I moved to London about a year and a half ago and have not looked back! However, moving country/city can be difficult, so I have compiled my top tips I learnt throughout my journey!
My top tips for Making the move to London
1. SAVE SAVE SAVE! London is a ridiculously expensive place, and the more money you have saved in your bank account the better. Often when trying to budget a move, you can underestimate the amount of additional costs you can be landed with – agency fees, furniture, TV licences etc. Having as much savings as you can eliminates any additional stress – as moving country is can be tough as it is.
2. CUT yourself some slack. A wise person once told me that the three most stressful things in life are moving house/country, changing job/career and death. Often, when moving country, you are experiencing at least one, if not two of these things. So, if you are feeling overwhelmed, then do not worry – it’s very normal. Take each challenge one day at a time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help – you would be surprised at how nice and helpful people can be.
3. IF you can get a job in advance, then do! This will make your life a whole lot easier. Alternatively, it can be good to plan interviews (as best you can) in advance, and come back and forth from your home country. Ask a friend can you sleep on their couch while you’re over there! Anyone who lives in London has been through this at one point or another, so they will completely understand. I came over to London without a job and believe me it is very stressful, unpredictable and can be very emotionally draining.
4. PLAN. Try and plan your move as far in advance as you can. This will allow you plenty of time to research, before taking the big leap. For example, where exactly you want to live (is it convenient/safe) or where you are going to work etc etc.
5. PRIORITISE. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to do this. As individuals, we all have different priorities in life, and it is important to do what works for you. For example, some people might want to live in a lovely property and be willing to pay higher rent, others might prefer to live somewhere less fancy and save on the cost of living. However, if you do what’s right for you, then it will help you settle in quicker in the long term.
6. DON’T be afraid to reach out to people. One of the things that is so great about London is that it is made up of lots of different communities. In my case, there is a huge Irish community here, and everyone knows what it is like to be the ‘newbie’ in town. From my own experience, everyone really looks out for one another, so it is best to try and meet with as many people as you can. Often you will find that someone knows someone, who knows someone, who can help you when it comes to meeting new people, finding a job and sorting out somewhere to live.
Facebook pages are a great way of reaching out to be people. Most foreign communities in London have their own Facebook page (Ireland included) where people post about jobs, spare rooms, rooms to rent, offers, tickets, events and more.
7. HAVE FUN! There is no doubt about it – moving is stressful! But it is an exciting experience too. Try not to get too bogged down on the little things and enjoy the exciting adventures you have ahead. Make a list and plan all the things the you want to explore in your new city.
The moving checklist
- Finding a house/place to live
- Oyster Card: this is the ultimate travel card for getting around London and works across all modes of transport. Check out the tfl for weekly and monthly cards/rates and discounted rates for students and adults under 25. London is divided by zones, so if you are purchasing a travel card, make sure you get it for the correct zones. You can use your contactless cards which will be capped daily/weekly, however sometimes this can end up costing you more than having an oyster card.
- National insurance number: This is done in your local area and you need to call up to book an appointment.
- Local GP set up: You can use the NHS website to guide you to your local clinic. Click here to search. In the meantime, if you do get sick and are in need of a doctor, there are so many walk-in clinics in London that you can go to and get seen to quickly.
- UK bank account: I would recommend Barclays, HSBC and Halifax.
- UK mobile number: If your phone is unlocked, simply call into your preferred network to get your sim card/decide your plan, and you are good to go.
- Unexpected Fees: extra costs to keep in mind include agency fees, furniture, reference checks, TV licence, house deposit.
Websites/Apps to use/download:
These are all the apps/websites that I found useful when moving to London:
TransferWise: this app is great for transferring money from a UK account to a foreign account. The conversion rates are much lower than doing it through your banking app.
SpareRoom. co.uk: this website is great if you are looking for somewhere to stay either temporarily/permanently. It is also a great way to find people to live with. The website encourages that you interview and meet people before moving in, so you can ensure that the fit is right for you.
Uber: Uber is so much cheaper to use in London than regular taxis and definitely worth downloading. My friends and I never use regular taxis, as a result.
Citymapper: this app is fantastic for getting around London. It advices you as to the quickest route to your destination and the best mode of transport to use. The app can be used in other cities in Europe as well. I used it when I was in Paris recently.