1. You have pre-packed lunches at Pret A Manger, Itsu, Wasabi, or Tesco at least three days a week.
Meals-to-go are your saviour when there’s no time to spare (which, to be honest, is most of the time here). You carry them back to your desk in little brown or white paper bags, or to the park or any seating area close to the office. Having lunch at an actual table is only for very special occasions, like a business meeting or someone’s birthday.
2. 2/3 of your salary goes to rent.
You don’t really have a savings account. After you’ve paid rent there’s only pennies to spend on pints and food. With no regulations in place, you’ve accepted the escalating housing prices where Foxtons’ real estate agents drive around in Mini Coopers and give you a Perrier before they charge you £420 for setting up your tenancy agreement, as well as taking a 10.8% cut from the landlords. You’ve also accepted the stagnation in salaries because David Cameron told you austerity is the only way to go forward. So unless you want to share a room in a flat where the living room is just another bedroom with twenty-something Swedes slaving for £6.50/h in retail, you keep calm and carry on and pay two-thirds of your salary to rent.
3. You’ve lived here for at least ten years.
London is a transitory place and people move here and leave all the time. If you haven’t lived here for ten years or more you’re just another dreamer, an occasional visitor, a fling, a summer flirt that was never in it for the long haul. It’s not until you have given it a decade that you’re considered a serious option.
4. You learn to get around by bus.
Even a first timer can figure out the underground map. You need to get from Shepherd’s Bush Market to Farringdon? Take the Hammersmith and City Line towards Barking or the Circle Line via King’s Cross St. Pancras and get off at Farringdon.
You want to go from Farringdon to Shepherd’s Bush after 00.30am on a Saturday? That’s a whole different kettle of fish. Have one look at the bus map, try and figure out where you actually are on the map, where the buses will take you, where to get off and what number to change to and which ones actually run at this time — it’s not exactly straightforward. It’s not until it takes you less than five minutes to figure out that you need to go to Clerkenwell Rd/St John Street, take no. 243 towards Waterloo, get off at Holborn, find your way to High Holborn and take N207 towards Hayes-by Pass, that you can call yourself a Londoner.
5. You know to assume that whenever someone’s phone is off they’re on the tube.
You’re waiting on someone, they’re running late, you call them and it goes straight to voicemail? Well, at least they’re on their way. For you no signal = Londoner is on the tube. If they pick up? You know you have to wait for at least 20 more minutes.
6. You’re a daytime drinker.
Pints in the park at lunch or a Bloody Mary at brunch — it’s never too early for alcohol. You’re an avid daytime drinker and if the sun’s out, even more so. Beautiful weather is to be enjoyed in the park with bottles of Kronenbourg, Corona, Bulmers, and Magners with a few packets of Doritos thrown in for good measure.
7. You think it’s completely normal that people work out during their lunch break or before work.
Time is money and any Londoner knows how to be efficient and make the most out of the day. As they normally spend a couple of hours commuting, 7.5 hours minimum at work, and go out for drinks or dinner out of office hours, there’s not too much time to fit in that body pump class at Virgin Active. 30 min or even a 1-hour lunch break? Perfect, time to hit the gym. Or put on some lycra and run or cycle really fast to work in the morning.
8. You do everything you can to avoid the Central Line on hot days.
You’d rather spend the day in Sahara than sweating with tourists — or people who in general don’t know any better — on the Central Line when it’s more than 20 degrees in London. Add ten degrees to the daily temperature; throw in a spoonful of humidity, litres of perspiration dripping from fellow commuters, and you understand why we do everything we can to avoid taking the train through the city in June, July, and August.