Everything You Need To Know About Moving To London
In this article, we are going to discuss :
Looking For Temporary Accommodation In London Or Just Want Some Tips For Moving To London? This Guide Has All The Advice You Need To Make Moving As Easy As Possible!
Somedays, it feels like everyone wants to move to London-and why wouldn’t they? London is one of the greatest cities in the world. A cosmopolitan paradise, filled with incredible landmarks, gorgeous green spaces and plenty of desirable neighbourhoods to live in. Many people may want a permanent move to the city, whilst others might only be looking for temporary accommodation in London, either for work or other relocation purposes.
Yes, living in London is a dream although, for some, actually moving might come as a bit of a headache! There are many things that have to be considered before someone even thinks about moving to London. Do you need to secure your own visa? Are you legally allowed to live and work in the UK once you arrive? How do you find a home? Have you got the time? Do you need to find temporary accommodation in London first?
Moving to London is a wonderful opportunity to see and explore one of the world’s most incredible cities. This is why Flex Living has put together this super helpful guide, which includes absolutely everything you need to know to make a move to London, as simple as possible,
Getting To London; Visas, Residency Permits and Travel
Applying for visas has never been the most straightforward process but thankfully, this has evolved considerably over the last decade thanks to modern technology, making the process far smoother. With the addition of more flexible visa options and stronger international relations between countries, there are now more options available for tourists and workers applying for visas, than ever before.
Immigration rules and visas have become increasingly complex due to the ever-changing requirements to apply for a visa, and the types of visas that are now offered. The UK is no different to that (due to events like Brexit) and we really appreciate that for some people, trying to understand if they have the right to work and/or live in the UK can be confusing.
There are visas for students, visas for job-seekers, and visas for people moving to work on either temporary or full-time contracts. If you’re moving from a Commonwealth country, you’re eligible for a different type of visa than you would be if you’re moving from the U.S, due to different international agreements about living and working in the UK. The first thing you need to do before considering moving to the UK, is check what your own country’s relationship with the UK is and whether (or not) you’re eligible for a visa at all!
Luckily, the UK government website offers a very simple screening test you can take online to check your VISA eligibility, which you access through this link. After this, you’ll need to fill out your visa application and then wait until it is processed before being granted either a travel visa, right to work or, residency permit. Which of these you end up being granted is dependent on your nationality and status so it is important to understand what the difference between them is.
- Residency Permit: Offers the applicant the right to live in the UK for a set number of years (potentially permanently) whether they’re working or not in the country
- Right To Work Permit: Offers the right to move to the UK for work purposes although the applicant must follow strict rules about working whilst they are in the country
- Travel Visa: offers the applicant the right to travel to the UK for a set period of time (usually several months to a year) but does not grant them the right to work and live in the UK by default.
Additionally, it’s worth checking out London’s many airports before you book a flight, particularly if you’re taking a connecting flight from somewhere else in Europe. Some of London’s airports are not very close to the city centre at all!Thankfully, there are great high-speed train connections between every airport with the longest journeys taking upto 40 minutes to reach even the furthest destination.
The two major international airports are Gatwick and Heathrow although, you can also travel to London Stansted Airport for some international flights but most services, are to European destinations. London Luton is another continental hub for flights to and from Europe, whilst you can also fly right into the city centre on certain flights from Europe, to London City Airport. But don’t expect to fly in on jumbo jets as it is quite a short runway!
Obtaining A National Insurance Number
If you’re coming to the city to work, then you must register for National Insurance at least 8 weeks before you’re required to start working in your new job. This is how long it takes for the process to be completed and it is a legal obligation in the UK before anyone starts working.
Additionally, being set up with a national insurance number will be instrumental for you when it comes to setting up a UK bank account. Not only to earn money from your new job but, due to many landlords in the UK requiring you have a UK bank account to rent a property. Without this, you’ll find it very hard to find somewhere to live in London!
Unfortunately, It isn’t as simple as walking into a bank in the UK and asking to open an account. Many UK banks require a home address in the UK for you to register a bank account, which is a big problem if you don’t have a property yet! However, there are ways to get around this that don’t require much effort, providing you plan ahead of time before you arrive in the UK.
Setting Up Before You Arrive In London
As we just established, you’re going to have a hard time either convincing a landlord to let you rent a property without a bank account or, convincing a bank to let you open an account without an address. This is one of the most annoying problems for many people to navigate before they move to London but, luckily, there is a very straightforward way of getting around it.
If you already have a job in the UK and your employer has been kind enough to sponsor your trip and set you up with accommodation in the country before you have to do anything, then lucky you. Some employers may offer to house you in temporary accommodation. This actually provides a great opportunity that anyone can take advantage of when trying to move to the UK as they can use this property’s address to register when applying for a bank account.
However, not all employers can be this generous. Fortunately, there are plenty of fantastic alternatives to finding temporary accommodation in London, which means not everyone has to rely on an employer to do it for them! Obviously, this may cost slightly more than traditional renting, but it’s a relatively simple solution to getting an address for your bank application which can otherwise be very tricky!
But as a reminder, you should always ask for your landlord’s permission to use their address, even if you’re only staying there on a temporary basis. You also need to update your bank details after you move into permanent accommodation as you have to remember – this is the address your bank might send important documents to so if you do move, remember to update your address!
If you can’t find someone who will do this, then maybe now is the time to consider using a specialist service like us at Flex Living, that manages incoming tenants and understands what they need.
Setting Up A UK Bank Account
Whilst we just went through all that you need to do in order to register for national insurance and find temporary accomodation before you get a bank account, it is possible to register for a bank account in the UK before you’ve even arrived, as long as you can sort out the previous two steps and obtain a national insurance number and address (either temporary or permanent) first.
High street banks in the UK, including major internationally recognised banks like Barclays, Llyods, HSBC and Natwest, may seem very desirable UK bank accounts to acquire. Whilst having an account with these banks offers a lot of rewards and is great for feeling like you’re settling into the country, you might find applying for accounts with these banks more difficult before you arrive in the UK, especially if you are only able to register with a temporary address.
Fortunately, there are other options to getting a bank account before you arrive. Great online banks like Revolut and Monese let you apply for a full UK bank account with just an approved visa application. In some cases, you may also need to wait to have a national insurance number as further proof of your eligibility to live and work in the UK, but you can do all of this before your visa even starts!
It is worth noting that not everyone will have the convenience of being able to complete this part of the process before arriving in the UK. Depending on your type of visa, you may still have to travel to the UK first and live in temporary accommodation to obtain a bank account or, simply because you don’t have the time before you leave and your visa starts!
But, once you’ve done that, you can then turn your attention to the most important matter of all. Finding a permanent place to live in London.
We’ve established now what the requirements for most people are before they move to London but, what is the best way to go about finding a permanent place to live here?
There are many different agencies and platforms that you can go through to find a place to live in London. But who are they and where can you find them? Which is the best to use when looking at an estate agent or private landlord? What is a reasonable amount of money to be paying for rent whilst you live in the city?
The quality of the property you can rent in London is very diverse and if you’re reaching out to an unknown landlord without much or, any knowledge of the city and standards of living, you could be taken advantage of very easily. If you’re looking at renting somewhere for a long time, it pays to have reliable information from trusted sources to decide where you’re going to live.
You can get around problems like this though by trusting recommended specialists, like Zoopla or Rightmove to find a good quality property to rent out, as well as understanding more about what to expect in terms of living conditions and fair rent prices. Additionally, there are hundreds of thousands of private landlords in London but, how do you reach out to them without going through estate agents? Platforms like OpenRent are great for finding landlords with properties to rent in London although, competition is always high to find a great property
If you’re not able to make physical viewings in the city, (because you’re not here yet!) which many estates and letting agencies will insist you do before you rent a property off them, this can be circumvented if you make use of temporary accommodation in London before you start working and/or, to attend viewings. Again, using short-term stays is great or, you could use someone who guarantees high-quality and fully-equipped apartments like we do at Flex Living!
But we need to say that London is not cheap to live in. It consistently ranks in the top 10 most expensive cities to live in, in the world, with good reason. The average monthly rent in London at the moment for a one-bedroom flat is £1650 per month. This, however, can vary greatly across the city, as can the cost of your monthly household bills and council tax for living in different areas.
Council tax is the local government tax across the UK and a particularly painful expense for anyone living in London, which has some of the highest bands (charges) for council tax, in the entire country. Kingston Upon Thames in South London, has the highest rate of council tax in the city, at £2,057 a year for the average flat, compared to the City Of Westminster (essentially the city centre) at just £668.81.
Obviously, this is a huge difference so it really pays to pay close attention to what area you decide to live in and there is plenty of research you can do into everything from transportation, to schools and what the local neighbourhood vibe is like in individual areas. But what is it really like to live in London?
What Is It Like To Live In London?
Many people may feel a certain familiarity with London before they even arrive. It is, after all, one of the most photographed cities in the world! There is no shortage of monuments and iconic landmarks, from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace to Tower Bridge, Harrod’s department store and The Shard, to name just a few!
Even the city’s metro system, the London Underground, is a pop-culture phenomenon with the signature design for station names replicated on all kinds of merchandise across the planet. But London is far more than just echoes of some of its more unique quirks and landmarks as seen on postcards.
For example, travelling across London is incredibly easy thanks to not only the tube (the local’s name for the Undeground service) but, other great transport links too. The London Overground, rail links, trams (in some wider parts of the city), riverboats and even a cable car service at the London Docks, all help to connect this incredible city from point to point!
London is one of the greenest cities in the world with parks and green spaces making up 47% of the city’s landmass! No matter what direction you go in, whether it be south towards the flat and well-groomed fields of Bushy park or, to the ancient woodland area of Hampstead Heath, you can always find amazing spots to connect with nature in this very large city!
Londoners love to have fun, so there is no shortage of amazing pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants to try. In fact, London is incredibly famous for its food culture, both when it comes to street food as well as gourmet dining. But, this is also a city of art, with many incredible museums and galleries across the city, as well as one of the world’s most highly regarded theatre scenes – the iconic West End.
Aside from this, there are hundreds of wonderful communities to immerse yourself in once you move to London, with people from all over the world either living together peacefully or, actively putting their own stamp on certain streets and areas to transform them into little slices of home!
Brixton is well-loved for its strong Jamaican community, Edgware Road is well-known for its strong ties to the Middle Eastern community, whilst Vauxhall has a thriving Portuguese community. There are so many areas and communities to be discovered it is impossible to list them all here, let alone hope to really explore them all in even a year!
However, at Flex Living we have once again, got you and all your possible questions about where to live in London covered. Over on our blog, you’ll find a fantastic series of individual area guides for living across all areas of London, we’ve detailed and very insightful overviews to living in some of the city’s most popular neighbourhoods, as well as the best up and coming areas to live in that only the locals know about!
Live In London With Flex Living
At Flex Living, we offer fantastic short and long-term rental options for anyone looking to move to London. We partner up with landlords in the city to make sure their properties are of the highest quality and ideal homes for all of our fantastic tenants moving to the city for work.
We offer a fantastic tenant management service, with staff on hand to perform any required maintenance or emergency repair service throughout the day, with customer support staff contactable 24/7.
All of our properties are fantastic, well maintained and much-loved places for you to call home and make your experience of living in London, as comfortable as possible.
If you think you’re ready to find your perfect place to live in London, then get in touch with us today and instantly book a property online that you can call your new home in London!