So you want to move to London? I don’t blame you. It’s the city with a pub on every corner, where you can find cute houses in all colors, where you can eat amazing street food, and where you can hang out with people saying ‘cheers love’, in that fancy British accent. London is a lot of people’s dream city to live in, and for good reason. I didn’t have a clue when I moved here, barely knew anyone, and had no idea how it was all going to work out! But it did, and I thought I’d share with you a little guide on how to move to London!
When you move to a new country a key aspect is finding a place to live. Luckily, finding a place to live in London isn’t harder than finding a place to live in any other city.
Most people share flats here in London, so unless you have a massive bank account, don’t expect to be living in your own flat. Sharing isn’t that bad though, it’s a great way to meet new people and a lot of flat shares includes bills in the rent – which can be pretty great if you’re new to London and don’t want to deal with more than necessary!
Expect to pay at least £600 a month for a decent room, prices may vary depending on which area you choose to live in, but prepare yourself – accommodation in London is expensive.
HOW DO I FIND A ROOM?
Using apps and websites like Zoopla, SpareRoom and GumTree are popular options, I found my first room using SpareRoom and it worked great!
Alternatively, a great way to find a place is to use Facebook groups. A lot of nationalities have their own FB group, I’m Swedish, so using the group “Swedish people in London” was a great way to get help, find new friends, and find a place to live! A lot of times people rent out rooms using Facebook, so have a look and if you don’t have a specific group, join someone else’s!
WHEN YOU FIND ONE – GET IT!
London is fast pace! Usually, rooms can go within a couple of hours, so you’ve got to be quick and you’ve got to be active. Keep an eye on the websites, Facebook, and apps, and as soon as something you like comes out, get in touch! New rooms come out every day, so don’t stress if you don’t get something within the first couple of days, just check again tomorrow (or in an hour or two).
The easiest way to find a place is to do it when you’re actually in London. Not from your home country. Like I said, rooms go fast, so if you can’t go for a viewing that day or the next, odds are someone else will take it. Spend the first week in a hostel or Airbnb while actively looking for a place.
It’s easy getting around in London, as soon as you’ve figured out the tube! Taxis are expensive so use public transportation, the underground works great and is the easiest way to get around. To find out more about how to get around, Transport of London is a great resource!
The app that will change your life. If you live in London, you need Citymapper. It’s free to download and will tell you exactly how to get where you’re going. It’ll also tell you about any delays, give you different route options, and it will make your life so much easier. Get it now.
GET AN OYSTER CAD
An Oyster Card is what you’ll need to be able to use any public transportation. The card itself will cost you £5, a deposit you get back when you deactivate the card. Once you have your card, load it with money. You can do it in machines (the machines can be found at every station) and if you don’t know how it works, ask one of the many people working at the underground to help you out! Their friendly and use to helping first timers, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
You can load it with “pay as you go”, a good option if you don’t use the underground too often. Another option is to pay weekly or monthly – probably your best bet if you’ll be using the tube regularly.
GOOD TO KNOW
The tube doesn’t run all night in London, so make sure to check when you’re last tube leaves before ordering that last beer. Or you might end up having to spend a lot of time on the night bus (or spending a lot of money on a taxi or an uber).
WORKING IN LONDON
So you’ve found a place to live, and you got yourself an Oyster Card to get around. Now you need to get yourself a job.
When you first get here, get yourself a job at a bar, in retail, or at a café etc, it won’t make you rich, but it’ll give you some income and pay the bills. A lot of people working jobs such as bars, restaurants, clothing stores etc get paid minimum wage, which is £7 an hour. If you work full time this adds up to around £1100 a month.
Print out your CV and hand it to places you’d like to work, look on Facebook groups (again, a great place get help when moving to London), or look at websites like Indeed. I found my first job in London by using a Facebook group, not only did I get a job during my first week here – but I also met a lot of new friends, most people who worked there were my age and in London for the same reasons as me.
A good idea is to try and find a job close to where you live (or live close to where you work), you might be able to save some money if you don’t need to buy a monthly oyster card. Also, if you can avoid the tube during rush hour, count yourself lucky!
Relevant post: How to find a job in London
HOW TO MEET NEW PEOPLE AND MAKE FRIENDS
Moving to a new city can be scary, especially if you don’t know anyone. But that shouldn’t be the reason you choose not to move, London is filled with expats and with a little effort you can quickly make a lot of new friends!
The easiest way to meet new people when moving to London is to get along with your housemates, start there. A lot of people are in the exact same situation as you, so they´re open to meeting new people and will help you meet people too.
Say yes to things and be open minded. Try new things and go out and talk to people. Connect with people using social media, ask people you work with to go out for a drink after work, or look at sites like meetup.com or getactivelondon.com. If you want to meet people – make an effort.
Relevant post: 7 ways to make friends abroad
Welcome to the hipster area, this is where you’ll find streets full of people at 3 in the morning, crowded bars, quirky vintage shops, and amazing street food.
In all honesty, I haven’t spent too much time in North London. You’ll find Camden here, and Islington is a very nice area. It’s a good area families, but not the best for nightlife.
A really nice part of London, here you’ll find areas like Notting Hill and Kensington. It’s the most expensive part of London, but (in my opinion) the most beautiful. It’s got great transportation links, feels a lot cleaner than East, this is also where you’ll find Mayfair and all the fancy night clubs.
South feels like it’s getting more and more popular, here you’ll find the artsy Peckham (and my favourite rooftop bar Franks) and as it’s a bit cheaper to live south of the river a lot of people end up moving here.
To find more information about the different areas London Town website proved a map of the different boroughs, as well as some great descriptions about each individual area.
GOOD TO KNOW
When you move to London there are a couple of things you need to do. You need to find a place to live, you need to find a job (at least most of us do), you need to open up a UK bank account (as most companies won’t pay a foreign bank account), and you need to get an NI number.
An NI number is a National Insurance Number, you can only apply for it once you’re in the UK, and you need to have the right to work or study in the UK. Here you’ll find more information about the NI number. It can take quite some time to get one, and even though you can start working before you have it, it’s a good idea to get this done right away!
If you plan on living in London for quite some time, and especially if you plan on working in London, you will most likely have to get a UK bank account. A lof of companies don’t pay foreign banks, so getting a UK bank will save you a lot of trouble. As a foreigner, in my experience at least, Lloyds and Halifax were the easiest to deal with.
IMMIGRATION AND VISA
If you’re from the European Union you don’t have a problem, pack a bag, and get on a flight. However, if you don’t have a UK or EU passport you’re most likely going to need a visa. Head over to gov.uk to find out what type of visa you’ll need and the requirements that go along with it.
ENJOY LONDON, EVEN WHEN IT’S DRIVING YOU MAD
London can be very stressful, it rains a lot, the tube is constantly crowded and feels like a sauna, it’s expensive, and the distances are far. London is one of Europe’s largest cities and it’s truly international, it can drive you a bit crazy sometimes but that’s ok. Just take a deep breath and enjoy living in London, even when it’s driving you mad.