I’ve lived in the UK four times and this current stint has been over eight years! Often people ask me for tips and I’ve come up with this list that is not the norm. London is a very busy city. Often it can feel unfriendly, dirty and able to suck the life from you. However, if you can get passed there are plenty of fabulous things to do including free art galleries, film premiers and monopoly board pub crawls!
Budgeting and Banking
Unlike Australia I have found the banking system in the UK incredibly slow. A purchase made on Monday can appear the following Friday in online banking. This can create a false economy and result in overdrawn fees as you overspend. I recommend you keep a detailed budget as the £25 per day overdraft fees are legal and painful!
Visas and Citizenship.
Work out what visa you can get and then keep this to yourself. It is no one’s business but plenty of people will ask you. I know someone who was very open about her visa and one of her colleagues, who didn’t like her, reported her to HMRC. She hadn’t done anything wrong, but the onus was on her to prove this. Incredibly stressful and had she kept it to herself her colleague wouldn’t have had anything to report.
The citizenship application and process takes a minimum of six and a half years, not five. A lot of articles online will tell you it is five. Five years is the point where you can apply for the citizenship. You are first granted indefinite leave to remain and then a year later can apply for citizenship. It can take six months for your citizenship application to be reviewed or you can pay extra to go to an office and get a same day answer. I did this as my job required travel and I couldn’t be without my passport for six months!
Filter Your Water and Avoid Ready Made Foods.
After reading reports of the levels of toxins in London water I now filter everything I drink. You can buy water from the supermarket however I’d avoid this due to the environmental cost of plastic bottles. Ready made foods and servings for one are available in every supermarket. I got caught out as this convenience is not something offered in Australia. Be careful as these foods take their tole and it is not unusual to put on a few kgs quickly!
Bring Some Of Your Own Things And Your Clothes.
At the bare minimum you will hopefully be here for two years. The style of London will influence you and your tastes will change. Bring all your clothes as when you return home those precious items you kept will not fit or you won’t love them anymore. Bringing your own wardrobe is also great to help save money and spend it on theatre tickets and nights out!
Consider bringing a few of your home possessions as well. Leave the duvet but bring your gorgeous cover. Leave the picture frames but bring the fabulous prints. You will be able to quickly make your new room homely and yours with a few familiar possessions from home.
London Is The Consumer Capital Of The World!
I’ve never been hit by more advertising for everything then when I have lived in London. Every tube station is situated on a high street, where every shop is repeated. Advertising for new clothes, the latest theatre shows or M&S meal deal hits you as soon as you step out your front door. Set yourself budgets from the outset for entertainment and food. If you have spent all your money don’t get the free magazines like Time Out which are going to encourage you to go out more. Always have some savings because a last-minute ticket home for an unwell relative or a broken boiler can create a massive dent in the budget.
Give Yourself 6 Months To Settle In.
I currently live in my 22nd house and have learnt that it takes at least six months to settle into life in a new city or country. You will be making new friends, trying to impress in a new job and completing your chores in your flat share! Life is going to be a little stressful and it is highly likely one of these decisions won’t be right. Probably the flatshare! Take it all in your stride and know that it will all settle down in six months.
What do you wish you knew before you moved to London? I’d love to hear all your tips. PF xo