Moving To London Checklist 2023 – 30 Things

Moving to London can feel daunting- after all, it’s one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in the world! But we have got you covered with this moving to London checklist. You can review this checklist to make sure you are well prepared to move to London whether you’re moving from the UK, from abroad, or even as a student.

We will cover everything you need to think of before you move, any packing or shipping for your possessions, logistics, documentation, budgeting and finances, cultural adjustment and of course life in London.

Let’s dive into it!

Hi, I’m Laura and I moved to London in 2016! I’m sharing my top tips to make your move to London as seamless as possible.

Before You Move

1. Research Visa Requirements

If you’re moving to London from abroad, you’ll need to make sure that you have the correct visa type to live and work in the UK. It’s important that this is your first port of call before moving, as visas can take time to be processed.

The fee you pay for your visa will depend on the type, and where you are moving from. You can expect to pay from £130-£3,000+. There is a full breakdown of fees which gets updated yearly on the government website. 

2. Passport Validity

Again, when you’re moving to London from abroad, it’s a good idea to make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned length of stay in the city.

It will save any unnecessary stress and you know that you’re covered for your time in London.

3. Employment

Finding a job in London is very important, the average cost of living in London is high, so a job is pretty much an essential. Ideally, you’ll already have a job lined up before you move to London.

You can use large recruitment agencies like ReedMichael Page, and Hays to find jobs in London. But there are also specific agencies such as Venturi (tech roles) Fashion & Retail Personnel (fashion, buying and merchandising) or Vertical Advantage (FMCG roles) that are great to use if you are trained in a particular industry.

4. Housing

The housing market in London is highly competitive. You will ideally have secured your accommodation before you arrive in London.

A houseshare or a flatshare is a more affordable way of living in the city, and you can do this as a single person or as a couple. If you’re interested, read our guide to finding the perfect flatshare in London. Use Spareroom to start your search.

If you prefer to rent an entire apartment or house, your best bet is Rightmove, and contacting local estate agents once you have established where you would like to live in London. Properties get snapped up quickly, so it pays to get to know an estate agent- they can help you find an affordable apartment in London.

5. Banking

You’ll need a UK bank account if you’re moving to London from abroad. There are several great options when it comes to bank accounts in the UK. Digital challenger banks such Monzo and Starling are great because you don’t have to go to a branch.

BankKey features
MonzoFree to open, free to use. Budgeting features, Monzo saving pots, no foreign transaction fees when using your card abroad. Must have a UK address to open an account.
StarlingFree to open, free to use. Budgeting features, Starling saving spaces, no charge for using your debit card abroad.
Digital challenger banks

6. Budgeting and Finances

If you haven’t already guessed, London is an expensive city. Before you move, be sure to model out your income and expenses to make sure that everything adds up.

It’s a great idea to build an emergency fund before you arrive in London, so that you have a dedicated pot of money that you can use for unexpected expenses.

Budgeting can also be really helpful when you first move to London, to make sure that you’re staying on track with your saving goal. Here at Thrifty Londoner we love using Chip who offer a generous interest rate on their Instant Access Savings Account, which really helps boost your savings when money is tight in London.

👀 And if you need a budgeting spreadsheet? Check out the Thrifty Londoner Money Matrix Dashboard.

7. Healthcare

If you’re moving to London from the UK, then this part is relatively straightforward, all you will need to do is sign up to a new doctor and dentist in London using your existing NHS number.

However, if you’re moving to the UK from abroad on a visa, you will need to pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge. This is so that you can access the NHS (National Health Service) in London. The cost of the surcharge will vary based on how long you are staying in the UK and your visa type. This calculator can help you to estimate the cost.

8. Taxes

The taxes in the UK follow the same structure everywhere, no matter which city you live in. Unlike the US where different states have different laws, the UK is much more simple.

Before you move to London, make sure that you know about the tax system, so that you are not taken by surprise when you get your first payslip.

In the UK there are four income tax bands; Personal Allowance, Basic Rate, Higher Rate and Additional Rate. You can find more information about the tax bands here on the government website.

9. Driving License

In my opinion as a Londoner, you don’t need a car in London. It’s more hassle than it’s worth when it comes to parking, unless you have your own dedicated parking space.

If you do want to drive in London, you’ll need to make sure that you have a valid driving license. If you have a foreign driving license, you should exchange it for a UK license within 12 months of taking up residence in the UK. For more information, check out this page on the government website.

10. Pets Abroad

Are you planning to take your pet with you to London? Not only will you need to buy a pet passport, but you will also need to pay for their travel, and insurance once you get to London. A pet passport usually costs £130-£330. Pet travel can cost £800- £3,500, so if you’re moving to London short-term, you may consider asking a trusted friend or family member to look after your pet while you’re gone.

If your pet does move with you? Your moving to London checklist should also include getting pet insurance and registering with a vet in London so that you are fully covered.

Use a price comparison website to get the best deal on pet insurance. You can also use a cashback website like TopCashback to get some money back when you use the price comparison website service to find pet insurance. Pet insurance can be relatively affordable in London, and starts from just £10 per month.

Packing and Shipping

11. Declutter

If there’s one thing that moving highlights, it’s the amount of stuff that you own! With possessions coming out of your ears, and potentially some high removals costs involved, you may wish to declutter significantly before you move to London.

Take stuff to the charity shop, sell things on Vinted and Facebook Marketplace- or even give things away for free on dedicated Facebook groups.

12. Consider Storage

Moving can often be more complicated than it should be. With rental contracts starting and ending at different times, and complications with move in dates.

Should the worst happen, make sure that you have a reliable storage provider in London up your sleeve. That means if you do need to use some short term storage, you know exactly who you can call on.

Our favourite choice in London for affordable storage? easyStorage (part of the easy family- think easyJet). Or, if you prefer, you can check out our whole list of the cheapest storage providers in London.

13. Shipping and Removals

Before you move to London, you’ll need to arrange any shipping, removals, and delivery services ahead of time. This stuff should not be left to the last minute!

A great removals option for the UK and London is anyvan. It’s possible to get a quote quickly, and the company is highly rated. In fact, I’ve used them myself and they were very affordable.

In terms of shipping your possessions from abroad, try and reduce your belongings to what you can fit in baggage on the plane. It can be very expensive otherwise.

If you do decide to ship all of your possessions to the UK, you will need to fill out a Transfer Of Ownership (TOR) Form. This declares that the items are your possessions, and that you do not have to pay import duty (tax) on them. This includes pets!


14. Flights and Travel

It goes without saying, add booking your travel arrangements onto your moving to London checklist! It’s an essential part of your move, and you’ll probably save some money by booking in advance.

Whether you’re taking flights or taking the train, get everything booked in as soon as you have the essentials managed for your move.

15. Airport Transfers

If you’re moving to London from abroad, you’re likely to be flying into an airport. The main airports in London are Heathrow and Gatwick. There are very frequent trains that run directly into central London from both airports.

However, if you have a lot of luggage, you may wish to opt for an airport transfer. This is a more expensive option, but you will struggle on the train if you have more than one suitcase.

Be sure to book your airport transfer in advance for peace of mind. Otherwise, Uber and Bolt are popular ride share apps in Greater London.

16. Insurance Policies

Travel Insurance

If you’re moving to London from abroad, you’ll probably be taking a flight to get to the city. In this case, it’s wise to take out a travel insurance policy if you don’t already have one. Plus, it means you’ll be covered if you decide to travel back and forth to your home town, or explore other countries (London is an excellent base for doing some extra travel!)

To find a good, affordable travel insurance policy, use a cashback website like Topcashback, to make sure that you are getting cashback when you are booking your policy through a price comparison website. You can often get £20 or more in cashback!

Contents Insurance

When you rent or buy a home in London, it is essential to get contents insurance cover. This is true of any rental accommodation, but especially true in London. My story? I saw a flat across the road catch fire which gave me the push to get contents insurance that very same day! I shouldn’t have left it so long.

You can get super affordable contents insurance, and a great place to start is Urban Jungle who are very well suited for insurance policies for young people in the city. It’s affordable, easy to set up, and you can manage everything digitally. It’s ideal for those living in London because it’s a rolling plan created to your needs- so if you don’t want to pay out for an entire year at a time, this one is for you!

👀 Sign up for Urban Jungle contents insurance here.

17. Utilities

Getting your utilities sorted should definitely be something that is on your moving to London checklist. You can usually sort out your utilities upon arrival, but do make it a priority. No one wants to be without WiFi for long!

Your water provider in London is likely to be Thames Water, and you’ll need to sign up for council tax, and sort out your energy supplier too. If you’re renting you will find that the property is likely to be linked to a provider already.

The utility that you will probably need to sort out yourself is WiFi. There are some low cost providers that service London, and we love Plusnet Broadband, who have won several awards in 2023 including Broadband Provider Of The Year and Best Value Provider. They’re a great option and have a reputation for excellent service and great value for money.

18. Mail Forwarding

Mail forwarding is another thing to add to your list! It is easy to forget about, but there is nothing worse than your bills going to the wrong address! Do yourself a favour and set this up before you leave your current address.

In the UK, you can do this via Royal Mail, so tick this one off your moving to London checklist sooner rather than later!

Documents and Legalities

19. Prove your right to work

If you are moving to London from abroad, and you’re not a British citizen, you may need to prove your right to work using a share code or your immigration documents.

You can obtain a share code online by heading to the government website.

20. Sign up to the electoral register

If you’re a British citizen, or you are a national of an EU or commonwealth country, you can register to vote in the UK and sign up to the electoral register.

You can sign up online, and being signed up to the electoral register can also help improve your credit score. Want to find out your credit score for free? Use Experian to check your score.

21. National Insurance Number

You’ll need a national insurance number to work in the UK. You pay a set amount from your pre-tax pay, and it goes towards pensions and benefits such as the state pension, maternity pay, and job seekers allowance. Essentially, national insurance is another type of tax.

You need to be living in the UK with a UK address to apply for your national insurance number. But it’s important to have this point on your moving to London checklist to make sure that you are ready to apply for this as soon as possible. You can apply via the government website.

Living Essentials

22. Groceries

The UK has seen a big uplift in the cost of food in the last couple of years. You will probably find that groceries tops the list of your expenses when you live in London (aside from your rent, of course!). It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the supermarkets in London, and where you’re going to be shopping for food.

If you can, choose low cost supermarkets like Aldi or Lidl for your groceries. These are dotted around London. However, these supermarkets are not always in convenient locations. Book an online shop delivery from Sainsbury’sAsda, or Tesco, which could save you time and money.

Supermarkets often have introductory offers on grocery deliveries for new customers. You can also sign up to TopCashback and Cheddar (use code THRIFTY) and get cashback on your grocery shop too.

23. Public Transport

Good news- the public transport system in London is second to none. Transport For London (TFL) has such a brilliant network that it’s unlikely that you’ll need to drive, and you may not have to take many cabs either. TFL comprises of London buses, trams, and the famous London Underground.

Before you get to London, make an effort to study a map of the London Underground, and see how it works. It can seem a little complicated at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it. Ideally your home in London will be close to a tube station, which will make travel and commuting much more convenient.

To see a full map of the London Underground (The Tube), you can head to the TFL website.

24. Mobile Phone

A big one that you’ll want to sort out asap before you move to London (or perhaps as soon as you get to London) if you’re moving to the UK from abroad, is to get a UK mobile phone number.

Different phone providers have different coverage across London (some better than others!). Our favourite network for both coverage, price, and perks is O2 mobile.

You may wish to keep your current handset and get a SIM-only deal, which is cheapest, or you can go into a full on contract with handset with your new phone provider.

It’s important to get this sorted sooner rather than later so that you have good connectivity when it comes to arranging everything upon moving (recruitment agencies, estate agencies, your office!). Sometimes you may also find that you need a UK mobile phone number to make purchases online, so the sooner you get this sorted, the better!

25. Emergency Numbers

Get familiar with the phone numbers for the emergency services in the UK. For emergencies where the police, fire, or ambulance service is required, dial 999.

For non-emergency police, you can call 101. That number can be used to report a non-emergency crime such as a stolen car. For non-emergency healthcare, you can call 111 to get NHS medical advice.

Be sure to also save your emergency contact numbers in your phone. If you have a smartphone you can opt to save numbers as your emergency contacts. This could be your spouse, your parents, or your sibling.

26. Local Services

Before you make the move, familiarise yourself with, and sign up to local services. This includes signing up to a doctor, a dentist, and an optician in your local area. It’s a good idea to get this sorted beofre or soon after you arrive in London so that you’re not caught out if you need care quickly.

In addition to healthcare services, you might wish to seek out your local amenities which will help get you settled into London life quickly.

London Living

27. Language

If English is not your first language, it’s a great idea to brush up on your English and also get to know some British slang and idioms. For example, the London Underground system is called ‘The Tube.’

You don’t need to know any cockney rhyming slang, but you might find that a little research goes a long way to understand your new friends and colleagues in London. Check out this guide to British slang to brush up.

28. Cultural differences

London is a very multi-cultural society, but even so, it’s a good idea to read up on local customs and etiquette if you’re moving to London from abroad.

London-specific etiquette includes always queuing in a line, keeping to yourself on The Tube and public transport, and not standing on the left on escalators.

29. Make new friends

Making friends in London is an important part of the London experience. If you’re living in a house share, you will likely become friends with your new house mates, but if not, you will need to really put yourself out there to make some connections.

If you’re moving to London from abroad, it’s a great idea to join expat groups, and meet other people who are on a similar journey to you.

30. Explore

Create your London bucket list of activities that you would like to do while you live in the city. As you are probably already aware, London has a huge amount of attractions, events, and things to do. Christmas, summer, autumn (every season!) has something going on.

Make that list before you arrive in London and you will be sure to make the best of your time in one of the most exciting cities in the world!

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