Working travellers will be particularly interested in the excellent Kickstart package which offers assistance with opening a UK bank account, obtaining a National Insurance number for work, job assistance, accommodation assistance and much more! You can also apply for a UK Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa online.
For those of you arriving from English-speaking countries, you may find the following pages to be of interest to you:
If you’re moving here from the US, you might find this article on Americans moving to London to be useful. It’s also relevant to people arriving from other English-speaking countries.
Once you’ve arrived in London, then you might find our EU Citizens page to be helpful. Each EU country is listed alongside embassy information, social gatherings and food and drink options to remind you of home.
Moving to London from other parts of the world such as the U.S.A is also possible, but unfortunately not as easy as for Commonwealth or EU Citizens. You’ll need to apply for one of a variety of different visas, depending on your circumstances, before you’re granted ‘entry clearance’ into the UK. Please view our Visa Information page for further details.
If you require a UK Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa, you can apply for one online.
Once you’ve arrived in the UK, the chances are that you’ll be arriving via an airport. London has 5 airports surrounding it – these are Luton, Stansted, Gatwick, Heathrow and London City. As London is so huge itself, some of these airports are located a few miles outside of London. So you should definitely look into transporting yourself and your belongings from the airport to whichever part of London you’re initially headed to. National Express coaches offer some great deals. Read more about this in our article on Travelling from London Airports which lists many affordable options that take the hassle of that final part of your long journey .
There’s only so much house-hunting you can do from overseas, so a great idea when arriving in the country is to book some temporary accommodation, just for a couple of weeks, to give you time to find accommodation and/or flatmates. Depending on your budget, you might want to book yourself a bed or room at Hostelworld which offer over 80 hostels across Central London in places such as Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden and Victoria. Beds can be as little as GBP 5.00 per night, depending on how many people you’re willing to share with. Some offer free shuttle buses to airports. For something a little more personal than a dorm room, temporary apartments owned and run by Accommodation London come highly recommended.
Whilst you’re living in temporary accommodation, you’ll be using the time to hunt for accommodation of a more permanent nature. You should definitely consider signing up to a flatmate-finding service such as Easyroommate and can even start having a look whilst you’re still living overseas.
If you’d rather not lug all your belongings around with you whilst you’re in temporary accommodation, it’s possible to place them in storage for a small (or longer) period of time. Big Yellow is a reliable and affordable company to use.
As well as finding permanent accommodation and work, one of the most important chores you have to do, is to open a bank account. You’ll need it for paying bills out of and for receiving your salary into it. Banks are required to know a lot about their customers, so you’ll need to provide some documentation when opening a bank account. Read this article on Opening a bank account in the UK, when arriving from overseas .
Also on the theme of money, currency services will probably be quite useful to you. Whether you have foreign notes that you wish to change up into Sterling, or maybe if you’re intending on sending money back to your home country for the future or to cover bill payments, it’s really important that you use a reputable service. Read more information on Sending Money Home from the UK here.
If you’re moving to the UK from abroad and are intending on working, then you’ll need to apply for a National Insurance number and pay tax contributions like current residents of the UK. To find out more about the process of applying for a NI number, view our article on Getting a National Insurance number for working in London.
Moving to a different country, means that you’ll need to learn the difference in bills that we pay here, compared to back in your home country. Here are a list of standard bill payments that you should expect to have to pay:
- Rent or mortgage payments.
- TV Licence fee and Satellite package, such as Sky, if required.
- Council Tax
- If you drive, you need to be aware of paying car tax, car insurance, congestion charge info etc. Please read our Driving in London article for details.
- Water rates – contact Thames Water for details
- Electricity and Gas rates can be expensive. Moove2London would highly recommend contacting EDF Energy or Npower who are both leading providers that will give you a competitive quote. You will probably need to provide meter readings, before they’ll give you your quote.
- Phones – you’ll almost certainly require a mobile phone (see section below) on either a pay-monthly or pay-as-you-go basis. If you would also like a landline telephone, you’ll need to pay a rental charge for the line. You can either contact BT to set up an account for you (or take over an existing one) or you could look into getting an all-in-one satellite/Internet/phone package from companies such as Sky or Virgin.
Everyone in London has a mobile phone. No matter how much you hate talking on the phone, you’ll be expected to own one so that employers, estate agents, landlords and bank managers etc can get in touch with you. Mobile phone services in the UK are provided by the following mobile networks: EE, Virgin, Vodafone, 3 and 02.
In London you could expect to get a good mobile-phone signal/reception from any of these networks, but if you would like to check coverage of a particular network in your new area, try visiting Carphone Warehouse’s site and click on the dropdown paragraph entitled ‘I can’t get reception’ which will allow you to put in your postcode and check the best mobile phone coverage for your area.
You can get a mobile phone on a pay-as-you-go or a pay-monthly basis. Pay-monthly phone tariffs normally offer cheaper call/text bundles, but you’ll be contracted to that one company for usually a 12-18 month minimum period.
There are also a wide selection of calling cards available in London, if you wish to make international calls. These phone cards offer good deals on international calls and help to save your money. Calling to and from London is easy and cheap.
If you’re an American moving to London, you’ll almost certainly be interested in UK Fonmigo. Fonmigo rents local UK Smartphones and Mobile Wi-fi modems in the US, before you travel to London. The Fonmigo comes with a local in-phone guide including City & Metro maps and mobile concierge service with information, booking and recommendations on sight-seeing tours as well as Entertainment on the Go! For more information visit UK Fonmigo or read our section on UK Smartphones and Mobile Wi-Fis.
Once you’re settled in London, you’ll be having a whale of a time and might find it difficult to leave. As long as your visa permits, you may find yourself staying a lot longer than you’d first planned. This doesn’t mean that you’re going to forget about friends and family from back home though. Once in a while you may want to send parcels back home for birthdays or Xmas. If this is the case, you should consider using a parcel service to ensure safe delivery of your package. Time and time again, things go on the missing list when using general mail services, so it offers you peace of mind if you have a tracking system in place and know that someone will be required to sign for safe delivery of your parcel back home. You might consider using Worldwide Parcel Service, who boast that whether you’re sending parcels to Accrington or Acapulco, Tranmere or Tahiti, they’ll deliver it!
Even better than sending a parcel home, why not send yourself home once in a while? If you’re planning on staying in London on a long-term basis, then you’ll need to go home once in a while. Flights don’t always have to be expensive, particularly if you book in advance. Expedia is one of the best flight booking engines on the market – you’ll seldom find a better offer and if you’re a Nectar-card holder (Sainsburys loyalty scheme), you can collect points on each booking.