How To Prepare For London in Ten Ways… And What To Do When You Get Here

Before I left for London I was a wreck, freaking out about what I need and if I have everything organised. I struggle under pressure at the best of times. Me freaking out on the phone to the Cash Passport people half an hour before I was leaving for my flight isn’t a good sight. Turns out it was in my carry on the whole time. This is where I stand up and say “Hi, my name is Christie and I’m shocking at organising myself when travelling.”

So here are the following 10 tips to help you when you relocate so you don’t become hopeless like myself.

  1. Have a job lined up before you leave (if possible)
    Knowing you will have money coming in at some point when you move is a good idea. You then know you can live at a hostel for a while if need be as you look for a place to live. Even if you join an agency or do a job you have no interest in, then it’s worth it knowing you can sustain living here. It’s bloody expensive!
  2.  Knowing about bank accounts
    The problem with moving here is that you can only open a bank account if you have an address to give them… and hostels don’t count. So make sure you have a travel card just in case it takes a while to set one up. You need a bank account to get a phone plan and when you start to get paid too, so try to do it ASAP.
  3. Do your research
    Google everything! Blogs about moving to London and websites about the best places to live (and the worst) help guide you. Also, ask anyone you know (or a friend of a friend of a friend) who has been through the move for advice and look at websites like SpareRoom and RoomBuddies to get an idea of prices. In terms of house hunting, make sure bills are included and NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE ESSENTIALS LIKE A LIVING ROOM.I don’t have one in my house and it’s not nice when you eat, do work and sleep in your room constantly. Thank God we have a backyard and summer is approaching- at least my roommates and I can converse somewhere!
  4. Get a railcard
    Bring a passport photo (or get one done here), grab a 16-25 form from a train station and fill it out. Pay the 30 quid and keep it with you at all times when you travel on a train as inspectors will always ask to see it. You save so much money (sometimes even 7+ quid) on one trip alone. You can also get railcards for couples too and pensioners. http://www.railcard.co.uk/
  5. Be prepared to be homesick
    Boy, there have been times when I really wanted to come home because my mum and dad are the only people I want to see and talk to. I miss going to brunches with friends and playing basketball (it’s not popular here AT ALL). But you have to remember that you’re building another life here and it doesn’t mean that life is gone. It’s just different that’s all.
  6. SAVE, SAVE, SAVE
    Try to make sure that you have money behind you before you get here, because it is an expensive city and something might happen where you need money quickly. For example, when I moved here I couldn’t find a decent place near my school, so I had to stay in the Premier Inn nearby. Cost me a fortune. Thank God I had savings behind me.
  7. Network once you get here
    Reach out to people from high school that have moved, or friends of your parents, aunties etc. They can all help you get your stuff sorted and that way you have established more networks too. Also, find sporting or trivia teams through Facebook groups like ‘Aussies in London’ or ‘Aussie Teachers in London’ (there’s one for Kiwis too). There’s always people posting on there asking if someone wants to go for a drink because they’ve just arrived or want to go for a picnic etc.
  8. Use your phone
    There are ways to save once you get here using apps on your phone. VoucherCodes, Treatwell and Groupon each give you discounts to restaurants, clothes, hotels, travel, beauty and more. I had my hair done here for 66 quid (cut, colour, shampoo, blow-dry in Camden- getting your hair done here is SO expensive). Just download the code and show it to whomever you need to! Also, Citymapper helps you get to wherever you need to, showing you all forms of transportation and how long it will take. You could always download Tinder/Grindr/Happn/Bumble/Double Date… whatever dating app floats ya boat…
  9. Know about the pay system here
    Luckily, being a teacher through an agency here means I get paid weekly, but sadly people who actually are employed here get paid monthly. Therefore, budgeting is really important. Also, the tax year is from April! The tax you accumulate here you can claim when you eventually leave the country… if you ever do.
  10. Have a vague idea about what to bring… and where to shop once you get here
    As commonly known, Britain is known for its poor weather. I came here in August, so naturally I had all winter clothes with me. Now it’s reaching summer and the sun is actually proven to exist here, it’s getting hot. So I need summer clothes. In towns outside London, there are many charity shops that you can go to, usually with good clothes too! If you’re not that type of person, Primark and H+M are amazing for cheap clothes that still are fashionable. Primark is a favourite here, as you can get pretty decent things from makeup to bed spreads to shoes.

    I hope some of this helps you or someone you know!

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