Are you upping sticks and moving to the Big Smoke? Whether you're a country mouse or hailing from another city (they have those in other places, right?), there are some unique rules and quirks which apply to London and London only. Whether you're getting from A to B, or just trying to mind your own business, these kooks of the British metropolis will find you – so it's best to be prepared...
- Never, ever get off the front of a bus
Unlike buses back in “the provinces”, London buses have two doors – a front door you enter and a back door you exit. Unless you want to shatter reality as we know it, we'd recommend exclusively using the rear door to exit the bus to avoid incurring the wrath of bus drivers and the fury of mothers with pushchairs bigger than your studio apartment bedroom.
- Bonus tip: If the rear doors fail to open at your stop, ping the bell frantically while yelling “OI, DRIVER!” - this is customary and polite.
- Dining “al bus” is the new “al fresco”
No time to stop for dinner between a long day in the office and your aerial yoga session? No problem. Londoners the city over love coming together to eat takeaway dinners on the top floor of TfL's double deckers – the smellier and sloppier the better. Pick up an oozing kebab and join the fun.
- Eye contact is a game of Russian roulette
You may have heard that Londoners are an unfriendly bunch. This isn't strictly true. Many Londoners are very friendly indeed, in fact you'll probably get a wry grin or even a chinwag in the right context. However, the consequences of choosing the wrong Londoner to make eye contact with can be horrendous; you could be in for a 2 hour lecture on the sins of humanity – or worse, a look of horrified bafflement. Either way, it's better not to risk it. Eyes down, keep walking.
- Oxford Street is the 7th circle of hell
If your idea of a great day out is some serious retail therapy, avoid Oxford Street like the plague unless walking 25 metres over the course of 25 minutes while fantasising about Tazer ownership is your idea of fun. Don't do it to yourself. And if you have to, definitely don't do it to yourself in December.
- Finding a good hairdresser is a quest
Chances are there are approximately 55 different hairdressers and barber shops in spitting distance of your new place, none of which you're 100% sure cater to your variety of coiffure. Once you're confident enough to make an appointment, price and quality vary insanely, which makes identifying your new stylist or barber a project which could span years. You'll meet plenty of non-native Londoners who still travel back to their home towns for haircuts.
- Nowhere worth knowing about is signposted
If it's “cool”, it doesn't have a sign above the door – and it's probably in a car park or under a railway arch. Bear this simple rule in mind and you'll be more hipster than Hoxton in next to no time.
- Citymapper is your new best friend
You've just become accustomed to the idea that you can get anywhere at pretty much any time in the Big Smoke, when - suddenly – it's 3AM and you have no idea where you are or what a night bus even looks like. Citymapper will guide you home. Download it before you get inebriated and adventurous. Or just Uber it.
- The tube is a place of both misery and hilarity
The majority of the time the tube is a place where hope goes to die. Glum faced commuters, depressingly predictable tourists, crammed carriages with your face lodged in a letting agent's armpit...but sometimes, just sometimes, something miraculous will happen. From drunken group singalongs and inspiring heart-to-hearts with strangers, to full grown men being pursued from carriages by moths (true), the richness of humanity occasionally conspires to make the tube amazing.
9. You will mourn the death of common courtesy
With that said, there is a distinct lack of basic human decency on show in the city. Not everyone's a prize plum, but there is a high concentration of selfishness. Expect to harrumph loudly and pointedly at the thirty something businessman failing to vacate his seat for a heavily pregnant woman. Passive aggression is the name of the game.10. You may not leave your borough for a month
Most new Londoners come to the city full of excitement, enthusiasm and list taller than the Shard of things they want to do, see and explore. But before you know it you'll blink and realise you haven't been outside your particular neighbourhood for anything except work in over a month. It happens. Prepare to nest in your local area and lose your enthusiasm for big city adventures pretty promptly.