Date Published 29 March 2016
Moving to London from any country is a huge move. You might have an overseas job posting that requires you to move to the UK, or perhaps you want to attend university. It might be that your partner's work means you too have to move, or perhaps you're going to join family who already live in the UK.
Immigration and visas
Of course, while many of us have dreams about relocating to a different country, the first thing that needs to be determined is if you qualify to move. If you come from the European Union then there's no issue, as you automatically qualify to live and work within any of the member states. However, if you're hoping to move to London from any other part of the world, then you'll need to get the necessary visa.
Student visas are generally the easiest to apply for once accepted into a valid program of study. Otherwise, applying for a visa has become more difficult in recent years due to more constrictions placed on businesses hiring employees from overseas. Unless you are transferring through an existing employer, you should try to obtain corporate sponsorship through your new job; however, the companies hiring new employees are required to prove that they made positions available to UK and EU citizens and no candidates from these territories were as well-qualified as the overseas candidate.
It is commonplace in the UK that people share homes - particularly in London as the cost of living is so high. It's not surprising for a couple to share a flat with others, so to live in London comfortably you may have to alter your boundaries regarding privacy.
Another thing to consider is that no one lives in Zone 1 as designated on the Tube map - this area is considered incredibly expensive, and therefore any property that you will find there will be exponentially more expensive than property in similar condition elsewhere. If you see something in Zone 1 that seems too good to be true - it probably is.
Travelling in London
Life in London means lots of public transportation options available, ranging from taxis to walking and everything in between. Walking can be particularly nice if you're exploring and want to familiarise yourself with the area, or just enjoy getting lost. Buying an Oyster card is recommended as this makes using public transport so much easier and also offers 30% discount for students for monthly passes.
Most people living in London have an Oyster card. These cost a £5 deposit and can be bought at any tube station ticket desk. You can top up your card with credit in tube stations and shops and then 'tap in' at tube gates or on buses. There are set prices for individual journeys depending on how far you travel or how many journeys you make, and your card will automatically cap at a travel card price to save you money. This is always cheaper than paying for an individual ride.
London has an extensive bus network. Look online at TFL for details of bus routes. You need to buy tickets before you travel – buy them at the bus stops; cash is not accepted on trains or busses throughout London. Or you can tap in using your Oyster card which is always cheaper.
Tap in using your Oyster card, or buy tickets for travel in the tube stations. All the lines are colour-coded with changing stations clearly marked, including disabled access. Keep a tube map on you to plan the best route before you travel or download one of the many apps on your Android or Apple device. The trains will always be heading to the final destination on the line, so use this to check it is going in the right direction. Remember to tap out when leaving the station if using an Oyster card to travel.
Who's coming with you?
You may well be moving to London on your own, or perhaps with a partner or the whole family. What about the family pet? Can you bring them as well, and if so, what are the regulations concerning this?
Bringing pets to the UK differs whether you're coming from an EU (European Union) country or from elsewhere. Animals such as dogs and cats coming in from within the EU can usually travel freely as long as they have a 'Pet Passport'. This involves the animal being micro-chipped and being vaccinated against rabies.
Moving with your pets from outside the EU will usually require the animal being quarantined for up to around six months at the point of entry.
Once you've successfully got your pet into the country you will then need to look for pet-friendly flats. The biggest obstacle you will encounter in this respect is finding a building that allows pets; if the building doesn't allow them, it doesn't matter if the individual unit's landlord doesn't mind them. If the building says no, it's a no. If the building says yes, but the landlord says no, that might rest at a no as well. However, while many landlords may not be keen on having a dog or cat in their owned property, they may be willing to negotiate. Ways to sweeten the pot for them when negotiating your lease is meeting the asking price rather than trying to haggle it down, if not offering more than the asking price. In addition, they may be inclined to allow it if you are able to offer them additional months' rent in advance as a way of bypassing additional costs or agreeing to an increased deposit and fumigation services at the end of your tenancy.
And of course, the most important thing to keep in mind when moving London
We drive on the left hand side.