There are plenty of reasons to move to London, including improved career opportunities thanks to its booming economy, a brilliant arts and cultural scene driven by the UK’s top theatres and venues, and amazing events that you simply don’t get to enjoy living elsewhere. Grand, fast-paced and totally self-assured, the city really does have a certain sparkle.
If you’ve got an itch to move to London, it makes sense to be as clued up as possible before you take the plunge.
Before you start preparing for a move to the capital, it’s important you know exactly what steps you need to take before you move.
Watching the bank balance can be an issue for many people moving to London. Most things in the capital cost more than other parts of the UK, and this can come as quite a shock to new arrivals, so it’s important you scope out exactly what the costs are going to be before you commit – planning is key.
Costs to do your research on include:
- Housing – Deposit, monthly rent, rental fees, and temporary
housing costs while you’re house hunting; or the cost of a home, mortgage and estate agent fees if you’re buying. RightMove is a good place to start.
- Employment – Getting a secure job offer before you move
is very important if you don’t have a financial cushion to rely upon, and many landlords won’t allow you to rent their properties if you don’t
have an assured income. To look for jobs, check out indeed.co.uk.
- Transport – How are you going to get around your new
home? Work out the monthly cost of getting the bus, tube or train each month, or consider how feasible cycling to and from work would be from the
area you’re looking to move to. Transport for London lets you see
the public transport networks in your chosen area and plan journeys.
- Moving costs – How much will it cost you to ferry your
belongings to your new place? Will you be able to move most of your things down with you in one trip, or will you need to hire a removals company? Will you need a place to temporarily store your belongings? If so, click here for a quick quote from Space Station.
- Essentials – Make sure to work out the cost of must-haves
like kitchen equipment, bedding and furniture in the event your accommodation doesn’t come furnished (most flats and rented houses in London do,
London by area
There are 36 metropolitan boroughs in London, within which there are hundreds of areas, all with their own pros and cons. To help you make sense of the city, here are the main areas of the city, the districts that make up them, and what they offer residents.
With a mixture of mid and high-priced properties, North London is home to well-known locations like the bustling Camden, beautiful Primrose Hill and bohemian Stoke Newington. For better levels of affordability, areas such as Kentish Town, West Hampstead and Finsbury Park won’t cost as much each month while still offering you a great location and exciting cultural scene.
If you head further North, locations like Harrow, Barnet, Bushey, Borehamwood and Watford are good choices for saving money on rent, and all have excellent transport links to London’s more central districts.
South of the river is a great choice for budget-conscious movers, and thanks to 24/7 tubes, the area doesn’t suffer from late-night transport problems as it did in the past. Areas like Greenwich, New Cross, Deptford ad Peckham have a DIY, student vibe that gives residents a rich culture without skyrocketing rents.
Nearby districts like Clapham, Battersea and Wandsworth are similarly great, offering their own arts and culinary scenes alongside easy access to central London too, so make sure to take a wander through these areas as well before making a final decision.
Looking for somewhere cool and arty? Bohemian East London is a top choice for anyone who values a buzzing cultural scene, although this has also meant that rents have risen rather dramatically in places like Shoreditch, Dalston and Hackney. Artisan everything, parties every night of the week and a huge range of start-ups make East London an interesting location to live if you can find an affordable place to live.
Renting here, you’ll still be very close to the centre and be able to enjoy a wide range of transport links within zones one and two of the underground, and rub shoulders with a diverse range of residents from a million different backgrounds – arguably one of the reasons why plenty of people move to London in the first place.
Arguably home to some of the wealthiest locations in the entirety of London, West London and its high rental and property prices are generally reserved for wealthier Londoners and celebrities. The particularly well-heeled Maida Vale, Kensington and Chelsea, Ealing, Chiswick, Fulham, Notting Hill and Holland Park are some of the most expensive places to live in the city, although locations like Acton are more affordable.
To find out more about the average rental prices across the city, click here to view the Assembly of London’s London rent map, or for more in-depth info on all of the areas that make up the city, visit Moove2London.
Getting around London
Wherever you choose to live in London, chances are you’ll have a wide range of transport options to choose from.
Arguably one of the most difficult ways to get around London, driving means you’ll have to contend with not just London’s infamous traffic, but the city’s congestion charge, which costs between £10.50 and £14.00 when travelling through the city between the hours of 7am and 6pm. If you live and work on the outskirts then you may not be hit by the charge – click here to see a map of where it applies.
Taxis are emblematic of London, although you might find that regularly using them ends up costing you a pretty penny. They’re useful if your returning home after dark after public transport networks have closed for the day, but there are far less expensive means of getting around.
By public transport
Servicing the whole of the city, the 11 London Underground and nine Overground lines criss-cross London, providing reliable, fast travel from A to B up until around midnight, and 24 hours a day on the Victoria, Central, Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines. Easy to pay for with a reloadable Oyster card or a contactless debit or credit card, tubes and trains are a good choice for most Londoners, although it’s worth noting that plenty of locations are well within walking distance, as this famous blog post illustrates.
Buses can also be boarded with contactless and Oyster card, and with plenty of lines operating throughout the city, they can be a useful means of travel when the place you’re heading to isn’t served by the tube, or there’s works or network disruption underground.
To plan a journey across London’s transport network, click here to use the Transport for London tool.
Getting about by foot is certainly the most cost-effective means of getting to and fro, and despite being the country’s capital, London is surprisingly kind to pedestrians. In many ways, walking is one of the best ways to experience the city, giving a point of view of the people and places that make up London that you simply don’t get when you’re looking out from road or rail.
Cost-effective and quick, cycling is a great way to get around London, whether you buy a bike or use a Santander Cycles rental bike – hiring one costs as little as £2 and you can easily pay with your bank card. There are cyclist routes running throughout London, and you can view all the routes and cycle superhighways here.
Always wear protection and be careful when cycling in London, given the high volume of traffic.
Nights out in London
If there’s one thing London has going for it, it’s nightlife. Whether you love comedy, theatre or nights on the tiles, it’s certain your tastes will be catered for once you move to the capital.
From the world-renowned East End to fringe theatre and everything in-between, there’s something for every type of theatre lover in London. The London Theatre Guide is one of the best places to find the best shows going on at any time of the year – click here for a handy map of all of the theatres in the city to find one near you.
The proving ground for countless comics, London’s the place to live if you love nothing better than a bit of stand-up. Chortle is one of the best sites if you’re looking for listings, covering a staggering number of venues.
Whatever genre of live music you’re into, you’ll find local, national and international acts aplenty in the capital. Londonears is a great site to use if you’re struggling to find a night, and Skiddle is a similarly good pick, covering everything from arena to indie.
Cocktails, clubs and a night tube back home – London is perfect if you’re a lover of the wee hours.
Skiddle’s club listings page is a great resource for night owls looking for evenings of the rave-ier variety, and TimeOut have a useful list of all the rooftop venues dotted across the city if you want to spend magical evenings admiring the city lights.
TimeOut also have great coverage of the best club, karaoke, indie, pop-up and every other type of night going on in the city – visit their clubs page for more info.
In terms of bars and pubs, London has thousands of them. Brixton, Shoreditch and Soho are classic nightlife areas, but practically every district in London has a nightlife as thriving as most smaller UK cities.
Eating in London
An unparalleled culinary scene filled with a brilliant mix of Michelin-starred restaurants, international eateries and more, you’ll be spoiled for choice when deciding where to eat out in London.
TripAdvisor is the classic first port of call, whatever cuisine you’re hankering for. TimeOut offer a more in-depth listing of the best restaurants in the city, and have a huge bank of restaurant reviews to make sure you’re getting the best plate possible.
OpenTable is another good shout for finding good food too – the site lets you browse and book tables at nearly 4,000 restaurants across London.
London is a brilliant city to live in, offering something for every sort of person. If you’re thinking about moving to the city and want to give yourself some breathing room during the move to let you decorate, declutter or simply de-stress, hiring a storage unit with Space Station will help you get to grips with the big smoke. All of Space Station’s locations are secure and climate controlled, so whatever you’re storing you can be sure it’s totally safe.