Your New Home Awaits…
by Adam Stokes
So your friends have asked you why you’re moving to London? Yes, the weather in London can be dreary and unpredictable, and yes, the underground can feel like you’ve unwittingly joined in a battle royale, all of which is normally overshadowed by the price that you pay for your coffee … but that’s why you love it! And you’re not alone. Broke in London understand this love, and we want to make you’re transition into one of the most exciting capitals in the world as easy as possible. We’ve got your ultimate moving house checklist, as well as tips, opinions and advice on everything you need to know before making the move from your corner of the world to ours. This includes how to find jobs in London as well as the best way to go about finding flats to rent, rooms to rent, and apartments in London. As well as all the basics, we’ll let you know how to make the most of living here once you’ve settled in. But first, let’s make sure that you’re ready to leave your old life behind…
Before You Leave
Here are our super important tips for before you’ve even booked your flight to London.
- First and most important is to make sure that you have the right visa required to stay in the country. If you’re not from the EU, you’ll need to make sure you apply for the right kind of visa. You can find all the necessary information here.
- The Kickstart UK package provides you with all the right documents you need to begin searching for work as soon as you arrive, and for a considerably small fee, too.
- Don’t forget the check out the Citizens Advice Bureau. They offer free, handy advice on anything and everything, so they can put your mind at ease and answer any questions you may have.
- If you want to book cheap air tickets try Skyscanner or Cheapoair.
So, now you’re here, what do you do next? You need a job, somewhere to live. Where do you go to eat, how do you get there? How much will it cost? Don’t worry, at Broke in London, we’ve done it all before. Take a deep breath, relax, and read on.
There are a lot of things that will need sorting when you arrive in London, and quite quickly too, so let’s get started.
#1 Exchanging Money
First things first, you’re gonna need money. It’s a good idea to make sure you have some British currency when you first arrive so that you can survive before you change the rest, but don’t exchange it all in one go. The more you have, the more you can lose by using the worst possible rates. Do some research for the best rate you can find, or simply head to the Post Office (they usually offer the best rate of the day.)
#2 Finding Accommodation
It might seem impossible, but with a little perseverance, and a lot of knowhow, finding a place to stay in London doesn’t always have to be difficult – if you’re lucky you might even find it for free! Working out where to live in such a big city can be made easy with our London Wizard article that matches you with a location based on your personality. Whether you’re looking for a studio flat, a serviced apartment, student accommodation or a quaint little bedsit, we’ve got all the information you need on how to go about finding a budget place to stay, both short-term and long-term. Getting a roof over your head is a top priority, so be sure to check out our tips and advice before you start hunting.
#3 Storing everything
While you’re searching for that roof, it’s likely that you don’t want to be lugging around every material possession you own. Self storage lockers are a great way to keep all your bits and bobs safe in one place while you look for somewhere to live, and if you find the right place they don’t cost too much either. With places dotted all over London that vary hugely in size, just find the right one for you and lock your stuff away for another day.
#4 Travelling around
In case you hadn’t noticed, our capital is big. Very big. Getting out your London Map might not always help in a place like this, so making sure you’re ready and comfortable using transportation is a must. From Oyster cards to Freedom Passes, make sure you’re clued up on exactly what you’re eligible for to ensure you can get around London as easy as possible, and save as much money as you can while doing it.
If you want to spend virtually nothing, check out our Riding in London guide as well as our Money Saving Tips for Cyclists. Cheap travel in London can be achieved, you just have to be smart about it. Check out these top 10 free London transport apps to help you plan your journeys better and save your precious cash.
#5 Staying healthy
In some instances, London is like everywhere else, and staying healthy with regular check-ups is essential when starting up a new life here. Find your local surgery and sign up as soon as you can. It’s free, and normally doesn’t take too long for you to be registered, so you’ll be covered in no time.
Broke in London’s 3 top tips for getting sorted are…
- Spareroom, Easyroommate and Gumtree are ideal if you’re looking to share your living space, but Zoopla is better if you want to go it alone.
- Check comparison websites for things like council tax and exchange rates to make sure you save as much money as possible.
- If you have children, then where you decide to live might be determined by the local schools. Check them out here.
Now you know exactly what to do when you first arrive in good old London. But it’s not over yet. You must be feeling rather bare without any of your tech set up, right?
Now that you’ve got your cash in your pocket and a roof above your head, it’s time to get connected to the big wide world.
#1 Browsing the Web
Sure, you could spend a bomb on monthly payments for the internet, or you could just spend the price of a coffee… head down to any one of London’s bars, pubs, coffee shops or community café’s and you’ll probably find free Wi-Fi. Even if it costs you a drink, that’s still much cheaper than using an internet café, so steer clear of them if you can. Now you can browse as many Job Boards and Estate Agents as you wish, without worrying what it’s gonna cost you.
#2 Making Calls
Once you’ve started getting the hang of things in London, you’re gonna need to get your own line set up. After all, you can’t use friends and phone boxes forever. If you purchased the Kickstarter UK package, they may have already provided you with a sim card… if you didn’t, you can find free sim cards as well as really cheap deals on them. As soon as you have one, pop it into your phone and you’re all sorted.
#3 Earning Money
You can’t hide your money in a mattress forever, and your wallet can only hold so much cash. Opening a British bank account is super important, and should be done sooner rather than later. Almost all banks will want your business, so look around for the best offers and once you’ve made your decision, head to a branch and sign up for an account.
Broke in London’s 3 top tips for getting connected are…
- If you can help it, don’t pay for Wi-Fi at an internet café when you can get it for free elsewhere
- Always search around for free sim cards, they are out there!
- Don’t open an account with the first bank you walk in to, play the field a little and get the best possible deal
Right. We’re almost there. The World Wide Web is now your oyster, you can call people without worrying what it’ll cost, and you know that you’re money is now safe and secure. So, what’s next?
Meeting people in London is one of the most important things you can do when integrating into your new life. Once you’ve done all your essential, technical stuff, it’s time to get out there and see what your new city has to offer!
#1 Learning the Lingo
Speaking English is essential to getting around and exploring London. Although it might be a melting pot of ethnicities and languages, knowing the native tongue is important for day to day interaction. Learning English for free is a great starting point for those who are struggling with simple English, but to really crack the code, you’ve gotta get out there and meet new people. Finding a meetup group or a tandem partner can be a good starting point.
#2 Securing a Job
Once your new life is all set up it’s time to start funding it so it can carry on that way. Finding work can be difficult if you don’t know the best way to go about getting it. If you’ve secured you’re national insurance and other relevant documents and you’re ready to work, then it’s time to get searching. Check out our Job site to find the latest jobs in London and the Top 5 Easy to Get Jobs for our best tips on how to find employment, whatever you’re looking for.
#3 Having a Social Life
The most important thing you can do once you’ve finally got sorted and connected is to socialise. Travel London, explore its many different areas and attractions, don’t be afraid to get out and meet new people. Living the London life is so much more than just opening a bank account and finding a job, it’s about integrating with everyone around you and becoming a true Londoner.
Broke in London’s 3 top tips for socialising are…
- Keep up to date with what’s going on around you with sites such as Londonist and Timeout
- Use websites like meetup to start socialising and meet new people
- Check out our Entertainment section for an extensive list on all the best things to do in London
There. You’re all done, right? Wrong. There is one final thing you need to learn to do to become a true Londoner.
Mastering the art of living in London means knowing how to make your money go further. Much further. Here’s how.
#1 Locating a Deal
Now you’ve made your move to London it’s about time you started acting like a local, and that means doing your darndest to sniff out a deal wherever you can. From deals and discounts on food and fashion to working out what to see and where to go on a budget, London has a lot to offer for those who aren’t looking to break the bank while living here. It’s all about having a keen eye for wherever you can save a bob or two, from food and drink to transport and entertainment.
#2 Grabbing Free Stuff
Saving money and getting something for free are two very different things. There are tonnes of places offering free services and goods just waiting to be snapped up by lucky Londoners like yourselves. Sound too good to be true? Some services rely on swapping old items, meaning that you have to contribute in order to reap the benefits, where others are run by the government. Check out our Free Goods and Services section for all the best sites offering you your favourite stuff without the need to spend a penny. Also, don’t forget to check how you can furnish your house for free!
#3 Exploring London
That’s right. We know it’s a big city but sometimes going that extra mile in search for free entertainment really pays off. Yes, we know the musicals in the West End are nice, and we also know how enticing London nightlife can be, but there’s more than one way to have fun in the capital. Our weekly Top 10 Free Events article can show you all the best current places to go when wanting fun on a budget, so leave your wallet at home and go out and find bike rides, festivals, parks, exhibitions and galleries that demand nothing more than your presence.
Broke in London’s 3 top tips for budgeting…
- Always hunt for discounts wherever you can, there’s a lot of them out there!
- Don’t be shy to take free stuff, it’s there for people just like you
- Be smart not snobby – Poundland and Primark can easily cater for what you need
- Don’t forget to check out our super guide to living in London on a budget (it has all the tips and tricks you will need)
Okay, now you’re ready! Though it might seem scary, if you take these steps one at a time, with a few deep breaths (and a few more coffee’s), you should be just fine. London can be scary if you let it be, or it can be one of the most exciting locations in the world! Become a true Londoner by getting involved, absorbing the culture and exploring all it has to offer, and you’ll soon realise you made the right move. You’ll be inviting all your friends from back home to visit London in no time, or maybe even asking them to stay…
Check out our tips and advice sections for anything else you need to know, now that you’re well and truly settled in the capital.