After living out of a suitcase from March through to October and having a month at home in November, it was time to find a base, why choose anything else but the good ole London town!
So what do you need to think about when moving to the opposite side of the globe?
1. A job. I started applying for jobs through Indeed.co.uk. I applied for about 20+ jobs over 2 weeks while I was still at home. Towards the end, I started getting desperate as I wasn’t hearing back from anyone. I received a call about 4 days before I left to go back to London, for a job trial the day after I arrived in London! Success! Job acquired! The lesson is though, do not give up, just keep applying, confidence up and you will get something in the end! Even if it’s not your ideal job to begin with, better to have something rather than nothing!
2. Somewhere to live. I would highly recommend to not look for a place until you have a job secured. Why? Because London is massive and even if you have your heart set on an area to live, you might only be able to find a job on the opposite side of London. An hour plus commute is not ideal and it’s expensive! I found a place on spareroom.co.uk, quite quickly thank god! However, in a months time, I am actually going to be moving out so I can move into a room above the pub where I work! (Also, if you’re looking for a room, hit me up, I have one available!) A lot of places actually offer this if you are working in a pub, so ask about the live-in situations! Just to give you an idea, the place I am in now is about £137 per week, all bills included. I have a double bed, furniture included and live about 5 minutes from the closest tube stop. When I move, it will be a single bed, smaller room, share facilities again, but I will be saving £85 per week, including transport to and from work! As I mentioned, completely up to you and your sitution though!
- Things to ask when moving in?
- House rules, like no this or that after a certain time
- Cleaning rotas, making sure everyone pitches in with the common area cleaning
- If the room comes with furniture
- If there is deposit protection scheme on your deposit.
3. Important boring things, a NIN – National Insurance Number. So this is like your tax file number, you are going to need it to work and get your tax back (because most Aussies that work here, never make enough to pay tax in the end! Kind of like when you’re 14/15 and you first start working back home!) You can start the application process through this websitehere. You need to get an interview take all your documents with you and wait a few weeks before it actually will arrive in the mail!
4. Bank account, so once you start your job you can start collecting yo money!
I found it easiest going through HSBC. All I needed was my home address in Australia, my EU passport (yes I am a lucky son of a, who was able to get one), but you can use your Visa residency, and then just an address in the UK for them to send co-ordinations too. If this is too hard, I also have a bank account with this online bank called Loot.Click here. It’s a bank account created by Uni Students for people trying to budget. It’s actually a really handy bank account. They have an app where you apply for the account, I received my card within about 3-4 working days. You set your weekly budget, and then that breaks it down day by day. It will update you with a notification each time you spend money and how much you have spent for that day. You can also set up separate areas that you can transfer money into for savings, without creating an extra account. It’s hidden away from your daily spendings so it’s great for any travel goals you might have! (Mine is currently Morocco!) You can also get paid directly from your work into this account too!
5. Bedding. Yeah, ah wot. Bet you didn’t think of this one because I didn’t! If you know where you are moving into before you leave Australia, BRING SHEETS WITH YOU! Save your pennies, you’ll need them for booze, or food, or rent! If not, check out Primark(if you don’t know what Primark is, imagine a Kmart, with more fashionable clothing and about 4 floors of glorious cheapness if you head to the one on east Oxford Street). I purchased a doona and doona cover, fitted sheet, mattress protector, a pillow, coat hangers and pillowcases for about £65. See, try and bring it from home, save yoself some mula!
6. Sim card, because you are going to need a new number to get you through the next . . . however long you decide to stay! I found Three is the best for me. I pay £20 per month for unlimited calls, texts and 12GB of data! Also if you travel through Europe (or take a quick sneaky trip home) you can use your sim card free of charge in the majority of European countries, Australia and quite a few others! (Total of 71 countries.)
7. Warm clothes. Not going to lie, being the naive Gold Coast gal I am, I have been having cold winters of about 5 degrees (if ever that low), I don’t know what the cold really is. London is bloody cold. It might say it’s 7 degrees outside, Aussies, its a different kind of cold here. You might buy yourself a tonne of “winter” clothes back home to prepare yourself, don’t bother, buy it once you get here! What I purchased for the winter:
- Most importantly, a nice big thick coat! £80 from Pull & Bear, two layers, can take the inside out if it’s not too cold, heaps of pockets so don’t always need to take a bag, and a furry, fluffy inside! If you don’t have this kind of budget though, some second-hand shops have some pretty decent things too!
- Sweaters! I have 5 of these, perfect for any layering outfit, can cost £8-£20 (found at shops like Pull & Bear, Primark and H&M)
- Jeans! Unless you go to more expensive places, I’m not going to lie, I like our denim better from back home (Australia)! I always get my jeans from Cotton On and Jay Jays, about $50-$60AUD and have last me years! Places like Pull & Bear, Primark and H&M, you can get a pair of jeans for as cheap as £15 sometimes, but I don’t find the quality as good.
- Scarves, beanies and gloves, are a must! Get a nice thick scarf, a good beanie (I got mine from H&M for £5.) As for gloves, I find mittens are the best! The ones with fingerless ends and a little pouch you can just pop over your fingers when needed/not texting! You can get the gloves that are meant to be responsive to your phone screen, I personally think they are a waste of money and don’t work!
- Boots! This is so important! You need a warm, sturdy, preferably waterproof and a slip-resistant pair of boots to get you through the winter! My favourite and most expensive investment I have made so far has been my pair of Timberlands, I have not regretted it for one second! £130 from The Office. This purchase will not be regretted!
- Lastly, ladies, a pair of tights with velvet on the inside! Yes, they exist and yes they are heaven! Another small investment from Primark (literally £5!) Do it, you will not regret it!
8. Know your supermarkets! People on a budget (like me), your new supermarket of choice is Tesco, super cheap, okay quality. Next, on the list, you have Sainsbury’s, kind of your middle ground, a bit better quality and a nicer selection. Finally, you have Waitrose, if you want to impress a date or some friends, get your food from these guys! Of course, there are heaps of others, but these are definitely the main three I have come across during my time here!
9. Register for a GP immediately. Once you settle in an area head to this website (click here) to help you apply for a GP that is close to you! I still haven’t done this, however, I also always travel on travel insurance (you never know what will happen in general), so I didn’t bother. But if you are planning on staying here for the full 2 years, it will definitely be worthwhile doing this immediately. It will mean that when you need one, you can see someone straight away, instead of having to wait a week or so (not so great if you just need a prescription!)
10. This is one for the ladies, bring a shit tonne of sanitary items with you. I don’t know if I am looking in the wrong places, but my god, I don’t know how the women of UK and even Europe live! Their items are nowhere near the quality of ours. Do yourself a favour, stockpile it!
11. You’re not in Aus anymore.I do love London, on most days. You have so many awesome bars, markets, shops, restaurants and events at your fingertips, but prepare for not just the cold weather, but cold people. Where I’m from in Australia you will walk down the street and smile or even the occasional “hi, how you going?” to strangers, it’s nothing like that in London. You could be on the Tube, peak hour, touching butt to butt with some stranger (because it’s so squishy) and no one will start up a conversation UNLESS they know each other. Customer service here is not as good either, walk into a shop, there’s never a “hi, can I help you today?” As much as this annoyed me back home, my god, I miss it now! Even when you finally find someone in a shop who works there, there’s not an awful lot of them really wanting to help you either, it’s weird. Don’t get me wrong, I have met some lovely Londoners, however, this is definitely the overall general feel of the place. Coffee is shit! However, there are a few places where you can get an amazing, pretty much the same as a cup of coffee from home! (Watch this space, more to come!)
I’m not going to lie to you, the first month in London, is hard. Especially when you move during the colder times, because it is bloody freezing and all the locals will tell you “just wait, it’s not even that cold yet.” I honestly had it easy. I found a job before I left, and found somewhere to live in the first week or so. Some people are not as lucky as me, if you are one, do not give up!
Even though I had friends in London before I moved, I still had times where I felt incredibly lonely, and still, do some days. You do just have to push through the hard times because even though I have only been here just over a month, I have found some awesome people and had some incredible times with old and new friends! London does have a lot to offer, you just got to find what you love and search for more of it!
If you do have any other questions, please leave them below!