Handy Tips For Expats Moving To London

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For those planning to move to London, it can be quite an overwhelming experience especially if it is the first time you will be in the city. While other cities maybe big nothing quite compares with London that is one of the biggest and busiest metropolises on the planet. Even if you are from Australia or the US and travel from one state to another it is nothing compared to travel in London. 

If you do not already have accommodation you will need to stay in a hotel till you find a suitable place to stay in London. If you want to save money look out for the London hotel special offers that available at various parts of the year.

A good spot to stay in the city till you find a place is a hotel near Piccadilly Circus Station as it is in central London and would be convenient to travel as well. A few tips to settle into the groove of working and living in London are:

Some of the things you will need in the first week in London are:

  • The first thing is to buy an Oyster card from any of the kiosks or Tube stations nearby
  • For a SIM card you could try T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange, Three, EE etc and see which has the best deal
  • Apply for your national insurance number or visit the insurance office to fill out the form and return it
  • Apply to open a bank account

Different Types Of Bank Accounts

The major banks in the United Kingdom include Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, RBS, Santander and Nat West.  Of these Lloyds is the easiest to open for new expats because all they require is your passport instead of proof of address.

If you want to choose any other bank ask your local bank in your country to redirect your bank statements to a UK address. The banks would be satisfied to use that as proof of your address.

Note: Majority of the banks will not accept a national insurance letter as address proof.

You could get a basic account that does not charge a monthly fee. If you are told to pay any as you are a new arrival switch to another bank. If you do not mind paying a monthly charge look for an account that offers mobile and travel insurance together, as it is more economical than paying for them separately. Look around for the best bank offers before signing up to open an account.

Must Have Apps

A smart phone is a necessity to own these days and having one in London would help immensely. There are numerous useful apps that you download to make life much more comfortable in the city. The first thing is to switch to the UK version of the App store. Some of the top apps that are a must to have in London are:

smartphone

City Mapper: This will be of invaluable help on many an occasion as it serves as the perfect solution to find how to get from destination A to B. It also checks for Tube closures and also considers combining bus/tube routes to give the best options. And it also informs you accurately about the chances of rain on any day.

Flatmates in London: One of the best new apps to look for flatmates in the city

The London Tube Map: As the name suggests it is a comprehensive Tube map on your smart phone.

BBC iPlayer/Channel 4 On Demand: Great options to watch TV if you do not have a television at home.

Tinder/Happn: Great free entertainment.

Skype: Great to stay connected to family and friends back home.

SkyScanner: Useful to compare different airlines to find the cheapest seats.

Transport options

If you are new to London there are plenty of public transport options to choose from. The city has one of the most well developed transport networks in the world, which can be a blessing in a massive city like London. These include:

Tube: It is not as overwhelming as it initially seems and if you do board the wrong train, you can get off at the next stop and travel to your destination. The city is divided into six travel zones and the prices are fixed according to the zones you travel in. If you are below 26 years of age you are entitled to a discount through the use of a Young Persons Rail Card. The best thing is to check Google Maps before your trip, as there are certain areas in Zone 1 where you could arrive quicker if you walk. And do not hesitate to give up your seat if anyone needs it.  You can use an Oyster Card or a contactless debit card. Just ensure to swipe with the same card when you board as well as get off.

tube-station

Bus: You use a contactless card or Oyster Card to swipe when you board, but do not have to swipe when you get off. They do not accept cash for transport on the bus network. You can check the latest prices online at the TFL website.

Taxi: The only cabs that can be hailed on the street without booking is a Black Cab. Other taxis are not permitted to take people from the street. This is primarily for public safety as it is not safe to board an unlicensed cab. So either you hail a black cab or pre-book with any of the mini-cab companies in London. A good option is to use Kabbee that offers a comparison of the cab-companies and their rating.

taxi

Bike: To travel in Central London you could choose to hire a Boris Bike, which is a good way to travel in the centre of the city, as most of the top attractions are close to each other. There are docking stations all over the city where you could return them. Just be careful of the traffic and it advisable to wear a helmet (although it is not mandatory).

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