When it comes to two of the most popular cities in the world there are surely many similarities and differences. Whether it’s stumbling upon a suit shop in Camden Market or comparing the Subway to The Tube. Listen as we tackle our favorite aspects of both our home, New York City, and the recently visited London, England.
Visiting New York City? Schedule a walking tour of the city with us: www.www.lifenomading.com/tours
Caroline Lloyd: @caromanifesto
Ian Hoyt: @IanHoyt
This smile screams “it’s 95 degrees, why are we eating this blazing hot hearty dish, Ian?!
Subscribe anywhere you listen to podcasts! Our faves: Spotify, iTunes, Overcast
Caroline Lloyd: Like I just want to try the pie and I literally have beads of sweat coming down my face.
Ian Hoyt: Welcome back fellow nomads. It is Ian and Caroline, and this is another Life Nomading episode, episode three to be exact.
Caroline Lloyd: Today we’re talking about something partially near and dear to our hearts, New York versus London. Now I know we may come across as a little bit bias, but we’re gonna try to give you equal counterparts of the comparison of these two cities.
Ian Hoyt: New York and London are very similar in a lot of ways,
Caroline Lloyd: so before we get into it, I just want us to go back and forth, maybe answer what our expectations of both cities were. Obviou,sly we were only in London for just over a week and we’ve spent a lot more time in New York, but at one point in time we were new New Yorkers. So Ian, can you tell me a little bit about your expectations of both cities?
Ian Hoyt: So when I first visited New York, I had built this place up. I think like any other person, that dreams of coming here to be this massive city with just endless people.
Caroline Lloyd: I have to preface this though. Where are you coming as a tourist or for something specific?
Ian Hoyt: So as a late teenager I’d always dreamed of coming to New York and when I was about 18 or 19, I believe was the first time I made a trip here as a traveler. Didn’t move here yet. I’m just as a tourist and my grand vision of New York was that it was this place with millions and millions of people where you couldn’t move an inch without bumping into someone
Caroline Lloyd: And that was attractive to you?
Ian Hoyt: Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know what I thought, but. And over the course of time and eventually moving here, those expectations, those things I thought New York were, are quickly not true.
Caroline Lloyd: How about London? What were your expectations there?
Ian Hoyt: I think my expectations of London actually aligned with what we got for the most part. It’s the city that, while, although is extremely modern in my opinion, they have an homage to more of the traditional day with. You can tell it in the taxi cabs, you know, the double decker buses, the pubs, the architecture. They keep a lot of that older style, um, you know, culture and an architecture. But they mix it with such a modern technologically driven a community or society. So how about you Caroline? What were your expectations and realities in New York and London?
Caroline Lloyd: Well, I actually never had visited New York until I was about 19 years old. And I actually moved here for a summer job. So right off the bat I was no longer a tourist and I was actually guiding other people around for my job. So I had no idea what to expect if New York. I knew photos of Times Square, Grand Central. I knew that Broadway shows were here and different places to take dance classes and that’s pretty much, it.
Ian Hoyt: Isnt it ironic now that we go to all of those places on our walking tours.
Caroline Lloyd: Very, very ironic, but for those interim years where I was not doing tours, I appreciated my time away from there. As for London, I didn’t really have many expectations other than what I had seen in movies. So you know, growing up on Mary Kate and Ashley and Amanda Bynes “what a girl wants” is the reference that I’m making there. I had no real expectations other than history art, you know, and a different kind of British culture. Not really sure what all that entailed until I got there and those expectations were quickly widened.
Caroline Lloyd: So once we arrived in London, after obviously living in New York for several years, we were automatically drawn to a lot of the similarities. Now obviously London has much more history than New York. Being around for 2000 plus years as compared to the 400, 500 years that New York has existed. But I think one of the similarities in both cities is that they memorialize that history very well. So there’s lots of museums, lots of artifacts to see lots of architecture, buildings, a lot of depth of knowledge that you can really just dig into and explore.
Ian Hoyt: Additionally, uh, the theater scene, there are a lot of similarities. So we have our Broadway and they have their West End theaters and while they do differ in scale, I would say they both produce some really great works.
Caroline Lloyd: Yeah. So a lot of quality shows in London and Broadway and the west end really kind of flipped back and forth all the time. We went to see Kinky Boots, which is also on Broadway right now in New York. And it was great, really great different ticket prices and different rush policies, which is definitely something to look into, which is why we went to see Kinky Boots in the London.
Ian Hoyt: And different is an understatement. It is extremely less expensive, I would say than Broadway.
Caroline Lloyd: So another thing that I picked up on in London on our very first day was the work mindset of the people living in the city. On our first day, I almost got run over at 8:00AM in the morning by people rushing to work, which definitely tells you a little bit about how career driven the city is, which is very comparable to New York.
Caroline Lloyd: Both are very large financial hubs, but one of the major differences that I have found between the cities work mindset, and this took a little bit of research, but the average vacation time that people that live in London get is five weeks per year. Now. That may not sound like a lot, but in New York the average is three weeks and those additional two weeks really make a difference.
Caroline Lloyd: Okay. So let’s get down to the nitty gritty of the differences between New York and London because there are plenty to go over. On the grand scheme of things. New York and London are compared pretty much everyday by any kind of media source, but I think there’s some very key differences that really shape the culture and the people living there.
Ian Hoyt: Let’s talk about public transportation.
Caroline Lloyd: Our favorite topic, so now in New York, our main means of transportation is.
Caroline Lloyd: Sure, the subway, the subway. That’s right now in London they call it something different than call it the Tube, please “mind the gap”. So I had heard from several sources that if you can manage the New York City subway system, it’ll be a breeze in London. That is false. The biggest false hood out there. I would say from our experience it took us at least like three days to finally figure out where the heck we were going and how we were going to get there
Ian Hoyt: and we took the subway on other European countries and much easier than the Tube.
Caroline Lloyd: Yeah, easy peasy. But as comparison statistics, just to give you guys some reference, near city has 24 subway lines. Compare that to London’s 11 lines. Now. Something to point out here, which really tripped us up, the lines in London are named things like very odd things. They aren’t numbers or letters or colors, you know, your basic tripod of easily figured out things. London’s have names
Ian Hoyt: I’d have to research this, but I think it has to do with people owning different lines, but I’m not 100 percent sure.
Caroline Lloyd: I think if it’s not currently true, it was true
Ian Hoyt: Because if I owned a line I’d want my name on it. I can’t blame him.
Caroline Lloyd: So a few more statistics comparing the Tube and the subway. There are 468 New York subway stations. London has 270. In New York there are 659 miles of subway tracks and in London there were only 249 miles of tracks. Now, something that we really thought was true before researching all of this was that London is more spread out, which is a fact, but we figured that the trains moved just a lot faster to get places. But what really came about is that there are just significantly less to blinds in, there are subway lines, so there are a little bit more spread out.
Ian Hoyt: So another key difference between the Tube and the subway is the Tube is actually dependent on distance. So you pay for however long you’re going, still haven’t figured it out to be honest. But comparatively New York is a fixed fee for a ride.
Caroline Lloyd: Which turns out to be a lot more cheaper in New York now, paying per distance is not a new concept. There are many metropolitan cities in us that function that way, but London has zones for their trains and when you buy anything more than just pay as you go, one pass, you actually have to take into account crossing zones. So for us when we buy a week pass or if you were to buy a monthly pass, your pass is restricted by how many zones you can cross.
Ian Hoyt: Going back to what I was saying earlier, London is a modern city and when it comes to the Tube you can pay with your phone or with a cashless tap credit card, which is really cool because here in New York City you can not do any of that on the subway. Now they’re trying to make advancements there, but it’s going to take about 10 years and by that time, uh, we’re all gonna have credit cards in our brains so it’s not going to matter. So I really wish we could get that advancement here. But if you want awesome tech advances on the Tube go to London.
Caroline Lloyd: Yeah. We saw so many people whose lives were made easier hop on the train or the bus and realize that their card was out of money and instead of getting off, going to refill their card somewhere and then coming back they simply just pulled out their card, tapped at once and we’re done. The only thing that is annoying, and I know a lot of cities do this, but I’m just not used to it in New York, but you have to swipe or tap rather on your way out of the Tube because that’s how they measure how far you’ve traveled and therefore how much to charge you, but every time I would just get out of the Tube and start walking away and then have to stop and realize I had to pull out my Oyster card and tap it one more time. I think it’s worth noting that New York City subways pretty much operate 24 hours a day. Now this is not the case in London.
Ian Hoyt: In London, the tube actually closes at midnight, which if you’re a party goer you can assume is going to cramp your style.
Caroline Lloyd: I think this definitely affects the culture because when you’re out at a pub or somewhere having a good time, people are very aware of the time and somewhat paranoid about calculating, okay, how far am I from home? What time is it? I need to just finish this drink before I head out and that definitely changes the business itself of the pub or the bar that you’re at. Last call starts coming in at like 11 or 11:30. So for reference in New York bars typically close at 3:00 or 4:00 AM depending on where you are in the city. In London. Most of the bars close midnight at the latest, maybe one. We can’t talk about London unless we mentioned the double decker buses.
Ian Hoyt: Not One but two layers.
Caroline Lloyd: And when bus we were the weird tourists that immediately just went up the stairs because we could.
Ian Hoyt: We had to, even though it’s probably not a bitter ride up there and so actually
Caroline Lloyd: I disagree. I think sitting in the front row of the second story of the bus is the greatest thing in the world. You literally feel like you’re flying over the street.
Ian Hoyt: Prime real estate. You also look like you’re going to crash into things in front of you right away.
Caroline Lloyd: But how exciting though, living life on the edge?
Ian Hoyt: The bus system in London is impeccable. I’m not only can you also pay cashless on there? Uh, but I feel like they’re more reliable for some reason.
Caroline Lloyd: They definitely are. I mean comparatively in New York you are waiting ages at the bus stop and then sometimes they just don’t even come.
Caroline Lloyd: In London the next bus you can normally see turning the corner to arrive at the station as the other one is pulling off. There are troves of red, double deckers. There were some times when we were just tired and instead of taking the quicker route home on the Tube, we decided to take the bus because we could sit on the second level and enjoy the view and just really see the city and we knew that we would get there in about the same amount of time.
Ian Hoyt: Now insider Info says that New York is testing double decker buses, but we’ll see if they roll it out.
Caroline Lloyd: Terrifying. I would never want that in New York. Those bus drivers cut it close, turning those corners. London is just way ahead of the times with the buses, ironically, because they’ve been around forever.
Caroline Lloyd: I love Central Park. Central Park is just a getaway from the city, lots of green space.
Ian Hoyt: Not originally in the plans of the 1811 Grid System.
Caroline Lloyd: Here’s a fun fact. greenspace only makes up 14 percent of New York City. Now that’s all five boroughs. Can you name all five boroughs?
Ian Hoyt: Oh my gosh. Are you a rated tour guide?
Caroline Lloyd: Oh my gosh. I am a licensed in New York City sightseeing guide. How did you know?
Ian Hoyt: Because I am to plug.
Caroline Lloyd: So comparatively London has 47 percent green space that’s almost half of London. Wow. That is parks and green space and recreational space. Now there have been a lot of studies being done in the US and all over the world that in large metropolitan cities, the quality of life increases exponentially when residents are within a 10 minute walk to a green space.
Ian Hoyt: I believe that that.
Caroline Lloyd: Yeah, that’s the 10 minute rule and so a lot of cities, San Francisco, LA, Chicago, New York, all of these places are really digging into this and providing more green space for their residents.
Caroline Lloyd: But London been around for 2,000 plus years, has already implemented that. When you walk into their parks, you can not see a building site and you can really just get lost and feels like you’re in nature. Not one of the largest financial hubs in the world.
Ian Hoyt: The grass is alive. The plants are alive. Now Central Park is beautiful and it has its good days. But let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just not the most refreshing thing in the world.
Caroline Lloyd: I think also worth mentioning with that large landscaping component in London, it’s not as dense as New York, you know, we’re just kind of piled up on top of each other, which comes in handy when you’re wandering around. You’re never alone. So with all of that green space in London, it’s not nearly as dense as New York. New York is pretty much piled on top of each other, which makes sure that you will always bump into someone on the street.
Caroline Lloyd: Three am, there’s someone else on the street with you, which is sometimes comforting and sometimes not.
Caroline Lloyd: New York also always provides you with something at your fingertips. If you want food right in that moment, I can guarantee within two blocks you will find something edible to eat. Now in London, that’s not always the case. We were wandering around for hours looking for food one time.
Ian Hoyt: Yeah we spent the better half of a day walking to find the nearest grocery store. It was. It was quite the endeavor.
Caroline Lloyd: I think there’s also something to be said about the functionality and the beauty of the grid plan in New York City. Maybe we’re spoiled by the fact that I can look at a stop sign somewhere and realize which direction is north in which is south.
Ian Hoyt: We’re very fortunate about the grid plan. Initially a lot of architects and city planners actually thought the grid plan was a bad idea and up until recently was the only time that city planners actually respect what the grid plan has given to New York.
Caroline Lloyd: So the grid plan that we keep referencing anything in Manhattan lower than Houseton street is named for actual names. Then in 1811 they instituted the grid plan which starts at first avenue continuing west with higher avenue numbers and first street all the way up to the very tip of Manhattan. So at any point in time you can look around and realize exactly where you are in Manhattan.
Ian Hoyt: But let’s talk about cleanliness. Now I think it’s obvious to us, but maybe not so obvious to someone that hasn’t been to London. It’s much cleaner than New York. New York is a dirty, dirty, dirty, dirty city. It’s dirty and not to give you a history lesson on New York, but it’s dirty because of the grid system in a lot of ways. You know, you have to put your trash out on the front of the street. Uh, you know, there’s not back door exits like there are in a lot of European countries were London is more spread out and you have more ability to breathe a little bit, have a way to actually get rid of your trash.
Caroline Lloyd: Let’s talk about food because when you’re comparing two places, you have to mention the food. When most people are comparing New York food to London food, most of the conversation revolves around how many Michelin rated restaurants are in each city respectively. But let me tell you, when you’re traveling on a budget, you aren’t eating at those places. So all we know to compare is the real people food of these cities.
Ian Hoyt: Have you ever been to a Michelin rated?
Caroline Lloyd: I haven’t.
Ian Hoyt: Don’t think I have either.
Caroline Lloyd: My credit card can’t handle it.
Ian Hoyt: We’re budget travelers for the most part or budget lifers. So if you’re listening and you’re on a budget, you’re in the right place. But yeah, so when we’re in London we got some of the classics that you’re supposed to get when you’re over there. You know the fish and chips, we got pie and mash and theres actually a really funny story around that. We were in the museum. What Museum were we in? The British Museum, the British Museum.
Caroline Lloyd: It’s free by the way. I think that’s something to note. It was great. London has a lot more free museums as compared to New York, which is all about just making a profit.
Ian Hoyt: It was great. We spent, you know, the allotted amount of time that you can spend in a museum before starting to want to get out of it and at 20 minutes at that peak I was like, you know what? I want to get a classic London Pie.
Caroline Lloyd: That’s a lie. He had been talking about this pie and mash for about four days beforehand.
Ian Hoyt: That’s true. So I did my research. I went up on Google like I always do and I spent probably way too long trying to find a place, found the perfect well known place to get a classic pie. So what do we do? We spend the rest of the day venturing off into that land in London. It’s further away of course, because I can’t choose anything easy and we get there and we have our, I forget which one we get, but we have a great pie.
Caroline Lloyd: I have to mention that pie and mash is like a winter thing. It’s basically chicken pot pie with mashed potatoes and a ton of gravy on it.
Ian Hoyt: Oh and we were hot.
Caroline Lloyd: It was like 95 degrees that day. No air conditioning in this place that is like quintessential pie and mash. But we had to go do it.
Ian Hoyt: Sweating as we eat this scorching hot, you know, tongue burning thing.
Caroline Lloyd: And then you have the feeling that you have after eating chicken pot pie and mashed potatoes, which is I weigh 5,000 pounds and I want to curl up on the couch and take a nap like it’s Thanksgiving.
Ian Hoyt: They were great for reference. I got to which was overkill and then we’re like, well when in London we got to get a dessert pie.
Caroline Lloyd: Dessert pies. Okay. So story time.
Ian Hoyt: So we’re like, okay, so we’re going to get a dessert pie. I forget which one we got. We got like a cherry.
Caroline Lloyd: We literally, we got like one of each because the first pie and mash wasn’t enough. Clearly on this 95 degree day.
Ian Hoyt: In this 95 degree weather. We’re like, yeah, we’re going to get it and yeah, we’re going to choose the custard on the side.
Caroline Lloyd: No, I wanted ice cream and then Ian was like, you have to get custard. I love custard. So I go downstairs and the lady is very nice and she asked me if I want ice cream or custard and I said custard because that was what we decided on and she was preparing like 15 different orders at once and I see her open up this tin and there’s steam coming out. She takes literally the largest ladle I’ve ever seen and just dumps it all over the dessert pies to the point where it’s like this huge saucer bowl full of steaming hot jiggly custard and we’re just so hot and just so over it by then. I literally like, I just want to try the pie and I literally have beads of sweat coming down my face was just in pain the rest of the day and I was like, got to walk it off, but then we exit the building and it’s 95 degrees outside.
Ian Hoyt: I think the funniest part of that whole experience was there was there was like you have to buy a certain amount to use your credit card and we had cash and so we had to get two we had to get two.
Caroline Lloyd: Flaming hot custards. Like if it was snowing outside and I had a light lunch and I just kind of wanted something a little bit sweet before I go home. That was the thing to get, but it was not the thing to get on that day.
Ian Hoyt: So one of my favorite food experiences while we were in London was actually, I believe it was the last full day were there. It was our dinner and we had finally we found a quintessential fish and chip experience.
Caroline Lloyd: Well, we had had one from like a food vendor at like Camden market, but this was a fancy classic fish and chips.
Ian Hoyt: So yeah, uh, in the show notes we’ll link to where we grabbed that fish and chip. I highly recommend it. It was delicious and I would go back there again.
Caroline Lloyd: Okay. So besides all of that pie and custard and mash mess, I think in general the food scene in New York is comparable to one day and in terms of what you can access, you know, number of places, number of budgets that will be accommodated in terms of food, great street vendors, great quick service places, great sit down places.
Ian Hoyt: Great grocery stores as well. I remember the ready made things in the grocery stores. We were very impressed by the quality of the food.
Caroline Lloyd: So it’s pretty typical in tube stations. In London, there will be a complete mall underneath the ground with a lot of different places that people that work in that area go to to get food. Now one of the most popular things at lunchtimes for these workers is actually to go to the grocery store, because their grocery store has a lot of prepared foods.
Ian Hoyt: Now of course they have a ton of Prett’s obviously. So good. But you know it’s similar at the grocery store. I think the quality is pretty much the same. And so they’re very lucky there. I mean we have a couple Prett’s here. We have a couple ready made things, but like I think London wins out on that.
Caroline Lloyd: And buying ready made food from the grocery store is so much cheaper than a lot of the lunch options that people that work in Midtown, New York have at their fingertips.
Ian Hoyt: And if you’d like more details about some of our food recommendations on both New York and London side, make sure you check out the show notes. We’ll list them in there.
Caroline Lloyd: So now we have to talk about something that’s big in New York and London and that is fashion fashion. So not that we can really put a knowledgeable voice behind fashion because we have realized over the course of a year dating that we generally dress like tourists even in our day to day lives
Ian Hoyt: And now it’s acceptable because we are walking tour guides. We can kind of dress like that.
Caroline Lloyd: I made a vow to myself several years that I would never wear jeans and tennis shoes and I literally wear that every day now. Okay. So despite us always feeling underdressed in our everyday lives, that is magnified by like 10 times in London. Agreed. It is the largest group of well dressed people that I’ve ever seen in my life.
Ian Hoyt: Suit envy everywhere.
Caroline Lloyd: Most everything is tailored, which is something that the US is getting a little bit more into but that’s more so like the business side of people. There was also a lot of really cool looking people that weren’t wearing like suits and such. And it’s either like suits and tailored dress wear or like really outlandish things that like still work in the London sense.
Ian Hoyt: The inner suit wearing guy in me got so self conscious during our trip to London that we were at the Camden market and we stumbled across a suit store and I tried one on just to see and it fit me like a glove and I kid you not. I am a talll six, three skinny dude that can’t find anything off the shelf that would fit me to the desire that I want to be fitted and this thing fit me perfectly and I kid you not. And so I had to buy it. So I think that’s a product of just the fact that in the UK and also in Europe, they size things differently. They actually want to tailor things to look good and you just don’t get that in the US. So while we could stay here all day talking about the differences and the similarities between New York and London, we’re going to cut it right there because I think that’s a great beginning pre cursor to what you’re going to get in the different cities.
Caroline Lloyd: So there’s no doubt about it. New York and London are two very distinct cities, both from each other and from any other city in the world.
Ian Hoyt: We have to admit, living in New York has kind of skewed our judgment, but London is a great city and I can’t wait to go back and check it out more.
Caroline Lloyd: If you’re from a suburban area looking to go to a city for the first time. London is a great transition. It has all of the aspects that you want in New York but isn’t quite as overwhelming.
Ian Hoyt: We’ve actually had people from the UK that have visited London get overwhelmed when they’re taking walking tours with us in the city because it’s just a different city.
Ian Hoyt: So that’s it for this episode. We hope you learned a little bit about the differences and the similarities between our home city, New York and London.
Caroline Lloyd: So if you realize there’s some more similarities or differences between New York or London, we would love to hear about them. Feel free to comment on this podcast or the easiest way to get in contact with us is to DM us on instagram @lifenomading.
Ian Hoyt: And as always you can download this podcast on any major players from Spotify, Overcast, and of course iTunes. And that reminds me if you enjoy the content we’re creating on the weekly, we’d love your review on iTunes it helps us out a ton.
Caroline Lloyd: So that’s it for this episode. We’ll see you here. Same place, same time next Monday. I’m Caroline.
Ian Hoyt: And I’m Ian. Until next time, explore something new.