Moving to London: Ten Tips

London is one of the world’s most exciting cities but moving here can be a daunting prospect. We have covered property hunting in our How to Rent in London post so today we wanted to give some general relocation tips to help you get started. 

1. Don’t have a car unless you really need one.

Taking a car is often the least efficient form of transport, especially if you live in Zone 1, and comes with other costs such as the congestion charge and costly parking spaces. Taking the tube or walking is often quicker, especially at rush hour. City Mapper is an excellent app which shows all transport options and costs for any destination from your current location. When you really need a car, London has the usual ride sharing apps (Uber, Lyft) but also has more premium taxi services such as Addison Lee.  If you live in Zone 1 and still really want a car you can apply for a discount on the congestion charge.

2.Factor in all your living costs. 

London is an expensive city and you should carefully consider all living costs before deciding to move here. You will need additional money upfront for your lettings deposit – this has recently been limited to 5 weeks’ rent (or 6 if the rent is more than £50,000 per year). In addition to your rent, factor in your council tax, (KFH have an an excellent tool), utilities and commuting costs. Greener energy providers such as Ovo and Bulb are becoming more popular in London and tend to rate higher for both customer service and price. For mobile phone data, online firms such as giffgaff offer monthly data packages with no fixed term contracts.

3. Get a bank account. 

Setting-up a bank account should be one of your first priorities after arriving in the UK. If you are moving from certain countries, including the US,  you may not be able to transfer over your credit score over so it’s important to start building up a new one.  A contactless card will also allow you to travel easily on Transport for London’s network (tube, bus, tram etc.) without an Oyster Card. As well as traditional high street banks, the UK has a growing range of online banks such as Monzo and Starling.  

4. Know your rights as a tenant. 

Whilst the majority of letting agents and landlords are OK there are some rogues who may make you feel uncomfortable (demanding cash up front, not clearly explaining how your deposit will be registered etc.) If you have any doubts, trust your gut instinct and walk away. It’s worth reviewing the government’s How to Rent guide before starting your property search. 

5. Have your paperwork in order. 

Copies of bank statements, passport (plus a visa if you have one), a previous landlord reference and a letter of employment from your company will all help you rent a property more quickly. 

6. Figure out your commute time.

Transport for London’s Journey Planner is a great resource for this. If you choose to live far away from your work, check that the amount you are saving in rent is worth it after your daily commute cost has been factored in. We often help clients looking to move closer to work who had previously underestimated the cost and stress of a longer commute. 

7. GP/Dentist Registration.

After you’ve found a place, register with your local NSH Doctor (GP) and Dentist before you need them.  If you are immigrating you may need to pay an NHS surcharge

8. Moving in the winter has its advantages. 

If you can cope with the darker evenings and weather, arriving in the winter has several advantages. There are fewer tourists so you will be able to get around London more easily on the tube at a time you will be visiting many neighbourhoods. The property market is also quieter as many people wait for Spring to make a move. Whilst this means there are fewer properties available, there is generally less competition and you have a better chance of negotiating a lower rent. However we don’t recommend moving too close to Christmas/New Year as many businesses begin to close from the middle of December. 

9. Embrace online shopping.

In a city where it’s often hard to manage personal time with work  – online shopping can save a lot of time. Central London does not have many large supermarkets and the smaller ones have less choice. However most major UK supermarkets offer online delivery. Amazon’s Prime Now also has same day delivery within a two hour window to most London areas.  

 10. Start planning early. 

Last but not least, it really pays to plan ahead. London’s rental market is one of the most competitive in the world with good properties often being snapped up as fast as they appear.  We recommend starting your rental search at least two months in advance. 

Want to secure a London property before you arrive in the UK or need any other assistance renting or buying in London? Contact us today for a no obligation consultation.