Things to consider before moving to London
Recently more and more people are moving to London. This vibrant city has enchanted us with endless opportunities, hip cafes, never ending list of fun activities, street music, flee markets, art and design. But settling in can be a little rough and tricky especially if you haven’t done your research and haven’t planned ahead. London is one of the most desirable cities to live in, but also one of the most expensive. Your dream job probably will not be waiting for you at the doorstep, if you even have an apartment and a doorstep. So here are some things to keep in mind. Hopefully they will help you to navigate smoothly into this new adventure.
This is part one of “Things to consider before moving to London”. Stay tuned for the second part which will include some more people who moved to London to work and study. If you want to participate, don’t hesitate and shoot us an e-mail with your contribution.
This is a guest post by Shannon Colman from SoleSeeking, who grew up in North Yorkshire, but is currently based in London. You can also find her on facebook and twitter. The tips below are based on her experience of studying and working in London for five years.
Unless you have a lot of savings, you’ll need to find a job if you want to spend a few months in London! There are many websites advertising various types of work, whether you’re looking for a full-time office role or part-time job in retail. Check out websites like CV Library, Indeed, Reed, Student Jobs and Jobsite for adverts. Some families in London will pay lots of money for a live-in au pair (sometimes up to £500 a week!) especially because language tutors are in high demand.
Living in London can be very expensive, with the high rent prices leaving many residents with a restricted size of accommodation. London is split into travel zones, with the key landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge being within zone 1. A general rule is that the smaller the zone number, the more expensive accommodation will be. The further out from central you are based, the more you tend to get for your money, which might include having a garden, living room, or even simply a double bed.
If you are working or studying in central London, you need to decide whether you’d rather commute by public transport to work/school and pay a lower rent, or be at walking distance but paying more for it. If your job is based in North London zone 2, there is no point living in South London zone 3. Your commute through central London will be awful, involving either a packed tube or a very long and slow bus journey. If you’re going to commute, commute into and not through the city!
It’s best to start looking for a place to live a couple of months in advance of your move-in date. A great place to look is on spareroom.co.uk, which advertises for various budgets and requirements. Many advertisers are homeowners looking for a lodger, or students looking for a flatmate. Prices tend to be much fairer whereas if you go through an estate agent, you may find yourself being exploited through the inclusion of additional admin fees. Through Spareroom I found my current lodgings – a cosy room in a nice family home in a quiet residential area of North West London situated a 5 km walk from my work – all for which I only pay £542 a month! Accommodation groups on Facebook tend to fill with spam comments or con advertisers, so be careful.
Travelling in London can be a drain on your patience and your purse! Make sure you buy an Oyster card to save time – once you’ve added enough credit at a station, you simply have to tap in/out and the cost is automatically deducted from the card. Only consider purchasing a weekly or monthly travel pass if you will be using it regularly. Travelling by bus? The sign at the bus stop will indicate how long the journey to another destination will take. Always add on at least 20 minutes as a precaution. Always.
Big as it may seem at first, London is a very walkable city with many tube stations being only a five-minute walk from each other. Invest in a good pair of trainers and you’ll be amazed by how much money (and sometimes even time!) you’ll start to save by not using public transport.
The Social Scene
London has a vibrant cultural scene that offers a vast array of options for culinary delights and entertaining nights. However eating out and going to the theatre can quickly get expensive. Buying a Time Out Card will give you discounts off various attractions and events. You can also subscribe to Time Out Offers which regularly emails out great deals for restaurants and club events, theatre shows and exhibitions, spa treatments and fitness classes, and even online courses.
Love running or simply looking to get fitter while meeting new people? London has many green spaces and lots of parks host 5 km park runs every Saturday at 9 a.m. Check Parkrun to find your closest meet.
Swing dancing is also increasingly popular in this city. Fun, friendly and only £10, these classes are located all over London and are a great way to unwind after a day’s work. Find your nearest class at Swingpatrol.
Photos by Vyara Georgieva and the EoStories Team