So you’ve booked your flights, you’ve got the visa, and you’re coming to London. Easy. But then panic sets in as you realise, you’ve got no idea how to put it all together once you get here ??♀️??♂️ Luckily, I’m here to give you the lowdown.
First things first, add Kiwis in London on Facebook. Even if you’re not a Kiwi, they are very welcoming (I promise, I checked). Their Facebook page has so much information, from flat posts every week, lists of agencies to use to find work, and social happenings around London.
If you want to be super organised, you could make a Spareroom account. This is the main website/app most people use to find somewhere to live. But you can use your Facebook as a login, so it’s no biggie. It won’t mean much to you yet, but you’ll be wanting to try find places in Zone 1-2 (or zone 3 at a push). To enlighten you, these are the areas of London, according to the tube map. Zone 1 is very central London, then zone 2 around that, you get the picture. The further out you get, the cheaper it tends to be. The one below has them all pretty and colourful to give you an idea.
Next, it’ll pay to decide what kind of work you want to do. If you’ve got a trade or industry you can use from home, great. It might pay to find out if you need to do any kind of transfer to get your valid certificate or piece of paper so you can work here before you leave, sometimes these can take longer than should be humanly possible to get processed. If you want to try something new, also great. Just keep in mind that industries like hospo will be fun, but tend to pay minimum wage. If you don’t have many previous skills, or they can’t be put to good use in the industry you want, I can vouch for nannying, and events and removals companies. More on that later.
Once you get to London, you’ll need to apply for a national insurance number to be allowed to work. Some companies will let you work on your temporary one, but most want you to wait until you’ve done this, so it will be good to get onto it asap.
If you weren’t organised to get yourself some mail from your bank sent, you can sign up with TSB or Lloyds banks. They don’t need any proof of address, so are often the banks of choice when people first arrive. And you can always change later but good to have somewhere for that first pay check to go! Don’t forget to take along your visa/permanent residency card and passport to the appointment.
In terms of phone networks, I would definitely recommend 3, especially if you plan on travelling. You can use your data overseas in about 50 countries, and they are pretty reasonably priced. If your house isn’t likely to have wifi, get their unlimited data pack, no worries ever again! I kicked myself for not checking this before I signed a contract with EE. £4 a day for data hurts.
The London tube network takes some getting used to, and to get around, it’s best to get an Oyster card. You can buy these at any ticket machine, and this makes your travel about half the price compared to buying daily tickets. I saw an article the other day that was saying London transport is the most expensive in the world. Get excited! ?? I’d definitely recommend buying a weekly pass for zones 1-2 for your first week. My friend told me to, and I thought I was ok without it. It costs £32 to have unlimited travel on buses and trains for the week. I figured I didn’t need it and easily spent over £50 the first week. It’s so easy to get on the wrong train. With this, there’s no worries if (WHEN!) you muck up.
Still transport related, don’t dare pay for a taxi from the airport, unless you have a trust fund in the Cayman Islands. There is a train or bus to get into the city from every airport. I’ll try suss something to help make all the options clear.
I think that covers most things to get you started. Then you can get stuck in and enjoy yourself! It’s an incredible city with so much to offer, especially when the sun comes out ??