Moving to London can be very daunting. From the outside, the city can appear like a huge unknown, full of extravagantly expensive things and grumpy people – in fairness, it is. I’ve moved back to London a couple of years ago now, after 3 years in Bristol.
Although I’d lived here before, it felt like a big jump as I’m one of few people in my friendship group not living at home. Anyway, I regularly chat to people who are thinking of moving to London but have a thousand questions and uncertainties. Here are a few – hopefully – useful tips.
Secure a job
London is one of the most expensive places in the world, so unless you’re here on holiday you shouldn’t even consider showing up without a source of income, particularly if you don’t know anyone around. If you do, you’ll probably watch your money go pretty quickly.
Make sure you get a job before you move. If you come from abroad, make sure you’ve researched all the paperwork and costs involved, especially if you come from outside the EU.
Don’t settle down straight away
Until you know whether your new job is the right one and you like the area you’ve chosen to live in, I’d advise not to commit to a long, pricey tenancy.
You might end up with one of London’s many dickhead landlords, or find the place you live in just isn’t nice. People change jobs quickly here, so that’s something to keep in mind too. Make yourself as mobile and flexible as possible to start with. It will help you make the most of opportunities available.
Be ready for rent prices
Well, you’re never ready for that to be honest! Needless to say, Greater London has the highest rental prices in the UK. The average cost of renting in London currently stands at £1413, 49% of the average income in the city.
In other words, expect up to half of your salary to go straight into your accommodation, which is a staggering amount. Make sure you secure a job which allows you enough income towards rent – realistically, you’re looking at at least least £500 a month – and still enough disposable income to get by and make it worth your while. Shared accommodation is pretty much a must at first.
Think travel through
Transport for London is mostly pretty good – unless you ask them to work nights that is – and you can get to most places in London through the Tube and buses. Transport can be a massive expense though. It might be worth getting a monthly travel pass rather than paying as you go, especially if you use transports a lot.
Look at what zone you need to commute to and where you’re living. You can check which London zone you’re in here.
Meet new people
There are a lot of people in London, many of whom come from the outside for the opportunities. Which means that there are a lot of people out there looking to make new friends.
Don’t hesitate to mix with as large a crowd as possible to begin with. Go to work dos, get to know your housemates, meet new faces through other friends. There are also plenty of sites which run events to bring people of similar interests together, such as Meetup. If you end up alone in London, you’re doing something wrong.
Enjoy free London
Whilst life in London is undoubtedly expensive, there is a lot to do for free as well. Unlike in France for instance, most museums and galleries are free, as is access to the best parks around. I actually wrote a blog post about this a while back, you can read it here.
Just don’t support Arsenal
And I say that as an Arsenal fan myself! I know it’s tempting – particularly if you’re French – but if you’re into football and are assessing your options, don’t go for the Gunners.
Not only do they never fail to disapoint on the pitch, but the tickets to the games are by far the most expensive in the country – given regular Premier League prices, that’s A LOT of money.
There are 14 professional football teams in London across all levels of the football league. Support your local team, it’ll be cheaper and chances are they’re pretty good!