Moving to a big, bustling global city like London can seem thrilling yet daunting. With its world-renowned sights, rich history, arts and culture, fashion, food and nightlife scenes, and plentiful career opportunities, it’s no wonder over 8 million people call London home.
If you plan on joining the ranks of Londoners, read on for some key tips to make your move and transition to London life go as smoothly as possible.
Finding a Place to Live in London
One of the first steps when relocating to London is sorting out where you will live. With high demand and limited housing stock, finding a suitable place at an affordable price can be tricky. Here are some of the main options to consider for housing when moving to London:
The most common route is to rent rather than buy property. As a major metropolis, rental prices in London vary widely across the different boroughs, with central areas like Mayfair and Chelsea being the most expensive.
Just like anywhere these days, housing is not cheap, no matter what option you choose. On average, across Greater London, expect to pay between £1,200 – £2,000 per month for a modest one-bedroom flat. Less central areas like Croydon and Ilford tend to be more affordable. Check major rental listing sites like Rightmove and Zoopla to search current listings and get a feel for prices.
House sharing/flat sharing
Sharing a property with other renters is very common for younger people or tenants on tighter budgets. Searching for a room in a shared house or apartment starts at around £700 per month, which shares out the cost of rent.
Useful sites to find house share listings include Spareroom, Gumtree, MoveFlat and IdealFlatmate.
Shared ownership can help first-time buyers in London and east London, in particular, to gradually get a foot on the property ladder. With this scheme, you purchase a share of a property, typically between 25% – 75%, and pay subsidized rent to a housing association on the remaining share that you don’t own.
Shared ownership is one helpful option for those who don’t qualify for social housing but can’t afford to buy a home outright.
Applying for council (local authority) or housing association homes is another potential avenue for more affordable long-term housing for Londoners on low incomes or benefits. However, be prepared for very long waiting lists, especially for family-sized homes. Patience and persistence is key.
When viewing rental flats or rooms in person, take time to check out and get a feel for the neighborhood, local amenities like shops and restaurants, proximity to public transport, any noise issues, etc., to determine whether the location and property will suit your needs and lifestyle.
Navigating Transport Options for Getting Around London
London boasts a world-class transport system, though traveling during packed rush hours can be energy-sapping. Here’s a quick guide to the main transport options for getting around the UK’s sprawling capital:
The London Underground (Tube)
The Tube is the quickest and easiest mode of transport for moving between central London destinations and beyond. London’s underground metro system comprises 11 different colored lines that broadly service different areas.
Key lines for central London include the Central, Victoria, Northern, Circle, District and Jubilee lines. Check the latest Tube map for help visualizing London’s underground network.
In addition to the Tube, suburban rail networks like the London Overground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), and Thameslink provide wider metro coverage to outer London areas not serviced by underground lines.
These are particularly handy for reaching destinations in residential boroughs like Shoreditch, Stratford, Greenwich, Richmond, and more.
London’s extensive red bus network helps fill gaps the Tube doesn’t reach, especially for shorter cross-city trips within central London.
Buses run 24 hours a day, though they are less frequent in the early morning. Single bus journeys cost £1.65 or use an Oyster card for fare capping.
Taxis (black cabs)
London’s ubiquitous black cabs can be hailed on the street when the yellow light is on. These are most useful as a backup option when tube stations are closed or if you have lots of luggage. However, taking traditional taxis regularly can get pricey.
Cycling has become more popular in London despite the often-hectic traffic. Seek out quieter designated cycle routes or backstreet roads, or join one of London’s public bike hire schemes like Santander Cycles for short rides between docking stations.
Central London is fairly compact and walkable, depending on where you need to go. Always have an umbrella handy! Useful apps like CityMapper can suggest walking times between destinations.
Investing in an Oyster card is advised to take advantage of capped daily and weekly fares across London’s public transport network. Top up your Oyster card online or at stations. Contactless payment cards are also accepted.
Finding Work and Advancing Your Career in London
As a major global city and financial, media, technology, and cultural hub, London offers abundant employment opportunities in fields like finance, professional services, healthcare, retail, hospitality, and more. Here are some tips for jobseekers relocating to London:
- Polish up your CV to highlight relevant skills, achievements, and experience for the roles you’re pursuing. Adapt your CV for each application rather than sending a generic version everywhere.
- Tap into your professional network, contacts, and connections already based in London who may be able to suggest insider job leads or make introductions. Attend industry events and conferences to expand your network.
- Regularly browse major online job portals like Indeed, TotalJobs, Monster, and LinkedIn to search for current openings. You can also look for London-based jobs directly on company career web pages.
- Seek help from specialist recruitment agencies and headhunters focusing on your particular sector or industry. Register with agencies for access to opportunities.
- Be vigilant for job scams – avoid any employers asking you to hand over money for training, visas, or equipment before you start working. Do research on companies before accepting job offers.
- Prepare thoroughly for interviews by researching the company, practicing your responses, and having questions ready to ask the interviewer. Reread the job description and think about how to sell yourself best.
- Don’t just look at the well-known sites. Checking London’s local papers like The Evening Standard and community papers and websites can sometimes uncover more unique job listings. Gumtree is another option.
- Once employed, take advantage of opportunities for training and development to boost your skills. Network internally and get to know key people in the organization to further your career.
Registering for Essential Services as a London Resident
Once you’ve secured housing and employment, an important next step is getting registered for the key services you will need living and working in the city:
Register at a GP surgery
Having a local general practitioner (GP) is vital for accessing NHS healthcare services in London. Use the NHS website to search for GP practices accepting patients near your home or work and register with one.
Sign up to an NHS dentist
Likewise, being registered with an NHS dentist will allow you to get subsidized dental checkups and treatment. You may need to go on a waiting list. There are also private dentists if you want to pay out of pocket.
Open a UK bank account
You’ll need a UK current/checking account set up to manage paying rent, bills, salaries etc. Major banks like HSBC, Barclays, and Lloyds have branches throughout London. Compare account features and fees.
Get a local mobile phone
Purchasing a UK SIM card or signing up with a mobile provider will provide you with a London phone number. Leading carriers include EE, Vodafone, O2, Three, and giffgaff.
Sort your internet
Arrange installation or signup for broadband, fiber, or 4G/5G home internet through one of London’s main providers like BT, Sky, Virgin Media, or TalkTalk. Compare speeds and prices.
Purchase a TV license
Watching or streaming live broadcast television legally requires paying the annual TV license fee, which is around £159 per year. Failing to purchase one risks a fine.
Set up utilities
Contact utility companies like British Gas, EDF Energy, or E.ON to set up gas, electricity, and water accounts for your home.
Having these everyday services in place makes adjusting to life in the capital easier.
Enjoying All That London Has to Offer
Once the essentials of housing, employment, transportation, and services are handled, it’s time to enjoy living in one of the world’s most iconic and diverse cities!
Here are some ideas for making the most of London’s abundant leisure activities, arts and culture, food scene and nightlife:
- Tour London’s numerous historic and cultural iconic landmarks like the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral and more. Multi-attraction passes like The London Pass offer discounted entry to sites.
- Wander through charming historic neighborhoods like Westminster, Notting Hill, Covent Garden, Islington, Hampstead, Greenwich and take in the atmosphere, architecture, cafes, shops, and people-watching.
- See spectacular musicals, dramas, comedies, and more at West End theatre venues from huge stages like the National Theatre to smaller fringe theatres on the Strand or Shaftesbury Avenue. Queue early for discounted day tickets.
- Sample the diversity of international cuisine from around the globe. Try Chinatown, Southall for Indian curries, Turkish food in Dalston, Vietnamese in Shoreditch, and much more.
- Relax with picnics, boat rides, and open-air events in London’s many green spaces and parks on sunny days like Hyde Park, Regents Park, Hampstead Heath, and Richmond Park nearby.
- Peruse the stalls at London’s colorful outdoor markets like Borough, Portobello Road, Old Spitalfields, Camden and Brick Lane Markets for street food, vintage fashion, antiques/collectables and handmade crafts.
- Take advantage of free museums and galleries like the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, V&A, and more.
- Hit the shops on Oxford Street, Regent Street, and Westfield malls, or discover unique boutiques, bookstores, and galleries in areas like Soho, Marylebone, and Shoreditch.
- Make the most of London’s pumping nightlife scene – theatre, concerts, clubs, comedy, pubs, and bars offer evenings out for all tastes (drink responsibly of course!).
Living in London, days out, entertainment, and leisure activities are abundant. Take advantage of all this world capital has to offer! The key is being open-minded, curious, and willing to try new experiences. Enjoy London’s countless opportunities.