London Orientation: Geography 101

Oh, this is all very exciting – we’re moving to London!!! – but where will we actually live?

You’ve been to London before, traipsed around Oxford Street, Hyde Park, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London…. so you know the city, right?

Well, to pick a place for your new family home, you may need to become familiar with the less famous bits of London. Heard of Bromley, Kingston, Teddington? No??

With a population of more than 8 million, London isn’t just one city but rather a collection of many individual towns, each with its own advantages (and challenges).

Here are some activities that will help you get your bearings:

  •  Learn your Boroughs

The city’s 33 administrative units are called Boroughs. To study up, check out “The London Jigsaw” app for iPad or iPhone. The Lite version is free, and will make you feel a little less lost. Very handy: The game includes audio, so no embarassing mispronounciation moments.

Especially if you have school age children, it’s good to have an idea where some of these are – the Borough administration (called “local authority”) manages most of the state schools.

  • Learn your areas and towns

Also start familiarising yourself with London’s “sub-towns”, regional centres with their own shops, services, and entertainment. This map shows the commercial hubs of Greater London (red dots and blue squares).

For names of London neighborhoods, spend a few minutes on this site. This is how residents would in most cases describe their neighbourhood, as would the estate agent (realtor) you may be dealing with. (The site will also give you a first glimpse of property prices. More on this to come.)

  • Learn your train and tube stops

It also helps to stare at the names of train and tube stops on a Transport for London (TfL) map. Find your and/or your partner’s place of work, and follow the tube and rail lines out of town. Note: don’t focus just on underground lines, do take note of railways too!

For that city feel, live near Richmond Park. Free and easy mingling with the ungulates.

This is my neighbourhood! (Well, a few minutes up the road.)

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