A relocation guide to London, written by the people who moved there and live there.
Before you go
- Make sure you have all the correct documentation: visas, work permits, driving licence and copies of past bank statements
- Arrange short-term accommodation for your first few weeks to give you plenty of time to look for a place longer term
- Make sure you know the address, post code and nearest tube stop of where you're staying - it makes it so much easier once you're in the airport
Finding a place
- Walk around the city, get to know areas, look online at prices and narrow down your search depending on your budget
- Use local newspapers, classified ads and estate agents to look round houses - don't feel pressured to sign anything on the spot but bear in mind the housing market moves pretty quickly here so something available in the morning may well be taken by the afternoon
- You'll need to pay a month's rent in advance, a security deposit (usually 1.5 x monthly rent - which you get back at the end of the tenancy) and agency fees (which vary depending on who you go with)
Useful links: Short-term accommodation
Setting up a bank account
- Most of the main banks (Barclays, HSBC, Natwest, Santander) have very similar, competitive rates so best just to go with the one nearest you
- You'll need several proofs of ID, proof of address in the UK and copies of past bank statements when you go into the branch
Useful links: How to open a bank account
Registering with a doctor
- Search online to find your local GP and then just go into the centre to register with them - you can have check-ups and emergency care for free on the NHS but you must be registered first so make it a priority
- Also register with a dentist (registration is free, but check-ups and treatments will cost something)
- Emergency phone number in Britain is 999. Dial 999 to be put through to fire brigade, ambulance or police.
- Shield your PIN at cash machines, avoid empty tube carriages at night and never get in an unlicensed mini cab (only hail black cabs from the street or pre-book your taxi to pick you up)
Useful links: Safety advice in London
- Buy an Oyster card for £3 at any tube station. You can then top it up in shops or at tube stations to pay for travel on the Underground, trains and buses. On buses you just tap it at the front of the bus for a single trip, on tubes you tap it to get through the gates when you start your journey and again as you finish it
- Rent a bike from any of the docking stations around London by putting your card into the machine - it charges £1 for 24 hours rental and you can use it for 30 minutes at a time for free.
- Hail black cabs from the street - stand in a place they can stop, and put your arm out to hail a taxi with its light on. They charge by time and length of journey.