16 things you need to know before moving to London

Plan moving to London? Got an offer for a new job? Want to do some experience abroad? Learning English? Starting uni here?

if you are planning to move to London, here is what you need to know before moving here. It all comes from experience and they are genuine advises and considerations for you. When I moved here I didn’t know many friends or people to asking any kind of questions, so I experienced London as I started living here, with the kind help of my boyfriend that came visiting me often. 

Moving to London
photocredit: https://www.instagram.com/francesco.crosilla/

I’ll start listing my tips:

  1. To search for rooms/houses/flats, you can use these apps: Spareroom, Zoopla, Rightmove, Gumtree. Look for rooms but don’t send any money before moving in. If you want to be 100% backed up and you have some spare money, there are plenty of estate agencies like Foxtons, DextersKnight Frank that do the job for you. Bear in mind the initial agency fee can be up to 500£. if you have the money available, just do it. Finding a place to live in London can be quite stressful and time-consuming.
  2. Never choose a house before viewing it. I am particularly talking about this point at the start of the list because I had the worst experience as a “welcome to London, Giulia!”. So, here’s my story. I found a room on Spare room, in a nice area, Fulham, and I saw the house on Skype, with a terrible Internet connection, so I actually didn’t see much before moving in. However, I decided to take the room, because I didn’t have a lot of time and I panicked not to find anything else. Worst mistake ever. When I arrived in London I cried all my tears. The house was a basement, it didn’t have any light anywhere. My bedroom didn’t have a window. I couldn’t air my room. The bathroom was disgusting, old and dirty. We had the meter for electricity and gas, so I woke up a lot of times with no gas and light and with cold shower. However, I learned my lesson: never pick a room before visiting yourself 

    Moving to London
    Photocredit: https://www.instagram.com/claire.dima/
  3. Renting in London is expensive. Whether you are a single person, a couple or a family, renting will be the higher expense you will have. The rent will depend on zones (zone 1 is definitely more expensive than zone 2 and 3) and on the area. West London tends to be more expensive because is more posh; East London is little bit cheaper but it’s getting trendier, so it depends on exactly which area you think moving in. To get you an idea, a shared flat in zone 1 or 2 will never be cheaper than 700£ per person per month, unless you share with more than 4 people in a flat, or you are in the room with someone.
  4. If you viewed a flat that you like, and you can afford it, get it. The competition here is really high. Don’t take too long to make up your mind.
  5. Plan the transports, as soon as you have a place to live and you know where you’ll work. Oyster or a contactless card will be your options to access. Get a Oyster as soon as you move and buy a travelcard if you use the transports a lot.
  6. The farther you’ll live from the central area, the more you will spend on public transports. Only zone 1-2 monthly travelcard costs 131£ per person
  7. Choose a place where the tube runs the whole night at weekends so you don’t have the bargain of getting a Uber every time! Moving to London
  8. There’s no really a city centre. However, every borough is like an independent town with its own supermarkets, shops, cinema and pubs. The city centre in London is more the touristic area of shops around Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus.
  9. London is chaotic every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s Tuesday night, the night tube will be packed and the central places like Piccadilly/ Leicester Square/Oxford Circus will be busy as well. You’ll experience a signal failure on public transports at least once a week. 
  10. You have to book literally everything: restaurants, tables at pub, GP, Ice-skating, hairdresser. Some places don’t take reservations, so you can easily queue a good hour outside. it might sound weird, but you’ll get used once moving in. 

    Moving to London
    Photocredit: https://www.instagram.com/claire.dima/
  11. To start working you need a NIN (National Insurance Number). Getting an appointment and sort it out can take a while. To get an interview, you need to have a proof of address. This can be tenancy agreement, a bill or bank statement.
  12. Open a UK Bank account as soon as possible. To book an appointment you need a proof of address. There are accounts for Students, savings, debit cards, credit cards, everything!
  13. Register with the NHS (National Health System). it’s free and you need a GP (General Practitioner) for prescriptions and everything health related. The GP is allocated depending on the area where you live. You need to bring a proof of address to be registered.
  14. Get a UK phone or UK Sim card. If you are on a tight budget I suggest you Giffgaff. My friends and I have been using it for ages and we all love it. Otherwise, the usual Vodafone, Three, O2 are fine too but much more expensive. 

    Moving to London
    Photocredit: https://www.instagram.com/claire.dima/
  15. Don’t panic if you don’t know London at all. There are apps that help you find your way home like Citymapper, using your location.
  16. Don’t bring the whole house with you! London is a huge city so you will find everything here and is not that expensive. For example, don’t bring over duvet and pillows, they take a lot of space in your luggage and you can buy them here for cheap. Have a look at Wilko, IKEAJohn Lewis to have a glance on prices. They also sell pots, cutlery and kitchen utensils

If you have other questions, contact me! I’ll be happy to answer all your doubts 🙂

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