Assessing London

I came back yesterday from the UK. I visited London, Edinburgh, and spent one night in Glasgow. 

I totally enjoyed the trip. Being in a place where everyone speaks English makes a big difference. Also the British are more smiley, chatty, and socially aware than the vibe I am getting in Berlin.

Maybe the socially aware point is a bit vague. It is hard to explain but for me it is being aware of the surrounding and proactively managing the situation. I normally observe this feeling in how/when people offer their help with something.

On the flip side the three cities I visited are far behind in infrastructure compared to Berlin. London public transit system is not accessible. Buses are small, allowing them to take maximum one wheelchair at a time. In Berlin buses are bigger, can take two, sometimes three wheelchairs at the same time.

London tube is much worse. The default is non-accessible stops. In a big city like London, it makes things much harder for people like myself.

I imagine the accessible housing situation is equally bad. Most of the city is old. Berlin is still being built which creates more accessible housing opportunities for people such as myself.

I still loved it, but not sure if I would want to live there. I normally look for three factors when assessing a new city.

1) Career Opportunities

I believe London wins on that one. The big 5 have development offices there. There are more startup deals and funding than any other European city.

2) People accessibility

London wins because of the language. I do understand the arguments of people being easy on the outside and hard on the inside. But I still think if one understands the language, it becomes a question of the effort you put into blending with the people around you.

3) Accessibility

Berlin wins by big margin. And it is getting even better over time.

I am not thinking of moving, but for me this was a good eye opener into the London situation and what are the options if I decided to move out of Berlin.


This weekend I am meeting a friend who is living in the Netherlands. We decided to meet somewhere in the middle and hence it was Dortmund.

It is similar to every other German city I have been to on a weekend. Boring.

Sitting there on a quite Sunday with the sound of churches penetrating the silence feels like the right conditions to conspire and turn the world upside down without anyone noticing. Sadly we weren’t prepared so the world stays safe.

In terms of wheelchair accessibility it is not flat like Berlin. We didn’t use any public transit so I don’t know how good it is.

My city is better than yours

An Egyptian friend asked me whether he should relocate to London or Berlin, and whether I know someone living in London that he can talk to.

Here is my answer, since every-time I sit with a group of Egyptians living abroad, they start comparing the cities they live in, and this is one of the most annoying discussions for me.

The problem with these questions is everyone will be biased to the city they live in.

You shouldn’t ask which is better, you should have specific parameters and judge based on them.

For example: Average salaries after taxes, accommodation costs, what differs if you are married/have kids?

Then there are more meta questions: Language. Ease of changing job (in terms of supply and visa). Citizenship if you are interested like how many years, does it require giving up the Egyptian, are you opposed to renouncing your Egyptian citizenship?

The salaries point is also rhetorical. As someone working in tech you are probably in the 90th percentile of the pay scale of any city in Europe. I have no data to back this claim, but at least I know it is the case in Berlin. I wouldn’t imagine London, or Zurich are any different.

It all comes down to answering a simple question: What are you optimizing for?