20 things to know before moving to London
Whether your bags are packed and you've already booked a flight, or you're just thinking about it at this point, one thing is for sure - you're keen on life in the Big Smoke and need some moving to London advice.
Fortunately, you're in the right place, becuase at Movebubble we pride ourselves on being experts on lovely London and everything this city has to offer.
This 'moving to London' article is no exception, as we've compiled our top 20 tips for any potential London dweller, including how to find a place to live, making friends, sorting out schools and even the best foodie spots in the capital.
1. Think of London as loads of tiny towns rather than one big city.
Like Amazonian communities, every area in London has a different ambience, atmosphere and local tribe. For Shoreditch, its the bearded hipster brigade; Chelsea is where you'll find the red-trouser wearing sloane. Decide whether you want to be East, West, North or South of the capital, then research the wider area like a CSI sleuth. Think about your commuting time, what amenities matter to you (parks? bars? a stellar safety record?), and check out our ultimate guide to the best places to live for a comprehensive overview.
2. But remember, it's not the end of the world if you start off somewhere you're not completely sure about
If you're in a hurry to find a place, you might not get the perfect location on your first go, but trying out different areas is part of the joy of living in such a huge, diverse city. You can always move, and you'll have plenty of anecdotes about your former area to chime in with when someone starts moaning about how everyone North/South of the river is a pseudo-intellectual champagne socialist/steals bikes on the weekend.
3. If you're moving to London alone, decide whether you want a flat share or to live the solo dream.
Moving into a group flat can be a great idea if you're coming to London alone and want to meet people, and its also much cheaper.
4. Stay calm.
Admittedly, the London property market is insane and there are houses on sale for over £200 million and by my conservative estimate about one million people are looking for a place to live at the same time, but you'll find somewhere in the end. Promise.
5. Coming with a family? Look into the schools before you move.
There is so much conflicting information on schools for those moving to London with a family, but fortunately Locrating have brought Ofsted reports and exam results to help you search for the best schools in your potential area.
6. Know your rights.
As a tenant, it's essential that you know your rights when it comes to tenancy agreements, contracts, your deposit, repairs and anything else involving your property. Read up on tenant rights, what to do if your contract is breached, and the latest immigration laws to make sure you don't get taken advantage of.
7. Don't pay a deposit until you've seen the place.
Photos (and landlords) can lie, so don't let panic take over. You'll find somewhere.
8. Rent can be crazy expensive in London.
Yes, you've probably heard plenty of times before but unlike the urban legends about man-sized rats in the sewers and secret menus at Starbucks, this one is unfortunately true. Expect to start at £600 per month for something a bit rubbish around the edges, and after that the sky's the limit.
9. Life can get a little expensive here in general.
As well as rent remember to factor in the cost of water, gas, electricity and council tax, which varies in price per borough. If you're moving to London from abroad, you may also find that groceries, petrol and public transport are more expensive here than in most other places. Numbeo is a great comparison site to check out if you want to compare London to your current city.
10. Fortunately, we love offers and discounts.
Arm yourself with a Taste Card for 2-for-1 restaurant meals, peruse food blogs for new restaurant soft launches (a week of 25-50% off all items on the menu), and get involved with Groupon and Wahanda for cheap fitness classes, manicures and much more!
11. London is heaven for foodies and boozers.
We've got every type of restaurant and bar, new pop-ups appearing on a daily basis, and an amazing selection of food markets. Fancy a Peruvian lunch, Japanese street food supper, and a cocktail-and-dessert bar to finish? London's got all of it and more. Shoreditch and Soho are particularly heavy on great restaurants, but you can find tasty places to eat all over the city.
12. Take advantage of the free museums, exhibitions and festivals.
One of London's greatest assets is the sheer number of free events taking place at any one time. Most of our museums are free, including the V&A, The British Museum and the Wellcome Collection, and there are regular art and photography exhibitions which will cost you absolutely zero pounds to visit.
13. Leave your car at home and get on the tube.
Driving is pretty rubbish in London, with loads of traffic, little parking and an obligatory congestion charge. Instead, we've mastered the combination of the Underground, the buses, the Overground, a spot of cycling and the odd Uber taxi. Two key things to remember: tubes are now 24/7 on some lines during the weekend24/7 on some lines during the weekend, and you can now use your debit card as an oyster card, which is far easier than queuing for the top-up machines.
14. Although you'll get to know London much quicker if you walk
The city is surprisingly pedestrian friendly, and you'll find that in Central London walking between places such as Soho, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square and Oxford Street is much quicker than taking public transport. Plus, you'll little pockets of the city you didn't know existed and get to know the London much better in the process!
15. Download some apps on your phone.
Londoners love technology, especially if it allows them to be a little lazier - and there are some brilliant apps to help you get around the city. Citymapper is the trusted way of getting you from A to B, the Cycle Hire app will help you find your nearest station, and Uber is everyone's go-to taxi when a quiet drink turns into a bar crawl and you've got to get home ASAP. If you're particularly keen on saving a few precious seconds of your commute, download Tube Exits too.
16. Accept the frantic pace of London living.
They say life is a marathon, but London is most definitely a sprint. Between long hours at work, thirsty Thursdays, jam-packed weekends and trying to visit every new pop-up/restaurant/thing everyone is talking about, you might find yourself wiped out trying to keep FOMO at bay. It's ok if you want to take a weekend out to just eat pizza and watch Netflix - we all do it.
17. Find a fail-safe retreat for when the city gets too much.
As much as we love London, there are those inevitable days when the tube gets stuck in a tunnel for 20 minutes, it won't stop raining, you're far from payday and the only thing left in the fridge is some dubiously old pasta. When the city gets you down, it's important to have somewhere to go that reminds you why you love London - whether it's a quirky coffee shop, secret garden square, or a Shoreditch bar which makes a mean Old Fashioned.
18. Get to know some of the other 8 million inhabitants of this crazy capital.
Whether you've come with family and friends or completely solo, it's easy to meet people in London. Every hobby and sport has a social group (even learning the ukulele), as well as language groups, art classes and even a dedicated 'Silicon Drink About' event for freelancers in tech. Have a look at Meet Up for some ideas to start with.
19. Single and ready to mingle? London's full of potential loves.
For those moving to London alone, dating is practically a sport here. There are endless dating events ranging from 'Anti-Dating' ping pong tournaments to Literary Speed Reading, and everyone is on Tinder. Game, set, date.
You're moving to London, one of the best cities in the world. Whatever happens, you'll never forget your time here and the Big Smoke will hold a special place in your heart forever (although you'll always shudder at the memory of tube strikes and rail replacement buses).
Got a pressing question we haven't covered? Let us know in the comments!