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Marc

Ol' London Town

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Hey all

I'm looking for any opinions of living and working in London. I'm sure a fair few of you are either there now, or have been there in the past; so hopefully you can help me out :).

Thanks

Marc

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Anything specific you would like to know?

Here's a bit of my experience:

location: I was living central (in Fitzrovia, which is just North of Oxford Street and very close to Soho - 10 min walk to work). This was fairly expensive, but I got a good deal on an appartment and was paying around 1350 pounds (bills not included, no furniture included) for a 1 bedroom. I was sharing it with my gf at the time so it worked out like 800 pounds a month or so.

- You can get much bigger/nicer places outside of zone 1, but I really did not want to commute. By not commuting I saved about another 100 pounds a month for an oyster card subscription. (Oyster card is like a pass to use the underground and buses).

- If you want to live central and not pay super high rent, you have to go in with the attitude to compromise. My compromise that I was living 2 floors above a pub (so it did not get quiet before midnight, especially in the summer as London has a huge pub culture). And I also did not have a garden.

- The cool thing of living central is that you don't have to worry about 'missing the last train' - and you can party quite long into the night as you can just walk home. The underground closes around 12:30h, if you miss it, you can still take the nightbuses or a cab.

Food:

- There is a huge amount of variety of food available. You can probably go to a different place every day for two months for lunch if you wanted too -- and that would just be near Soho. Also a huge pricerange in food. From 5 pounds for a quick indian curry takeaway to easily 50-100 pounds if you go to a nice Steak restaurant.

Culture:

- Most museums are free! Well worth visiting and checking up when they have new exhibitions. Also in the summer there will be open air theatre in the parks, or open air film screenings. There is always something to do -- you might get tired, but you will rarely get bored. Pub culture... you will get sucked into it, perhaps not every day, perhaps not every other day, but most likely at least once a week. Pubs are amazing for networking. I think I have gotten more connections through being at the pub than anywhere else (perhaps here at odforce would be the exception). You might also find there are a lot of people from Bournemouth University there.

People:

- Tons of people, especially during lunch time, rush hour, or holidays. My advice: don't get a car. Central London is very busy, getting in and out of London to go anywhere else in the UK generally takes at least an hour - just to get out. Also there is congestion charge in the center - so you pay even more if you do drive through certain regions.

London tends to grow on you. A lot of people hate it the first month, then come to like it after the first 3 months or so. Then stick around for 2-5 years and then move on to another place. A lot of my own friends have come to London and gone over the years. It is not really a place to settle if you want to start a family - in my opinion.

Work:

- As a houdini Td you will never be out of work in London. -Especially with H12 on the way, I only foresee a bigger uptake and London has the momentum and the talent pool to handle big volumes of complex work. Some of those facilities start to have over 15 years experience and some of the pipelines have huge amounts of manhours invested in them. By being located in Soho and so close to each other, it has become accepted that people come and go between diferent facilities. For complex effects work I think 1-2 year contracts are normal. Generally that turns into a rolling contract. And after 4-5 years they might make you staff.

In regards to salary, you can go to the pub and generally find out how much people -ish are making. Depending on experience houdini tds can make between 40-80k, if not more (but I'm not yet at that level ;) ) - depends a bit on how crucial you are, and how much you know --- also how much you know besides Houdini. Integration with other packages, programming, scripting, renderman, shader writing, data management, hardware, scheduling, bidding,... some of these blend in with production, pipeline or rnd needs and are generally required for more senior roles.

- I forgot how much holidays you get exactly, probably something like 20 days a year - might be negotiable. There is no union or anything like that, but you do have healt coverage through the NHS. So you don't really have to worry about getting your own social security. (Unless if you are into extreme sports or travel insurances).

Visa's: If you are not from the EU or don't have a British passport, but you do have a work permit - and have a partner, your partner can get a spouse visa and with that they are allowed to work. In order to get the spouse visa you have to show you have lived together for a year (rental contract/bills) or be married. Last year (2011) they reduced the amount of visas for foreign workers a lot (I think it was something close to 4 times less visas).

Ah yes, almost forgot:

Weather: -- London can be really nice in the summer, but you might not have much of it. Sometimes the summer is 1 or 2 months. The rest of the year is mediocre, very often cloudy. London itself can get cold in the wintertime, but it does not snow every year. When it does, there is "chaos" - the tubes are overloaded, some of the airports will close, some of the trains to get in/out of London won't operate. -- But if you're living central, that does not bother you much.

London can be a real fun place to be for a while, just probably not the rest of your life.

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no overtime paid. Seems trivial, but having worked in North America now, I don't really want to go back to that scheme...

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Hey

That's good thanks. I kinda kept it vague just to get some unbiased opinions. I've heard varying opinions of working in London so I'm just seeing if anything has changed since last I heard.

I have a family so if I go then I'd have to commute in. I don't think living above a pub would be good for the kids :blink:

I kinda knew about the unpaid overtime but it's good to have it confirmed.

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For what it´s worth, I was a kid raised above a pub (but in Madrid, not in London) and I seem to be pretty normal. I do most of my killing when nobody looks and I´ve been known to drink water...from time to time :P

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There are places you can get paid overtime, but if you get the right company you won't be expected to work too many hours over. I've only done a couple of hours overtime in the last year.

I live about 25-30 mins bike ride from work near two massive parks, lots of places to eat and things to do. We pay around £1700 a month for a two bedroom flat, but you could easily get that down to £1200 depending on where you move too and what size you're after (ours is pretty comfy).

The first reply said contracts of 1-2 years. You probably (read definitely) won't get a contract over 12 months. But yes they are rolling and there's usually no problem for 'experienced' Houdini artists getting work here.

If you need any specific advice, send me a message.

Christian

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Wotcha Marc,

Working in London is a good laugh, I do miss all the fun pub outings, otherwise known as "weeknights".

The non-overtime thing is a quite rubbish (just make sure you get a decent wage to begin with).

The work can be mostly regular 9am-6pm hours, as Christian states, but it really depends how long the project runs.

Hopefully it'll be OK, making up for all the commuting you'll inevitably be doing.

Look to live on the train line to Euston or Charing Cross, depending on which office you head to, then you can avoid getting onto the Tube (which is nasty)!

Would imagine you'll shack up in the glorious English countryside, visiting castles on the weekend and jetting off around Europe occasionally

- after all, one of the best reasons to go to London is that its quite easy to take excursions to the continent.

The weather will make you miss Sydney, although it doesn't actually rain as much as people will tell you.

England in spring is really beautiful too:

http://static.photo.net/attachments/bboard/003/003QNd-8540584.jpg

You won't get such ludicrous tax breaks as Australia, but the price of bananas is significantly less.

Also beer, a staple source of nourishment for Londoners, is pretty cheap.

London's sure got a lot of entertainments, but do go see England - a much friendlier place located outside the M25.

Hope it works out,

Tim

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but the price of bananas is significantly less.

But I like paying $15/kg for bananas... :blink:

Thanks for the help guys, it's definitely enlightening. We should do something on the wiki with vfx artists opinions of the various cities :).

@Christian, where do you live if you don't mind me asking? Cycling to work sounds great. I've been catching trains for over a year and could stand to give that a miss for a while..

M

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No more 1$ mangos Marc.

Think about it.

Mangos, bananas, mangos, bananas, mangos, mangos, mangos...

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I always found very unnecessary spending ~1300 pounds for a shoebox just to live in zone 1 to be honest.. if nothing else (on top of the huge waste of money) is because you literally live in a "flat" the size of a shoebox.

I live in a 2 bedroom flats, with ensuite bathroom plus another bathroom (PROPER BATHROOM) and a living room twice the size of many bedroom people gets in zone 1, separated kitchen and a Park (a real one) behind my house, when I say Bedroom I mean a room with a kingsize bed you can walk around it and not kitting the walls ... I live in Zone 2, yes I spend 100/month on oyster card but then again I'd pay that anyway if you want to visit the town, go visit friends, go to parties... or just have a LIFE. I spend 1300 with my gf and the commute to Soho is 20 minutes ... I mean.. seriously, 20 minutes but I live in a proper big flat.

Don't forget Council tax which goes sky high in zone1 or beautiful rich zones ... bills on top of that.

Go for South London, you can find very beautiful places, houseshares, or places on your own for A FRACTION of the money you'd spend in Zone 1 (or North) ... and don't listen to whose who say "South london is dangerous" ... the whole city is dangerous if you hang around with your sparkly wallet in the middle of the streets. I live in Brixton since 2 years now and I have one small accident (got mugged in the morning, but it was me being very uncareful) and nothing else .. ever. I felt less safe in other areas, way closer to the city center. Having said that, I'm hardly feeling unsafe in London.

Brixton to Oxford Circus is 20 minutes in tube, always seat available because is the end of the route (don't get freaked out.. you can cycle in 30 minutes, or take a single bus ride door to door from home to Soho too!) ... I just love it.

Also, Brixton is a great place if you love music, there's always some gig going on.

Food wise, and with everything else, there's a saying which is "if you can't find it in London it doesn't exists" ... and that's true.

my 0.02

p.s. don't hesitate to get directly in touch with me if I can help in any way :)

Edited by sum][one

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Thanks for all the advice everyone. It looks like London isn't on the cards for us this time, but I'm sure this is handy for anyone else considering a move to Ol' London ;).

M

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...t I'm sure this is handy for anyone else considering a move to Ol' London ;).

I'm not even interested in London at the moment and I found this thread to be great, because of something that came up recently.

I'd really like to hear anyone's opinion about Germany, or Southern Germany to be more precise. It would be great to hear from a non-german POV as well...

Should I open a new thread?

Shouldn't we have a space somewhere with some tips about the main VFX cities around the world? Since many of the people around here are jumping around from production to production?

Edited by Andz

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