Moving to London can be extremely stressful. Especially if you don't plan ahead and rush things at the very last moment. That is why I've compiled a practical checklist that I now use every time I move to a new country. I promise, with this to-do list (and a bit of organisation), you will sail into the British capital without hiccups or annoying delays.
MOVING TO LONDON PRE-DEPARTURE CHECKLIST
Book your flights
The earlier you book, the better. This is not the kind of flight you can risk booking at the last minute. This point is a no-brainer, right?
Get your s**t together
Start organising your things (sell, donate or store them) well ahead of your departure date. If you are not an advocate of minimalism yet, I'm sure you'll become one once you realise the cost of storage and shipping internationally.
If you are moving with your partner, you better get them involved in this too.
Get a job
If you aren't moving to London as an expat or haven't signed an internship contract before moving, remember that you'll still have to pay for your home in London, transport, food and on top you won't be entitled to benefits if you haven't worked in the UK before.
London is expensive, everybody knows that, so sorting your finances out before you leave is one of my top tips. Invest time while you are still at home to search for a job online and while you are at it, make sure to find the time to craft the perfect CV for London and to prepare for your interviews in London.
Remember that if you are not from the EU, you will need a Sponsorship from a UK employer before moving to London. This doesn’t apply to you if you are studying and have already secured a place at a university.
Find the perfect home
While you are still in your home country, I advise you to start getting familiar with London's areas and suburbs by reading our complete neighbourhood guides. Searching for and finding a new home in London can be super-time consuming and the online rental world is full of scams and spam. This is where Spotahome's transparency comes into play. By booking online, we understand that you are making a big commitment. That's why we offer a guarantee that includes:
- Fraud protection: Spotahome will transfer your money to the landlord only 48 hours after you move in
- What you see is what you get: all properties you see on the website are checked by the Spotahome team. Our Homecheckers take photos and videos of the property and they even open drawers and cupboards to show you every corner of the property.
Booking your London home has never been easier. I remember when I had to pay a ridiculous amount of money for a bed in a 12 people dorm while searching for my perfect home. I never really trusted agencies and intermediaries as I don't like paying fees for something I can do myself, but in this case, Spotahome helps me save money and time. Moving with Spotahome is a dream come true, if you ask me.
MOVING TO LONDON - ON ARRIVAL CHECKLIST
Get a phone
If you already have a phone, you will probably need a UK SIM card. There are plenty of SIM-only deals available through the UK’s four mobile networks: EE (including Orange and T-Mobile), O2-UK, Vodafone UK and Three. Otherwise, if it's time to upgrade or get a new phone, you can also look into signing a 12/24 months contract.
Get the money, baby
The earlier you can sort your money situation out the better. Remember that opening a bank account in the UK can take longer than in other places and it will probably need more paperwork than you expect. If you are moving to London to study, we've compiled a list of the best bank accounts for students in the UK.
Get a bike (or not)
One of the trickiest decision you'll have to make when moving to London is choosing the right neighbourhood. The key to living a happy life in London is finding a home in a pretty part of the city, without spending your entire budget. It would be a shame to save £80 on rent and then spend £95 on your Oyster card to get around. A solution, that I always promote is to get a bike instead of relying on public transport. Yes, the weather isn't always great, but can you imagine staying fit while also saving money? If you want to get a feeling for it before investing, then you can pick up one of those rental bikes at one of the many stalls around the city.
You will also want to get a Pay As You Go Oyster Card to use on the London public transport systems when the weather is really terrible or you are not feeling like cycling. Alternatively, you can pay with a contactless credit card and you will pay the same price as you would if you had an Oyster card.
Get your healthcare sorted
We all hope we never get sick, but life happens and you might need a GP at some point. First of all, you will need to get a National Insurance Number, which is what the UK government uses to link you to the tax and social security systems. As soon as you’ve got it and settled into your new home, make time to register with your local GP.