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Moving To London

Moving To London

Moving to London was more daunting than any other move I’d ever undertaking in my life. Before I’d move to study or relocate to the city because it’s just what you do. But moving 2 hours drive from home or even another state in Australia is nothing compared to moving to London, one the biggest international cities around on the other side of the world.

In the interest of helping out a fellow expat I’ve combined the best of my tips to get setup in London into this here article. These are the questions I’d sought to answer before leaving home so hopefully they will serve to educate others on the ins and outs of settling in London or elsewhere in the United Kingdom

When I planned to move to London I wanted to answer the following:

  • How do I go about Finding Accommodation In London
  • Learning how the Public Transport System in London Works
  • How do I Get A Bank Account and whats a National Insurance Number
  • What do I do about Seeing A Doctor In The UK
  • How do I go about getting a Mobile Phone and Internet
  • Can I Drive In The UK
  • And a lot more

In short I had far to many questions and could find very little in the way of answers online. Much like the problems I faced when I applied for my Youth Mobility Visa. So below is my tips and advice on moving to London where I’ve tried to answer all the questions you may have but can’t answer. If I’m missing something leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to research and add it up here for you.

The Moving To London Guide

Finding Accommodation In London

The most difficult task for me on moving to London was accommodation. Some friends of mine had no problems sorting out a place to live while others gave up on London after struggling with it. My post on Finding Accommodation in London details my struggles and tips to get a place. I found the best way to get a place to stay was either via friends, work colleagues or applying like many others on Gum Tree but be ready for a potentially difficult hunt.

Public Transport in London

My Transport in London post is all about the Tube, Bus and Train networks. Getting an Oyster Card is the cheapest way to commute in London and it saves you lining up at the ticket machines during peak hour. Additionally there are some great smart phone app tips which can help you plan your route and save you when you’ve missed the last tube home at night.

Getting A Bank Account and National Insurance Number

When I started work I was told I needed a National Insurance Number which for my Australian readers its just like your Tax File number. The process to get it is fairly straight forward and its something I’d recommend you to get as soon as you can. I’ve heard of some people not getting paid till their employer had this.

For Bank accounts it’s a difficult one. You need proof of an address before you can apply but most likely can’t afford a place until your working. My tip if you don’t have a permanent address yet is to try to use your hostel address if allowed. For all the details read my post on Getting A Bank Account and National Insurance Number and if you still have questions leave a comment below on that post.

Seeing A Doctor In The UK

Something my mum was more concerned about than I was but still important. If you are living in the UK on a visa like I did then you are entitled to FREE NHS healthcare. I’d been advised to register with a doctor (all details in my post Seeing A Doctor In The UK) but the comments on that post also suggest you can head straight to emergency at a hospital and be treated as well.

Mobile Phones and Internet

I’m an addict when it comes to being connected to the internet. Be it work for the blog, connecting with friends at home and abroad or just wasting time on Facebook I like to be connected. For those like me I’ve a post on getting Internet and Mobile Phones. It has info on the best phone provider so you don’t end up paying a fortune as well as tips for wifi and other mobile internet devices for your computer.

Driving In The UK

If you happen to find yourself driving around the UK for work or pleasure then you’ll be happy to know there is little you have to do. If you hold a valid drivers licence at home then for the first 12 months you are legally allowed to drive without doing anything more than having that on you.

If you want to drive after than then you need to see if you qualify to just transfer to a UK licence or if you need to go through applying and sitting tests like everybody else. Tips and links to all the required licensing requirements can be found on my post Driving In The UK.

And there you have it, everything I’ve learn from moving to London. Of course this is by no means a complete list and I fully intended to add more advice here in the future. Some might even disagree with my suggestions so please take the above as a guide on how one man survived moving to London and go forth and do it yourself. London is an amazing city and I can only be jealous as you set off to experience it for the first time.

Questions, Tips or just want to say thanks then leave a comment below and help make a guy feel loved.

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51 Responses to Moving To London

  1. VEECEE November 5, 2012 at 3:13 PM #

    I don’t understand why you’d be jealous. Dol you want to relive the “first time” experience?

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD November 11, 2012 at 4:31 PM #

      VeeCee its pretty much as JayW says below. Experiencing everything for the first time is where all the fun really is. It was as much a learning experience as it was an adventure and who wouldn’t want to relieve the amazing parts of our lives.

  2. JAYW November 5, 2012 at 8:30 PM #

    Everyone wants ro relive that “First time experience” ;-)

  3. ANDI OF MY BEAUTIFUL ADVENTURES November 5, 2012 at 9:18 PM #

    What helpful info!

  4. AN SCENIC WORLD November 5, 2012 at 10:06 PM #

    Thanks for this! I’m moving to London in March on a Youth Mobility Visa, and this is incredibly well-timed information that’s taken some of the weight off my mind. Bookmarked? Oh, I think so.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD November 11, 2012 at 4:32 PM #

      An Scenic World hope you find it useful and if there are questions you can’t answer then be sure to get in touch and I’ll do what I can.

  5. STEPHANIE - THE TRAVEL CHICA November 6, 2012 at 12:42 AM #

    That would be an overwhelming move. I hope to live in London one day… even if it’s just for a few months.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD November 11, 2012 at 4:33 PM #

      Stephanie it was a BIG step to trade in my live in Australia to move to London but it something I’d do again and again if I could. If you get the chance then I’d go for it.

  6. AMANDA RODRIGUES November 7, 2012 at 11:06 AM #

    This is a really great article! My husband had to go through a similar situation when we were moving to the UK. I was surprised how easy it was for him to get a National Insurance Number.

    One thing he still can’t get used to is the opening hours of the shops and how many are closed on Sundays!

    How are you faring trying to find a dentist? If you’re aiming for a NHS dentist I’ve heard some people have to wait months to get on the books. Oh, I think your seeing a doctor in the UK link isn’t going to the right page.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD November 11, 2012 at 4:35 PM #

      Amanda the sunday thing wasn’t so bad for the part of London I was in but there were times when the supermarket would be shut at 4pm and I’d be left with little place close buy to do the weekly shopping.

      As for a dentist I never had to find one (thank god) but found finding a general GP really easy. Perhaps ask at your local doctor for a recommendation to make life easier?

      Fixed that link as well cheers for noticing.

  7. TOM - ACTIVE BACKPACKER November 8, 2012 at 10:32 AM #

    Solid little link tree article here, and definitely helpful for anyone who is planning to move to London! I can appreciate the effort that goes into these articles too in terms of research and sharing of personal experience :D Nice write up, mate!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD November 11, 2012 at 4:38 PM #

      Thanks Tom. This post has been in the works for a while now just needed to get everything else written beforehand. Its the sort of post I wish I’d found before setting off to live in London so figured I needed to write it.

  8. JENNIFER November 17, 2012 at 6:01 AM #

    I found my move from the north of England to London difficult enough, but your move from Australia must have been worse! I found that as soon as a good flat was advertised it was gone in the same day, so you need to be quick and view flats the same day if possible. If you are moving to London and want to find a flat share then the website http://www.spareroom.co.uk is great. Enjoy!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD November 17, 2012 at 9:41 PM #

      Jennifer I had the same problem moving to London. I’d find a good place and it would be taken or I wasn’t chosen. Felt like a never ending nightmare on top of having to manage surviving in a new part of the world. I’d forgotten about the spare room site as well, from memory they used to run speed dating nights to find potential flats etc as well.

  9. FOREVER_AUSSIE_KATE January 4, 2013 at 12:21 PM #

    Hey there,

    I am another Aussie Nomad living in the UK right now. Actually beginning to think about the return home as my Youth Mobility Visa finishes in March this year (Scary). I am living in Leeds, as I felt that London was a bit overwhelming. Have also lived in Japan from March 2010 to March 2011 and that was an experience, as it was my first time living away from home.

    The last 3 years have been incredible, not only for the travel discoveries and Awesome cultural experiences I’ve had, but the growth and learning I’ve done from a personal perspective as well!!! Just enough time left for one last European adventure that will include the following citiies: Copenhagen, Berlin, Prague and Vienna!!!
    Enjoy whatever time you have left on your YMV…it goes way to fast :-)
    Love and Bubbles from one Aussie Nomad to another,
    Kate.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 6, 2013 at 12:14 PM #

      Hey Kate, living in Japan must of been an experience and in my mind a lot more intimidating that London.

      Those last Euro destinations will be a lot of fun as I’ve been to all of them and loved every one. With a bit of luck you’ll get some early summer to really give you a send off.

  10. EMILY January 10, 2013 at 9:44 AM #

    This is a great site! I’ve sent off my visa application this week and I’m now starting to realise how much I’m going to need to learn. I have a question for you, would you recommend private health insurance? I don’t have ay medical conditions but I do wear contact lenses and have dental problems and need to check ups for these every six months. Also I’m travelling through North America on my way to the UK so I need some kind of one way insurance to cover me until I get to the UK, do you have any recommendations for this? My research isn’t getting me anywhere!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 10, 2013 at 8:08 PM #

      Hi Emily. I’d look at travel insurance from someone like worldnomads or travel insurance direct for your travels before the UK. Once in the UK and on your visa you are entitled to free healthcare similar to australia. I’ve been buying contact lenses online from a company here in europe really cheap and as for dental well i can’t help you there but imagine the costs are offset (best to ask once u get there)

  11. CARLIE February 26, 2013 at 2:11 PM #

    This is great Thankyou for writing it!

    I’m wondering if you know how it works if I’m wanting to live/work in the UK on an EU passport? Would be my first time using it.

    Will I then pay for healthcare for eg? And is it the same process for getting a bank account regardless?

  12. TEAGAN SOUTHWELL April 6, 2013 at 8:31 PM #

    Hello hello :)
    This is awesome… You may be my saving grace!! I’m an Aussie citizen but living in South Africa, and heading to the UK in may. SPi am SERIOUSLY battling with a YMV, as I think it’s probably quite rare of a request over here :)
    Are you able to let me know how you went applying, or with who you went through..
    Starting to stress as I only have 7 weeks to go :)
    Please be a hero.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD April 12, 2013 at 7:08 AM #

      Teagan, to apply for the YMV you will have to return home to Australia I’m afraid. You can only apply for it from your home country. I went through the whole process myself online, its rather easy once you understand everything you need. I’ve got a whole guide written up on it with a link in the sidebar above.

  13. LIZ April 7, 2013 at 11:10 AM #

    I would also advise people that if you are taking the tube, always take a street map and plan alternative tube lines to get to your destination. A lot of the time you plan your journey to find out that the tube line to the station is shut due to repairs….

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD April 12, 2013 at 7:09 AM #

      Liz there is a a great iPhone all called “Tube Map” and another called “Travel Deluxe” that were my navigating saviours while living in London.

  14. CAS April 18, 2013 at 1:12 AM #

    Hey Aussie Nomad

    I am currently waiting for my YMV to be approved, how long did it take you to get your visa? It’s been nearly two weeks now since I’ve first sent it off to Syd…getting a little bit impatient here.

    Hopefully I’ll get my visa and move down to London in July (fingers crossed). Can you recommend any good bank/website for transferring money from say an UK bank account to an AUS bank account?
    I am having trouble finding a good one with decent fx rates.

    Also when you first arrived in the UK, did you just bought cash with you or used your normal AUS bank cards to withdraw funds when needed? I am still trying to decide whats the best way in terms of cash..

    looking forward to hearing your experience :)

  15. ASHLEIGH May 25, 2013 at 8:01 AM #

    Chris I am after your advice; I am looking at moving to the UK in probably October-ish next year, and want to travel around Europe for 10-12 weeks first.

    I understand the YMV can only be applied for within Australia and within 3 months of entry.

    Based on the above, I won’t have enough time in Australia after the 3 month window opens to apply, get it approved and get my passport etc back in order to travel.

    Can you think of any other way around it? The only option I can come up with is to apply with my start date a few weeks before I will actually make it to the UK and forgoing that couple of weeks at the end of my stay?

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD May 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM #

      Hi Ashleigh, sounds like you want to do the same kinda of trip I took before arriving in the UK. I Arrived in Europe at the end of April and set a start date for my visa to be late June so I had a couple of months to travel before it began.

      When you apply for the visa you can set a start date for it so I’d set the start date of what you want and maybe they’ll accept that. Otherwise it will be within 3 months of the application being approved and you just miss 3-4 weeks of the 2 year visa period which while not ideal ends up being the only option.

      Also something to keep in mind. Setting the start date at say the extreme end of your intended plans (so in 12 weeks time) sounds like a great idea but if you change your mind and want to head to the UK early due to needing work, finding a job etc you will first enter on a tourist visa and have to leave and come back into the country on your working visa.

      I’d just overlap the time so say by 8 weeks have your visa start that way if the last 4 weeks of the trip don’t happen you can hightail it right to the UK. Hope that helps.

      Chris

  16. KEVIN June 4, 2013 at 11:02 AM #

    Thanks man, returning to uk after 10 years in Oz

  17. KRIS June 18, 2013 at 9:53 AM #

    How did you go about health/travel insurance?

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD August 5, 2013 at 12:05 PM #

      Hi Kris, so sorry to have missed your comment earlier. For health insurance when you are on a visa in the UK you are covered just like medicare in Australia. Then for trips outside of the UK I simply bought travel insurance to cover me then.

      • TIM April 16, 2014 at 3:53 PM #

        I’ve been in UK for 1.5 months and am going to take a short break in France over Easter. Unfortunately I’m having a tough time getting travel insurance, as all the insurers seem to require you to be a resident of the UK for at least 3 – 6 months.

        Anyone have any ideas of what insurance companies will allow someone in my position to take out a policy? Cheers

  18. CHRISTINA-MARIE August 5, 2013 at 3:35 AM #

    This is fantastic! Moving to London is one goal I hope to achieve in the next few years. I am fortunate to be able to apply for a UK Passport. Thanks for this great guide!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD August 5, 2013 at 12:02 PM #

      Hi Christina-Marie I’m well jealous of your UK passport, I’m in love with Europe but my damn aussie passport just doesn’t open enough doors like that passport will. Good luck with the move in the next few years.

  19. JENNIFER August 27, 2013 at 9:14 AM #

    I’m leaving for London in a few months time, the visa always take the longest! for 12 months. It’s my first time living overseas and I’m really excited. I found this really helpful, thankyou.
    Because this is my first time overseas I went through this company called ‘The Global Work and Travel Co.’ which pretty much sets up everything for me. I will already have a job and a place to stay. When I get over there they will also be setting up a bank account, getting me a sim card and mobile as well as a tax file number… It’s great piece of mind for all the newbie travelers :)

    • KAITLYN TURNER November 11, 2013 at 4:48 AM #

      Hi Jennifer!
      I was going through this same company too but they kept harassing me and they were telling me they would only help me with their services if I bought flights and insurance through them…which seemed to be quite overpriced to me. So I read a lot of reviews from people who didn’t fare well with them and now I’m considering just booking a flight and getting my visa and doing it myself. The company sounds amazing on paper…but read some reviews first. I wish someone had mentioned it to me, I regret booking through them. Does anyone else have anything to add?

      Hi Aussie Nomad!
      This website is unbelievable and is answering so many questions I never even knew I had! I have a question though, not sure if you’d be able to help. I am an Australian Citizen but I currently have permanent residency in Canada. How would I go about getting a YMV?

      Thanks again for having this blog!!!

      • THE AUSSIE NOMAD November 11, 2013 at 12:06 PM #

        Kaitlyn, I think you can easily do everything required yourself (at least I hope so after everything I’ve written up) for much cheaper than those one stop shops offer.

        As for applying for the YMV visa in canada, you certainly can. I believe you just apply like the canadians do via the UKBA website there instead of the UKBA australian site.

  20. JACKSON FORT September 29, 2013 at 2:11 PM #

    Hi, Great Article. Just wondering what information you have re: setting up a bank account?

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 30, 2013 at 11:47 AM #

      Hi Jackson, there is a whole article on getting a bank account mentioned above in the article.

  21. ERIN October 14, 2013 at 2:03 AM #

    Hi,
    Firstly i need to say this blog has been amazing!

    I have put through my application online and have been to my biometric appointment, and have just realized i have answered one of the questions wrong.. (criminal offenses, i didn’t realize it included traffic offenses)

    Do you have any idea on what i should do now? I have been fined for not having P plates on, therefore i have traffic offenses and i stated i didn’t.. I haven’t sent away any of my papers or passport.. can i just in writing change the answer to yes? and then send it away?

    Hopefully that makes sense I’m in a bit of a panic.

    Thankyou in advance!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD October 14, 2013 at 10:03 AM #

      Hi Erin,

      Unless you went to court over the traffic offences then it won’t be a criminal conviction. The fine you received was more an on the spot offence and such doesn’t get attached to your criminal record for life like a court appearance would. For that reason I believe you will be just fine but if you have a concern I’d call the UKBA office in Australia for clarification.

      Hope that helps.

      • ERIN October 14, 2013 at 10:16 AM #

        Thanks for replying to quick!!

        The question says to state traffic offenses as well,

        I’ve been told that I can just correct it with pen on the printed out application and send away a police report and I should be fine, do you think I can do that?

        • THE AUSSIE NOMAD October 14, 2013 at 7:18 PM #

          I think traffic offences more in line with drink driving and so on would count, I’m not sure about a fine just for not having your P plates up. But to be sure if you write on the form and attached the police report you would be fine.

  22. MIRANDA October 20, 2013 at 12:02 AM #

    Great article! But do you have any advice for non-students looking to move and work in the UK? My husband and I are looking to move to the greater London area within a year and a half, but I hear it’s almost impossible.
    My husband is a teacher by trade and I have read that that is one of the easiest trades to get a visa on but you must have a job lined up prior to moving. Any suggestions on where to start? I currently work in retail management and could probably find work fairly easily once there, but I hear we must have work lined up first. Any suggestions would greatly help!

    Thanks!
    Miranda in Texas

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD October 20, 2013 at 1:44 PM #

      Hi Miranda, this post was written mainly for Australia’s and other looking to move to London on the Youth Mobility Visa or any type of visa really. So while it could be for students that’s not really the focus here.

      To move to the UK you need a visa first and foremost. If you fit the requirements for the youth mobility visa (aged 18-31, from Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc) then there is no need to get work before you arrive.

      If you are outside these requirements then yes you’ll need to arrange employment with a company and have them sponsor you to come and live and work. If this is the case I’d say your best option is to look into agencies that offer this form of employment as getting work in the UK can be difficult enough without the employer needed to be on the sponsor list (cost to the employer is over 1000 pounds to sign up for it) with the UK immigration.

      With your partner being a teacher this should be easier for him but I’m unsure if his visa would allow you to come along as well so you both may need sponsored work.

      While I looked into this type of visa for myself before it fell through due to the employer I’m really not knowledgable enough in the area to be of much help. I’d look into agencies that offer it instead.

  23. COURTNEY January 16, 2014 at 11:39 PM #

    Hi Aussie Nomad!

    All of these tips are great for an incredibly confused applicant so thank you for the advice! I notice though that they do seem to centre around being based in London and I wondered if you had any recommendations for those planning to live elsewhere in the UK? I’m planning on heading over at the start of June for a brief trip around Ireland before going across to Edinburgh to work. From a brief previous holiday I know the Oyster card system is not set up there – do you have any information on public transport networks?

    Also, as I will be heading into Edinburgh from Dublin to begin my work visa I’m assuming this is will be sufficient for re-entry purposes; I know the Republic of Ireland and the UK have a similar setup to Australia and New Zealand in terms of travel agreements between the two countries but I’m hoping this is enough distance to have my YMV accepted!

    Also, in terms of applying for NHI and bank accounts how soon would you recommend applying for them after the visa has been sent of for processing/been accepted, etc? And which would you suggest applying for first? I apologise if this is in your blog about the two, I’ve not had a chance to read it yet!

    Thanks again for the info! :)

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 18, 2014 at 1:51 AM #

      Hi Courtney, yes most of what I know is based around London because that’s where I chose to spend my time while living in the UK. I didn’t live anywhere else in the UK but have heard good things about Edinburgh and many other cities. It just depends on what you are planning to get out of the experience.

      I have however been to Edinburgh before and for the most part you will be relying on the bus network to get around the city and then trains to get out to other parts of the country. I don’t believe there is an oyster card equivalent in Edinburgh but could be wrong.

      Re-entering the UK via Dublin is the only way to be qualified for re-entry from Ireland because if you re-enter via Belfast then you’ll already be in the UK which means no stamp.

      As for the NHI and bank accounts, you can only apply for those while you are in the UK so it will have to be well after you apply for the visa. You pretty much need to be in the UK to go through most of what I’ve mentioned in this post.

  24. ILONA January 21, 2014 at 8:49 AM #

    Do you have any up to date information about getting work in london. My field is administration and have heard very mixed reports about finding work. From it will take you 3 months to find work. I really don’t want to get over there and be unemployed for months as I dont have any hospitality experience. I already have emailed temp agencies sent through my resume and havent been given any useful information.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 22, 2014 at 1:36 AM #

      Hi ilona, I’m afraid I don’t have any updated info on finding work in London. But from experience from friends it seems you just have to get out there and chase it. Agencies in London need some prodding to get them to work for you and ensure you can find a place which is easier done in person than online.

  25. MELE February 23, 2014 at 12:55 AM #

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! All of your posts are concise and informative. Definitely a reference point for me as I plan for the big move.

  26. JAY B April 4, 2014 at 2:52 AM #

    Has anyone here been denied or Mr Nomad have you heard of any cases of people with drink driving convictions being denied the youth mobility visa?

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD April 4, 2014 at 4:37 AM #

      Hi Jay, I’ve seen a few people apply for it with convictions and all were ok. Just make sure to send off all your court documents etc with the application so they don’t have to request info from you.

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