London! It has been my life’s dream to pack my bags, ship myself out of Australia and land smack bang in the middle of London – just a stone’s throw away from magical Europe.
I had many assumptions about what would happen when I moved here; I would jump out of the plane, shout out to all of London that I had arrived, be thrown job offers left, right and centre, and be living in a HUGE room with a luxurious Hyde Park view.
Well that didn’t happen… ASSUME NOT! Moving abroad is an amazing life experience and I love it, but also a lot harder and a lot different than I thought!
Here’s my 10 helpful tips that I have learnt along the way for people moving to London!
1. GET YOUR CV PREPPED BEFORE YOU COME!
Before your even leave for your big move, get your CV ready and if possible get signed reference letters from past employers. This will make your life 100% easier when looking for a job if you don’t have one already lined up, especially if there is a 10 hour time difference involved from your home land.
2. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS! – There are such things as box rooms?!
There are over 8 million people in London. Unfortunately that means salaries aren’t going to be as high as you might be used to (or thought you would get). You may find yourself realising that the only rooms in budget are box rooms nowhere near a tube station! Lower those expectations right down. Take on every opportunity with a yes attitude, even if that means moving into a house with 8 strangers and a wandering cat! It’s London, embrace the quirky.
3. PUTTING A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD!
London is big, rent is super expensive and how do you find somewhere to live when you have no idea where you are?
Handy hint: South side of the river is generally cheaper! Zone 2 or 3 are not that far from the center of town and its easy to get around! Also if you forgo being near a tube (there a other ways to get around – like a bus, overground,or bike), then you can cut off even more money that goes to the dreaded R word.
There are excellent websites such as www.spareroom.co.uk to find exactly what you are looking for. You can find almost anything for your budget- a room in an existing flat share, more than one room, no contract, 6 month contracts. Its also a great way to compare what the prices for a room are in different areas and will help you decide on a location.
Whatever you do make sure you go to view a property before signing anything or putting a deposit down! Scammers have been known to post bogus rental adverts, scare people into ‘securing’ a flat before viewing it and then running off with your deposit and first months rent – not the nicest way to be welcomed to London!
If all else fails when you first arrive and you need temporary accommodation until you find something more permanent, websites such as www.lhalondon.com are really handy! You can rent a room or share a room on a weekly basis, stress free and there are locations all over London. Mostly students live there, so its far cheaper than spending all your money on hotels, you will also feel safe and be able to find somewhere you want to live with no pressure.
4. NATIONAL INSURANCE NUMBER! What is that?
This is your tax number! Without it you can’t get paid.
Try and get this sorted ASAP. You can’t get one until you have moved here, so as soon as you have a physical address start the process. Getting your national insurance number can be long and painful. Most companies let you start without having one, as long as you have already applied. You do unfortunately get taxed more in that instance. The quicker you fill in the documents and hand them in, the more money you get in pocket on pay day! P.s. Don’t change address in the middle of this process, that adds an extra 6 weeks on to your waiting time while they re-issue you new documents.
5. SORTING OUT A BANK ACCOUNT
Here’s the thing…
-You can’t get a job without a bank account.
-You can’t get somewhere to live without a paying job.
-You can get a bank account without somewhere to live.
Fear not! Banks such as HSBC will in fact allow you to open up a basic bank account using your address from your home country – as long as you have proof of that address. Just make sure you have a corresponding address in the UK for your bank documents to be sent to and make sure they actually put the UK address in the system. Otherwise, your pin number will in fact be sent to Australia. *Face Slap*
6. DON’T SETTLE FOR ANY JOB!
Find a job that makes you happy! You just moved to London, there is no need to be miserable every day! With such a wide variety of recruitment agencies and opportunities in one city, there is definitely a job out there for you. Companies like us, and many others across the city, are here to help you find your dream job. You may need to bartend on the side for a while until you find the job that you enjoy. But, there is no harm in being picky, after all you spend a lot of time at work!
7. TUBES AND BUSES ARE INSANE – TRY CYCLING
They say the London tube system is one of the best in the world. It can also be traumatic, hot, stinky and scary in peak hour traffic. Although very convenient, London transport can become rather expensive and burn a hole in your pocket (all of your money is already going into that spacious box room!)
Why not try cycling? With 2nd hand bike shops, work cycle schemes and £2-a-day Santander Bikes, you can not only beat the morning traffic, but you can also get your daily cardio in. You’ll feel a lot better than being squished in to a smelly tube, and it’s better for the environment of course.
8. MAKE FRIENDS AND MAKE THEM QUICK!
Join a local team, go to a pub, interact with your room-mates – ANYTHING!
The more you put yourself out there, the more tips you will get on how to survive in the big city and the more filled your time in London will be with friends and things to do. As I said, there’s 8 Million people living here, why be lonely!
9. BUY SOME GOOD WALKING SHOES!
I did not come prepared at all! You will barely wear anything else. Invest in some good, comfortable, walking sneakers. Cobble stones and heels are not friends (enough said).
10. BE A TOURIST IN LONDON
London is a big place, with a lot of history. Never say you are bored!
There is always something to see and do. From doing as the English do and laying in Hyde Park or checking out a giant, purple, upside down cow at Southbank, to venturing up the Walkie talkie and into the Sky Garden, there is never a dull day. Either way, get your Google on and explore your new home. There are hidden bars and attractions everywhere, get out there! Most importantly, just have fun. Because you now live in London!