So you want to move to London.
Maybe you’re already job hunting in the capital, or maybe you’ve been thinking about it for a while but aren’t sure where to start. Either way, I hope I can help you by sharing everything I learned when moving here.
There’s no denying that moving to a new city is daunting, and there’s something about the craziness of the big smoke that makes a move even more complicated. But it can be done – and it can be done quickly. I accepted a job offer and moved into a house share in West London only ten days later.
This is how you can do it, too.
Whatever industry you’re interested in, the likelihood is that there will be far more vacancies in London than in other parts of the country. For most people, work is the factor that pushes them to the city.
Like everything else here, the job market moves quickly. If you can start immediately, you’ll be in a strong position as companies often have positions that need filling fast. It’s worth stating your potential start date on your CV to lure companies in, if relevant.
Personally, I only had to travel to London for two interviews, though this was a pain to travel down from Shropshire. I also didn’t feel confident enough to start looking for housing before the job offer came through. My ten days between offer and start date was plenty, though I was panicking at the time. You will be able to start sooner than you think – trust me.
A place to live
This is the big one! Housing in London is an absolute mine field, but here is how you can navigate it.
- First, do you have friends to share with? If you’ve just got a job offer, chances are that friends already in the capital won’t be able to move in with you as they’ll be mid-contract.
- Can you afford to live on your own? A studio apartment rarely costs under £1,000 per month in the suburbs of the city, and they can be a lot more. There is more to life than rent, so think about this carefully. I definitely wouldn’t want to spend much more than half of my take-home salary per month on housing.
- If you can’t make these two options work, it’s time to look for a house share. Spare Room is the biggest website for listings. It’s a jungle out there. Don’t expect people to come to you – it’s time to start contacting everyone and anyone. Only expect to get around one reply for every ten messages you send out.
- Last minute is the norm. You might start to panic as your move-in date gets closer, even though you haven’t fond the right place. This is completely normal – most people are looking for properties that are available immediately. It’s stressful, but that’s just how it works.
- My main piece of advice is to sign for six months if at all possible. The landlord at the house I wanted was insistent on 12 months, and so I’ve been stuck here for a whole year. It would have been a lot easier if I could have left after just six.
Next it’s time to pick a location. You might know the popular areas like Shoreditch, Brixton and Clapham (though I definitely didn’t when I moved). Unsurprisingly, they’re also some of the most expensive. If you know anyone else in the city, check CityMapper to see how far away your potential house will be from them. When researching online, remember that every part of London has good bits and bad bits. You will never really know until you try.
If you’re still not sure, look at the tube lines. Pick a location that will allow you to get into work easily. That’s what I did, and now I live 25 minutes from work, door to door, and don’t have to change tube lines at all.
A way to get around
The tube will become your best friend. You’ll probably use it everyday for work, as well as to go out on weekends. A yearly travelcard is the best value, but it’s also quite intimidating to have to hand over £1,000 and get a little piece of plastic in return. Instead, I opted for the monthly travelcard. For £124 per month, I get unlimited journeys on the tube within zones 1 and 2, as well as any bus. It’s still painful to hand over than much money each month, though.
And that should be all you need! If you have any questions about making the move to London, leave them in the comments and I’ll help you out as best I can. I made a lot of mistakes when I moved, so I hope I can help you avoid the same ones!