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.
With just two days to move in before we needed to start working, we had no choice but to furnish a flat FAST in England! We landed in the UK to live for a third time recently. But, with one difference – we had a pet in tow. Unfortunately, in our experience we didn’t find that securing a place to live with a dog was as straightforward as we’d hoped.
But, eventually we scored the right place at the right time. It came unfurnished, and it’s the first time we’ve ever chosen to furnish from scratch!
Furnishing a flat fast in England
Since we had the opportunity to design our own space, we put together a checklist of key pieces we needed:
A double desk or two minimalist desks for working from home
Office chairs that prevent RSI and back problems
Some sort of compact dining table and chairs
Sofa, TV, coffee table and TV unit (could be inexpensive and compact)
Bed and [comfortable!] mattress
Microwave, kettle, toaster (as these were not already included in the kitchen)
We do not have transport so needed to rely on some conveniences of England in terms of furnishing a flat fast.
Walkable options e.g. cheap stores like Poundland or Primark
Next day delivery services – will share our favourites below
Vintage / second hand / outlet stores we can reach on foot, as well as Facebook Marketplace if we could access on foot.
Our UK flat walkthrough: the reveal!
Find out how we furnished our flat fast in 48 hours without transport:
Our top 7 resources for furnishing a flat quickly and on a budget
A few of the places we mentioned in the video included:
Argos – next day delivery available at a timeslot you choose
Amazon – next day delivery available but sometimes difficult to track
B&M – nice quality homewares at a great price
Primark – seems to have a renewed focus on ‘home’ since we last lived in the UK; nice items that are cheap
Poundland – an awesome resource for gathering all the usual cleaning and household products that we usually take for granted because things like detergent are usually ‘just there’!
Vintage or charity stores e.g. British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Oxfam, Marie Curie shops
How to rent in England: tips for first-timers
We’ve rented five properties in eight years (across three different stints) in England. Some of these were private rentals found on Gumtree. Others were via real estate agencies. I wouldn’t say the task of finding a flat ever gets easier. However, if you’re a foreigner (expat) and you haven’t got a lot of [recent] history in the destination, you may face an administrative nightmare.
My recommendation is that you prepare. Have as much of the following information to hand as possible. This will mean you can jump on applications quickly and successfully:
A UK phone number/SIM
Have a temporary address handy, as you’re usually asked where you’re staying ‘now’
Proof of who you are (e.g. passport, drivers licence, bank statements)
Reference information (either pre-prepared written references and/or details of recent rental property agents who can attest to you being a good tenant)
Evidence of employment, particularly recent payslips and/or a contract or something official validating your income will mean far less hassle trying to secure a rental agreement
Alternatively, details of a guarantor may also be accepted
A UK bank account* – particularly so you can have funds ready to transfer as your deposit and first few weeks’ rent. Waiting for funds to transfer internationally is possible, but will take extra days which may mean you are held up on your plans to sign a contract or move in.
If you are new to the country, this can be a sticky point. Many banks will ask for an address to set up a bank account, but you almost need a bank account to secure a residential address! HSBC is known to support expats in England, although it’s my understanding that they charge a hefty fee for the privilege. Barclays let us set up an account initially when we first arrived, but I believe Santander is ok too.
The best way to seek help is to jump on an expat page on Facebook (e.g. ‘Aussies in London’) and ask for recent experience and advice. It’s a resource we wish we had have had when we first arrived in 2010!
A final note on renting a flat: furnished or unfurnished
If you’re turning up to the UK to live and work but you don’t have a job yet, or a pet, I’d advise not rushing into the rental process. Book an Airbnb to stay in for a few weeks, or a non-committal flat share. Find your feet, get a job, discover an area or two you love; get your bank account sorted and then seek an official residence.
We LOVE the UK but you need to find “your place” otherwise your experience might be less than happy which would be a huge shame. You’re far better off if you can live within an easy commute of where you work, and designing your life to optimise your experience abroad.
If you can give yourself some space and time to do that, definitely take advantage of it. We’ve learnt the hard way, and this is what I’d do differently if we had our time over again. Also don’t buy into the scaremongering around not being able to find a place to live. You will be ok. Plan ahead, ask questions and keep your cool. You’ve got this :)
Do you have additional advice to add, or a question? Let us know in the comments below.
With the sad passing of Queen Elizabeth in September 2022, I’ve been thinking back to the Royal Garden Parties she hosted. In 2019, Cooper and I were exceptionally lucky to be invited to attend a Royal Garden Party.
As it happens, this was one of the very last of these events the Queen actually hosted. The following two years saw this special event cancelled due to COVID. When the Queen’s Garden Party returned in 2022, she was already beginning to get quite frail and did not attend.
Royal Garden Parties: What does the future hold?
During the past week as the Queen’s funeral unfolded, I have been contacted a few times on LinkedIn with enquiries about our time at the garden party. Our Royal Garden Party experience was truly exceptional and we felt so honoured to be invited.
There’s a lot of interest around how to get an invitation to the Royal Garden Parties in England and Scotland. I was even approached by Business Insider to share my story about this!
Image courtesy royal.com
The question remains though, will King Charles continue the tradition of hosting such events? At the time of publishing, there’s not a lot of detail around how this will look in 2023.
What I can tell you, is to keep an eye on the Royal website for updates on events in 2023. As these are summer events, I would suggest that the schedule would be set around February.
You could also do a little research to see if your country’s High Commission or the like, extends offers to apply or be nominated to attend. The Mirror in the UK published a little advice on the topic in 2022 too, read here for more details.
You could also keep an eye on active ‘royal watcher’ blogs like this one that shares updates and goss as it becomes available. If you can find your way into a royal event, it’s well worth it. The Brits really know how to make an event fabulous!
While we will miss the Queen, I hope King Charles continues the tradition. I hope that you have the chance to attend too :) In the meantime, if you’d like a little more insight into what expat life is like in London, travel on over to our YouTube channel and look for the living in England playlists.
Important update: 2023 dates announced
This post was originally published in 2022. The dates for the 2023 Royal Garden Parties are Wednesday 3 May and Tuesday 9 May. This coincides with all the wonderful events that will surround King Charles’ coronation happening then too.
Many local councils and organisations across the UK have already nominated people to attend the garden parties this year, but you could do a little research in the area where you live to see if there are still opportunities available. Let us know how you get on!
“You know I love a London boy, I enjoy nights in Brixton, Shoreditch in the afternoon…”
It’s no secret Cooper and I are Swifties (the collective term for ‘fans of Taylor Swift’). He might not like me mentioning it too much in public, but trust me, he is. Cooper’s up there dancing with the best of them at her shows 😁
You’re likely to know by now that she’s released a new album – the 7th studio album. Taylor Swift London Boy – we love this track on Lover! Don’t get your hopes up about running into her in the UK capital though. The song tells a story about where she spends time with her ‘London Boy’ Joe Alwyn. And they’re known for not advertising where they are.
But you can still take a wander around places that are obviously close to her heart. If you’re a super fan, you might have heard about this odd theory that her lyrics actually map out a heart around London.
Must say, I’ve read some rather cynical accounts of Swifty’s London Boy guide to the city. But, as someone who is also rather in love with London, I kinda like her guide.
Taylor Swift London Boy city guide
We’ve compiled some travel info for any of you other Swifty fans. It’s a great way to take in the experiences and areas she’s mentioned.
In Taylor Swift’s London Boy she mentions “Camden Market in the afternoon”. So Camden is pretty cool and you’ll find a lot of things at the market. If you get tired of big crowds, don’t go in the afternoon.
We’d suggest going later at night, or early in the morning. Camden Market is well worth a look, but time it so you don’t get trampled!
FEST is also a nice spot that decorates according to the season. Nice to go for a drink away from the crowds.
Highgate and Hampstead Heath
Taylor’s spent a bit of time in the suburbs of North London. It’s known to be a bit affluent, posh even. Granted, we like it. We house sat in Crouch End recently. We also enjoyed a house sit near beautiful Hampstead Heath. It boasts miles of parkland walks, lakes and stunning views across London.
There’s a number of number of tubes/Overground will take you right up to one of the entrances to Hampstead Heath.
Leafy Highgate is best known for its cemetery. It’s an old one, and also the final resting place for many well-known figures including another music fave, George Michael.
Like Camden, it gets very very crowded. But there’s some cool experiences to be had here. Most of ours include food 😆
Sketch, pictured above, is pretty special (don’t miss going to the bathrooms – just trust us). For a bit of craziness in Soho, you’ll find us digging for an afternoon drink deal at Bar Soho. (Swifty mentions ‘drinking in the afternoon’… sure, it’s a thing on a sunny day 🌞). There’s plenty of food joints, bars and pubs in the vicinity of Bar Soho, if you can get yourself down that way.
And when you need a snack (yup, you know what I’m talking about), go here:
Hackney, Shoreditch and the east end
Aww, our ‘London home’ side of the city. For a large part of the last century the east end struggled. Much of it was badly hit during WWII, and the poorest Londoners resided here.
A lot has happened in recent years. Shoreditch and neighbouring Dalston are arguably ‘trendy’. No doubt there’s a cool energy, lots of boutique stores, arty experiences and a surprising side of London to see.
Taylor Swift in London Boy mentions Hackney as a place to explore, over “Louis V on Bond Street”. Agreed.
Broadway Market is our absolute favourite experience in the east. Head over there early on Saturday for one of the best, loveliest local markets in the city. Around the corner is a fabulous bar/restaurant/pop-up store space called Mare Street Market. Highly recommended. Then, take your foodie treats, sit in London Fields (park) and people watch.
You can view east London in all its glory from this excellent rooftop venue:
High tea in London Boy
I read a news item saying that ‘purists’ will be upset with Taylor Swift for calling ‘afternoon tea’ ‘high tea’. Weird – that’s how I know it. And that’s how it’s marketed. All tastes the same 😋
Top London travel tip: before coming to London, sign up for a discount site like LivingSocial or Groupon. There’s plenty of awesome deals on high tea or afternoon tea! Buy one ahead of your trip and indulge.
Brixton and south London
Down to south London now. Brixton is famous for music, cool markets and lots of new fun things opening all the time.
Jump on the Victoria line and head on over to this side of the city. Culture Trip‘s published a helpful guide on things to do in Brixton.
“Stick with me, I’m your Queen…”
Ok so you’re coming to the capital. You’ve seen The Crown, Victoria… Get amongst some Royal action while you’re in town. Why not.
In London Boy, Taylor Swift mentions ‘Louis V’ (the store), but implies exploring the rest of London outside of the glitz is just as fun (true).
You do need to explore central London though. Why? Because it is lovely!
From the historical buildings in Bloomsbury to stunning St Paul’s and Thames walks – find out why people, including us and Swifty, fall in love with this place.
Bonus: get yourself to a good old fashioned English pub
A quintessential London experience: the pub. They’re different in England than pubs in other places. Cosy, chilled, good times.
Careful in London that you don’t get dragged into a touristy pub – nothing wrong with them, but they’re often more expensive and lack the authentic charm that your local neighbourhood pubs have.
One of our favourites is in Angel, east London. Take a look.
So you see, Taylor Swift views the city like many of us do. For those who don’t like it, tough. The visitor numbers can’t be denied, nor our fabulous city’s millions of fans all over the world. I’ll take my rose-tinted view whenever I can 🌈
Please do add your tips or questions in the comments below. See you in London!
Taylor Swift London Boy, image: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19
We had the exciting task of dipping our toes back in old familiar waters, and ended up as London correspondents for a number of Aussie breakfast radio shows.
Royal Wedding Aussies live from London
Throughout the week we talked all things royal wedding as Aussies live from London on River (Brisbane), Power FM, and a host of other stations across Queensland and New South Wales. We were a little tired by the end of it, but it was good fun.
We were also tipped-off by channel nine that they would be broadcasting live from Buckingham Palace, and I fortuitously ended up at a royal rehearsal in Windsor!
Take a look at these Instagram Stories highlights for the best of the royal wedding, Aussies live from London.
Congrats Harry and Meghan! What a lovely, sunny, romantic and historic event to be a part of.
Let us know in the comments how you celebrated xo
Love Royal Experiences? Did you know we have a few other great posts and insight to share?
Back at home in Australia sometimes you’ll find us engaged in banter at the pub with our neighbours from New Zealand. We’ll give each other a little good-humoured grief about our accents and get into heated debates about who boasts the best cities.
We can make fun of each other at home, you know? But overseas when we run into an Antipodean on our travels we more often than not stick together.
It’s a little like how in your family you can make fun (within reason, obviously) of siblings or cousins, but if someone else tries to, we’ll automatically defend the other.
A lot of this mateship goes back to war times, and on 25 April each year our nations commemorate Anzac Day to observe when our troupes landed at Gallipoli in 1915.
Today Anzac Day still stands as one of our nations’ most important occasions and is marked by a public holiday each year, as well as moving dawn services and daytime military marches.
Incidentally, it’s also my birthday.
Indeed, many of us make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli in Turkey for special dawn ceremonies.
And, there are always services in London including a dawn service at the Australian War Memorial, Hyde Park Corner which is – you might be surprised to know – usually overflowing with attendees.
If you have spent any time travelling or living abroad, you’ll appreciate that the sense of patriotism is often stronger when you’re away from home.
Add that to an emotional national day and you’ll usually find a hive of expats huddling together flying their flag.
On Anzac Day, Aussies and Kiwis unite, and being this far away – just as our men were 102 years ago – it’s a poignant moment to be part of.
It’s for this reason that I jumped on an opportunity that a colleague at work – a lovely lady from New Zealand – told me about.
Each year our High Commission offers passes to special ceremonies, and those with an Australian or New Zealand passport can apply.
You can try this link from the beginning of each year (or if it’s not working, Google ‘Anzac Day London High Commission’).
You must apply for passes to attend this special service, held at the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall, and followed by a church service at Westminster Abbey up the road.
Here’s a sample of what we experienced:
The day was moving and memorable. Highly recommended – add the task to your diary from February next year. We’ll definitely do this again.
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 :)
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