Are you thinking about living in London but don’t know where to start?
There are many factors to take into consideration when planning a move abroad. The tips below will help you get started on the most important ones: will you need a visa and if so, which one best applies to your situation, what you should know before moving to London and finally tips on how to find a job.
Before starting, I’d like to say that I’ve lived in London for over 15 years and one of the things that I love about this city is how diverse and cosmopolitan it is. Did you know that a third of Londoners were born abroad?!
What else is to love about London? It’s a buzzing, lively city with great food options. You will literally find cuisines from all over the world: from jerk chicken to mie goreng, London has you covered! The culture scene is also top notch and caters for everyone.
What you need to know before moving to London
1. You must have legal permission to work in the UK.
If you accept a job and relocation offer from a UK based company then they will likely help you with the application process, costs and more. But, if you are relocating independently then you must have what is legally required. In the UK, healthcare is provided by the NHS for most legal residents, and your employer may also offer private medical insurance, so the system is slightly different than in the US. Make sure you understand what your company would offer before moving there.
Before making the move, check whether you will need a visa, and if so, the type of visa that would best apply for your situation. This government website will provide plenty of information: https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa
If you feel like you need additional help with your visa application process, you can engage with a visa facilitation company. VFS Global (http://www.vfsglobal.com) is a popular one but there are plenty of other immigration consultancies that are country-specific that can support you.
2. Research and Plan for the Cost of Living
I may be stating the obvious here, but London is an expensive city especially when it comes to housing (renting or buying) and using public transportation.
Where are you going to live?
Renting is also a big expense you’ll have to incur. Quite a few Londoners share apartments so this could be an option if you want to pay less rent and meet new people.
Be mindful that renting agencies have their own renting terms! I once relocated back to London after having spent some time in Hong Kong and an agency wanted me to pay rent 6 months upfront because I was still under probation period at my new job. I walked away from that and was able to find another flat with a more amenable agency.
3. How will you get around?
When it comes to commuting, London is a very big city split in “zones”. This means that your cost of commuting will vary depending on where you’re traveling from. Zones 1-2 being the areas around Oxford Circus or Piccadilly circus as it’s core.
If you live in zone 4 and commute to your office in zone 1, a single journey could cost you 4 GBP; whereas commuting within zone 1 would cost you 2.40 GBP. Of course, living in zone 1 will be a lot more expensive than living in zone 4 so a lot of people still prefer living in the outskirts of the city.
I’ve lived and travelled to several cities like Berlin, Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore, and London is the one that probably has the highest cost of commuting compared with the average cost of living.
4. How do you find a job in London?
Depending on what you do, you may also want to consider more specialized websites such as www.toplanguagejobs.com if you speak several languages, or www.charityjob.co.uk if you want to work in the NGO/Charity industry.
I’d also recommend reaching out to all mainstream agencies and/or search firms (depending on your level of seniority of course): https://www.michaelpage.co.uk; https://www.manpower.com; https://www.hays.co.uk; https://www.frazerjones.com or for Director level positions: https://www.kornferry.com/uk; http://www.russellreynolds.com; https://www.odgersberndtson.com/en-gb.
Looking for a new job in a new country is not easy whether you are searching from your current country and interviewing virtually or if you have found your way to living in a host country and are now job searching locally.
I’ve been in that situation on several occasions when I moved to Hong Kong and Thailand. However my experience as an international recruiter has helped me target my job search towards specific organizations and relevant individuals.
I’ve also advised candidates and clients on their own job search strategy and relocation, so if you would also like to benefit from it, feel free to book a free session with me to get started.