10 reasons why people hate London

London by NightI have a soft spot for London. I enjoy living a 20 minute train ride away from the city and being able to venture in for a wander through the streets, for a meal or to see one of the daily events that takes place somewhere in its vast sprawl.

But it wasn’t always like that. When we lived a long way from London and I had to come in regularly for business I didn’t have a good word to say about the place. I wasn’t alone. While London usually features in any top cities of the world lists, there are a significant few who despise the city and would avoid it at all costs.

The following 10 criticisms are all statements I’ve found in anti-London rants in blogs, or have heard first hand from people who hate London and who’ve felt unfortunate to have lived in or passed through the city.

1. London is expensive. London can be very expensive, particularly when people come here for work and need to find a decent place to rent on a tight budget. Living further out of the city and relying on public transport (see below) is usually the answer. But is this any different from living in New York, Moscow, Madrid, Sydney, etc. etc. ?

2. The food in London is the worst in the world. This one always makes me laugh. Yes, you can get some inedible dross around London’s tourist hotspots and pay a high price for the privilege. Isn’t it the same in Paris or Rome, the culinary capitals? Dig around in London and you’ll find plenty to dispel the myth of bad British food. And in the right neighbourhoods you can find superb Indian, Vietnamese or Middle Eastern cuisine at bargain prices.

3. London is unfriendly. A common big city trait and in my experience no worse in London than anywhere else. Sure, plenty of people on the Tube have their heads in their papers or locked away in the sounds of their iPod, but make the effort and people will generally be willing to assist visitors who ask for help.

4. People ignore you even if you’re in trouble. Will Londoners look the other way if you’re being mugged? In many cases they probably will. It’s a sad part of big city life that enough people have been attacked, injured or worse when intervening in a robbery that others are reluctant to take the risk of getting involved. It’s not a good thing, but again I suspect is no different to any big city in Europe or North America.

5. The London Underground is terrible. When it works it’s brilliant; you can cross the city quickly and easily, and it is one of the best connected systems in the world. Weekend closures, too many strikes and erratic engineering scheduling does mean that too people get caught out and left scrambling for alternatives. London can certainly improve on this one.

6. London is polluted. After a day in London you will probably find yourself picking black bits of stuff from your nose and from your fingernails. It’s the natural result of a city that packs in millions of residents and many more who come in to work. It’s better than it was and for those who complain I would ask them to name a similar-sized, less-polluted city.

7. London is one big traffic jam. However bad the traffic in central London is now, it has to be better than it would have been without the Congestion Charge. And having struggled for two hours just to reach our hotel in Bangkok and then being told that this was quite normal, I think London does pretty well for traffic given its size. Most streets are designed heavily in favour of buses and cyclists, and these provide both quicker and cheaper methods of getting around the centre than in your own car.

8. No-one speaks English in London. This is of course nonsense, although you are likely to hear dozens of languages in a short walk through the city. For me this is one of London’s greatest assets. It is far more racially integrated as a city than New York for example, with a more diverse population than almost anywhere else.

9. Connections to and from London airports are a joke. Probably most residents would agree here, at least to some extent. Taxi fares from Heathrow to central London are outrageously high, as is the £18 fifteen minute ride on the Heathrow Express. Luton and Gatwick meanwhile are linked to London by a less than reliable rail service which too often leaves people frustrated and angry. London could take a lesson from many of its European neighbours here.

10. London is dangerous. The crime rate in London is relatively low and even more so if you remove the inter-gang related violence that occurs away from any tourist area. Yes, you have to be alert and sensible but doesn’t that advice apply anywhere?

London has its darker sides, its frustrations and its rip-offs; it’s not a utopia by any stretch. But when measured against other major cities in the world it is still worthy of its place near the top of the list as one of the world’s top cities.


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51 Responses to “10 reasons why people hate London”

  1. Johann Thorsson #

    I lived in London for a year and found it a somewhat costly, mostly clean, relatively low-crime with great food and friendly people. But then again, I lived in south-London.

    April 4, 2011 at 10:01 am
    • Tony j #

      I am 47 years old and born and bred in SE London. My wife is the same and our children are 24 and 21.
      We moved away from London a year ago because we have just had enough.
      The traffic is awful, crime is rife, drugs and violence is everywhere.
      The High Streets shops now reflect that London is now becoming a melting pot of everything that’s not London.
      I was in a packed post office one day and noticed I was the only white person in there !!! Including the counter staff….how bad is that ?

      I work in the Emergency Services for the last 17 years so I guess I see more of the people of London than the normal everyday joe.

      Yea, it’s great for eating out, cinema, the west end, the public transport is there if you need it…….but it’s now not the London I know and grew up in.

      Now we live in the country side and are happier in ourselves, fresh air, no traffic, cheap eating out. Live is grand.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:54 am
  2. I am not entirely convinced by your post. I have lived and worked in London, but never really got to love it, but did get to see a more friendly side. For example the ice cream vendor by Westminster Station would sell ice creams half price to the construction workers, but this just reinforced the idea that he thought it acceptable to overcharge visitors. You make the point that other cities are similar, which of course is true. Even my birth place is a tourist town and most of the cafés couldn’t care less if they provide good quality, good value food as they know that very few of their customers are likely to visit the town again. This does not defend London but just adds it to a number of cities around the world where you can get overcharged, not given the time of day, breathe in traffic fumes and be left to fend for yourself in trouble.
    By living outside London or even living there you get to know which restaurants survive on the quality and value of their food, how to get around easily and when to visit museums and exhibitions without the crowds. Sadly visitors to big cities rarely get this experience unless they are accompanied by someone like you.
    From personal experience, if you don’t want to have to deal with some of the points on your list, then it is better to get away from the big cities. Now St Albans, there’s a great idea for anyone visiting London. 😉

    April 4, 2011 at 10:47 am
  3. I live in London and love it.

    To use your own words though, “it wasn’t always like that”. One major complaint about London I used to hear on a regular basis – in the circles of my previous life as a banker, at least – was that “People work too much”. Which is all too true in certain parts of the financial sector. When work denies one any free time to enjoy the features of London we all know and love – such as the bustling life and the exciting versatile events – one has no choice but to moan about the city using all of your points above. I changed my job two years ago and have started seeing London in an entirely new light.

    Regarding the “most streets are designed heavily in favour of busses and cyclists”, as an everyday cyclist I can tell you it isn’t true. This is perhaps one thing I would change about London. But I do dream one day it will become just like Copenhagen or Amsterdam : )

    April 4, 2011 at 11:08 am
  4. I totally agree with everything you say, except that I’ve found the Gatwick Express ok but then I’ve only used it a couple of times, and I’ve even gotten to like Gatwick Airport, in fact, from loathing it some years back.

    I’ve never lived there but over the years, visiting people who have done I’ve had marvellous times (and I even remember when all the shops used to close at lunchtime Saturdays, let alone open on Sundays!). My last visits were last year, one to cheer on my son in the Virgin Marathon, when the city seemed reduced to a village, with everyone connected, strangers chatting happily without fear, and despite queues for taxis and chock-a-block tubes everyone in good humor. Very much the acceptable face of a city. I don’t know if that happens elsewhere, but it was a great feeling.

    April 4, 2011 at 11:42 am
  5. Tom #

    Great article here Andy, I enjoyed reading it….as a general anti-Londoner 😉

    Now, I have to agree with the thing about it being unfriendly. I’m a Northerner (Leeds) and lived in Newcastle for five years, so I’m used to people being a whole lot friendlier. If you catch a stranger’s eye in the North, you can expect a smile or a hello. Smile at a stranger in London and you can expect a look of disgust or an abrupt “what?”

    Plus, I find that Londoners tend to have the big city attitude of “there’s nothing in this country of interest outside of London”. Here in South Korea, Seoul is the same – anywhere that’s not Seoul is a “country town”…this includes Busan (4 million) and Daegu (my city – 2.2 million). Grrr.

    Although food – I agree with you there. The tourist spots churn out terrible food and charge outrageous prices. I always wince when my foreign friends tell me that fish & chips aren’t that great – turns out they only ever tried the cardboard variety served around Piccadilly Circus, not any of the magnificent grub that you can get outside the road well travelled.

    London can’t be beat when it comes to culture though. There’s always something going on, and when I lived in the UK I’d always get green with envy when I’d find out that my favourite musicians would play a couple of gigs in London and not venture to my neck of the woods. The museums, galleries, and range of things to do can border on the mind-boggling!


    April 4, 2011 at 1:06 pm
  6. Like you said, Andy, most of London’s darker sides are just as dark in other mega-cities around the world. The one thing that does suck is the transportation – not only efficiency-wise but also cost-wise.

    I’m surprised the weather isn’t mentioned!
    Good job!

    April 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm
  7. Obviously, I’m going to defend London. Is it expensive? Selectively, I think it is but it doesn’t stop me living here with a young family on a part-time income. Of course, I know lots of free stuff, hence I recently wrote the 100+ Free Things to Do in London. None of my colleagues at About.com Travel have that many ideas to brag about in their destinations so London rules on free stuff.

    Worst food? Again, this was more likely in days gone by; we’re considered a culinary capital now and you can ‘eat the world’ in London. I eat near tourist attractions every week and don’t have to live on over-priced mush in polystyrene containers.

    Again, London may have been considered unfriendly in the past but this is not my experience and not what I hear from visitors. Most visitors tell me they were surprised we think this is the impression we give as they have never had anyone not help them. And would we ignore someone in trouble? Absolutely not! I’ve never been in this situation but there is no way I, or anyone else I know, would leave someone in danger. I’ve woken sleeping tourists to remind them to hold their bag, I’ve asked people looking lost if they want help, etc, etc, etc. We are not heartless and I don’t know where you’ve got that idea.

    Regarding the tube, no-one gives it credit when it’s running well. It’s the oldest system in the world so it needs maintenance but it doesn’t bring us to a grinding halt. (Even the tube workers strikes can’t do that.) We have amazing public transport when you think about the size of the city and the ways we can connect it all. And the black snot thing has long gone. Must have been 20 years since that was a problem. Really.

    Who drives into central London to know how bad the traffic is? Always seem to be moving to me. Congestion charging works, for sure.

    The not speaking English thing is funny as I was an ESOL teacher so am well aware of the diverse population we have but I too think this is another positive. I don’t want my child to never learn about other cultures and to think her white world is the only way people live. Living in east London is fantastic for the multiculturalism and no-one complains about the diverse food options this has brought us.

    Connections to the airports are not as bad as you make out. I get the tube to Heathrow and although it’s a long journey, I cover a lot of miles for very little money. The private Gatwick and Heathrow Express trains are efficient, if more expensive, but efficiency and reliability are fine by me.

    I know you wrote this to be provocative but I think many of your arguments are very outdated .

    April 4, 2011 at 6:11 pm
  8. Wow, so many lively comments! I don’t know where to start…

    anjči – Very good point that how we see London depends on what we do there. Like you I used to commute to the city and hated it then. Journeys on uncomfortable, overcrowded trains and the only thing on my mind was to get in and out of the city as quickly as possible. Now, I love going into London and exploring both in the West End and in the outer suburbs. I see it in a very different light.

    Tom, for 40 years of my life I would have agreed with you. Having always lived north of London I believed that people down were more miserable, unfriendly and unhelpful than their northern counterparts. Thankfully coming down here and living here for the last 5 years I’ve realised (obviously) that if you act in the same way to others by and large you’ll get the same reaction back. Of course people might have less time for chit chat here (commuters in the rush hour) but they’ll still appreciate a smile and the exchange of banter as much as anyone else. And we’ve had many a conversation with a stranger in London on our walks in town – more than I had expected with my northern bias.

    Laura, thanks for sharing the link and yes, London has more than its share of free stuff. I don’t think anywhere in the world can compare in this regard.
    London still has a lousy perception for food, however much us Brits support it. Look at the recent LP poll on best city for food. London got only one vote – and even that drew some sarcastic jokes in the comments. Still a lot way to go for the perception to match the reality of the great food on offer (banning Weatherspoons would be a good start).
    I am not as generous as you about the transport in London. I do think they have suffered from years of mismanagement – it’s not a London thing, it’s a British thing. Others in Europe can run a far superior and better integrated transport system without ripping off the public, yet despite years of promises and grand plans we never seem to get the basics right.
    My intention was to take a bunch of points listed on an anti-London rant and address these as I’ve experienced them, which is overwhelmingly (but not exclusively) positive.
    Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful and illuminating comments.

    April 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm
  9. I would have to agree with most of those misconceptions about London!
    Ive lived here for 5 years, having moved from Australia and I couldnt love it more! The amount of great bars, restaurants and quirky things to do could keep anyone entertained for a lifetime!
    Thanks for the article – hopefully it will hope to change a few minds who may have been thinking all of the above prior to reading it!

    April 4, 2011 at 8:47 pm
  10. Hi Andy – London is one of my favourite places. Yes, it is pricey and many of the comments you make do hold true. But as you point out, what city of equivalent size doesn’t have their own issues.

    I’m not much of a big city person. When I travel, I usually get outta dodge as fast as I can. London is one exception. I love wandering its streets; I feel safe and enjoy the amazing variety of sights and sounds that are readily accessible.

    It’s been years since my last visit but I have many fond memories. I recommend London to as many people as will listen to me!


    April 4, 2011 at 9:36 pm
  11. I love that this one has sparked such a debate around the webz, well done Andy.

    I’ve been in London for 9 years now and having grown up in Athens (ahem, think of the “friendly Greek” idea) I can say with certainty that London can be wonderful. I have kinda lost touch with reality in Athens but my Greek friends who visit keep telling me that they feel a lot safer in London.

    I have also suffered one or two minor accidents in London (my not so trusty scooter) and it was amazing how people rushed to help me – I didn’t even have to put on a damsel in distress act!

    Sure London suffers from problems, I don’t know of any big cities that don’t. But the opportunities make it all worth while I think.

    April 5, 2011 at 10:06 am
  12. I remember my first visit to London vividly, as a wide eyed 18 year old on his first trip down South (I come from Newcastle.) I hated it with a passion, in fact even when my best mate moved it took me around 5 years to come down and visit him.

    Many years later and I am now a regular visitor to London. I have really grown to love the place and I really enjoy my trips there. Apart from being a little older and wiser I think the big difference is that I now know a lot of the good places to visit and also the places to give a miss.

    I’ve noticed a few comments saying that it’s all well and good if you know the place, but tourists can end up paying well over the odds and eating bad food. Well isn’t that true of most places? A good travel guide and a bit of local knowledge will make a big difference to how much you enjoy your trip!

    April 5, 2011 at 11:46 am
  13. My only problem with London is that it has no end. You can walk all day, and still be in London!

    I don’t think I’d ever feel at home in a place that has no end, whereas Brighton stops at the sea. We all live here, or are visiting here and are experiencing many of the same things in any given day.

    Still, you can’t beat the feeling of arriving in London: boundless, faceless, dirty, but so beautiful. It’s just that I prefer leaving: at dusk with the setting sun dragging orange tones into the neon carriages.

    April 6, 2011 at 11:01 am
  14. I love London! If people think London is unfriendly, they should try Paris.

    The Tube is the best thing since sliced bread – coming from a country (South Africa) where publich transport is near non-existent and you can’t get anywhere without a car, London transport rocks.

    Dangerous? Pah!

    And I love the fact that you can find ANY cuisine from around the world in London – try doing that in Cape Town or Johannesburg….

    April 6, 2011 at 11:29 am
  15. The 10 reasons that you have listed for hating London could be a list for any major city in the world and in some cities, particularly Mumbai where I live these are magnified (except the food). I lived in Central London for a year and loved every minute of it. Yes, finding affordable, vegetarian food was an issue sometimes, but it did help me explore the city some more. 🙂

    April 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm
  16. Some great comments here in response to a particularly emotive issue. Those of us who love our city will defend it to the hilt but I have to accept that a lot of the negative aspects of London life are true. But, as you mention, there are dark sides (danger, expense, crowds) to all the best world cities – and maybe these aspects are part of the whole city experience anyway. No where is perfect but I still maintain that London comes pretty close. 🙂

    April 21, 2011 at 9:43 am
  17. edmundo #

    Have spent half my life (24 yrs) in London. Increasingly the place just seems like a caricature of itself. The same is true of some other established cities as well but London is particularly tired in this respect. Perhaps it is still exciting if you’re under 30 and have plenty of money in your pocket. And yes, there are some nice new ice cream and sushi places – but there are in every city worth a salt. This place is here for tourists and the wealthy. It is less and less a ‘working city’ as such.

    June 26, 2011 at 10:07 am
  18. zak #

    I have lived in london since 1988 and am finally leaving today. The city has changed alot since i arrived from a small beautiful town of Bolton , Lancashire. London is over populated, transport system is appalling bearing in mind the numbers that use it and revenue they collect, food is terrible unless you cook it yourself and its overpriced on most thing s especially property. I lived in SW11 Battersea ( considered posh) but still was secumbed to looters recently. i think its the perception that the liberal elite and many columnists give of london. We tend to get carried away about cities when others talk about it BUT you only get a true perspection of things when you live in a city yourself. I am glad to be getting out of here.It is a multicultural segregated shithole..( i can say that as im asian!)..I would love to see the data on the number of people leaving london. It is just a transient place where people arrive , stay a short time and leave..all i can say is you always miss things when you give them up…i miss Bolton and cant wait to move back!.

    September 12, 2011 at 4:48 pm
  19. Buddy, what do you know about NYC – the greatest city on the face of the Earth and center of the known universe?

    You say London is more racially integrated than NYC; where are you getting this information from? NYC is the city of immigrants (we do have the Statue of Liberty); it is built on immigrant blood. We need immigrants. But in London the immigrants are not happy. Two books, Menace in Europe and Londonistan, illustrate this fact clearly and concisely. Plus you also had that show you put on for the world a few weeks ago – the London Riots – to further reinforce my point.

    Plus I have also met many Englishmen who claim that London is no longer English – a sign that immigrants are not welcome in London.

    October 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm
    • Hi John, Thanks for your comment. I lived in NYC for a year and while that doesn’t make me any sort of expert I did see enough first-hand examples of racial tensions to make my comparison with London – the Chinese girl in the office who was house-hunting in a neighbourhood in Queens and told “F*** off this is an Italian street”, my workmates telling me which streets I couldn’t go down after dark although my dark-skinned wife would be safe on the same streets, the upmarket street residents that would only allow the Filipino workers to enter a medical office through a back door so that they wouldn’t be seen in front of the building. Does it happen in London too? I’m sure it does, but in my year in NYC I heard more cases like these than I’ve ever heard of in the UK. (For the record I loved my life in the city and would happily go back).
      As for London, come and see it for yourself and then tell me. Sure there was trouble, but race was a side-issue for the idiots who realised they could get away with stealing stuff and smashing a few windows. The world’s media lapped it up and created a massive drama out of it. You can find books to back up any point of view – including some very scary perspectives of my country and yours.
      As for the Englishmen who claim that London is no longer English, you can find thousands of them – but millions of others who love it for the exciting mix of cultures, styles and tastes that make it what it is.

      October 2, 2011 at 6:12 pm
  20. Suhail #

    I recently visited London from Pakistan and lived there for more than a month. I do not agree with your arguments. Londoners are so helpful and loving. Yes there is a problem in transport, but London is a city of science and culture for me. Imperial college, Science and natural history museums.and above all very friendly people.

    I was crossing the road with my huge backpack and slightly hit by a bus, I still remember many peoples took notice of it and said to me ” are you okay”?

    So it is my true experience about London. as far as the crimes are concerned it is a part of any mega city like London, New York, Hong Kong or other city.

    October 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm
  21. David #

    How about the following reasons:

    – There are too many immigrants
    – There are too many people scrounging your taxes to get welfare
    – The government is massively in debt and broke
    – The economy is in a recession not seen since 1929, possible even longer!
    – House prices are ridiculously high
    – If you do manage to save money here then you get 0% even though prices keep rising
    – The banking system has collapsed and laying people off and this used to be an industry upon which london relied
    – There were london-wide riots recently
    – People don’t smile in the streets cause they are all depressed
    – There is a privileged upper class of land owners that you can never hope to aspire to
    – There is no sense of community
    – The weather is rubbish and grey and cold
    – The standard of school education is particularly low compared to Europe
    – Despite paying high levels of tax, its still a one-size fits all health care system

    But other than that, its great fun and a good spot to escape from to any other better nearby countries!

    November 19, 2011 at 8:44 pm
    • Thanks David, agree with some of your points, disagree strongly with others. But I’m grateful that the London I experience is a lot more pleasant that the one you’ve described.

      November 21, 2011 at 8:16 am
  22. 21rst century #

    You just sum up the main reasons I hate London. Unless to be a millionaire or a tourist and therefore be able to access the services at its best and enjoy the awesome museums, magnificent parks, and amazing shops, … you as an average person you will have to work like a damned, and spend 60-70% of your wage in the rent (everybody in London share a flat but it’s not my thing) and transport. Everything single thing is over expensive, the food is crap, don’t even expect to speak a correct English as most of the people you are going to meet are foreigners. However, the car traffic is better organize than the one in Paris but come on, £8 to access the center by car and £23 for 3 hours of parking?! So, yes it is a very nice city if you are a rich student or a millionaire. And I didn’t even speak of the riots and the lack of dentist….

    January 25, 2012 at 6:21 am
  23. Honestly is the worst place i ‘ve ever been.
    and I have been living in quite a few places by now.

    The word is —Disgusting—

    One of you pointed, if you want to eat properly, go to an Indian Place, or so.

    Public transportation, are you joking?

    April 11, 2012 at 10:02 am
  24. Intrepid #

    Well after 5months in London having lived in Australia, Thailand & Singapore I’ll say this – it’s expensive not because it’s literally expensive, but you earn a hell of a lot less. My income in London is 1/2 what it was in any of those other countries.

    And yes people are generally unfriendlier and even physically aggressive to other commuters on the tube. Though the English like to be verbally polite.

    As for pollution, I never picked black crap out of my nose even from walking alongside traffic in 35 degree heat in Bangkok to work every day, so I was surprised about that. I do think that if I earned what I considered a decent wage (not an average English wage), I’d probably enjoy London more.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:12 pm
  25. Fabio #

    I came to London to improve my English. This was 8 months ago, and my English is still very bad, why? Because this city is full of Spanish people (like me)…moreover I hate this city because all u said, it’s unfriendly, polluted, etc.
    If u wanna come to pay a visit for one week, London is the perfect city, it’s really beautiful and u can enjoy a lot, But if u want to live here, oh man, change your mind before making this big mistake…

    June 5, 2012 at 9:48 pm
  26. Annika #

    I’m born and bought up in London and absolutely hate it… Its over priced, polluted and full of chavs and thugs, running drugs all over the city. I find there are only pockets of London worth actually seeing as a tourist, it may be rich in history, but that’s about it..most of east London is dirty, the fact the Olympics are being held there, tells you everything you need to know, the area is in dire need of re-generation and this possibly the only way to get funding and raise exposure to an area that as been run down for years.. Where yo will find street gangs, hgh crime and drugs.. Where police won’t even go to council estates, this is the real London…

    I’ve lived ad worked all over the world, believe Peoples view of London is very much a bit 3rd Worlldy in comparison to other major cities like Singapore, hong kong…Sydney…

    June 21, 2012 at 4:48 am
  27. Kate #

    I have lived here a year, previously in Sydney, and Auckland before that. It is the worst place I have ever lived. I have never been so poor and miserable in my entire life however the London-based love of my life will not leave thus I will not leave. The wages are shocking, the food is cheap but bland, the varied cultures are not integrated at all, the races seem to stick to themselves and create miniature versions of their homelands right here in the UK. The people (specifically women in managerial positions in the workplace) are horrific! I have never worked with such an awful bunch of bullies before, and I have found this at every office I have worked at.
    I just get this heavy, dark feeling whenever I go into the city, the people seem to have accepted that this is their fate. There is no work – life balance and you work you butt off for little money, little reward and little praise. I really would recommend to anyone lucky enough to be sponsored in NZ or Aus to definitely get outta here. Your wages will double, your lifestyle with improve drastically and you will actually be able to enjoy a beach not polluted with 5,000 pasty other English people. This country has gone to the dogs and is only going to get worse.

    July 7, 2012 at 1:10 am
  28. Rob #

    I’ve worked in London for various chunks of my career and had to commute in from Suffolk. I can’t speak for other rail lines but the trip in from Ipswich has got slower and more expensive and each year passes. For me, one of the worst things about London is actually getting there.

    When running, the underground does its job but its expensive compared to many other cities I’ve been to.

    As a commuter working in London, its awful but as a tourist, I enjoy going there.

    Many of the high profile tourist attractions are expensive (especially if you have to pay for a family) but as Laura said, there are plenty of free things to see in the city.

    However, it is a fascinating city and no matter how much you think you’ve explored London, there is always something new to discover.

    July 15, 2012 at 10:30 am
  29. It’s so true that people ignore you even when you’re in trouble. I once got cramp in both legs while on a running machine. I’d had to pull myself up on my arms and hadn’t had a chance to turn the treadmill off. Despite my pleas for help and obvious distress I got nothing! So embarrassing!

    July 16, 2012 at 11:03 am
  30. The first thing I was told when I moved to London was that you never scream if you’re in a scary situation. If you scream, it will scare everyone away and no one will help you.

    This thought absolutely terrified me and still does! I love London but, like most cities, it does have its fair share of bad points.

    July 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm
  31. dave #

    I was in London and it was somewhat terrible. I’ve spend most of my life in Liverpool and Manchester, and life there is WAY better than London.

    London is just TOO expensive! I used to pay SO much for renting my house, while in Liv and Man, it was much cheaper.

    Transport is terrible too (the tube is expensive and there are too many delays – that doesn’t happen frequently at the MetroLink in Manchester). Buses are (now) expensive too… I’ve also realised it’s more polluted.

    A drive from the central to the airport is a damn expensive price! Never had any cost worries in Liv and Man.

    The only good thing about London is that it has cool restaurants. It has good nightclubs too (but it doesn’t beat Liverpool’s)

    Liverpool and Manchester has much better life than London!

    July 17, 2012 at 10:52 pm
    • Bill #

      I actually think the underground is a remarkably good service. I get it to work every day and I almost never encounter serious problems. It basically works out at less than £100 a month for me as well, which is frankly pretty cheap considering with my Oyster card I can go anywhere in zones 1-2 for that. An ordinary commute in another city probably isn’t much cheaper. I lived in Glasgow before I moved here and I spent more than that driving to and from work.

      What really makes London terrible is that like all big cities it makes people incredibly unfriendly/easily annoyed with strangers. I’ve had someone swing a punch at me simply because I accidentally brushed against them with my shopping bag on my way through a tight corridor. I’ve seen people at each other’s throats because someone stood on their foot on the tube. When you’re forced to spend so much time in close proximity to strangers, it seems to bring the worst out of people and everyone is just waiting to have a go at someone because they got in their way.

      In normal interactions – people you work with, people you share a flat with, people you’re introduced to by friends – Londoners are just as friendly as anywhere else. Get in someone’s way on Oxford Street though and you’re taking your life into your own hands.

      August 5, 2012 at 11:24 pm
  32. Paul #

    I think London is a horrible city – dirty, polluted, noisy, unfriendly, outrageously expensive, too many foreign workers who hardly speak English and aren’t interested in the environment of the city and just wanting to make money. It is claustrophobic, has few green spaces (Regents and Hyde Park are the best places), the transport system is a total rip-off in price (unlike other European cities), the transport system is dangerously overcrowded, the hospitals are appalling and it has lost all of its character. The food is totally dreadful and a rip-off – all gluten based junk like pizzas, baggels, wraps – no good quality and wholesome English food. In fact there is nothing English at all about London anymore. It may have been seen by the “eyes of the world” recently as good because of the Olympics but it is only because the authorities had to make it better for the Olympics. The streets were cleaned and the transport system worked better than ever. Now the Olympics is over it will be back to enormous levels of crime, dirt, filth, bad transport, miserable and rude people. Those who think it is a great city when they visited for the Olympics are totally wrong. It is a horrible and unfriendly and very lonely place.

    August 12, 2012 at 7:05 pm
  33. Mark #

    Well, I’ve been in London for a week and i am really saddened by the lack of any form of communication with any Londoners. The only conversations I have had have been with other Australians.
    You may say this is true of any large city but i was expecting a lot more from London. Even the traditional pubs were the same. One interesting barperson and the rest were grumps. I leave tomorrow and it will probably be the last time I come here.
    I have two months here and, if i could, I would return to Australia tomorrow.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:19 pm
  34. Stephen #

    I’ve been in London for 2 years. I am originally from Dublin, and I have to agree with the negative comments about this place. London is a bad place to live for several reasons:

    —– Overpriced. I’m talking about accomodation and I mean ludicrously overpriced. I earn more money than most and renting my own apartment is still not easy. The only reason I can do it is because I live in a very unfashionable area. You have to be VERY VERY WEALTHY to live comfortably in a nice environment. And even if you were so wealthy, would you want to spend it all on rent anyway? The point is that rent and property prices offer no value. Most people in their 20s and 30s are forced to share accomodation like college students.

    —- Overcrowded. If you have a car and are looking forward to driving around London, forget about it. Your journey will take five times as long as it should and when you arrive, there won’t be anywhere to park. Buy a tube ticket and hope that the line you need to use isn’t closed.

    —- High taxes. This goes for all of the UK, but becoming successful makes you a target for the government’s ludicrously high tax rates. You got a bonus? Say goodbye to 40%+ of it (50%+ when you combine the different taxes). Most of what you pay for fuel will be taxed. Energy prices in your home will be out of control. Pay VAT of 20% every time you buy something. Get caught by their cameras driving 5 miles per hour over the depressingly low speed limit, or in a bus lane, and say goodbye to £60. Insurance premiums going up all the time. Council tax takes a huge chunk out of your earnings. If you actually manage to save any money, there won’t be any interest on it (and even if there was, you would pay tax on it).

    —- Rotten culture. Some parts of London speak to high culture, but the depressing fact is that when you walk around other parts of London, you might as well be in some 3rd world slum. Some people think that this is wonderfully cultured; I don’t. I didn’t come to the UK in order to be surrounded by the people and the crime rates of the 3rd world.

    I’ll admit that I haven’t lived in other major cities; maybe they are worse. However, I know from people who have lived in London for a long time that it used to be a lot better. I also know that I personally would much prefer to live somewhere which doesn’t suffer from the above problems. I will attempt to leave within the next 12 months.

    September 8, 2012 at 11:15 am
  35. I moved to London from Belfast in 2009 and will have been here three years in a week’s time. My opinion has mellowed somewhat as I slowly make new friends and see nicer areas of the city. My girlfriend is from here and that is what keeps me here, to be totally honest. I agree with Stephen above on the negatives.

    Cost: rent is wild unless you want to rent a box room in some slum somewhere, nowhere near a tube station. I have been incredibly lucky with where I rent at the minute (even though 2/3 of what I pay for a room now would have rented me a whole terraced house back home) but I hear on the grapevine that the landlord has cottoned on to this discrepancy and is hiking up the cost by 20% next year. I have looked in my local area for my ideal place to live – a 2 bedroom garden flat, shared with somebody else, would still cost literally twice what I am prepared to pay – and I am already at my upper limit. Even if I was to get a pay raise in the meantime – why would I line a landlord’s pockets with my extra cash? I should be saving it towards home ownership. I now fear I will have to leave Zone 2 behind and go and live in some crudhole somewhere just to keep my income looking healthy. It’s not like what you get is even that wonderful anyway. Most houses on most streets in most areas in London have long been segregated into tiny little flats. When I think about the total amount that Londoners must spend on rent every month, it makes my brain hurt.

    Overcrowded – take one look at the Tube in the morning, this will tell you all you need to know.

    Vast parts of it are soulless – along the South Bank, the Kings Road, Regents Park, etc – yes, they are great. But most bits outside this are just grimy, smelly, dank grimholes, all complete with the same miserable high streets containing betting shops and fried food places, and locals all gabbling away in unintelligible tongues. I love that some people would say you’re a racist for not feeling comfortable in that environment. There are parts of Tunisia that feel more English that this.

    Jobs – many people, like me, are sort of stuck here because there aren’t any decent jobs in their home town. I, through a combination of laziness and pig-headedness, have avoided falling into the ‘start work at 8am, finish at 8pm’ school of thought that seems to have diseased so many others. But most people don’t seem to be like me.

    Good points

    Lots of young people

    Stuff to do, if you’re loaded

    Bits of it along the river are nice, like Richmond and Barnes (but boy do you pay to live there)

    Near other places that aren’t London

    September 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm
  36. mee #

    How could you forget to mention about the weather?

    October 4, 2012 at 12:04 am
  37. maclennan1982 #

    well I’ve lived here 11 years, i’m half french, half scottish originally from the highlands of scotland in a remote glen 12 miles long with only 3 houses in. I have to say I’m really debating whether staying or moving, to me there are nice little quaint areas surrounded by cesspits, chavs everywhere, people are rude to each other for no apparent reason, and to people they dont even know it’s truly remarkable, as I sit here debating which area to move to, they all are nice but have shit-holes right next to them, i dont drive so I think thats also a major issue as your forced to contend with the dregs of society as you have to go about your business using public transport where they seem to frequent the most, and i’m paying 680 a month for the pleasure.. i am royally over the place

    October 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm
  38. godhead80 #

    Its a complete cesspit there are blacks shooting knifing robbing and killing people and eastern europeans everywhere, crime is way out of control, prices are huge, food is shite, transport shite, weather shite. Foul mouthed irritating wigger speaking hood wearing chavs everywhere, the women here are all big mouthed fat subway mcdonalds eating wenches covered in trampy tattoos with muffin tops spilling out, the fecking men look like cavemen in tracksuits and pumps and beards, and caps its like theyve slept rough, (nobody wears a pair of half decent shoes anymore)more chav women pushing prams of multicolured kids about, you cant even get a house for the lists of fucking immigrants single mothers and blacks at the top of the cunting list, anyway im leaving next sunday, so to hades with the place, lets hope al quaida nuke london and its population of hood/nike trainer wearing chav scum, half the population cannot even speak correct english here anymore, most sound like illiterate pricks, every fucker you see has there face buried in a smartarsephone every sentence they write is riddled with shocking errors and incomprehensible shite
    its about time the few remnants of normal society wake up, this country is a fallout zone, you get all the pc goodies on here spouting how great and diverse london is blah, bollocks its an overpriced violent yob infested dump. The police do feck all they walk about prefffering to fine someone for dropping a crisp or ciggarette butt, but look the other way when someone is murdered, talk about beyond a joke, all the while the fat arsed politicians are getting rich forging their expenses and rinsing it in brussells

    November 25, 2012 at 11:55 pm
  39. Sam #

    Large city with less pollution, I’d probably say Leeds has less pollution per square mile. But Leeds is also shit. How can you say multiple cultures / languages is a good thing? This is ENGLAND. I imagine you to be the type of person who hates London but convince yourself it’s not so bad. Everyone says the same thing after visiting. Ok tourist attractions, everything else is shit. London is a fuckin hole. Once great, now overrun with either wasters or the pompous and self importants. Well written piece, but it only increased my dislike for what London has become.

    December 6, 2012 at 10:55 am
  40. Max #

    London is horrible,full stop…and I have lived in 13 different major cities…

    December 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm
  41. I think with London distance makes the heart grow fonder…..

    I lived in London around 10 years ago, as an Australian in a share house in the west (typical!) I had previously had no desire to visit London and thought it as a means only to earn decent exchangeable money and as a gateway to Europe.

    I tend to think long periods in big cities can wear people down – particularly the travelling types.

    But I have begun to love London as a holiday destination, having returned many times to visit my sister living in the countryside.

    Knowing parts of the city as a local, and having had time away, I find short periods in London exciting. It is a wonderful city, that manages to meld a long and interesting history with modern and vibrant bars, restaurants and museums. The variety of destinations and communities is amazing – all within the same tag ‘London’ – think Greenwich village, Richmond, Hampstead Heath, laneways of old London town, or ultramodern Canary Wharf. Go out on a summers evening and feel the life. It is a fabulous place to walk, with most attractions central (and thus, no need to really use the transport much)

    Yes, there is plenty to dislike – but to pick these things out and dwell on them is not why we travel is it?!

    December 13, 2012 at 3:55 am
  42. bob #

    I lived in London for nearly 20 years and just emigrated to Australia. I knew i wanted to move for an improved quality of life but i am staggered at how i put up with London for so long and how much better life is over here.

    I enjoyed some times in London but the city has changed, and i suppose so have I . got to know the city pretty well in the 20 years i was there,lving, north, south, east and west, and working in west end, city , and east.

    The annoyances eventually outweighed the positives and i needed a change of scene.

    The overcrowding, overpriced poor quality property, and the extremities of rich and poor next to each other is a disaster waiting to happen in London. I lived in a decent area but often in London you feel a bit as though you are under seige from the bad elements. The riots in summer 2011 were the last straw really and i never felt properly safe after that.

    Also, although i lived in a “decent” area, i worked in a local authority in a part of London which is very deprived and it was absolutely shocking the level of squalor and the overcrowding, with thousands of people living in illegal dwellings & home built sheds – basically shantys.

    Hundreds of thousands of pretty impoverished, unskilled, sometimes illegal immigrants from all over the world continue to arrive and live in a little world of their own, many never going into the city centre, learning English or engaging with mainstream London life.

    This sort of thing is becoming more and more prevelant and will be the undoing of Londoni – it’s doing nothing for the city’s long term vibrancy or cohesion as many other long term residents vote with their feet and say ” no thanks ” to this sort of future.

    December 13, 2012 at 11:24 pm
  43. British born and fled #

    My seven-year stint of living in London was enough to finally push me to leave the UK. London provides over 95% of its residents with third-world slum conditions and yet parodoxically remains the most expensive (and ugly) city in the world to live in. Even more incredible are London’s high rates of taxes combined with the worst public services and highest rates of violent crime compared with any other western capital city.

    I think that people who consider London to be a “great” place to live will broadly fall into one of three categories: 1) people who have been unfortunate not to have seen much outside of the UK either because they are either relatively young or because, sadly, they have not yet been given a chance to do so; 2) extremely rich aristocrats, landlords, or workers in the financial sector who effectively earn their living through stealing a large sum of UK taxpayer’s money, and thereby constantly drive down the standards of living of virtually all Londoners and UK citizens; and 3) people who, unfortunately, are psychologically handicapped in some way due to mental illness or a previous serious head injury.

    Since I left London and the UK over five years ago my life has been infinitely better in every respect, and, probably like many posting on this thread, I feel like such a mug for ever having lived in such an awful yet expensive city. Unsurprisingly, every friend of mine who has made the same sort of move feels exactly the same way.

    I will not disclose where I have moved to because I am very frightened that any category 2) people mentioned above who are reading this thread will move to the city where I now reside and transform it into another overpriced slum like London.

    December 23, 2012 at 1:44 am
  44. huh? #

    Left with the impression that “yes, London is crap, but no crappy than any other city” (ouch)

    December 31, 2012 at 6:30 pm
  45. Martha #

    I know this has been written some time ago but I will reply anyway since this topic has always been bothering me and it hasn’t been an accident that I have stumbled upon this article.
    First of all, the author more then once states that things people dislike about London are no different to every big city. Wrong, I lived in a few big cities and I assure you that things are different.
    Expensive. Yes, every city is expensive if you come as a tourist. But should you experience the same level of ridiculous prices when you’re local? Living in London is a nightmare, as few people above stated it’s beyond belief that people in their 30s have to share houses and flats, and most of them have good jobs. And if at least those accommodations were expensive but decent, forget about it. Landlords in London take a piss. Old windows, everything falls apart, problems with water and don’t get me started on the heating. Winters in UK are not drastically cold but still cold, yet majority prefers to be freezing in their morgue like house to save money. London underground – no comment needed. I pay 130.00GBP a month for ticket that covers 3 zones and every day trains are canceled, delayed or so crowded I can’t breath. There is also unwritten rule of not making eye contact with people on the tube. And finally the weather, we can’t blame this one on anything or anyone but it’s a nightmare. Sometimes I like going to Starbucks, ordering latter and staring at the rain outside, but not every freaking day. Summer is one of the most beautiful, amazing times during the year and if you love it don’t come to London, you won’t be able to enjoy it.
    I am happy to say that after 8 years I have finally made a decision to leave and I’ll be gone this year. I decided to stop lying to myself that things will get better.I have a good job, I’m lucky enough to be living alone and I have some good friends but London is not for me and I look back in time when I had nothing, no money and was much happier living else where.
    And this airwaves advert sums up living in London perfectly:

    January 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm


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