So you want to move to London? Here’s 7 tips to get you organised

Surprisingly, I actually found it tricky to find a consolidated, current and totally impartial guide about moving to London from overseas. There’s so much to think about and to get organised, it’s only natural to feel a bit overwhelmed in your pursuit to make sure you’ve got all bases covered.

So, since I often get asked, I thought it was about time to share what I’ve learned. Of course, I can only speak from an Australian experience but I hope that the below can still help in some way, even if it’s just to get you asking the right questions.

Here are my 7 top tops for moving to London:

 

First things first, sort out your Visa

Australians moving to London benefit from being part of the Commonwealth. This means that we get to enjoy a wonderful thing called a Youth Mobility Visa (the evolution of the old ‘working holiday visa’ that you may have heard about). This particular visa allows 18-30 year olds to live and work in the UK for up to 24 months which is why you’re bound to run into a few of us over here. You need to apply for the visa within Australia and it can take a few weeks/months for processing depending on how many applications are floating around at the same time as yours. Mine arrived in 10 days!

If you’re not eligible for this particular visa though, don’t worry – there’s a whole host of other options you can consider. The UK Visas and Immigration site is really helpful and will help guide you in the right direction.

 

Find a job

When you decide to work through this particular item is really up to you. Most people I know have opted to take a few months off before settling down in London to travel around Europe. I was lucky enough to be able to transfer within my company which was all pre-arranged prior to leaving Melbourne. Whichever route you choose, one thing remains the same: it will seem slow at first and then it will all happen very, very quickly so be prepared!

If you’re wanting to find a job before you leave, have a chat with your HR department: if you work for a global company, they’ll more than likely have existing processes and options for employees wanting to relocate with the business.

If this isn’t an option, start researching as soon as possible. Understanding the market, the landscape and key leaders of whichever industry will make it as easy as possible to start making connections either from your home or when you first arrive in London.

In my experience, whether or not you enlist the help of recruiters varies depending on your industry. Most people I know have managed through enlisting the help of friends of friends of friends.

 

Find somewhere to live

This is perhaps the task which freaked me out the most about moving to London solo – without local friends, family or colleagues to help vet potential housemates before moving in, how was I possibly going to settle in!? Luckily, I needn’t have feared and met my now housemate and friend via a flatmate finding service within three days of arriving in the city. Whether you’re moving solo or with friends, Spareroom should be your first stop. 

In terms of where to live geographically speaking, London’s areas are super diverse and picking a hub which best suits you and your lifestyle will be key to feeling at home quickly. A true advocate of gut-feel,  I found it impossible to really get a feel for neighbourhoods before I was actually in the city and was able to walk the streets myself. That said, if you like to over prepare, try this list of the best areas to live in London from Time Out as a starting point.

As a general rule, think about your commute into central London: pick somewhere with good transport links and you’ll be good to go.

 

 

Get your finances in order

Basically, you’re going to need a bank account. Some international banks (like HSBC) will allow you to open a local account in your home country and as well as an international account with the same bank before you leave. However, once you’re settled in London and have a semi-permanent address, you shouldn’t have any dramas walking into any of the big banks with your passport to get this sorted when you arrive.

 

Pack up your life

I’m not exactly a minimalist and found it incredibly stressful trying to fit my life into 30kgs of luggage when I moved over. Other people I know have comfortably sold all their belongings and moved over with a clear case and clear head. If you’re the former, don’t stress about packing everything for your flight over: companies such as Your Freight Agent and Seven Seas offer great services for easily and reasonably cheaply shift your stuff from one side of the world to another. Remember to fill out the appropriate customs forms for shipping personal effects of risk a big VAT bill! 

When packing, just be mindful that it’s scary how much stuff you can accumulate over a short period of time. The fear of having to somehow pack everything back into two cases is enough to keep me motivated to keep my shopping in check!

 

Future-proof

Speak to an accountant before you go to make sure you’re clear about any tax obligations (such as student loans or HECs debts).  Updating things such as your bank and tax account details before you go will make your life easier in the long run.

 

Buy a ticket

And you’re on your way!

I hope these tips help provide a bit of a guide to get you prepared or inspired to take the plunge. If you’ve got any other tips or questions, let us know in the comments!

 

USEFUL RESOURCES:

moving-abroad-solo

4 Things You Will Think When You Move Abroad Solo

You’ve bought your ticket, sorted your visa, quit your job, said farewell your friends and family and attempted to fit your entire life in 30kgs of luggage. Next thing you know, you find yourself on a plane sitting next to strangers, wondering if it’s too late to bolt out the door back onto safe and familiar ground. Oh dear.

Though I’m still struggling to wrap my head around it, it was my one-year London anniversary a couple of weeks ago. One year – how did that happen!?!

So, naturally, I feel like I’m a total pro at this whole moving-abroad-solo thing now. Yeah…right.

Though I’m yet to have an Eat-Pray-Love-esque epiphany, I do think there is something resembling relief that comes with this time having passed. Almost that I’ve made it through a whole annual cycle of emotions and can now approach the second year abroad more settled, experienced and with a much more level head. Only time will tell.

In celebration of everything I’ve learnt over the past year, I’d like to pay it forward. I don’t have answers or the magic solution for conquering your fears when it comes to moving abroad solo, but what I do have to offer is my experience about the rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts you’ll undoubtedly feel when you take the plunge.

So, from one expat to another, here are four thoughts (in no particular order) that you will probably have at one point or another when you move abroad solo.

 

I’m so excited

I mean, what’s not to be excited about!? Finding yourself in a new place with new things to discover each and every day is hugely exciting – and this shouldn’t be forgotten. Remembering the reasons why you moved and why you’ve embarked on this adventure when things get a bit rocky is really crucial, even though it’s easier said than done.

 

 

I’m terrified

Whether you move interstate or to the complete opposite side of the world, having to start building a life from scratch is an incredibly daunting concept when you’re going it alone. When you don’t have someone with you to immediately problem-solve when things go a bit pear-shaped, you have nothing but your own intuition to rely on.

 

On Sundays, we jump in puddles #london #kingscross #grainstore #sundaybrunch #rainyday @the_prattler

A post shared by Elizabeth Calwell (@missecalwell) on

 

I’m lonely and have no friends

Cue the melodrama. But in all seriousness, anyone who has relocated before will tell you that making friends as an adult is tricky stuff – and nothing can make you feel more out of your comfort zone than leaving a strong support network of friends and family back home.

I think it’s really important to acknowledge that feeling lonely at times is completely normal and to be expected (multiply the likelihood of this by at least ten if you’ve moved to a country where you don’t speak the language!).

That said, it’s as equally important to realise that you’re not really ever alone – friends, family and other like-minded souls these days are only ever a FaceTime or social media shout out away. And trust me – you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the frequency of visitors you’ll have.

 

FaceTime and breakfast in bed #perfection #saturday #expatlife #london

A post shared by Elizabeth Calwell (@missecalwell) on

 

Why not?

I’m a planner by both nature and by profession so spontaneity isn’t something which ever came naturally to me. So trust me when I say this: you will find yourself saying ‘yes’ more and more and this is such a good thing.

Whilst leaving behind existing support networks is scary, the silver lining of this is that you don’t have existing obligations, routines (or friends, in some cases) – so, when someone asks if you’re free for lunch you say yes. Drinks? yes please. Spontaneous trip to Paris? Don’t mind if I do. It’s a really freeing feeling and one which we should all really take into our everyday lives wherever possible – expat or otherwise.

 

Summer days = rosé 🍷#london #summertime

A post shared by Elizabeth Calwell (@missecalwell) on

 

Over to you, fellow expats – any other thoughts/words of wisdom?

staying-healthy-in-london

My 4 Top Tips for Staying Healthy in London

When writing of my London experience, it would be totally remiss of me not to mention what has potentially been the most difficult part about moving abroad: sickness.

Anyone who knows me will see the irony in the title of this post at this point. Why? Because since moving to London, I’ve had the immense pleasure of being sick at least once a month. Nothing life threatening – colds, coughs, sinus infections, conjunctivitis, etc. etc. My immunity has never been the strongest but the frequency of illness since moving has been pretty annoying. Nothing makes you feel lonely like being sick in a new country without your family around you. Aside from that, it turns out it’s a ‘thing’ – new country, new germs. So not only am I often sick, but I’m a bit of a cliché.

Doctors say it will take about a full year to get it all out of my system and with each bug, I’m one step closer to avoiding it the next time around.

So – what do I know about avoiding sickness in London? Apparently not much.

Regardless, I’ve found a few key changes have helped move me in a healthier direction (placebo effect or not) and I only wish I’d been more mindful sooner:

  • Avoid contact with anything on public transport – wear gloves, use hand sanitiser and wash your hands at every opportunity.
  • Floradix I now swear by this liquid vitamin formula for keeping me up and energetic.
  • Eat your greens – sounds a bit wanky, but focussing on eating my greens and whole foods rich in nutrients, reducing alcohol and added sugar, seems to have had a positive impact.
  • Fresh air – As much as I can wax lyrical about The Tube, I’m not convinced the air quality is the best. Hence it’s been more buses and more walking for me.

Let’s be honest though – if this is the worst it gets then it’s really a small price to pay for London life.

Here’s to chicken soup and a healthy week ahead! x