The demographics of London are comparable to that of New York City, having a diverse population from a vast number of ethnicity groups that speak the largest number of community languages in Europe.
However, the London crowd tends to be slightly younger than New York's, with two thirds of residents falling in under 44 years of age. As you might expect, London is also less dense than New York City, holding about the same amount of people (8.3m) on an area double the size of New York City. It is also estimated that about 60% of working age residents hold at least a degree.
The upside to living in London is that London's diversity brings an acceptance not seen anywhere else. Counterculture or crisp suit, the city gives opportunities to breathe, learn and expand. Also, one thing that is noticeable when coming from New York to London is that considerable efforts have been made to provide efficient and green transportation. London has strong underground, bus and train networks as well as Barclay's Cycle Hire. Also, unlike aggressive New York, London tends to be welcoming and extends its politeness to newcomers.
The downside is that like most cities, including New York City, crime can be a concern. However, maps of activity have been created thanks to police reports, and hotspots are reserved to less than 1% of all streets. The cost of living, as you might expect is relatively high compared to the rest of the UK but is comparable to that of New York City. Most likely you'll find the price of groceries to be cheaper, especially fresh fruit and vegetables, but the price of restaurants slightly more expensive.
Comparing London to New York
Contrary to the popular belief, London is not the city of ceaseless rain. It receives less precipitation than Rome, Bordeaux and Naples. Winters you can expect a temperature of around 5 °C (41 °F) and summers around 8 °C (65 °F). New Yorkers can enjoy more mild temperatures, as London rarely drops below zero or rises above 24 degrees Celsius.
While the two cities have similar amounts of attractions, London's history heavily outweighs that of New York. Remnants of Roman walls can be seen on a stroll by Tower Hill and iconic locations like Abbey Road remain open to the public. Lovers of the stage no longer need to rely on just Broadway for their showtunes and dramatic soliloquies, as London is filled with performance spaces, from West End to Shakespeare's Globe Theater. Try going early to the box office, as reduced fares are often on offer before venue opening hours.
London also brings more green spaces than New York City. While Central Park spans a meager 843 acres, London's royal parks cover nearly 5,000 acres. Garden squares, council parks, greenways, commons and other major open spaces span the city, meaning no matter the location within London, one may enjoy the serenity of nature and activities like swimming, cycling, tennis, boating and horseback riding.
While living in London is more expensive than the rest of the United Kingdom, the cost is comparable to that of residing in New York. London residents enjoy significantly lower transportation costs and noticeably less expensive retail shopping costs. Prices rise nearer the center of London, with a fast food meal averaging $6.86, a pint at the pub topping out over $6.25 and a five mile taxi drive calling for $16.25.
The NHS, the United Kingdom's free healthcare service, leads to savings and stress relief. Instead of dreading $2,000 fees for simple stitches, the NHS guarantees free and fare treatment for those registered, and static pharmacy payments locked in at just $10 per prescription. England's approach to culture is another money saver, as the majority of museums, galleries and monuments are free to the public. Forget about that $25 admission fee for the Met and instead enjoy frequent visits to the Tate Modern, National Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum for free.
Moving countries is a feat already accompanied by a hefty price tag, so the market is a situation to consider before jumping into the house hunt. London is the costliest city in the United Kingdom, and with steady rises in price, many outsiders looking for a cheap property are easily disheartened. However, experts predict a slower growth in price for 2015, averaging at about 4%, as opposed to the 7.2% rise in 2014. Also, since stricter regulations were introduced to mortgage lending in 2014, Britain's housing market has slowed to a creep, a promising situation for potential foreign buyers.
Whether moving from a detached house neighborhood like New York City's Forest Hills, or a majestic town house lined street like Brooklyn Heights, London offers boroughs suited for all tastes and budgets. The most important considerations Londoners take into account when narrowing down their property search options are the commute times and prices.
The average price of a one bedroom apartment in the City of London is around $644,500 and a three bedroom around $1.24m. The average price in Kentish town is $472,470 for a one bedroom apartment and $784,115 for a three bedroom, but there are other areas where property prices are significantly lower.
Similarly monthly rent in a more expensive area like Chelsea would come at around $675 pw for a one bedroom apartment and 1,700 pw for a three bedroom apartment. In Golders Green, for instance, the price of a one-bedroom apartment would be around $330 pw and around $685 for a three bedrooom apartment. Nonetheless, the vast majority of students and young professionals would share a apartment with other people alike.
Due to Londoner's tendencies to rent rather than buy, the United Kingdom has initiated a government Help To Buy scheme which offers two strands of assistance to first time buyers and existing owners. The first provides the opportunity to get a 20% loan to assist with moving into a new-build home, and the second a government guarantee of 15% of the mortgage fee, one of up to 95%, to the lender.
- Family-Friendly: Earls Court - an inner-city district, or the less expensive northeast Stratford are ideal for young families and professionals. Serious redevelopment has given the first a major facelift, making it a picturesque neighbor to fashionable Kensington. The expansion Stratford experienced after the Olympics has made it into a leisurely retreat from bustling central London.
- Upmarket: Those wishing for a more prestigious postcode similar to those available in New York's Upper East Side can search in luxurious Kensington or Chelsea. Densely-populated and affluent, these centrally located areas offer world famous shopping and stylish restaurants as well as easy access to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, two of London's famous parks, and several museums, galleries and theaters.
- Hip and Trendy: Clapham - ranks in all three “cool” categories of houseshares, artist and media professionals and moped users, and its south of the Thames location makes it one of the more affordable hip and trendy areas in London. With three tube stations, getting around London is easy, though the busy cultural scene, eclectic shops and Old Town steeped with history provides a welcome retreat to all.
- Up and Coming: Wood Wharf - an extension of Canary Wharf, was recently approved for the construction of up to 3,610 homes. The project is in line to coincide with the arrival of the Crossrail in 2018, making the low costs of property a bargain for the potential the district holds. Further outside London, the quickly growing neighborhood of Ilford boasts affordable apartments, transport links and recreational activities for all.
Schools and Education
With forty higher education institutions and nearly 700 schools, London is not short on academic prestige. With a choice of academy, local authority, faith driven and free, there is no “typical” type of school. Due to the range of selection and over-subscription, London's educational systems have been placed under pressure which has led to outstanding results.
Named an educational superpower by the BBC, London now holds the most successful schools in the country. Statistics have shown that deprived inner London youths are overtaking wealthier, more affluent youths outside the city.
While academies, free and faith driven schools can compose their own requirements, state run must follow a national curriculum. Unlike the K-12 system used in New York, the UK's state run schools must follow a program comprised of key stages from one to four. The national curriculum starts at the age of five and runs through “Year 11” at the age of sixteen. In England, a formal graduation does not occur. Instead, final GCSE exam results determine students' success.
The admission process can be stressful, but most schools offer advice by phone or appointment. Deadlines for applying typically fall in January for primary aged children and October for secondary schools.
Private options will average at about $17,455, whereas local authorities and free schools do not carry a charge. The best of each option in London have shown to be West London Free School primary, London Academy or Tiffin Girls' School, Kensington and Chelsea local authorities, and Hampden Gurney Church of England Primary School or Guru Nanak Sikh Academy.