Stairs go down to the entrance of Bank tube station in London, England.

London’s History: The Blitz

From September 1940 to May 1941, Britain and its population had to endure sustained bombing by the Germans—an event that is referred to as “the Blitz” (German for “lightning”). In town, you can still see the scars of where the bombs fell, knocking out a few houses in a terrace of older properties.

Rainbow with a dark overcast sky above suburban houses in London, England.

Living with the Weather in London

Expert author and long-time London resident Karen White shares her experiences with the weather and seasons in London, from dealing with short winter days and long summer ones, its stereotypical rainy streets, and the relatively uncommon experience of snow–and occurrence that, when it finally happens, unfortunately throws the city into chaos.

A row of purple and white buildings with large wooden doors, known as mews in England.

Useful London Real Estate Terms

There are numerous types of properties available in London, and the range is staggering: from converted lofts to terraced houses to apartment blocks—with everything in between. The whole process of finding accommodation in London (especially a home purchase) is very different from the procedure used in the United States, so be prepared for a bit of a roller-coaster ride when trying to rent or buy a home in London. To get you started, here is a helpful list of important British real estate terms for both buyers and renters.

A row of draft beer spigots line in the bar in a traditional English pub.

Tipping in London

When you first come to another country, it is difficult to know when, who, or how much you should tip the service provider. Certainly here in the United Kingdom there isn’t the strong tipping culture that you get in the United States, where tips are considered part of a service provider’s pay. With this ambiguity in mind, here is a quick guide to tipping in London.

A staircase leads up to the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu temple, which is set against a blue sky.

Religion in London

According to a recent census, the United Kingdom as a whole is a fairly religious place, with believers outnumbering nonbelievers. The dominant religion is Christianity, with the Protestant Church of England the most common, followed by Roman Catholics. Other significant religions include Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Judaism.

A cobblestone street in London, England.

Preserving London’s Past

America is still a very young country by European standards. While many visitors to London may be conscious of the city’s age, they often fail to realize just how much its roads and homes continue to be shaped by the past. I certainly believe that one of London’s most charming aspects is that it does value the past and tries hard to preserve its history.

A pair of Indian men sit on a bench in Southall, London, England.

Ethnicity and Class in London

Americans moving to London may well be a bit shocked by the immense range of cultures, religions, nationalities, and people that you get in a large city like London. That strong American sentiment that “with hard work you can achieve your goals” doesn’t always ring true here; social immobility in the United Kingdom has a long history and to a certain extent can be deeply ingrained, with people from the lower class encountering real obstacles to their climb up the social ladder.

Waiting in line at the Bank of London. Photo © Sean O'Neill, licensed Creative Commons 2.0.

Day-to-Day Etiquette in London

While Americans are generally regarded as being forthright and on the loud side, the British are known quite rightly for their steely reserve, as well as their ironic and sarcastic sense of humor. On the whole, you’ll find plenty of day-to-day formality in Britain and the best way to avoid a cultural mishap-and not commit a dreaded ‘jump the queue’ move-is to brush up before you go

Cookies rest on a saucer beside a cup of tea.

London’s Tea Culture

It is odd how some stereotypes never really ring true to form, and yet others are spot on. Certainly the stereotype of the British loving tea is very apt, and this affinity with a cup of tea is incredibly pervasive; tea is offered on social and business calls, it’s a mid-afternoon snack, it’s a meal, it is everything and anything it needs to be. As a foreigner, learning these customs and all the various meanings of ‘tea’ makes life in London much easier, and much more enjoyable.

Adults supervising children at a soccer training session on a grassy field in front of school buildings.

Planning a Fact-Finding Trip to London

Moving across the Atlantic to settle in London is a big step and not one that should be taken lightly. Most people find it useful to make at least one short trip to the capital before they make the big move so they can become acquainted with the city.