You've been relocated for work, you're going study at a London university, your partner got a job offer, you are moving in with some family members that already live there... whatever the reason you have for moving to "the city of dreams", get ready for a logistical challenge! Where should you start? What to expect when moving to London? Which things can you do yourself and which require help? Find an easy-to-follow guideline here.
You won't drink coffee, you'll take tea my dear...and a very expensive one if we may add! First things first: London is an expensive city to live in. The sooner you know this the better. So we strongly recommend you bring half the things you own and twice as much money as you had planned, which sounds like an impossible task but, if you do your homework well and on time, there are many ways to achieve this goal.
We could say that our best recommendation is to PLAN AHEAD. It'll give you a chance to declutter properly, to save some money, to find want you want and also find good deals but, most of all, not die from stress during the process. After all, you do want to get there, right? So take your time, decide which things you'll do first, which you'll do yourself and which require help.
Make a checklist. You'll be surprised of all the things you'll start thinking about in terms of organizing...write them all down and make a checklist so you later don't forget a thing. From personal issues (dentist appointment, see this or that friend before you go, talk to the kids and see their friends, take dog to the vet...) to moving logistics, write them all down. We can't tell you much about your personal checklist but we can give you some hints on the moving logistics one. Here we go!
1.- Get your visaThe official UK website offers good advice and information on the types of visas they give as well as on their immigration regulations.
2.- Open a bank accountYou will need to open either a London bank account or an international bank account. Ask at your current bank what options they have since some have arrangements with British banks, while other don't. It is worth asking to help you decide what to do. A bank account is one of the most important things on your list, that's for sure. You'll need and international one to pay for so many things like rent, utility bills, getting a mobile phone...
You don't want to pay taxes twice, make sure you notify your current government that you are moving so you only pay taxes at your new country of residence.
4.- Find a couple of moving companies to choose from
They all offer different quotes and services, so take your time comparing and talking personally to each of them. Your quote will depend on their routes, the size of the move, if your things travel by air or sea, the distance you are going, the date of your move... still, you can always negotiate your quote with them. Moving companies take care of customs, storage, insurance, and other things with which you will definitely need help so, yes! we recommend you find a moving company. Their experience and help on these matters will make a big difference, one worth paying for.
Will you need storage services? It all depends, will your things arrive at the same time you've found your new home? Other wise, you might need to store them for a while. Logistics here get tricky, you have to work things out according to your budget and time: if you are flying your things they will get there in a couple of days but it will be much more expensive choose this option. If you ship them, it'll be cheaper but will take longer yet, that might give you some time to find your home on the meantime... plan accordingly and as your moving experts about it!
6.- Find your borough and then your house
(At least a provisional house!) London is like a sum of little towns known as boroughs. Each of them have their own infrastructure, local government, council and of course, lifestyle. Gather all the information you need before you decide on one of the 33 boroughs so you can choose which one suits you best in terms of your own interests and priorities. It is hard to find a house while not being there to actually go and see the different options that you have as well as the neighborhoods and their own "vibe". Also, some tenants want to actually meet with you (not by skype) before renting. Never give a deposit before actually seeing the house/flat yourself. We recommend finding a provisional AirBnB to stay at while searching for your permanent home. Keep in mind that housing is expensive in London. Don't forget to know your rights as a tenant.
If you are bringing kids along, start looking for schools. Keep in mind that public schools have what is known as "catchment areas" which means that the children who live closer to a certain school, get priority over other who don't. This only applies to public schools, though.
8.- Book flights at the right time.
Airlines have their own "best time to book" so you get the cheapest deal: no too far but not to close to your departure date. So you have to pay close attention to their offers and book whenever you find the one that best suits your timing and budget.
Declutter like a mother! That's right, get rid of all the things that are not worth paying for their move. Those things that you save just "in case of"? Get rid of them! chances are, you won't actually need them and if you do, it's probably better and cheaper to buy new ones. Keep only those things you actually need and some others that make you happy, otherwise, let go! Moving to another country gives you a chance of freeing yourself of things and travel lighter.
Once you've decluttered, what do you do with that stuff? You have three options:
- Sell them, either online or on a garage sale.
- Give them away to friends and/or charity.
- Store those things you definitely need to keep but are too expensive to bring along (specially if your move is not a permanent one).
10.- Last but not least
Pack and check all the surfaces of your empty home. Get ready to pack as much as you can into each suitcase (you know, fitting those socks into the shoes, rolling the t-shirts...) but check with your airline beforehand about the weight that you are allowed to bring without any additional costs.
Sweep the floors, dust everywhere so you don't leave anything -that you might actually want/need- behind.
Check all the empty drawers, closets... time to say good-bye!
Give yourself a break, it is only normal to feel sad, after all, it is a goodbye, but keep in mind that this goodbye also means a new and exciting beginning somewhere else!
WHEN YOU ARRIVE
1. Find your home.
Once you are there, actually go see the flats or houses that you are interested in, see the neighborhood, schools, parks, restaurants, meet the landlord, find YOUR home!
2. Unpack, assemble, do some shopping.
You will definitely need to buy appliances since not only the plug-ins are different but so is the voltage. Your American electronic devices just won't work well in Europe. You will probably need to buy some clothes too, ones that will help you survive your new London weather: rain boots, coats, warm sweaters...
3. Moving around
Driving is expensive in London, you have to pay an extra fee if you need to drive in the downtown area plus, it is almost impossible to park anywhere. Your best option is to take public transportation, which happens to be very good, or just walk, if possible. Getting an oyster card is your best option if you are constantly taking the tube (subway).
You made it, you are in London, found a house, you are settled..what now? Find some friends! join a club, a group. With that many people, it is easy to find people who share your interests or hobbies. Look for groups that match your interests online. Yes, Londoners are known for not making too many new foreign friends but it is not because they are not friendly, they just don't need new friends. after all, they have their lifelong acquaintances and family. Still, there are so many other foreigners (such as yourself) in this cosmopolitan city that, chances are, you will find friends to have fun with and make the best out of your new life.
After all, you've survived the move, it's time to enjoy your stay!
Once you've seen all the to-do checklist that you have to accomplish when you move internationally, you'll be able to figure out which things you can do yourself and which things require an expert's hand. At Victory Van, we've been helping families and businesses move internationally for many years, which means we know what to expect and are ready to give you a professional hand. Give us a call, we can plan your move according to your own needs.