Moving to London
It is commonplace in the UK that people share homes - particularly in London as the cost of living is so high. It’s not surprising for a couple to share a flat with others, so to live in London comfortably you may have to alter your boundaries regarding privacy.
Another thing to consider is that no one lives in Zone 1 as designated on the Tube map - this area is considering incredibly expensive, and therefore any property that you will find there will be exponentially more expensive than property in similar condition elsewhere. If you see something in Zone 1 that seems too good to be true - it probably is.
For reference, outside of Zone 1 but within 10 - 15 minutes of Central London, people spend at least £600 for a room and £1200 for a small studio.
If you want to know more about London neighbourhoods, we have an entire section for that in the above toolbar. If you're moving to London long-term, we still recommend renting a flat for a few weeks so you can get a good idea of where you'd like to live.
If you need help to finding accommodation in London for your stay, please give us your checkin and checkout dates, budget and preferred areas and we will send some options to your inbox.
There are two major types of immigration in the UK: immigration from the European Union and immigration from outside of the EU:
- If you wish to move to London from within the EU, you’re already eligible to live and claim residency in the UK.
- If you are from outside of the EU you will need a visa. Please take a look at the official UK government website for more information on your UK visa options. Of particular interest is the Ancestry visa - if you can prove that at least one of your grandparent’s was born in the UK, you’re eligible to work in the UK for up to 5 years on a relatively cheap visa.
Healthcare in London
Before moving to London, visit your local health care professional and dentist and receive any immunizations and a certificate of health. Confirm that any prescriptions you will need will be available in the UK before moving, or make sure to ask your doctor to provide you with an ample supply or a way to deliver them to you while you are living in London.
Once you’ve begun living or working in London from Europe, you'll be able to use your EHICand the NHS. If you're from the United States or another country, look into your insurance company's options for Europe.
Private health care is also available in the UK, and it works well alongside public care. Please research to find out which option is best for you.
Opening a Bank Account
If you already have a bank account with a global bank it’s worth checking with them if you can open a local account in the UK. This will be much easier than starting from nothing.
To set a up a bank account after you move to London, you will need several proofs of identity so take your passport, driving licence, visa, proof of address (or if you haven’t got a UK address yet, proof of previous address and a letter from the university or employer confirming residency) and previous bank statements. Most banks don’t charge commissions for current accounts.
Employment in the UK
If you have come to the UK for a job, we recommend checking with a UK resident for your prospects - see if there is a lot of demand for your position, and where exactly that demand is.
Curriculum vitae: There is a new standardized European CV that many use when they move to a new EU country - it’s generally a safe bet to use this one in the UK, but please do research other differences from the UK and your country. It’s quite customary to include a cover letter when applying in the UK, so do some research if this is not practiced in your country.
When going out for interviews in the UK, you will be asked for recommendations, so bring letters from your employees and be prepared to be asked for contact details of previous jobs.
One of the best things about London it how frequent meetups and informal networking events happen. It’s easy to hear about these and attend, and networking here is better than sending CVs. Personal contacts are used a lot as well.
We post about internship opportunities in London on our Google+ community.
Budgeting in London
Even though London has lots of tempting things to sink your money into, if you’re here on a limited budget (which most of us are) you may need to reel yourself in. Here are some ways to save money so that you can splurge when you really need to.
- Eat in whenever possible - some of the biggest money temptations in London are the restaurants, but don’t fall for it! It’s worth saving up some money to splurge on a nice meal out, but food you make at home can be just as good as the average eatery, if not better. Not only that, but it will also cost a fraction of the price! Look up online some of your favorite recipes and takeaway foods, and start making them at home.
- Public transportation can be a real money sink as well, but if you make the right choices you can save tons. Walk whenever possible, and when something is too far for that to be feasible take the bus. Make sure you’ve got yourself an Oyster card and if applicable a student railcard. 16-25 railcard, or any other form of discount. Look into it on the official TFL website, or ask at an Underground station what you’re eligible for, discount-wise. The Underground should only be used if you’re unsure of the bus route or walking path, or in a hurry - it’s the most expensive of the public transport options.
- Shop competitively because the nearest shop might not be the cheapest. Look online on sites like Amazon for home products like electronic goods and plates, things you may need for your flat. Argos on the high street is also a pretty good choice for things like this, and will sometimes work out cheaper than Amazon when you consider sales and shipping. Grocery stores compete on a week-to-week basis, so shop around for your food and see what’s cheapest where. In general places like Asda and Tesco will be cheaper than M&S or Waitrose. Start racking up Boots and Superdrug points, too - they add up pretty quickly if you buy lots of toiletries or self-care products.
- Before you pay to enter an exhibition or a club, make sure you’ve exhausted all your free options first! Stick to your budget, and London won’t be that big of a hassle.
Travelling in London
Life in London means lots of public transportation options available, ranging from the most expensive (taxis) to the cheapest (walking) and everything in between. Walking can be particularly nice if you’re exploring and considering living in London. We recommend buying an Oyster card, which also offers 30% discount for students for monthly passes.
Most everyone living in London has an Oyster card. These cost a £5 deposit and can be bought at any tube station ticket desk. You can top up your card with credit in tube stations and shops and then “tap in” at tube gates or on buses. There are set prices for individual journeys depending on how far you travel or how many journeys you make, and your card will automatically cap at a travel card price to save you money. This is always cheaper than paying for an individual ride.
Click here for more information and exact prices for travel.
London has an extensive bus network. Look online at TFL for details of bus routes. You need to buy tickets before you travel – buy them at the bus stops. Or you can tap in using your Oyster card which is always cheaper.
Tap in using your Oyster card, or buy tickets for travel in the tube stations. All the lines are colour-coded with changing stations clearly marked. Keep a tube map on you to plan the best route before you travel. The trains will always be heading to the final destination on the line, so use this to check it is going in the right direction. Remember to tap out when leaving the station if using an Oyster card to travel.
Grab your own bike or use the Barclays docking stations all over London. Enter your debit card into the machine, you will be charged £1 for 24 hours access and can then use a bike for up to 30 minutes for free and then re-dock the bike at a new station.
The most expensive option for travel while living in London, unless you are in a big group. Black cabs with their yellow “For Hire” sign lit up can be hailed from the street, as long as you stand in a place where it is easy to stop. Ask the driver for an estimate on how much it will cost and remember they usually expect a small tip.
Education in London
It’s important that if you’re travelling with your family that you begin looking for schools early. Depending on where you’re staying, you can learn more about the different types of schools in your area. Education in Britain is supported by taxes and most schools require uniforms - compulsory schooling also ends at 16, and from there students can continue in higher education, join the workforce, or take on a skilled apprenticeship. It’s something important to research if moving with family.
It’s also quite common in the UK for adults to take classes to improve their career or just learn more about their interests. There are many centers for adult education, in addition to many universities that offer night classes. Google ‘adult education’ and the name of the neighborhood or borough that you will be staying in. For instance, adult education in Hackney.
Meeting People in London
It's easy to make friends in London. If you are going to live in London, meeting people here isn’t difficult, there are always people around and in general they are a friendly bunch. It should make it easier for you to make friends in London when you realize how very few people are actually from here themselves - only 21% of the population was born in the city.
If you’re employed, work culture in the UK dictates a lot of trips to the pub to have drinks with co-workers. It’s very commonplace, and a good opportunity to get to know your co-workers outside of work - a great way to make friends, but you might want to branch out further.
Since London is such a big city full of people who are looking to meet each other, there are lots of options for meetups. Google your interest, London, and meet ups - you’ll find something. For example, if you’re into hiking in London you’d probably have fun with these guys.
One of the easiest ways to meet new people and have fun outside of your ‘comfort zone’ is to go out with your flatmates. You’ll meet there friends, they will meet your friends, and you’ll all be able to get home together! It’s a fun option, and when you get to know people a bit better it’s much easier to live with them, too.
Social Belly is a new way to meet people in London by sharing a meal with them. Add your availability, interests to the site, and arrange to share a meal with like-minded people. These are dinner parties hosted either in someone's home or at an independent restaurant where no-one knows each other, but everyone has something in common, food!
If you’re moving looking for something a bit more romantic, socially - we recommend Tinder and Happn - both very popular in London. That’s as far as we’ll go with romance advice, though!
Things to Do in London
If you’re on a budget in London, there are plenty of free things to do around town that are just as fun as something pricy. You can find cool things to do for the entirety of your trip on the websites for TimeOutand Londonist. There you can find discounts on things with a cost, and plenty of ideas for free fun.
Keep in mind that in London all public museums are free entry - and there are a lot of public museums in London!
Yearly Events in London
There are some things you can’t count in London - and we don’t just mean the rain. These events take place every year, and they’re good fun. Here are just a few:
Everyday Life in London
While there are exciting events happening every single day in London, most of the time people have more casual fun. For instance going out to a pub is a very common and fun thing to do in London. Get a bit of food and drink with friends, and relax. There isn’t an expectation of drunkenness, by and large - making it perhaps a different night on the town than you’re used to. It’s quite customary in London for the pub to be where you get one or two beers and a meal after work - not usually a place to get drunk. Generally for more revelry a nightclub is the spot!
Parks are another thing that Londoners do on a day to day basis - places like Regent’s Park, Hyde Park, St James’ Park, Battersea Park are all well attended from morning to evening. Relax in some well-maintained greens, have a picnic, or just read a book on a bench.
Londoners also love shopping - outdoor markets like Portobello Market, Spitalfields and the markets of Camden are very popular for bargains, street food, and more. There’s also Westfield, the biggest shopping area in all of Europe. That one is very busy on the weekends!
Integration in London
It’s very easy to integrate into life in London once you’ve gotten used to the basics. Public transportation, having a couple of friends, and getting along at work is all you need to be sure of!
London is a big, metropolitan city that is very accepting of differences. Wherever you come from, your background, or your interests if you move to London you’ll find like-minded here, and those that aren’t just like you will likely accept you with welcome arms! Londoners embrace differences and are open to learning more about people and other cultures.
The worst thing about moving to London, we have to be honest, is the weatehr. It will become a topic of discussion for the entirety of your life here - mostly negative. Summer is at best okay, and winter is dark, wet, and usually without the clean merriment of snow. Expect rain - more rain than you previously thought possible.
The positives are that it never gets too terribly cold, perhaps compared to Northern Europe/Scandinavia. Nor does it get stiflingly hot like some parts of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Want to know what to expect day to day? Check the BBC.