Moving to London? The vibrant capital of the United Kingdom can be an exciting, adventure-filled city with countless opportunities. In this extensive moving to London guide, we’ll cover the 29 best tips to ensure a smooth transition to life in London, including valuable insights on finding your perfect flat in London.
Before you move
1. Research thoroughly
Start your journey by researching London’s diverse neighbourhoods, job market and cost of living. This will help you determine which areas align with your preferences and budget and get a realistic idea of what’s possible in this city.
2. Budget smartly
London can be expensive, so create a detailed budget that includes rent and utilities, transportation, groceries and entertainment. Make use of online budgeting tools to track your spending.
3. Visa and documentation
Ensure your visa and documentation are in order well in advance. The UK has specific visa requirements, depending on your nationality and the purpose of your stay.
Register with a GP so you can access the National Health Service (NHS) for healthcare coverage. Here’s how to access NHS services if you’re visiting from abroad.
Open a local bank account to simplify your finances and avoid international fees. Research various banks to find the one with the best services for expats. Find out how to open a UK bank account on the Citizens’ Advice website.
Finding a flat
6. Start early
Begin your flat search well in advance. London’s rental market is very competitive and desirable properties get snapped up quickly.
7. Online platforms
Use websites like Zoopla or Rightmove to search for available flats. These platforms provide a wide range of options and allow you to filter your preferences. Or have a look at OpenRent to find a private landlord.
8. Consider shared housing
If you’re on a budget, shared flats are often more affordable, especially in prime locations. It’s also a great way to meet people and make new friends. In London, people from all walks of life live in shared houses. Websites like SpareRoom can help you find a flatshare.
9. Location, Location, Location
Consider your daily commute, access to amenities and the neighbourhood’s vibe when choosing a location. London’s diversity means there’s a neighbourhood for every taste.
10. Explore serviced accommodation while flat-hunting
When moving to London, consider booking serviced accommodation for the initial weeks. Serviced apartments provide fully furnished, convenient and flexible living spaces, offering you a comfortable and hassle-free place to stay while you settle in and search for a more permanent home. They also allow you to get acquainted with the city before you make a choice on where to live permanently. Have a look at long-term serviced apartments.
11. View multiple flats
Don’t rush into signing a lease. Visit several flats to compare prices, conditions and locations before making your decision. This way you have a good idea what’s on offer.
12. Read the lease thoroughly
Once you’ve found your perfect property, carefully review your lease agreement to understand the terms and conditions, including rent increases, responsibilities and notice periods.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate your rent or lease terms. In some cases, landlords may be open to adjustments.
14. Check the property
Inspect the flat for any damages or issues before moving in. Take photos and document existing problems to avoid disputes later.
15. Utilities and council tax
Make sure you know which utilities (water, gas, electricity) are included in your rent, if any. You can also ask the landlord which utility providers previous tenants have used. Be prepared for council tax, which varies by borough.
16. Secure your deposit
Your landlord must protect your deposit in a government-approved scheme. Ensure this is done to safeguard your money. Read more about tenancy deposit protection.
17. Know your rights
Familiarise yourself with tenant rights and responsibilities in the UK. Citizens Advice Bureau is a valuable resource for information on tenancy rights.
18. Public transport
If you have a contactless payment card, you can use this on the London’s public transportation system. Simply tap in and out at buses and stations. Otherwise, you can still get an Oyster card for convenient access to public transport. Find out more on the Transport for London website.
19. Socialise and network
London is a melting pot of cultures and people but it can be lonely if you don’t know anybody! So if you’re out to meet new friends a great way is to join clubs or meet-up groups related to your interests. Have a look at London meet-ups.
20. Explore beyond central London
While Central London is iconic and exciting, there’s life outside central! Venture to the countryside and discover beautiful parks, historic towns and scenic areas just a short ride away.
Here are a few worthwhile day trips from central London:
- Richmond and Kew Gardens
- Hampton Court Palace
- St. Albans
- Epping Forest
- Oxford and Cambridge
21. Try all the food
Explore London’s diverse culinary landscape. From Michelin-starred restaurants to street food markets, there’s something for every palate. Here’s Time Out’s best restaurants in London to help you choose.
22. Visit museums
London offers world-class museums, galleries and theatres. Many of them offer free or discounted admission, so indulge your artistic and intellectual interests. Have a look at the best 25 free museums.
23. Be prepared for the weather
We know, we know. But London weather can really be unpredictable and the rain is somehow particularly wet in this city. So do keep an umbrella handy and dress in layers to adapt to changing conditions.
24. Stay safe
London is generally safe, but be vigilant, especially in crowded areas. Keep an eye on your belongings and avoid poorly lit or deserted places at night. How to stay safe in London.
25. Plan your European getaways
If you’re coming from abroad and it’s your first time in Europe, you’ll be excited to have easy access to various destinations. Take advantage of budget airlines and the Eurostar for weekend getaways to explore neighbouring countries.
26. Enjoy the arts
London’s theatres, cinemas and live music venues offer a rich cultural experience. Stay updated on upcoming events related to your interests. Time Out has a useful event calendar.
After your move to London: Long-Term Planning
27. Save and invest
Consider long-term financial planning, including saving and investing for your future. Seek advice from a financial advisor if needed.
28. Career development
Continuously work on your career goals. London offers numerous opportunities for professional growth and also professional networking. Have a look at free networking events.
29. Permanent residency
If you plan to stay in London permanently, explore the pathways to obtaining permanent residency or citizenship. How to settle in the UK.
Moving to London can be a life-changing experience and with these 30 tips, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate every aspect of your new life in this dynamic city.
London has something for everyone, from its diverse culture to its thriving job market, and you’ll find endless opportunities to explore and grow. Embrace this incredible journey, and London will undoubtedly become your beloved home away from home.
We hope this extensive guide helps you make the most of your move to London. Enjoy your adventure in the UK capital!