Moving and Packing Tips

Guide on Moving to London: What You Need to Know

Moving to London can be a complicated process, especially now that the UK is out of the European Union, but it’s not impossible. There are many things you need to know and do before you even start packing, but that’s what this post is all about.

So if you,

  • Want to relocate to London for work or study;
  • Wonder how to best prepare yourself for life in this megacity;
  • Want your move to go as smooth as possible;

Then read this guide on how to move to London. In the long run, you might come to realise that relocating was one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.

Pros and cons of moving to London

London looks like a glamorous place to live in, but just like any other city, it has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Take these into consideration as they are quite important and some can even make you wonder if moving to London is a good idea in the first place.

Pros

Wide variety of job opportunities

London’s economy is primarily made up of service industries, particularly in the financial sector with strong ties to the economy. Still, even if you’re not an economist, you have unlimited options when it comes to skilled or unskilled work to choose from. You can either work something casual, make a career or even start your own business. With a population of nearly 9 million people and growing, there is no shortage of employers and plenty of clients.

Also, there are numerous recruitment agencies which will find you suitable work in no time. Business opportunities alone are enough to make it worth moving to London.

Excellent public transport

Should you move here and decide to use public transport for getting around, be it to work or school, you have plenty of options, the most popular of which are:

  • The London Underground (the tube) – is a great way to travel from, to and around central London. The entire public transport network is divided into 9 travel zones with zone 1 covering central London, while zones from 6 to 9 reach the outskirts of the city. The tube trains run between 5 am and midnight from Monday to Saturday and have slightly reduced operating hours on Sundays. As an alternative, there is also the Overground which is better if you want to skip the central part of the city.
  • Double-decker buses – a convenient and cheap way to travel around the city and see plenty of sights. London busses are all cashless, so you need either a contactless card, Oyster card or Travelcard to ride. There is also the added benefit that you can transfer to other buses or trams for free an unlimited number of times. However, you need to do this within one hour of touching in for your first journey.

Some other transportation options include the DLR (Docklands Light Railway), trams and taxis.

Health care is free

The National Health Service (NHS) is responsible for providing all British residents and all who are lawfully entitled to be in the UK, with free healthcare. That includes hospital visits, visits to physicians and mental healthcare.

Plenty to do

On your days off from work, you can explore beautiful parks, art galleries, museums and historical sites, not to mention the numerous landmarks. A great majority of these are free. If you’re into theatre, festivals or concerts, there is no shortage of that either. And as a final touch, you can finish your day by going to a nice restaurant or bar, there is one for every taste.

Cons

London is very expensive

To say that London is an expensive city is an understatement. So, how much are we talking about? According to Homelet, the average rental value for new tenancies has reached £1,832 a month and according to Standard, the average household now spends £23,380 yearly on rent. £3,000 of tenants’ money goes on bills as well. Quite large sums of money.

However, the salary in London is also higher than that of neighbouring cities, so there’s that.

It’s busy and noisy

That is to be expected when you have millions of residents combined with a steady flow of tourists. Because of restricted on-road use in the central parts of the city, residents and visitors use public transport and that can get hectic during rush hour, summertime and holidays. When everybody is in a hurry for work and school you will often see public transport packed to the brim.

If you don’t mind the noise and people everywhere, then kudos to you. But, if you want peace and quiet after a long day, you may have trouble finding it.

The weather is depressing

Britain as a whole is notorious for its bad weather and London is no expedition. While it does experience the four separate seasons, light showers and grey cloudy skies are a constant throughout the entire year.

During the winter you can expect the maximum temperature to reach 48°F (9°C) whereas in the summertime it goes up to 73°F (23°C). Still, weather conditions can fluctuate quite a bit in the course of just a single day.

Air pollution

Every city has air pollution as a result of its traffic, but London has it way worse because of its sheer size and the dense road network. The closer you are to the centre, the more polluted the air is. There is no way around this and you have to decide if moving to London is a good idea if the air is not very clean.

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What to consider before moving to London?

Now that you’ve decided this city is right for you and you are ready to take the good with the bad, it’s time you learned what to do before moving to London.

How difficult the move will be

As with any home relocation, the more items you have, the harder and more expensive the move will be. You need to find boxes and packing materials, pack all your items properly and label each box. Then find reliable movers to load everything, relocate it and unload it. You also need to pay for shipping from port to port, customs clearance and so on.

Where to live in the big city

One of the most important things to know before moving to London is where you will be staying. You need to pick an area which is safe, as close to your workplace as possible and has good education opportunities for your children if you have any or plan to. The following categories should help you make a wiser choice:

For families

  • Richmond – surrounded by green areas Kew Gardens and Richmond Park and having a view of the River Thames, Richmond is a desired location for many families both young and old. It’s only a half-hour journey to the centre of London and has one of the lowest crime rates in the city.
  • Chiswick – a low crime rate, a range of successful schools and boutique stores settled on quiet streets make Chiswick the perfect place to be if you dislike the city noise and hassle. Some people even describe it as still having a village feel.
  • Stoke Newington – this borough has a mixture of Georgian and red brick Victorian 4-bedroom houses, thus attracting families of all kinds and sizes. Abney Park and Clissold Park provide Stoke Newington with acres of green space for lazy Sundays.

Other family-friendly areas you need to check out are: Hillingdon, Notting Hill, Primrose Hill, and Battersea.

For expats

  • Camden – offers a wide range of housing from affordable to very expensive, but the main focus is the high street full of locals and tourists alike, running about their daily business. Night time is when Camden becomes alive with a rich social scene and live music performances.
  • Fitzrovia – English pub scene, quiet residential alleys and excellent transport links, make Fitzrovia a desired location for numerous young professionals who like to work hard and play hard.
  • Shoreditch – is a rich business environment housing numerous businesses in the digital, technology sector. As far as recreation, the area offers a wide range of shopping amenities, as well as numerous pubs, cocktail bars and restaurants.
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Cost of living in London

You might be wondering “how much money do I need saved to move to London?” Well, when you put the moving expenses aside, you will need at least £2,000 before stepping foot into London and that’s just the bare minimum.

Besides your monthly rent, you will also spend money on a renter’s insurance. It costs around £15 to £20 per month and covers your possessions’ value. Then come the utilities – electricity, water and internet which can come to around £150 and £200 a month.

Transportation is another thing you can’t go without unless you only plan to work from home. A travel card for everyday use has a monthly cost of £147.50 and an annual cost of £1,536. That’s just for one zone, mind you.

Groceries and the occasional eating out will also take a significant part of your monthly budget.

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Documentation

Besides all the things to consider when moving to London, you also need to acquire some mandatory paperwork.

Visa

All non-UK residents require a Visa to live in London. The requirements differ for European, American and Australian citizens as well as those from non-commonwealth countries. Your visa will also differ depending on the purpose of your stay that is: work, study, relocation with family or permanent residence.

Obtaining a visa is not easy and may take some time. That is why it’s highly recommended you apply for one months before your move. You need to have this document before any moving takes place.

Bank account

You will need a local bank account to receive your salary and a bank card to pay for goods and services. It’s best to have that taken care of before you arrive at the capital, so it would be ready once you get here. If your UK bank account is not ready when you arrive, you can still use your international account, but it will probably charge you some extra fees.

Insurance

You will need more than one insurance when you live and work in London. You already know about the renter’s insurance. You will also need car insurance if you plan to drive around town. If you own a car, but don’t use it, you need to apply for a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification), so either way, you have to pay for the car. The same goes for purchasing a house, you will need home insurance.

Next comes social insurance which applies for both employees and the self-employed who earn above the minimum threshold.

Optional, but recommended, insurances include: health insurance, contents insurance and others which you can check on Expatica.com.

Driving license

Most licenses are transferable, but it’s still best to check with your local authorities before getting behind the wheel. If you have a personal vehicle, you need to make sure it complies with the Ultra Low Emission Zone requirements.

Tips for moving to London

Now that you’re well aware of all the preparation work you need to do, it’s time to read some tips on moving to London.

  • Research for accommodation – finding the right apartment for your needs shouldn’t be rushed, but on the other hand, it’s very difficult to find one when you’re still not in the city. If you have friends or family in London, stay with them until you find a suitable place for yourself. That way you won’t have to move all your stuff in one go, and in the meantime, you can search for a place which feels like home. If you don’t know anyone, find a serviced apartment for the time being.
  • Arrive during the winter – it may sound absurd, but if possible, do it. January and February are the best time to arrive because that’s when the tourist flow is weakest. The public transport will be less overcrowded and the Christmas festivities will have passed, so the locals wouldn’t be in a buying frenzy.
  • Research for jobs – if you already have an arrangement, skip this part. If not, start searching well in advance to get a better idea of what the market is like and what jobs meet your skill level. This is probably essential advice when moving to London. Make sure your CV and LinkedIn profile are up to date.
  • Be vigilant with your roommates – It will be awesome if you already know your roommates, but if you don’t, get an agreement in writing. It should contain information on how you split the utility bill among yourselves and the due dates for payments. You should have one even if you know the people, but with strangers, it’s almost mandatory so you won’t get scammed.
  • Search for like-minded people – new friends who have been here longer than you will show you the inner workings of the city and help you adapt faster.
  • Give yourself time – getting used to a hectic city like London won’t happen overnight, especially when you consider the traffic and price of life. Try and form new routines, to give your life a sense of structure.

Fantastic Services can help with your move!

If all this moving to London business sounds stressful, you are right, it is. But, it won’t be if you let Fantastic Services help you. We can provide you with plenty of benefits and services related to your move, so it’s as stress-free as possible.

For starters, the movers we work with are trained and fully equipped. They will not only transport your belongings from one place to another, regardless of their size and weight, but can also properly pack everything in sturdy moving boxes. Before they do any of that, however, they need to conduct a survey. Usually, this is done with one company representative visiting you at a convenient time. But in today’s fast-paced world, we know that can be difficult, so we offer online surveys.

The end of each move is marked by cleaning, so we got you covered once again with our end-of-tenancy cleaning services. And finally, we have storage space in London with 24/7 surveillance systems, should you need it for any reason. Call us today!

Need help moving to London in a stress-free manner?

Hire professional movers today!

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Takeaways

  • Take into consideration all the positives and negatives before moving to London. It has many of both.
  • Have a good sum of money stored for expenditures in the first few months.
  • Decide where to live. Some boroughs are more suitable for families, while others for young professionals
  • Have all the necessary documentation prepared well in advance

Image source: Sampajano_Anizza / Shutterstock

 
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