Moving to London: The Ultimate Survival Guide for 2019

Young couple holding storage boxes. Featured image for blog post.

Every year, thousands of people from all over the world move to London.

In fact, according to the World Population Review, the London population could reach 9.8 million by 2025.

The UK capital is a globally influential city and has earncess in various categories. 

London is a land of opportunities for people all across the globe.

It is an exciting, vibrant, and diverse city with a strong economy.

We understand that moving to such a large city can feel overwhelming. 

We aim to alleviate some of your worries, answer common questions about relocating to London, and provide expert insight on beginning a new life in London. 

This guide is designed just for you.

Contents:

Understanding London’s Urban Structure

Tip #1: Moving to London as a Young Adult

Tip #2: Moving to London for Work

Tip #3: Moving to London Without a Job 

Tip #4: Moving to London With Family

From… Tip #1: Moving to London From Scotland

From… Tip #2: Moving to London From the US

From… Tip #3: Moving to London From Australia

From… Tip #4: Moving to London From Canada

From… Tip #5: Moving to London From South Africa

From… Tip #6: Moving to London From India

General Tip #1: Consider the Cost of Living in London 

General Tip #2: Find a House in London

General Tip #3: Apply for a National Insurance Number & Prepare All the Legal Documents

General Tip #4: Find a Reliable Moving & Storage Company

General Tip #5: Understand Public Transport in London

General Tip #6: Make New Friends & Start Living!

Understanding London’s Urban Structure

London is divided into 9 zones that begin from the city’s historic centre.

London Transport Zone Map
Image Source: Google Maps

Image Source: Google Maps

These 9 zones are essentially the way the London Underground Map (or the Tube Map) is split, with the purpose of paying more as you travel farther on the system. 

Zone 1 and Zone 2 are what we call “Central London.”

Zone 1 London
Image Source: Wikipedia.org

Living in Central London has its benefits, but of course it is not ideal for everyone. 

Rent in Central London is the highest in the city, and there is a high tourist population in this area. 

In Central London, you can find things like Kensington Palace, Victoria and Albert Museum, Piccadilly Circus.

Every zone after Zone 1 is like adding layers to the “ring,” and the further you go into zones, the further you are from Central London.

There is no such thing as the best place to live in London, as there are many different areas and many exciting things to do as a Londoner.

If you are moving to London for the first time, all these might seem overwhelming—but trust me, it’s not.

You just need to give yourself some time to get used to your new city. 

Fortunately, the United Kingdom is a very friendly country and British people are generally warm with people from abroad. 

Moving to England will be the best choice you’ve ever made.

People Sitting Along the River Thames.
Image Source: Unsplash

Tip #1: Moving to London as a Young Adult

Whether you have just graduated from University and are seeking employment, or have been part of the workforce for several years, London has a lot to offer.

The consulting agency Decode founded a global index, Youthful Cities, that ranks the top 55 cities to move to as a millennial. 

London is ranked #2 on this global index, which takes into consideration: employment, culture, education, mobility, affordability, and more. 

Moving to London from overseas is no easy feat, especially if you are doing it all by yourself. 

But do not be intimidated; London has a lot to offer single, young adults! 

Whether it is most important for you to be close to the Victoria Line, near a Tesco, or next to your university, choosing the right neighbourhood to live in will play a large part in your happiness in this big city. 

For ambitious graduates and young adults who are excited to explore the city and meet new people, we recommend energetic and culturally diverse areas such as Camden, Hackney, Bermondsey, and Brixton among others. 

For more information on London neighbourhoods, check out our list of 24 Best Places to Live in London.

Two Friends Having Lunch.
Image Source: Unsplash

We know that it can be intimidating to step out of your comfort zone, but making new friends can be essential to your success in a new city. 

Take a weekly class at your local gym. Become a regular at your neighbourhood cafe. Enroll in a language, photography, or cooking class.

These are all ways to organically meet like-minded people. 

If you prefer to take the technological route, apps like Citysocializer and Meetup are great tools for making new friends who share your interests. 

Making yourself available to form happy and healthy friendships will undoubtedly improve your quality of life, no matter which city you live in. 

Desk with Laptop and Mug.
Image Source: Unsplash

Tip #2: Moving to London for Work

If you are relocating to London due to a promotion or job transfer, congratulations!

This is an exciting step toward a bright future. 

London is a beautiful and historic city that is full of opportunities and provides a positive environment for people to excel in their careers. 

Whether you are just transferring locations within the same company, or taking a job with a completely new company, inquire about the possibility of a “settling-in service.”

Many corporations offer their employees this service as a kindness and to ease the transition. 

Before moving, ensure that your relocation package and contract with your company is clear. 

Ask questions if you are feeling any confusion. 

This will be a busy time for you and you do not want the added stress of not knowing 100% what is going on with your job. 

Also, be prepared for a change in cost of living. 

Your income will soon adjust to difference, but it would not hurt to have a small sum of money saved before making the big move. 

Tip #3: Moving to London Without a Job 

The cost of living in London is considerably high. 

In fact, London is the 3rd most expensive city in Western Europe. 

So, if you are moving to London without a job (unless you are one of the lucky ones) you will want to begin the job search as soon as possible

Keeping in mind the cost of transportation and rental fees, we would also recommend having enough money in your bank account to live off of for a few months while you are waiting for employment. 

Fortunately, London is an enormous city with many job opportunities. 

There are many easily accessible tools to assist you with the job search even before you get to London.

Here are some of the best ones:

1) Monster

Monster is one of the leading job search sites in the world.

You can use it to find companies that are hiring, and to connect with other job-seekers and employers.

All you have to do is enter a keyword based on your preferences and skills, and a location for your search:

Monster Job Search.
Image Source: Monster

Monster will return a number of job results based on your search query and preferred location.

Plain and simple.

2) Gumtree

Gumtree is a British online community and marketplace where you can post or find a job based on your skills and preferred location.

As you can see, there are many options you can choose from:

Gumtree job categories.
Image Source: Gumtree

When you click on one of these categories, you can browse and apply for jobs posted on Gumtree.

It’s straightforward and easy to use.

3) Reed.co.uk

Reed is one of the UK’s most well-known job sites. 

Their mission is to “help the world love Mondays”.

Reed is unique in that they are also a source of courses to enroll in that can improve your skills and set you apart from the competition.

Reed.com Course Offerings.
Image Source: Reed.co.uk

4) Indeed

Indeed is another excellent website for those searching for a job in London. 

With as many as 38.4 million monthly visits in the UK alone, it is also the biggest job site on the internet. 

Similar to Monster, Indeed has a very friendly search engine that allows you to browse several jobs based on your preferences and location or postcode.

Make sure to check it out. 

5) Angel.co

This one is for those interested in a career in tech.

Angel.co is a leading website that lists jobs from more than 36,505 established and startup tech companies.

Angel.co Homepage.
 Image Source: Angel.co

This is a great resource for  young professionals who want to start a career in a London tech company, and for those looking to invest. 

6) Jobsite

Jobsite is a British website where like other job sites, you can browse and discover jobs that fit your particular set of skills.

Make your CV visible to hundreds of recruiters by creating an account and uploading your information. 

7) Work in Startups

This is the one we are using here at STORED.

Work in Startups is ideal for young professionals who want to work in a London startup.

You can conduct a search based on your skills:

Work in Startups Search.
Image Source: Work in Startups

Different job categories:

Work in Startups Categories.
Image Source: Work in Startups

Or, see all the job posts that are currently listed:

Work in Startups Job Listings.
Image Source: Work in Startups

These are just a few of the job search sites available to you. 

Before you apply to a job posting, it would be in your favor to do the following:

    • Take a nice CV photo
    • Create your curriculum vitae
    • Set up a LinkedIn profile
    • Do your research and shortlist the best options
    • Start sending proposals

For more information on finding a job in London, check out these 9 Simple Steps to Find a Job in London

Tip #4: Moving to London With Family

If you are moving to London with your family you will have a little more research to do.

There are more things to consider, such as economic status, the age of your children, your job location, and your lifestyle.

Family Crossing the Street.
Image Source: Unsplash

According to Numbeo, excluding rent, a family of four can expect to pay £2,817 per month in day-to-day expenses. Keep this in mind when budgeting for your move. 

We know that having other people depend on you makes things a little more stressful.

To help you out, here is a list of some of the first things you need to do:

    • Secure a job for both you and your partner
    • Open a bank account and obtain a debit and credit card
    • Get a UK mobile phone plan or sim card (Vodafone and T-mobile are easy options)

We recommend that you download an app like Citymapper, or go on a couple free walking tours to get familiar with the city. If your kids are older, they even have more adventurous ones like Jack the Ripper tours.

Isle of Dogs, Clapham, Chelsea, and Blackheath are all neighborhoods that are very well suited for families, but for a more comprehensive list check out 24 Best Places to Live in London in 2020.

You can open a new bank account in one of the major banks like Lloyds, HSBC or Barclays. You can also use an online bank like Monese to open a current bank account.

There is a lot to do at first when relocating to London, but remember to take some time for yourself.  

Find interesting activities for you and your family; enjoy the many great things the city has to offer. 

From… Tip #1: Moving to London From Scotland

Edinburgh Street.
Image Source: Unsplash

Despite the close proximity and them both being part of the UK, there are many differences between living in Scotland and living in the UK capital, London. 

Population 

The large population gap is one of the most obvious differences. 

The population of Scotland is 5.438 million. 

London is bigger than the entire country of Scotland with a population of 8.9 million

The largest city in Scotland, Glasgow, has a population of 596,000.

So be prepared for everywhere in general to be more crowded.

Career Opportunities and Higher Wages

Since London is one of the world’s leading global cities, the job market is thriving.

There are more opportunities to further your career in London given that companies are usually bigger, with more global exposure. 

In addition to more opportunities, you can also expect to receive a higher salary.

In general, salary ranges are higher in London than any other part of the UK. 

Even if you relocate to London and take a job that is similar to your previous job, with a company similar in size, you can expect to take home significantly more money every month. 

This can be especially true for business owners. 

More people=more money. 

Weather

You might often hear complaints about the dreary weather in London, but it is actually milder than the weather in Scotland. 

In general, you can expect to see less precipitation, more sunshine, and more moderate temperatures all throughout the year. 

Also, since London is farther south than Scotland, you will have more daylight hours in the winter. 

Culture

London is far more metropolitan and diverse than the largest cities in Scotland.

According to the 2011 Census, Scotland is 96.02% white, and London is 59.79% white. 

This diversity provides Londoners with a wide range of restaurants and stores. 

Whether it be delicious vietmenese cuisine or authentic South American dishes, you can always find what you are looking for.

Scotland’s largest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, are fun and entertaining cities, but the more metropolitan aspect of London also makes for an exceptional and eclectic nightlife. 

Note: Since Scotland and England are both members of the UK, the relocation process is much simpler for Scots in terms of visa/legal requirements. 

From… Tip #2: Moving to London From the US

US Flag.
Image Source: Unsplash

Moving from the United States to a European country is a big and exciting decision. 

Americans often choose to relocate to England for a number of reasons, but a huge benefit is the shared language. 

Not having a language barrier makes the transition less intimidating, and offers the best of both worlds for Americans wanting to live and work in Europe.

Despite the shared language, we have listed a  few terms and phrases below that you will want to learn in order to communicate effectively in “the Big Smoke”. 

New Words and Phrases

Some of these you might already know, but for Americans who have not traveled outside of their country, this will be quite helpful. 

In terms of food, french fries are called “chips” in England, what we call potato chips are called “crisps” and cookies are “biscuits”.

In England, pants are called “trousers,” and underwear are “pants”.

And instead of waiting in line, you are waiting in the “queue”.

Healthcare

The UK’s National Healthcare System (NHS) is drastically different than that in the United States. 

The NHS is a universal healthcare system funded from general taxation, and is available to all citizens regardless of economic class and income. 

As an American living in London, it will come as a shock to you that most medical services are free of charge.

In addition to a foreigner’s fee of £200 per year, there are fees for certain exams, dental services, and prescriptions, but you can still expect to pay significantly less in London than in the United States. 

Work Culture

The United States is known for their severe lack of work-life balance. 

The “all work and no play” mentality is very much instilled in the American workforce. 

However, in the UK (and many other parts of the world), employers understand the importance of taking time off for yourself. 

By law, employees are given 28 paid holiday days every year.

This fact alone is enough encouragement for many Americans to take the leap and move to London. 

Lack of Air-conditioning

While this might seem frivolous to some, air-conditioning is a perk that many Americans cannot imagine not having in their homes. 

In London, however, it is uncommon for homes, stores, and restaurants to have any source of air-conditioning. 

In fact, according to a 2008 report by Mintel, only 0.5% of homes in the UK had air-conditioning.

This is definitely something that American expats will need to get accustomed to upon moving to London. 

From… Tip #3: Moving to London From Australia

Travel is a concept very much engrained in Australian culture. 

It is almost more uncommon to not have backpacked, traveled, or been an expat for an extended period of time. 

London’s culture and expat lifestyle makes for a popular city for Aussies to explore. 

Sense of Community

A shared language and a strong sense of community are common deciding factors for Aussies looking to relocate.

In fact, there are around 54,000 Austrailians currently living in the UK’s capital city. 

While that is just a fraction of London’s large population, there are notable Aussie communities in Clapham, Hammersmith & Fulham, Shepherds Bush, and Putney. 

Join Facebook groups geared toward Aussie expats for information on  exciting activities and to connect with like-minded people.

Visa Process

Australia is among the UK’s top five non-EU countries to be approved for an EU visa, which makes the legal process a little less complicated. 

There are several types of visas available to Australians, so do your research and decide which one is right for you. 

But before you begin the lengthy application process, you should know about the “right of abode”. 

This is a deal the UK has with Australia that allows people meeting certain requirements to live in the UK without a visa and other immigration restrictions. 

These are the following three conditions you must meet in order to qualify for the right of abode:

  1. One of your parents was born in the UK (and was still a UK citizen when you were born)
  2. You were born before 1st January 1983 into a Commonwealth country
  3. You have never ceased to be a Commonwealth citizen since 31st December 1982

If you do not meet all three of these conditions, you will have to continue on with the visa process. 

The good news is, Australia is one of the countries that qualifies for the Youth Mobility Visa. 

Nightlife

Aussies are well-known and loved for their laid back, free-spirited nature, and their love of fun. 

Many young Aussie’s take pride in their ability to make any situation fun, and not needing a reason party. 

London’s liberal drinking laws and fun nightlife provide the perfect playground for expats.

London also has a never ending line up of world famous musicians, DJ’s, and various entertainers who don’t often make the long journey to Australia.

The Slug, The Falcon, The Fiddler’s Elbow, and  Infernos are popular bars and music venues that Australian expats might enjoy. 

From… Tip #4: Moving to London From Canada

Bike in front of Canadian Flag Painted Fence.
Image Source: Unsplash

According to the 2011 Census, over 21,000 Canadians were living in London, and there is no doubt this number is increasing. 

A mutual language and Youth Mobility Visa eligibility makes London a nice fit for Canadians looking to move out of their home country. 

History

Canada is historically tied with the UK in a number of ways, and London proudly displays several nods to their rich history. 

Several of these monuments and respectful displays can be found around Trafalgar Square, most notably the Canada House building. 

The area around the famous building even used to be known as “Little Canada”. 

There are even traces of Canada in Westminster near Buckingham Palace.

The entrance to Green Park hosts a wrought-iron structure gifted by Canada in 1905, and inside the park is a memorial dedicated to Canadian soldiers who fought in the World Wars. 

Weather

Weather in London is much milder in the winter than in Canada. 

Canada’s biggest cities, Toronto and Montreal, receive 47.8 (209.5 cm) and 82.5 inches (121.5 cm) of snow annually, while London typically sees only 2 inches (5 cm)

However, summers are generally warmer in Canada, and London receives significantly less sunshine. 

Size and Public Transportation

Even if you’re coming from a major city like Toronto or Montreal, be prepared for London to feel overwhelming large at times. 

The public transportation in London is much more complex than the transportation in Canada’s major city. 

The London Underground has a chaotic energy that can be off putting, but understanding the transportation is crucial if you will be commuting daily for work. 

From… Tip #5: Moving to London From South Africa

Whether you are a recent graduate looking to take off on a grand adventure, or an established entrepreneur looking to relocate or expand your business, London is a great option for you. 

Visas

As a South African citizen, you may qualify for the UK Ancestry visa. 

This visa allows those who qualify to live and work in the UK for up to 5 years, with the potential to renew. 

You can apply for a UK Ancestry visa 3 months before your trip if you:

  • are a Commonwealth citizen (17+ years old) applying from outside the UK
  • are able to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK
  • are able and planning to work in the UK
  • can prove that you have enough money to support yourself

The UK Ancestry visa will cost around  £516.

Click here for more information on the process. 

Job Opportunities 

As mentioned before, London’s job market is thriving.

And Londoners particularly like hiring South Africans due to their positive attitude and strong work-ethic. 

Before applying, revise your CV to meet UK guidelines. 

There are a number of things desired on a CV when applying for a job in South Africa that are simply not necessary in the UK. 

Create a LinkedIn profile and join expat Facebook groups for job openings. 

It can also save time and money by going through a recruiting agency. 

Community

As of 2018, there are 246,000 South Africans permanently living in the UK, and London has the largest community. 

South West London is home to several areas with prominent South African communities, such as Clapham, Wimbledon, and Wandsworth. 

Hammer & Tongs is a well-known South African barbecue restaurant in London. They serve “exceptional meat cooked on the braai, fired by real wood & real love”.

And for a taste of home, you can purchase your own products and ingredients at Jumbo South African Shop in West London. 

From… Tip #6: Moving to London From India

Man by Car Holding Flag of India.
Image Source: Unsplash

Every year, many people from India relocate to London for a number of reasons. 

You might be coming for the job market, to study, or to join family as there are currently 542,857 British Indians living in London. 

But regardless of the reason, you are in for an exciting life change!

And you will need a visa. 

Visas

As with most people with their country of origin being outside the EU, the visa process is lengthy and complex. 

But the good news is, London’s government office is very helpful and clear about what is required from you. 

You can check your visa requirements here

The UK Office of National Statistics shows that in 2018, over half of the Tier 2 work visas were granted to Indians. 

Indians also make up for a large portion of international students in London, with 14,445 moving to the city in 2018. 

So even though the process is tedious, there is definitely a chance that your visa will be granted and you can soon begin your new life in London. 

Weather 

The weather in London is drastically different from the weather in India. 

London’s summers are among the coolest on the continent, and the winters are mild too.

The temperature does not often get below freezing in the winter. This temperate climate greatly differs from India’s. 

India has one of the widest ranges of severe climates in the world.

Climates range from dry deserts in the west, to freezing tundras in the northern regions to humid tropical rainforests  in the south. 

No matter which extreme climate you are coming from, London’s mild climate will be a huge change. 

Living Standards

It is often assumed that by moving to a wealthier country, living standards will increase. 

While this is true in some cases, it is important to consider the opposite. 

Your salary in India could provide you with a nice, 1-bedroom flat and the ability to have a maid, while the same salary in the city of London will only allow you a room in a flatshare with no maid. 

Before accepting a job in London, be sure to clearly understand your future salary.

Factor in the cost of living and your monthly expenses to ensure that you will have the quality of life you desire. 

General Tip #1: Consider the Cost of Living in London 

 London’s cost of living is significantly higher than many cities in the world. 

In fact, according to Numbeo, out of 430 cities in the world, London ranked the 27th most expensive. 

Since the cost of living in London is probably quite different from where you currently live, here is some helpful information to help you adjust and budget properly. 

1) Property Prices in London 

Residential Street in London.
Image Source: Unsplash

Living in a vibrant, leading global city like London comes with a lot of advantages, but the rent is not one of those. 

London is among the most expensive cities in the world to rent.

Property prices vary depending on which area of London you are in, but the average monthly rent for a 2-bedroom property is around £2,400, and the average cost to purchase a 3-bedroom home is £1,253,904 

If you reject a long commute and love to be in the middle of all the action, you might consider renting in Central London if you can afford it. 

In Central London, the average 1-bedroom flat rents for £2,000 per month. And purchasing a home will cost around £1,449,000— 142% higher than London’s average! 

If you are a young adult moving to London, you might be interested in living in East London. It is the most hip, up-and-coming area of the city. 

In East London, the average price for a studio apartment is £1,376 per month. 

In North London (great for families and young professionals), the average property sells for £608,791, and the average price for a 2-bedroom rental is currently £2,220. 

South London is a great area for young professionals and young families. Property prices are notably lower in this area. 

In South London, the average price for a 1-bedroom rental is £1,432 per month. The average house sells for around £577,000. 

West London is known to be the most expensive region of London. 

In West London, the average home sells for £728,656, which is 21.8% higher than the London Average. A 2-bedroom rental in West London averages £2,796 per month. 

Keep in mind that if you are renting, it is highly likely that you will be required to pay a deposit upon signing the lease. The deposit is usually 6-8 weeks of the rent. 

This money will be held by the landlord for the duration of your lease. 

If the property remains in the same condition as it was when you moved in, your deposit will be returned to you when you move out. 

In addition to the deposit, it is also customary to pay one month’s rent before moving in. 

If you found your new home through an agency, you will probably have to pay the agent an “administrative fee,” which is usually around £100. 

Do not pay the agent’s fee until you have signed your lease. 

A popular way to minimise your rent every month is to rent a spareroom, or find flatmates to join you in your new flat. 

Joining various Facebook groups is a great way to find people who are seeking a flatmate. 

2) London Shipping Costs

Getting your belongings to London is another challenge you will face when moving. 

Of course the less belongings you move with, the easier it will be, but some things simply cannot be left behind. 

If you have a large family or intend on bringing over many large items, you will need to consider the use of a shipping container. 

The cost of a shipping container varies with the distance from which you are moving, but you can expect to pay anywhere from £1,400 to $5,000. 

It is possible to pay less if you chose to share the shipping container with someone else instead of hiring a private one. 

However, if you plan on shipping a vehicle to London, we do recommend having the shipping container to yourself for security reasons. 

3) London Moving & Storage Costs

Once you and your belongings arrive in London, you will need to find a way to get them to your new house. 

If you are staying in temporary housing for the first couple months and do not have enough space for everything, using a storage service can be helpful. 

Depending on the size of the unit, this can cost anywhere from £50-150 per month. 

Click here for more information on London’s easiest, most cost-efficient moving and storage service.  

4) Grocery & Food Costs in London

 Food and groceries are no exception to London’s high cost of living. 

A meal at an inexpensive restaurant averages about  £15 per person, and a pint of beer is typically £5. 

This can become quite costly for a large family; many experts recommend buying groceries and cooking meals at home to save money. 

Take a look below for Numbeo’s average grocery costs:

Numbeo Cost of Groceries.
Image Source: Numbeo

For use of public transportation, most commuters are using an Oyster Card or their contactless bank card for payment. 

5) Transportation Costs

If you will be using public transportation often, it is highly recommended that you use one of these forms of payment.

If you purchase a single ticket every time, you can end up paying double. 

Think of the Oyster Card as an electronic ticket (in the form of a card) that allows you to move around the Greater London Area. 

Oyster Card.
Image Source: Wikipedia.org

According to London Toolkit, the Oyster Card is valid for:

There are two types of Oyster Cards:

  1. Visitor Oyster Card
  2. Regular Oyster Card

As you can guess, the first one is used by London guests.

Visitor Oyster Card.
Image Source: TFL.GOV

The second one is for people living in London.

The Oyster Card works with a pay-as-you-go system. The more you move around London, the more you pay.

You can always top off your Oyster Card with more money at one of the machines in the stations.

Both types of Oyster Cards have a daily cap, which means that once you reach a specific credit limit on your rides, the rest of the rides will be free. 

Oyster Card Fares.
Image Source: London Toolkit

Note: Peak fares applies to all travel made Monday-Friday before 9:30am. 

For buses and trams, the prices are a little different.

With “Hopper fares” you are allowed unlimited journeys for £1.50 the first hour after you have scanned your card. 

This also applies during off-peak times.

This does not apply for any other methods of transport in London besides busses and trams.

In the beginning, you can always consider other means of transportation such as a taxi or Uber. 

If you will be relocating with a personal car—or if you are thinking to buy one—you will need to pay a Congestion Charge

This is a daily charge of  £11.50 for driving a vehicle in the charging zone Monday-Friday between 7:00 and 18:00. 

The average ride in one of London’s famous black cabs will cost anywhere from £10-35 depending on distance and time of day.

General Tip #2: Find a House in London

London has some of the highest rental prices in the world, and finding a flat can be an exhausting process.

But once you find a flat that is in your price range and in the perfect neighborhood, you will feel settled and content with your new life in London. 

So it is important to do your research before making a decision. 

Calculate your living expenses and salary and draw up a budget that is achievable. 

Do not forget to factor in groceries, wifi, subscription and membership fees, and transportation prices. 

In addition to budget, Location is one of the most important aspects of the flat search. 

It is usually in your best interest to find a flat near your work. 

Also consider the distance to the nearest grocery stores, gyms, restaurants, and other activities that you will frequently participate in. 

If you are moving with your family, do your research on the London boroughs, prioritize your needs, and try to find a location that is convenient for everybody. 

Facebook is a great source for finding available flats, especially if you are trying to avoid the fees that accompany going through a real estate agent. 

Zoopla, Movebubble, and OpenRent are also excellent tools for finding the right flat, and usually without a real estate service fee. 

If you are single and wanting to minimise the percentage of your salary that goes toward your monthly rent, a shared house or flatshare might be the right choice for you. 

Remember that during your flat search, you can always rent a room in an Airbnb or flatshare so you do not feel as rushed to find your next home. 

Additional Sources: 

  1. How to Find a Flat in London: 10 Tips You CAN’T Miss (in 2020)
  2. Top 14 Property Websites in the UK (for 2020)

General Tip #3: Apply for a National Insurance Number & Prepare All the Legal Documents

The most important thing to do before moving to any new city is to get your legal documents in order. 

You will not be able to legally relocate until this is done. 

This chapter will provide you with the knowledge you need in order to obtain your legal residency. 

Apply for a Visa:

This is the first document you’ll need when moving to London.

It does not matter which country you are coming from; you must be approved for a visa to live in London. 

However, the requirements differ for those who are from:

    • European citizens
    • American citizens
    • Australian citizens
    • Citizens of non-commonwealth countries

And visas differ for those who:

    • Want to study in the UK
    • Want to work in the UK
    • Want to move to the UK with their family
    • Want to live permanently in the UK

 

Visas and immigration in the UK.
Image Source: Gov.co.uk

According to the official UK government website, these are the essentials for applying for a General Student Visa (Tier 4):

    • You have been offered a course in England
    • You can communicate in English
    • Your financial status allows you to pay for university and support yourself

According to the official UK government website, these are the essentials for applying for a General Work Visa (Tier 2):

    • You have been offered a job in England
    • You can show proof of getting paid for your work
    • Prove your knowledge of English,
    • Have some money on your account, so that you can support yourself for the first weeks of your arrival,
    • Show that you have a travel history over the last five years,

The Youth Mobility Scheme visa is a visa allowing eligible people to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years. 

To apply for this visa you must be from one of the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Hong Kong
  • Republic of Korea
  • Taiwan

And meet these requirements:

  • want to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years
  • are aged 18 to 30
  • have £1,890 in savings

Keep in mind that getting a visa for the first time is not easy and it may take some time.

It is highly recommended that you apply for a visa months before you move to London.

Additional requirements may apply to those who have family members in England and want to apply for permanent residence.  

If you only plan to be in London for a few months, you will need a Travel Visa (or Travel Card).

UK travel visa.
Image Source: Unsplash

The Travel Visa is—in most occasions—valid up to six months.

Open a Bank Account:

You will also need a local bank account in order to receive your salary, and a bank card to pay for various products and services.   

Opening a UK bank account for non-British citizens is not always easy.

However, there are a few less restrictive options. 

You can open a current account for your everyday transactions—through a mobile bank—like Monese:

Monese bank account. Illustration.
Image Source: Monese

Understand the National Health Service (NHS):

What is the National Health System?

NHS is Great Britain’s national health service, which provides:

“Healthcare for all British Citizens based on their need for healthcare rather than their ability to pay for it.”

The NHS is funded by taxes. 

For example, European Citizens—within the European Economic Area (EEA)—get:

“Free or reduced cost medical treatment, as long as they have EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).”

Regardless of your nationality, you have to be aware of the NHS and its system,  and apply for an EHIC before your removal.

Check your Driving Licence:

If you are driving in Great Britain on a non-GB licence, you have to know what rules apply.

UK driving licence.
Image Source: Independent.co.uk

Take a look at this page by the United Kingdom government and find out in which category you fall into:

UK provisional driving licence for foreigners

Check your Council Tax Band:

Just like in any other countries, Great Britain has a national tax system that  most citizens must pay into. 

It is essential that you know what your tax obligations are before moving to London.

It is important to be patient, organized, and thorough when gathering the appropriate legal documents. 

Fortunately, the British government is very friendly and will help you with every step of the process.

If English is not your first language and you need a little assistance, translation services are easy to find with just a quick google search.

General Tip #4: Find a Reliable Moving & Storage Company

Once you have found a house, you have to find a reliable moving company that will help you move your stuff without having to pay a fortune.

In a big city like London, there are many home moving companies.

This makes the decision even more complicated

How do you know which company to hire?

Finding an affordable moving company is not easy.

Below are some things that you have to pay attention to when you want to find a dependable moving service. 

1) Pricing

The first thing you are probably going to ask about is pricing, and the system they use to charge you. 

There are several different ways when it comes to charging, but one of the most common ones is by the hour.

This is the method we are using at STORED. 

STORED Removal Team.

Some companies will try to manipulate the system, however. 

A moving company may offer a lower price per hour and take more hours than necessary to complete the project. 

Ask up front for a clear answer, “How many hours can I expect this to take?”

2) Insurance

This one is essential.

Most moving services give you a quote that doesn’t include standard liability insurance.

And, when you ask for it, they tell you that you have to pay.

First, you should check the company’s website:

If you can’t find such a piece of information to the website, you should ask when reaching out to the company and ask for a quote.  

3) Work Schedule

When you are moving to London from abroad, you want things to happen quickly and easily as possible. 

So, you will want to find a moving company that will work around your schedule, and not the other way around. 

For more information on a dependable, cost efficient moving service, check out our website. 

We would love to help your relocation to London be as easy as possible for you and your family. 

General Tip #5: Public Transport in London

As mentioned earlier, London is divided into 9 zones, and you pay more as you travel farther away from the city centre

Although it can sometimes get a bad rap, London actually has an excellent public transport system a lot of modes to choose from. 

The most well-known method of transportation in London is the London Underground, also called the Tube. 

This is an underground network of tunnels similar to New York City’s subway system. 

Charing Cross is a junction in Central London where 6 routes meet. 

For many people, it is important that their homes be as close to Charing Cross as possible, as it is easier to access the rest of the city through this junction. 

The Overground is a system of tram-like vehicles operating above ground. If the Tube does not have a station in a certain area, it is likely that the Overground does.

The bus system in London is also another efficient transportation option.

There are around 50 bus stations and more than 19,000 bus stops throughout the whole city.

The Tramlink, while similar to the underground, is an entirely different service operating on different routes and schedules. 

Docklands Light Railway is a light metro system in the Greater London area. It has 7 different lines, and 45 stations. On the average day around 340,000 commuters use the DLR. 

DLR map.
Image Source: TfL

Consisting of 33 piers, London River Services, is another method of transportation available to commuters with an Oyster Card. 

Services are increased during peak hours and most services run 7 days a week.

As stated, there are many different methods of transportation available to locals and tourists, so you should always have a way to get where you need to be.

Becoming familiar with the routes and services will likely take a while, so we recommend downloading helpful apps, such as Citymapper, Busmapper, and Google Maps.

General Tip #6: Make New Friends & Start Living!

Finding like-minded expats and people from the same countries and cities as you is exciting and beneficial to acclimating to London life. 

But do step outside your comfort zone! 

Immerse yourself in the new culture. 

Try new foods, meet locals, and befriend colleagues.

People Dining Outside Near Ferris Wheel.
Image Source: Unsplash

It is often said that Brits can be more reserved than other nationalities, but if you have an open mind and a positive attitude, you can quickly make lifelong friends.  

But also  remember to make time for yourself.

Take a time-out from the hustle of the city and explore one of the many parks London has to offer. 

After establishing yourself, continue to learn about the city and explore its various neighbourhoods to feel like a true Londoner.

Final Thoughts

Moving to London is a good idea for a number of reasons. 

And it could be the best life decision you have made so far.

In order to ensure your success in a new city, do your homework, budget accordingly, and start the visa process as soon as you can. 

Have you ever thought of moving to London? If yes, would you be moving alone or with your family? And which of these tips do you find the most helpful?

Let us know in the comments below!

People Who Read This Article Also Read:

  1. The Complete Moving to London Checklist [For Those Moving to London in 2020]
  2. The 24 BEST Places to Live in London in 2020 [Update]
  3. How to Find a Flat in London: 10 Tips You CAN’T Miss (in 2020)
  4. Top 14 Property Websites in the UK (for 2020)
bySTORED. Head of Digital at STORED.

Author: bySTORED.

The head honcho!

One thought on “Moving to London: The Ultimate Survival Guide for 2019”

  1. Great post, excellent tips and guides guys. Really helpful to improvise the removal work, keep posting. Waiting for more of yours and I have enjoyed reading your article about moving service.

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