After moving to London from Australia last year (and planning to move to Canada in a couple of weeks!) I know a few things about international relocation. After struggling to find work in sales or digital design in Australia, I am so glad I took the plunge! It may seem daunting at first, but moving to London has been one of the most professionally and personally rewarding things I have ever done.
I wanted to share all my tips, tricks and hacks to make relocating to London slightly less annoying and stressful.
Before you arrive:
- Visa/Right to work permit – This is self-explanatory, however can be very time consuming and expensive. GOV.UK are doing a really good job in cleaning up the whole user experience of the passport/visa process, but I would recommend doing this well in advance! (see here for more info)
- Register with Spareroom – Heads up, you will be shocked. “Is that all I get for £700 a month?” will go through your mind multiple times. What are your priorities? Do you still want smashed avocado and eggs for Sunday brunch? Go to Balham. Do you want to be near the best bars? Go to Shoreditch. To rub shoulders with the posh crowd? Go to Chelsea (and be prepared to pay for it!). And of course, make sure it is walking distance of a tube station and a good pub.
- Initial accommodation – Until you find a place, you can obviously get an Airbnb or hotel room, but that can get very expensive very quickly. I would recommend a hostel (some starting at just £12 a night) for something basic, or another option is to house-sit. You can have a whole flat/house usually in exchange for minding pets and/or gardens.
- Be in contact with 2-3 (good) recruitment agencies – If you find a good recruitment consultant, hold on to them! They will be a huge help in preparing you for roles and the current London market. Go through Linked In and find relevant consultants to your field, and ping them a quick message about yourself, your situation and your expectations. The good ones will make themselves known very quickly!
When you arrive:
- Banking – Lloyds and HSBC are good options and have a simple process with no need for a proof of address, however inner city branches are always busy so get in early! Another option is getting a Monzo, Tandem, Atom or Starling Bank card. They provide you with a prepaid card or current account that is accessible via their apps, with little or no banking or international fees. I have a Monzo card and love it!
- Public transport – It’s pretty easy to get around London (when there’s not a strike), with the choice of the tube, buses, overground, & the DLR. It can be expensive, but you really don’t need a car. You used to have to have a pre-paid Oyster card, however now you can also just use a contactless card. Easy!
- Getting connected – Buying a SIM card is simple, and are available at airports, shops and petrol stations. I would recommend getting something with a good data plan, as Londoners use Whatsapp more than texts.
- Health – Going to the doctor may take up half of your day, but at least it’s free! To access this and be eligible to work in the UK, you need to apply for a NIN, aka a national insurance number after you arrive.
- Essential apps – For the geographically challenged such as myself, Citymapper is one of the best apps ever invented, with continuous transport updates paired with great UI. For foodies, UberEats and Dojo are a must. And if you want to treat yo self, get Treatwell for the best salons.
- Social – London is a big city, but it is so easy to get lonely in the hustle and bustle. I keep active with a Monday social netball league (Go East Enders!) through the hugely popular site GoMammoth. They organise multiple sports teams and events all across the country for all levels of expertise. There are many online groups on social media that you can join such as Aussies in London and GirlCrew, with plenty of events to get involved with. You can also join Meetups about anything from salsa dancing to board game clubs to vegan parties– anything that you can imagine, there is a meetup about it. It’s a great way to find a new hobby and make new friends in London!
These are the basics – for all the other expats, what would you recommend for newcomers? Any tales, tips or tricks?