London, a city where the old-world charm of cobblestone streets meets the bustling energy of the modern world. It’s a dream for many to call this city home, but the practicalities of such a move can often be daunting. If you’ve ever wondered, “How much do I need to move to London?”, you’re in the right place. We’re here to guide you through the financial maze of relocating to this iconic city.
The Allure of London
London is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and contemporary vibes. It’s a city where history and modernity coexist, making it a top destination for expats from around the world. But beyond its allure lies the practical question: How much does it really cost to move to London? We’ve been through this journey multiple times, and each experience has taught us something new.
The Hidden Costs of Moving
Moving to London isn’t just about booking a flight and packing your bags. There are several hidden costs that can catch you off guard:
Visa expenses: Before even stepping foot in London, there’s the cost of the visa. And attached to the visa is the NHS surcharge, which gives you access to the UK’s health system. This can run into thousands of pounds, and it’s essential to factor this into your budget.
Airfares: The cost of flying can vary widely. If possible, avoid peak times like summer holidays to get better deals.
Moving your belongings: Consider the costs of shipping your furniture and belongings. Sometimes, it might be more economical to sell some items and repurchase them in London.
Temporary accommodation: It might take a while to find your perfect home in London. Until then, you’ll need a place to stay, which could be with friends, in an Airbnb, or other temporary lodgings.
Renting in London
London’s real estate market can be challenging. The rents are high, and there are several hidden costs associated with renting:
Agency fees: Some real estate agents charge fees to help you find a place. Always ensure you’re aware of any such costs upfront.
Deposits and administrative fees: Before moving into your new home, you’ll need to pay a deposit and possibly some administrative fees.
Proof of employment: Many agencies now require proof of employment or savings to ensure you can afford the rent.
Day-to-Day Living Expenses
Living in London comes with its own set of expenses. From transport to food, the cost of living can add up. It’s essential to have a backup fund for the initial days, especially if you’re job hunting. We recommend saving for at least three to six months of expenses to give yourself a comfortable cushion.
Bringing Your Furry Friend
If you’re considering moving with a pet, be prepared for additional expenses. The cost of flying a pet can sometimes be more than flying a human! Ensure you’re well-informed about the requirements and costs associated with bringing your pet to London.
Moving to London is an exciting adventure, but it requires careful planning and budgeting. By being aware of the potential costs and having a clear financial blueprint, you can make your London dream a reality without unnecessary stress. Remember, it’s all about the journey, and we’re here to help you every step of the way.
We very recently relocated back to the UK from Australia and we experienced travelling with a dog internationally for the first time. Earlier in February, we documented what we knew to that point before our little London dog had been allocated his flight to England.
To find out about the visas we secured to live and work in the UK, you can read more here.
If you’re planning to travel with your beloved dog overseas and like us, you’re unable to bring him/her on the plane with you, please read on for our experience and advice!
There’s so much planning and preparation you need to do. This (American based) advice is helpful. Similarly there’s further useful information on this post from Going.
Travelling with your dog internationally
We won’t lie, the experience was VERY hard on all of us. We wanted to create a follow-up piece to share what we learned and what we wish we had known when it came to transporting our dog, London, from Australia to the UK.
See the full story, press play:
Covered in the video: our top 5 learnings and warnings!
Learning: information about flight schedules may be illusive
Warning: Your pet’s itinerary may change at the last minute
Warning: Ensure you can get in contact with everyone involved
Learning: Be unapologetic about asking for more information and photos
Warning: Check your pet’s health when you are reunited.
Global travel with your dog: final thoughts
After two weeks, we can report that London is starting to settle. He’s definitely exhibiting some anxious behaviours that he didn’t previously have, but with lots of love, cuddles and implementation of a positive routine, we can see he’s coming back to his old self.
There’s no getting around the fact that travelling with a dog in cargo on a long haul trip is not ideal. We found it harrowing, actually. But if you want your pet to join you if you are moving abroad, there is no other option in many cases.
We hope you find our experience and learnings helpful. Most important for us to impart is to dig deep, ask LOTS of questions about potential itinerary and take your decision from there.
We’d love to hear from you – let us know your thoughts or questions in the comments below.
Overseas pet travel isn’t as easy as we’d like it to be, particularly when you’re flying a route like Australia to England. But, we’re about to head off on another adventure to the UK, and we will take our little Westie, London, with us.
To find out about the visas we secured to live and work in the UK, you can read more here.
How simple is planning overseas pet travel?
I think the best way to describe the planning is that it is a process.
It’s all possible, but there’s a number of considerations to take into account. This means ideally you would give yourself six months or more to plan. Between the time we discovered we had the opportunity to move back to the UK and the time we needed to fly, we actually didn’t have six months. Together with our trusted vet and a pet carrier, we have made it work though.
If you are planning to relocate to another country, maybe our process and information can help you.
5 steps to move a dog overseas
1. Talk to a trusted vet
The first port of call for us when planning to relocate London dog overseas with us was to speak to our vet. Our lovely vet Kirsty from Toowong Family vet in Brisbane, has known London since he was a wee puppy. She’s an excellent vet, so we booked a consult with her, primarily to speak about:
– the travel process and London’s general health for such a journey
– gauging and managing his anxiety in a new situation such as long distance flying.
Kirsty checked London over and we chatted about his age and health. We determined that he is ok to fly.
The big one for us though is the lengthy flight(s) itself. In the past, sometimes dogs were sedated so they would sleep. It’s been deemed that that this is not safe, so sedation is not an option. Kirsty talked us through a program for managing London’s anxiety, which began a few weeks ago and will continue into when he is settling into his new home in the Northern Hemisphere.
Talk to your vet about options that may suit your beloved fur baby.
2. Choose an accredited pet carrier
We researched several major international pet carriers operating in Australia and sought quotes from each. After having a conversation with each and comparing quotes, we ended up making a decision based on the itinerary available to London.
While it is possible to fly London from Brisbane to London, the routes recommended by some carriers meant that he would not leave his crate for around 24 hours. We chose Petraveller based on reviews and because they suggested a route that – while longer in terms of the amount of time we are separated – it seemed fairer on him to have more breaks.
Choosing a pet carrier is a BIG decision. It’s very expensive no matter how you look at it, and we know London’s life and wellbeing is being placed in their hands. There’s a lot of trust and faith involved. We will keep you posted on the outcome. At time of posting, London is set to begin his journey in a week’s time.
3. Consult with your chosen pet carrier to find out about the process involved in taking your dog overseas
The next most important conversation we had after the one with our vet, was the one with our chosen pet carrier. Over the duration of one or two chats, a few things were explained to us:
time frames and action items for us
the importance of securing a rabies vaccination immediately for London dog – in Australia, the rabies vaccine is often in short supply and only some vets administer it, so get your pet sorted straight away if you intend to fly in the coming year
application for a Transfer of Residency to the UK so we could avoid import fees for London
preparing London for travel before, during and after the journey
the airline application process which meant we had to choose a date range for London to travel – the application is lodged around the 15th of each month and your pet’s travel itinerary is only confirmed in the last week of each month
considerations around where London would stay should we need to fly out first, or where he would go if he arrived in the UK first.
Watch the video for full details and our experience with these action points.
London was eventually allocated a flight itinerary that will see him fly out of Melbourne on a Monday evening. He will arrive in Dubai and stay at a pet hotel to recover a little, then will fly into Gatwick airport in England, arriving the same day as us (a Thursday morning). Unfortunately, due to the flight going out on Monday, he will be flown to Melbourne on the Friday and will stay in a pet hotel before having his final vet checks and then leaving the country.
Yes, it is very stressful.
4. Book a rabies vaccination
It’s important to note that if you’re flying your pet internationally from Australia, they will need a rabies vaccine. There is absolutely no way they can fly without it.
In Australia, the vaccine is known to often be in short supply. At the time we started looking for it, none was available. We waited anxiously for a few weeks, and after putting our name on the list at multiple vets in the whole of south-east Queensland, we eventually got a call from Kalinga Park Vet who sorted us out.
You’ll be given a certificate by the vet who administers this. Keep it safe as you’ll need to share it several times during the process with your pet carrier.
5. Crate train your dog for overseas travel
A crate will be sent to you by your pet carrier. The size will depend on dimensions you provide and guidance is given about how to measure for this.
Give your pooch as much time crate training for travel as possible.
London never had a worry in his crate – he loved it and we crate trained him as a puppy. BUT he’s never had the door closed and didn’t like it. Some excellent advice on a process was shared with us from our vet. Similar advice is present on the internet.
Make the crate fun: put treats, toys and food in and around it. Gradually introduce your pet to his/her crate.
Ensure the crate is comfortable for sleeping. London has a favourite bed that we put inside – he takes himself into the crate to sleep at night. We did reward this at the beginning with treats.
Start to get him/her used to travel. We put his crate in the car and went for drives of varying length. At first London didn’t like the change, but he got used to it and now sits calmly in his crate.
As time goes by, see if you can find a ‘noisier’ vehicle like a van or 4WD to put the crate in, so your pup gets used to louder sounds.
And if possible, put your pet into their crate and get someone else to go for a drive with them. When you show up on the other side, he/she will associate the experience with you eventually showing up to meet them.
The nerves are real
I’m not going to lie – we’re nervous about this.
The leg between Australia and Dubai is 14 hours. Then London stays in a new country in the middle of the world overnight. Following is 9 hours to Gatwick in his crate. He then remains in his create as he is processed through customs which could be a few hours. Petraveller’s partner over in the UK will let him out for a walk and toilet break before he then is transported to where we are staying.
Our vet told us that he won’t love it, but that he will be ok.
We will report back: I’m sure there’ll be tears on all fronts. But it will be worth it in the end ❤️
As an Aussie – and member of the Commonwealth – you may be eligible for a UK Ancestry visa. Cooper is, and he’s just received his UK Ancestry visa for a third time. This allows us to move back to the UK to pursue a work opportunity in 2023. As his partner, I can apply to go too.
In this post, we’ll share exactly how we applied and successfully secured working visas to return to the UK. We leave in Feb, and will take our dog with us!
About ten years ago, Cooper discovered that he was eligible for a UK Ancestry visa. This is because his Grand-ma was Scottish. She travelled to live in Australia during the period that now gives him the “birth right” to live and work in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The visa is flexible, allowing five years at a time with the option to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. There’s no age limit for applying, and no limit to how many times you can apply for it.
Unfortunately, the numbers of people in Commonwealth countries that this visa applies to will begin to dwindle now. This is more of a benefit for a generation of people whose grandparents travelled during the earlier part of the 1900s. British great-grandparents or parents do not allow access to this exact visa.
Background to our application: why we are applying for visas again
Travel Live Learn was born out of Cooper’s and my experience living and working in the UK.
We have actually lived in London twice before. The first time was between 2010-2012 when Cooper was first living and working there on an Ancestral Visa. I was under 30 then, and allowed to work under the Youth Mobility Visa scheme.
We returned in 2014, this time paying an immigration lawyer to help us secure Cooper’s second UK Ancestry visa and aligning me as his long-term (un-married) partner.
Cooper and I had completely settled in the UK by 2019. We fully intended to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in 2020, having almost completed the five years settled status requirement. We were preparing to study for the Life in the UK test when COVID struck.
With just three months to go before we would be granted the right to come and go more freely, a difficult change was forced upon us. Not only did COVID remove our option to live, work and travel as we had previously done, but at the same time, my Dad came to the end of a battle with Prostate Cancer. It was a dreadful period of my life, where “goodbye” took on many meanings. I’m glad to be moving past it.
Applying for UK work visas post-COVID restrictions
Now that restrictions have eased in most parts of the world, we can move about relatively freely again. An opportunity presented itself that’s meant we have decided to go back to England to live and work for a little while. We’re even taking our COVID puppy, London, with us! (if you’re looking for advice and experience around travelling internationally with a pet, we will share it all on YouTube.com/travellivelearn).
Taking London dog means a serious chunk of our moving budget is gone straight away. So, we decided to take the plunge and apply for the previous visa combination we had (Ancestral + partner visa) ourselves.
“Ourselves” = “me” when it comes to gathering all the admin and paperwork for this fairly stressful task!
Discover our full experience here:
Steps you’ll take
Apply for the Ancestry visa by following the links through the application forms on the UK Government website.
You will pay for the application and your NHS surcharge. Download and keep a copy of ALL of your answers, confirmation numbers and payment details.
Apply for the partner or dependent visa following the links on the website. Ensure your answers align with that of your partner’s Ancestry visa application. Pay for your visa and NHS surcharge.
Book in for your biometrics, where you’ll have your fingerprints and photograph recorded, as well as your supporting paperwork and application scanned through to UK Immigration. Your passport(s) will be taken from here and sent off to UK Immigration.
You will receive notification that your passports are available. Check inside for your temporary entry clearance (which means your visa was granted – yay!).
Upon entering the UK, you have ten days to collect your official biometric card – like a plastic ID card. You will have nominated a location for collection during your visa application. We chose a spot in London that we knew how to get to. It’s usually a post office.
Top tips and advice following our DIY visa application in 2023
For the Ancestry visa, you need to enter the UK within three months of being approved for your visa. If you do know when you need to be there, e.g. for work, give yourself plenty of time – apply at the beginning of the three months.
I received an email saying I had underpaid the NHS surcharge. This seriously freaked me out, because I had been undercharged during the application process. I will never know if this was my fault or a problem with the user journey on the application pages. There was no need to panic though. I paid and it all went through fine.
Stay calm. There’s no real way to track the progress of your visas so you just have to wait and expect the best. If you supply plenty of evidence to show who you are, that you intend to work and that you can support yourself, you will be fine.
For peace of mind, if you can get to a visa processing centre that offers an expediated service, we would take that option. In Australia, VFS Global – the company that processes your paperwork and biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) – offers a priority service at their Sydney, Melbourne and Perth centres.
Applying for UK work visas from Australia: resources and links
Partner visa – follow the links to apply. I selected:Join or accompany a family member, who either is already in or will be travelling to the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man (and you cannot apply on any other form);Followed by: Working in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
This blog by Kat’s Gone Global is helpful too, talking about what you need to know when applying for a UK Ancestry visa.
Recently my graduating class from high school caught up in Toowoomba, Queensland, for a significant reunion, and I’ve found myself reflecting on the big life changes like moving to the UK from Australia.
Being over here in London, sadly I was unable to attend, but things aren’t all bad.
Thanks to a closed Facebook page though, most of us were still able to communicate and share photos coming up to the big event.
One of the organisers, Clare, kindly gathered together some short histories from those of us living abroad, to find out about our experiences since school wrapped up.
Mine speaks a lot about the value of travel, and embracing change such as moving to the UK from Australia, so I’m sharing my high school reunion reflections here, in the hope that I can inspire someone else.
The story – moving to the UK from Australia
We spend a lot of our time looking back at what happened in the past; about what used to be good. With our twenty year reunion top of mind, it’s easy to reflect like this.
When I was 30 though, I was hit with an important lesson on the necessity of looking forward.
I’ve been lucky; I’ve worked hard, tried to do the right thing (as much as I knew how), and things have generally gone pretty well for me.
Somehow though – between a job I was unhappy in, a city where I didn’t belong, and draining personal relationships taking a toll − I found myself in an emotional rut.
I felt like all my options for creating change were gone. If I’m completely honest, I was depressed, and I spent each day believing the best of my life was behind me.
What I really wanted to do was travel and live abroad, possibly even moving to the UK from Australia to live and work for a while.
My parents were some of the original backpackers of the world, contemporaries of the founders of Lonely Planet, and I’d grown up hearing stories of adventures everywhere from Cape Town to Lima, Buenos Aires, Kathmandu and everywhere in between.
Wonder over worry
Then there were the numerous mates from high school and my brother who had all ‘done the backpacker thing’, living and growing while making friends on the road over a cheeky beer (or ten).
While I’ve always been career-driven and don’t regret a moment of my experience, back then I felt a sadness about not experiencing the world.
In my heart I wanted that adventure. It’s not for everyone, however I knew it was for me.
But my time to get a working visa had passed, right?
I vividly remember the day my partner, Cooper, came home excited because unexpectedly he’d been approached about teaching in London.
We’d never explored Cooper’s right to an ancestral visa in the UK, and as it turned out there were options for me too. All of a sudden, moving to the UK from Australia was happening!
Life altered in an instant, when we decided to take a massive chance on a complete change at the very point I really thought that the ‘good bit’ of my life was done.
Now in 2016, we are in the third year of our second stint living and working in the UK (the first was across 2010 to 2011 with some time working in North America as well).
I constantly worried when I was younger about ‘missing out’ at home if I was overseas.
Personally, you learn the value of exploration and how change can be very positive and helpful.
I’m passionate about media content (with experience in radio, magazines and online), and from a base in London I’ve had the chance to hone my digital skills. This education far surpasses any a university could offer at this point, particularly in an industry that’s constantly evolving and in a city on the cutting edge of this change.
I make friends with travellers, expats and people with open minds. Life in London for me is exciting, enlightening and fulfilling.
Of course there’s sacrifice – living far away from loved ones being the critical factor. But challenges I’ve faced over the past twenty years have taught me that we all have our own journey. We are grateful our family members support this view too.
To make the world around us a better place, we need to pursue that which lights us up as individuals.
As much as it is possible, we have to look forward and anticipate a positive outcome.
I’ve also learned to trust that my true friends are always there, regardless of time and physical distance. I’m certain a couple of mine are reading this now.
And whatever you do, don’t consider the reasons why you can’t travel … to that new job, different life, dream destination.
I’m super excited that my visa finally came through, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Is it your dream to live the expat life in the UK too? Here are five lessons I learned applying for a visa to live and work in the UK.
Live in the UK visa application tips
Use an agent – unless you’re applying for a very straightforward visa like the two year working/youth mobility visa, engage assistance from someone on the ground because it really isn’t as easy as you might first assume, especially when technical errors arise during the application process as they did for me.
Keep your filing and documents in order. I’ve been so busy over the past year that my filing isn’t as organised as it used to be (read: paperwork was all over the shop). I swear I’ll never be disorganised on that front again!
Save your dollars – visas aren’t cheap, but you also need to demonstrate you can fund your own way.
Get things moving in good time, and follow up – these processes tend to be slow, and the longer it drags on the more stressful it becomes, so don’t be behind the door at following up and asking questions.
Work out a rough time frame before you apply for your visa – most visas require that you enter the country within 6 to 12 months of approval, and you’ll need to put an estimated date of departure on your application. The benefits of planning however, mean you can budget accordingly for not only your visa, but flights, rent deposit (sometimes six weeks is required in London now), general rent and expenses until you find a job.
Do you have other tips, or maybe a question? Please drop me a line in the comments below -Sarah :-)
Join the conversation – follow #TLL-London on all social media
Welcome! We are Sarah + Cooper, Aussie expats living in the UK with our Westie dog, London. We like to inspire on how to travel for longer and to live and work from anywhere. Our most popular content here is about seeing the world with your pet, remote working & digital nomadism, and house + pet sitting. Create a global life of your dreams at any age! Subscribe to find out more :)
Grab our NEW 2023 guides:
Master House Sitting with Our Must-Have 101 Essentials eGuide! Buy It Here
And, 7 Essential Strategies for Maximizing Your Use of ChatGPT eBookBuy it here