I've lived here since April 2000 in Bankside, Southwark on the River Thames -and opposite to St Paul's-right next door to the Tate Modern
and I love it! I'm originally from the north-Manchester to be precise.I've also lived abroad-Holland- and understand how daunting it can be to live in a new country.
I do have a car and street parking permits are available ( with temporary permits for visitors with cars) No problems to date with vandalism but I think that is thanks to the cameras trained on the Tate Modern
Art Gallery on the same street! My partner never had access to a car before I arrived and he had no problem with public transport at all.Use black Cabs at night though ( a bit like your Yellow taxis but a lot roomier. ) Avoid the mini-cabs.Over priced and some are not even legitimate taxis. No insurance etc!
I use my car to shop down the Old Kent road at Tescos but if you find somewhere to buy or rent on the new RV1 bus route you can also shop in St Katherine Dock at Safeways.Directly on the river on either Bankside or the South Bank shopping is not well catered for but a short walk will take you to The Cut
(Southwark Tube Station) where there are several 24-7's for fresh vegetables etc.There is alsways the Shad Thames
area-lots of shops.restaurants and bars there with accomodation to rent and buy.Then there is the 1,000 year old Borough Market
at London Bridge which is open every Friday and Saturday to the public ( it is a wholesale vegetable market the rest of the week) I defy you to find better, fresher vegetables, meat produce,cheese, herbs,oils -oh I could go on!-anywhere else in the vicinity! A Gourmet's heaven!
On Bankside there is the world's largest Modern Art Gallery -The Tate Modern
as mentioned before, Vinopolis
-the museum of wine and Shakespeare's Globe
Theatre to satisfy some of your cultural needs. Eating out there is plenty of opportunities walking along the river from Tower Bridge back to Bankside. Numerous excellent restaurants and Public Houses with good food and drinks.My local is The Founders Arms
where there are a couple of very creative chefs and their culinary creations could qualify as gourmet at times-especially if you try the specials for the day!
Go under Blackfriars Bridge
and you are on South Bank. Starting with the OXO Tower for restaurants,bars and speacialist shops including a hairdressers you then come to St Gabriels Wharf- more shops,bars restaurants.On to the National Theatre
,British Film Institute for films new and old.There is also a book fair held under the bridge.On to the Royal Festival Hall
for great concerts including free events and Commuter Jazz on Friday at 5.30-Free! Excellent restuarant called the People's Palace-fantastic view while you dine! Behind there is the Imax Cinema.By the way this is all on the RV1 Bus route which eventually goes straight to Covent Garden / Soho for more restaurants, cinemas and shops galore! On to County Hall
with the now famous London Eye
-an exhibtion of the artist's work. Restaurants here too and then to Waterloo Bridge
-beat that particular view from the bridge if you can!!! A panoramic view of London from East to West or West to East if you look the other way! Been to NY and done Brooklyn Bridge-Sorry!This wins for me and still thrills me after two years.
Re dry cleaners-I use one on the other side of Blackfriars Bridge
just at the Tube station entrance.More expensive than you are used to in NY -so my American friends say / bemoan! There is some more around London Bridge I believe and on Borough High Steet. More Pubs,bars restaurants and shopsthere.
So as you can gather I love where I am and hope you will learn to love London and all it's wonders too!.
Dr Samuel Johnson ( who used to drink at the Anchor Pub' on Bankside! ) said "A man who is tired of London is tired of life" Need I say more!