Whether you are making the jump across the pond for work, romantic or study reasons, these 10 tips will ensure your big London move goes as smoothly as the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.
Plan your move like a military operation:
Once you have sorted out the boring things like your visa and other bureaucratic obstacles, it’s time to get your accommodation in place. The London rental market is fast moving and you should really aim to start viewing houses or flats at least a month before your move. You’ll need to arrange references and deposits before you are handed the keys and these things can take time. The great news is that there are many online property resources to help you find your London pad whether you are on a shoestring or unlimited budget.
Be open-minded about where you live:
While you may have your heart set on an apartment with a view over the Thames, the reality is that a premium view comes at a premium price. A three-bedroom apartment in West London can set you back from £2,000 per calendar month. Be open to compromise if this is outside of your budget.
Network, network, network…
Really want to get the lowdown on London life? Joining an expat community forum can really help you to become acquainted with those that have ‘been here, done that’. There are plenty of professional organisations, expat groups and individual expats who would be very happy to share their knowledge with you.
Find a good recruitment agent:
If you don’t already have a job in the city lined up, there are many recruitment agencies that specialise in London jobs. Whether you are looking for part-time or full-time employment, getting your name and CV known at a good agency before you arrive will give you a great head start. Most jobs in the city will need you to have a work permit in place so make sure you deal with this task as a priority to make yourself more appealing and to prevent any unnecessary delays.
Get used to the cost of living:
If there is one thing that expats in London get used to quickly, it’s that it can be very expensive. Sure, there are ways to make your money go further, but overall the cost of living in the city can be shocking at first. For example, electricity alone can cost £50 per month, council tax can cost anything between £100 and £300 and a contract mobile phone can cost from £35 a month.
Choose the right currency provider:
Whether you are going to be transferring money between an overseas account and your new London account or you need to exchange currency, you will need to find a good currency provider or money transfer broker. A good rule of thumb is to avoid the 0% commission deals that you will find dotted along any major London street or even those you see online. Stick to the companies offering good honest advice and an exchange rate that is as close to the interbank rate as possible.
Walk or cycle where you can:
The London travel networks can be expensive so if you can manage it, walking or cycling can save you a fortune. The good news is that recent developments have seen more cycle lanes being created and there is also so much to be seen when taking to the streets on foot.
Shop the markets:
London is a great place for market shopping. Petticoat Lane, Borough and Well Street are just some of the bustling markets you can find across the capital. Here you’ll find an abundance of foods, clothing and everyday items available at a much lower price than the supermarkets are offering.
Be a tourist!
In every corner of the city there is something to see. From the Toy Museum in Bethnal Green to Kew Gardens and North Greenwich, you’ll find something exciting to do and see no matter how long you live in London. And the best bit is that everything is usually under half an hour away by Tube or bus.
Immerse yourself in London culture:
London can be a confusing place when you first arrive. The good news is that there are many published and online guides you can use to gen up on cockney rhyming slang, the spaghetti-like London Underground map and the myriad of things to do.
About the author:
Daniel Abrahams is a keen personal finance writer, startup mentor at ABC Startups and the Co-Founder of OPP award-winning comparison website, MyTravelMoney. Recently, the company launched sister product CurrencyTransfer.com which represented the UK as part of a UKTI government trade mission to SXSW in Austin, Texas.