I think London takes New York’s qualities as a cultural, financial, and historical center even further.
London has even deeper layers of history, more varied movements in architecture, and greater diversity in its cultural demographics. This city also works hard, but it plays hard, too—it knows when to go home and live a personal life. In addition to superior work-life balance (to which my husband will attest time and again, especially with 5.6 weeks of mandated vacation time not even including all the UK bank holidays), London is also a city that lets you be as fabulous as you want to be while also casual as well. It feels more like Chicago to me, actually, with its more residential-feeling neighborhoods and low-key pubs where you can just be yourself without trying to impress anyone.
London also has a far less convoluted subway system! It’s extensive and intricate, yes, but the London Underground’s color-coding system and titling of train lines is so much more comprehensible to me than New York’s subway ever was with its alphabet soup of numbers and letters. New York’s subway lines were also built beneath the roads, running predominantly parallel with them underground, which doesn’t make for the most efficient connection between points A and B. London’s tube, however, crisscrosses as necessary down there and even has multiple layers of underground trains. Individual tube stations have escalators and lifts (elevators) that will take you to one train line or even deeper into the bowels of the London Underground for another (pay attention to how much smaller trains are on, say, the Piccadilly Line, which runs deeper than the District Line to accommodate narrower tunnels further underground). I’ll grant that New York’s subway tops Chicago’s “El” train, but London’s got them both beat. Oh, and FYI, “subway” in London actually means “pedway” as we Americans would know it—i.e., they’re underground pedestrian tunnels for walking beneath roadways, not for trains.
I could go on and on about the merits of each city, but the last two days have captured some key aspects that make a difference for me as an American expat living here. My husband’s relocation from New York to the UK was a significant step in a better direction toward a more sustainable lifestyle, and I see the difference in his stress levels and life perspectives already after living here for going-on three years. So if you’re likewise making the move from New York to the UK, you may be heartsick to leave as fine a city as NYC, but just know that London will not disappoint with regard to what you’re used to and how much more it will expose you to.