Blazing A Trail: Navigating London – Tips For Making the Move


Halfway into my second year, it feels strange to have invitations for events I attended a year ago landing in my inbox again. The MBA feels like such a transitionary period in my life, but many of its aspects have started to take on airs of stability. The friends I’ve made, my weekly routines, and even the smiles I share with the familiar faces at my supermarket.

All of this didn’t happen overnight. Feeling at home in a new city is no mean feat, especially when you’re also contending with the gamut of new, exciting experiences the MBA is throwing at you. After 18 months in London, I feel like I’ve finally collected enough experiences to share a few morsels of advice.

One of the many upsides of the London Business School is its setting. You’re living in the heart of one of the most vibrant, diverse and exciting cities in the world. London is often a city romanticised by media (think Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in Notting Hill). As a newcomer, you certainly feel the sense of endless possibilities we’ve long been promised. The range of history, art and culture in the city is phenomenal and you could spend many a rainy day (of which there will be plenty!) perusing a museum or a gallery. The other way to spend a rainy day is, of course, to not be in London at all! So much of London’s allure is its proximity to continental Europe and Africa – making a weekend trip to a wholly different part of the world very doable.

While these aspects of London are well-publicised and well-understood, there were also certain realities about living in the city that I wasn’t expecting. Here are three things that really surprised me about the move to my new city.

River Avon in Stratford-upon-avon,


1. The many different experiences there are in every part of town

One of the most apt ways I’ve heard the city being described, is as a collection of villages. Each borough or neighbourhood brings a unique flavour into London’s melting pot. London Business School is in Marylebone – a manicured locality in the heart of the city. Jumping on the tube (or the ‘subway’ as it’s known across the Atlantic) will take you to diverse neighbourhoods with a plethora of authentic food and culture. Check out Wembley for fantastic Indian food, Hampstead Heath for a beautiful park and view of the city, or Greenwich for a slower-paced vibe on the banks of the Thames. Even these suburbs are just the tip of the iceberg. Regardless of where your interests might lie, there are places and communities for you in London!

2. The density of the housing and how fast the housing market moves

Sharvan Pethe

The housing market in London is one of the most intense I’ve ever experienced. When I first moved to the city, I was looking for flats in July – a time of year when many students are on the hunt for a new place for the upcoming academic year. For the first day or two, every viewing I went to had been signed by the person who viewed the flat just before me. Especially at that time of year, you don’t really have time to go through a few viewings, compare, and contemplate. If you like a place and it fits within your budget, you’ve got to sign it on the spot!, and, two of the best-known platforms for finding rental accommodation in the UK, quickly became my new best friends!

3. The importance of sunshine

As soon as summer is over In London, the weather starts to turn quite quickly. The days get colder and the sun starts to set earlier. In the depths of winter, days are gloomy and the sun will set by 4 pm. It surprised me, how much of an impact the sunlight (or lack of it) had on my mood! It’s no surprise that, as soon as there’s a shred of sunlight, Londoners are often out at one of the city’s beautiful parks to soak it all in. There are some important remedies to London in the winter months too – travel to sunnier locations or get involved in the Christmas festivities, lights, and markets happening throughout the city!

While London has sprung surprises like these on me, once I learned to navigate them and settled into my new normal, I really started to take in and enjoy all that London has to offer.

Committing to an MBA has been a massive turning point in my life. Moving to a city on the other side of the world is all part of that experience. Below are three tips for making the most of moving to a new city for your MBA!

Saltburn Beach in Yorkshire


1. Think about what you’re missing from home and be intentional about filling those gaps in your new city

While London offered me so many new experiences, it took me a while to realise that so much of what keeps me centred is tied up in being immersed in nature. Back home in Auckland, nature was on my doorstep – I was always a 10-minute drive from a beautiful beach or a gorgeous hiking trail. London is a far more urban city than I’m used to and it’s not as easy to find great outdoor activities so near to home. I’ve gained so much from being more intentional about heading out on hikes or getting near the water’s edge whenever I’ve found the time. While it was a couple of hours of driving, a weekend spent hiking in the Malvern Hills has been a recent highlight!

2. Make time to explore the city, and get out of the MBA bubble

Box Hill

The MBA experience often seems all-consuming. But despite how full the MBA bubble might seem, there is a whole exciting city outside of it! At London Business School, the ‘Baker Street bubble’ is absolutely a real thing. You could quite easily spend the vast majority of your week within it, shuttling between campus, you or your friend’s homes, and the local watering holes. Making time to get away from my MBA environment and immerse myself in the city and its surroundings has really helped when I feel like I need a break from everything that goes on in the MBA. Cambridge is only an hour by train from central London but its gorgeous river, historic architecture and wide-open fields will transport you to what feels like a whole new place!

3. Make use of the great resources provided by the school ecosystem

The London Business School ecosystem has been one of the most helpful resources for me as I’ve settled into the city. Reaching out to existing students before I’d moved helped me understand what neighbourhood to live in and what to look out for when thinking about choosing a flat. Many students choose to live in the neighbourhoods near LBS, including Marylebone, St Johns Wood, Maida Vale and Edgware Road. The School also runs a number of online and in-person sessions where you can ask school representatives questions about everything from visa applications to term dates. Of course, the huge number of clubs and interest groups on campus have helped me expand my view of London, far beyond campus while I’ve been here. Watching student-run stand-up and improv with the Acting and Comedy Club has shown me a number of great new spots around the city.

Hopefully these tips have been useful for you as you think about a move to London or anywhere else in the world to start an MBA! Feel free to reach out on Linkedin.


Sharvan is a former strategy consultant and LBS scholarship recipient from Auckland, New Zealand. He spent four years working on important problems across a variety of industries, including helping to establish New Zealand’s national COVID-19 contact tracing service.

Sharvan comes to London Business School with an interest in ventures and technology. During his time at LBS, he’ll be busy validating his own entrepreneurial idea in the media space. In his spare time, Sharvan enjoys hiking, writing and comedy – hobbies he’ll continue to cultivate during his MBA experience.

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