Everything You Need to Know About Moving to London and the UK

If you are thinking about moving to London or elsewhere in the UK to live and work but are unsure where to start, then this guide should be just what you need get the ball rolling. Similarly, if you’ve already made the decision and are looking to ensure you’ve checked off all the steps in preparation for your move, this guide should prove very helpful.

BritBound has helped and welcomed thousands of Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and many other nationalities with their relocation to the UK. So, we not only know what’s involved but more importantly how to best make it a stress-free and sociable experience.

If you want to know how to move to London or how to move to the UK, successfully, then this guide will be your go-to reference point.

1) Making a decision

Can you imagine how many people think about living and working overseas but just don’t quite get around to the actual ‘doing’ part? There is no doubt that this is a big life decision, so it’s understandable that you are going to feel bombarded with lots of questions, if’s ands or buts... ‘Should I move to the UK? When should I move to the UK? What do I need to move overseas?’ When you consider how daunting it feels now, it is easy to see why so many stall during the decision stage.

In my time working at BritBound I have met a lot of people who express how much they regret not grabbing the opportunity to live overseas. Please don’t become one of them! But yes, there is a lot to consider so let us help get you through this first stage! If you’re in need of a wee push to help you take the plunge, I suggest reading the following articles. And if you ever want to chat to me in person about moving here then just drop me a line. Sarah (at) BritBound (dot) co.uk.

2) Explore your visa options

If you are lucky enough to have a passport that allows you to live and work in the UK then you can skip this stage. If on the other hand you’re one of the many who require a visa then the first thing you need to consider is which visa you should apply for. Here at BritBound we are regularly advising people that they should actually be applying for a different visa than the one they’re enquiring about.

It might sound surprising but there are situations where you can be denied a visa because you have applied in the wrong category. You might already know the visa you need but if you haven’t checked out your options thoroughly then I would suggest you do some more reading. It’s also a good idea to understand a bit more about the process, costs and timelines.

3) Research and budgeting – create some checklists!

I don’t mean you need to spend two weeks in the library swotting up on the history of the Monarchy, but try and do a little bit of research. The sections in this article are good starting points. Get a basic plan of action in place and make life easier for yourself with a checklist or two to help you stay organised and on track.

One thing you really need to get your head around, is how much money you are going to need. What you do not want to do is arrive here and realise you do not have enough funds to support yourself. If you can pay for as many things as possible, as early as possible, it will mean you have less to pay out for once you get here (and you can continue to work to repay the spent funds). There will be nothing worse than seeing your support and travel fund wiped out in the first week, simply because you simply had not adequately prepared for the costs of moving here.

4) Decide where you’re going to base yourself

Have you decided where you want to live when you get here? Many of our BritBounders say they had a clear idea early on where they wanted to be based. I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that the majority of our guys chose London as their first destination, good news for us as this is where we are! Your decision might be influenced by where you have family or friends, where you have a work opportunity or somewhere others have recommended to you.

It could be that you have absolutely no idea and that is absolutely fine too. The UK is a relatively small island (500 miles top to bottom / 800 km), so you are never going to be stuck or feel completely isolated. I read somewhere that wherever you are in the UK you are never more than 75 miles (120 km) from the coast. So if anything why not consider living in more than once place whilst you are here? Here is some further reading to give you more of an idea of where to base yourself.

5) Book your flights, lay over stops and travel tours.

One of the most exciting steps for your move to the UK..the point where you commit to a departure date and book a flight! Once this stage happens it will start to feel very real indeed!

6) Get some of the relocation formalities underway

Understanding how you are going to do these things will definitely ensure you don’t spend your first month trying to get your head around these topics. Your first month should be about exploring and setting into your new home, not doing an exhausting and frustrating pavement crawl of the UK banks! Check out what BritBound can assist you with as we know a lot about these formalities and the best way to go about setting them up.

Articles that will help you get some of the relocation formalities underway:-

a) UK Bank account

b) National Insurance Number

c) Proof of UK residential Address (you will need this for your NI Number)

d) SIM cards and phone plans

e) Oyster Travel Cards (for commuting in London)

f) Money Transfers (ways to get your money moved over to your UK bank account)

g) Travel Insurance

h) Contractor Payroll Options / Setting up a limited company

i) The National Health Service (For Hospital Treatment and Doctor Appointments)

7) Arrange your arrival accommodation

Even if you have family to stay with when you first arrive, I would encourage you to do as much research as you can so that when the time comes to find a place, you’re ready! You might be surprised to learn that sorting out your long-term accommodation is probably going to be the hardest aspect of moving to the UK. It is not something to rush, so our advice is leave it until you get here. We think that the best way to go about this stage of your move is to take a 3 month short-term stay. Then once you're working and know where you want to live and how much you can afford then you can start to look at options

Articles to help you with arranging your arrival accommodation

a) Where to stay when you first arrive in London

8) Start looking at your employment options

Whether you are coming to the UK to expand your career horizons, or to primarily fund your travel plans, finding work is going to be at the top of your agenda. Though hopefully you will arrive with a decent cushion of funds so you do not have to find work the day you arrive!

Whilst organising a job before you arrive is going to be unlikely, though there are exceptions, there is a lot you can do to ensure that you reduce the time it takes to start working. Some research now will hopefully help you find a job you actually want to do, not have to do.

9) Be emotionally prepared for moving overseas

During my time at BritBound I have come to learn that very few people move here without experiencing some kind of emotional episode. It’s of course to be expected given the magnitude of what you are putting yourself through! The problem is that when we’re in an emotional state it can stop us from thinking straight and sometimes lead us to being a bit irrational (like jumping on the plane home!). So having an idea of the kind of emotions you are likely to encounter, means you are ready for them and can be better prepared to deal with them. As they say, forewarned is forearmed!

The great thing about being a BritBounder is that you will meet other people who are going through the same feelings as you, which is always comforting to know! The other good thing about joining BritBound is that we have a Base here in London, so you can stop by for a chat over a cup or tea or something stronger! We also have a young black Lab called Henry who comes to the Base and he is always up for a cuddle!

***Articles to help you feel more emotionally prepared for your move to London / the UK***

a) 7 Emotional Challenges you may have to face when you move to the UK