I’m a life long New Yorker, born in Manhattan and formatively raised around the city. I lack the classic “gimme a cowfee” accent, but my roots and allegiances to New York will always remain strong. This year my wife and I moved across the pond to her home of London. Before our move, I’d been to the great city more times than I can count – but living is different than visiting. Here are just a few reflections on the differences in life on the other side. Apologies in advance to everyone that inevitably ends up offended…
Perhaps this is a nationwide thing, but I’ll reserve comment to London. Londoners absolutely love to complain about trains, busses, trams, planes, tubes and just about any other possible way to get around. This is of course all despite the undeniable fact that London’s tube system runs circles around New York City and is one of the best in the world. New Yorkers have reason to complain, but they stick to the eye rolls and grunts and under no circumstances talk to strangers.
Everybody Loves An After Work Drink
New York is almost mechanical, surgical even in regards to post work behavior. Everyone floods out of their office, straight onto a train, subway or bus and the journey home begins swiftly. For a few devilish souls, there might be a brown paper wrapped beer for the ride home. But in London, it seems almost everyone goes out for a drink. Pubs flood onto the street and the city is alive and buzzing about 5:30PM. Home by 6? Don’t think so.
Order Is Everywhere
No one likes people who jumps in front of a line, but in London it just might cause you a bruise to the head. In transit stations, concert lines, dinner queues and beyond – order is observed to the highest magnitude. If you try to cut, you just might get cut. In New York you’ll get an eye roll, but in London you just might get an umbrella to the skull. You’ll definitely learn what a “tut” is too.
Wine And Cheese
I’ll admit – this really isn’t a fair fight. Being next door neighbors to France and nearby to Italy, Spain and Portugal creates a ridiculous advantage for wine and cheese lovers. Pound for pound, price for price if you love wine and cheese you can’t do much better than London. Londoners get access to cheeses and wines which would never make it to NYC and even if they did make it, the price difference would be shocking. When it comes to beer though, New York has some pretty excellent microbreweries. That could be a different story.
I’m of the strongest opinion that food costs are lower in London than New York. I mean, really Whole Foods, $18 for a slice of Parmigiano Reggiano? The comparative cost of dining out versus cooking in, or grabbing an actual decent microwave meal in the UK are staggering, so restaurants seem to gouge customers less on price in London than New York. In New York, eating anything but a slice of pizza is expensive, and in restaurants, it can be shocking. Like $16 for a glass of wine with dinner.
Less Fair Weather Fans
Many New Yorkers (this one included) say they live and die for their New York Sports, but half way through the season – many have flicked off. Attendance goes down when a team isn’t en vogue or winning titles and only the die hards continue to pile into the stadium. Not in London. Even if a team is going through the most dismal spell in decades, it’s still your team. Londoners have a deeper passion for their sports teams than most New Yorkers. Sorry, but it’s true. Before you ask: Mets, Islanders and Giants. Also for New Yorkers – look up “relegation”.
Boroughs Are Like Continents
A funny commonality between London and New York is that boroughs might as well be different continents. People from North London don’t go to South London. People from Queens don’t go to the Bronx. It’s highly amusing that in both cities, people love, live and dwell in their area. There’s almost a pride in not going to one or the other. Sure, there are exceptions but New Yorkers and Londoners are creatures of habit and they patron their local areas.
Toughness Is Everywhere
You’ve gotta give a nod to both cities. People living in New York and London are tough cookies, and both offer immense pride toward their city. They may complain endlessly about the transport options or new price hikes, but if someone from the outside has a bad word to say about either place, the true grit and toughness of New Yorkers and Londoners comes out in force. I can’t think of two places with stronger character and really, better places to live.
Which city do you prefer – and why?
Thanks to Michele Kropf for the post inspiration.