Moving to a new country can be exciting and stressful at the same time. Whether you are new in the Big Smoke or you are planning on moving here at some point, you will certainly need some beginners tips. London is a big city and things can be tricky for newbies, especially for those who don’t have anyone to guide or advise them. We are here to share some tips with you in order to make your life easier!
1. Nowadays we are all addicted to our phones due to the fact that they make our lives easier in many ways. So… one of the first things you should do when coming to London is to get an English mobile number! You can either get just a sim card (in this case, you can top up as much as you want anytime you want) or get a monthly contract that suits your needs. Three, Lebara, EE, Gifgaf and Vodaphone are just a few options on sim cards, contracts and deals. You can learn more online once you know what you are after.
2. Next thing on the top of the list is getting a bank account and a bank card of course! There are plenty of banks and branches to choose from such as Lloyds, Barclays, Santander, HSBC, Natwest and more. You might have to visit a couple before you decide which one suits you the best. I got all the details you need on the following link: http://www.movingtolondon.net/setting-bank-account-london/
3. Another very important document that you will need is your National Insurance Number. Everyone over 16 who lives in this country has a NI number so you will need one too. Note: It might take up to weeks to book an appointment, so I’d strongly suggest that you book your appointment as soon as you arrive. Find info here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-national-insurance-number
4. People here prefer moving into group flats rather than living on their own due to the fact that rent in London is high. Sharing a flat not only helps you meet new people but also makes life much cheaper. On the other hand, if you are someone who doesn’t mind spending an extra penny or two and likes living alone, then your chances of finding your perfect home are even higher. Your flat hunt can start easy by clicking on https://blog.spareroom.co.uk/spareroom-uk-landing-1/ or https://www.gumtree.com/property-to-rent.
Note 1: One important thing you should know before starting your flat hunt is that London is a combination of small “towns” instead of one big city. Every neighbourhood is different and has its own unique character. For example, Shoreditch (East London) is an artistic, music and hipster loving area. Choose whether you like to live East, West, South or North according to your lifestyle. You might not get your perfect location from the first try, but that is ok. You can always move and share your funny flat stories with your friends! Anyway, you will probably have to move a few times in order to find your dream house so don’t get disappointed too soon.
Note 2: The most common way to find a room/flat is through an agency who will provide you with all necessary paperwork and with a valid contract etc. It is very important as a tenant to understand your rights when it comes to tenancy agreements, so make sure you read and understand everything before you sign any paperwork. Also remember to ask about the agency fees before you say yes to anything, some agencies’ fees are super high.
5. Download apps on your phone that will help your everyday life. “City Mapper” is an app that has saved my life many times. It helps you find the location you are looking for and gives you options on how to get there https://citymapper.com/london. Uber is another lifesaver. With just a few taps on your phone, you get a cheap and safe ride home https://www.uber.com/en-GB/ride/
6. Everyone knows that London has a high living cost, therefore it’s easy to find yourself spending more than you can actually afford. Take advantage of the offers you can find on food and drinks (which are plenty). Most bars and restaurants have some sort of a “happy hour” on offers such as 2-4-1 on drinks or discounts on meals/drinks(https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/). You can also save money by getting involved with Groupon (provides you with vouchers on offers for fitness classes, hair & beauty salons and many more). Find it here: https://www.groupon.co.uk/
When I first arrived in London I had to figure out everything on my own. Of course, it wasn’t that bad of an experience, but if I had known all the above before, I surely would have saved time, money and energy.
I hope you find some of the above information useful if not all. Feel free to add anything to this “list” or share your thoughts and experiences with us.
Stay tuned for more tips and tricks on an “easy” London life!