Moving to London from the UK- whether you’re from up north or from the coast- is a bit of a life change. London is certainly its own beast. It’s vast, with many neighbourhoods, each with their own vibe. You might already have looked at a tube map and wondered how anyone gets by. But trust me, as a Londoner of 7 years, I’ve got you covered with this guide to moving to London from the UK.
Luckily, London isn’t so much of a transition as moving abroad, but it can certainly feel like it at first. In this guide we will cover where to live, how to travel, cost of living in London, safety tips, where to look for work, for friends and much more. Of course, we will also be sharing some top tips on managing your money in London too- after all, this is Thrifty Londoner!
Where to live in London
London is split into boroughs, and Greater London stretches further than 608 square miles. That’s a lot of choice on where to live! You’ll want to consider several points when it comes to where to live in London – including price, transport links, safety and close proximity to amenities.
The London Underground (affectionately named ‘The Tube’ by Londoners) is likely to be your main mode of transport. The map splits the network into Zones, and ideally you’ll want to live close to a tube station to make sure that you can get around the city. You can find the Transport For London (TFL) tube map here.
Best for young professionals
If you’re a young professional looking to move to London for the first time, you’ll likely want to live somewhere that is well connected. South London neighbourhoods such as Clapham, Tooting, Wimbledon and Balham have great transport links into central London, without paying central London prices.
If you’d prefer something a little more rough and ready? Head to East London areas such as Stoke Newington or Hackney.
Best for families
West London neighbourhoods tend to be more affluent and can be safer than other areas in the city. Check out places like Chiswick, Fulham and Ealing for family friendly neighbourhoods in the west. Balham and Wimbledon are also family friendly, but you could also go further afield to Greenwich and Bromley or Twickenham and Teddington, which have less accessible public transport, but could be more affordable.
Best for students
If you’re moving to London as a student, it’s likely that you’re looking for something a little cheaper. One of the best things that you can do if you’re moving to London for the first time as a student, is to live in student halls, at least for your first year.
Student halls are a great way to meet new people, they are safe, and they are often a more affordable way to live in a central London location. You may never get the opportunity to live so centrally in London again! You’ll experience the city on your doorstep and it doesn’t get much better than that.
Check out what is offered and recommended by your university- and who knows, you may even end up being flatmates with some of your coursemates.
Finding a home
Finding the perfect home can be the most daunting part of moving to the city. If you can, it’s a good idea to visit the property you’ll be moving into before you sign any documents. It means that you can be sure that you like the area, you like the property, and you like any potential new housemates that you’ll be living with.
Finding a houseshare
A flatshare or houseshare is the most affordable way to live in London. You may also be happy to know that you can find a houseshare both as a single person, or as a couple. The best way to look for a flatshare or houseshare in London is to use Spareroom.co.uk. This is the most popular site that is used by almost everyone looking for a room or looking for a roommate.
We feel so strongly about finding a flatshare that we actually wrote a guide to finding the perfect flatshare in London. It can really make or break your experience of living in the city. Thankfully, on Spareroom you can filter by almost everything- from location to characteristics of the house, and even characteristics of your potential housemates.
Rooms get snapped up very quickly, and rooms can often be listed a few months in advance. That means that if you’ve got enough time, it’s best to start looking for a room as soon as you can. You can pay a small fee in order to have first dibs on contacting the room advertiser, and this can be key to scoring the room that you really want.
Finding an apartment
If you’re looking to rent an apartment or house by yourself, with a partner or your family, you’ll want to start your search on Rightmove. You’ll first need to decide what area(s) of London you’d like to live in, and then start your search from there. If there are some local estate agents, you can contact them to see if they have any new properties available to view. This is especially true if you’re moving to London from the UK- do make that effort to travel to the city. It’s worth it to get the home you want.
Once you’re on their list, and they know what you’re looking for, it’s likely that they will be in touch as soon as something suitable comes up. Properties move extremely quickly in London, and be warned that you may be viewing a rental property with several other prospective tenants. If you find somewhere you love? Make sure you put in your offer that day to avoid disappointment.
Cost of living in London
The cost of rent in London is undoubtedly what can make living in London so expensive. In fact, the average rent for in London stands at £2,039 a month as of June 2023 according to research by HomeLet. However, by no means does that mean that you’ll need to be paying that much yourself. If you’re looking for a room in London you can usually expect to pay something in the region of £800 per month, but this can vary between area.
The cheapest areas in London include:
And if you don’t mind not being served by a tube line? Try these areas:
- West Norwood
- Thornton Heath
Finding an affordable apartment in London is not impossible, but it may take a little more time. As soon as you’ve made your decision to move, start looking at properties and decide on what your non-negotiables are. Perhaps you need to live next to a tube station, but you don’t mind if you don’t have a garden. Maybe you want a separate kitchen and lounge, but you don’t mind if you don’t have a bath. Think about what you’re willing to compromise on before you start your search.
Utilities in London aren’t necessarily more expensive than elsewhere in the UK. On average, you can expect to pay between £150-250 for your bills each month. However this will vary significantly depending on your usage, the size of your property, and whether you’re splitting your bills with housemates or a significant other.
Thames Water will be your water provider, and your energy provider is usually already in place when you start your tenancy. However, do make sure that you’re not paying over the odds for bills such as energy and broadband. Read on for our key top tips for reducing your bills in London…
Use price comparison websites
You can shop around for the best value suppliers for your electric and gas. A super helpful website that you can use is MoneySuperMarket, which is one of the UK’s leading price comparison websites. You can instantly see the best supplier for your area and ensure that you’re not paying over the odds for your bills.
Use lower cost providers
When it comes to things like your home internet broadband provider, it does pay to shop around. Big brand names do often come in at a more expensive price. That said, always make sure that whichever provider you choose services your area with a speed you are happy with.
Check out 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.
Use cashback websites and apps
If there is one thing that you take away from this article, let it be to use cashback websites to get money back on your bills. You can use sites such as TopCashback to get cashback on broadband packages, price comparison websites, and insurance. Often you can get £30 or more in cashback for these types of purchases!
How does TopCashback work?
TopCashback works on the basis that when you click through to a retailer or provider (in this case a broadband provider or price comparison website), the retailer or provider will pay TopCashback a referral fee to say thank you for referring you as a customer. Topcashback will then keep some of that referral fee for themselves, and then pass the rest on to you!
📝 Sign up to TopCashback here and start earning cashback.
When you start renting, it’s vital to get contents insurance. This is true of any rental accommodation, but especially in a city such as London. I saw a flat across the road from me catch fire once and I got contents insurance that very same day! Don’t be the one who doesn’t get it and regrets it.
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.
Socialising in London can be super expensive, don’t get me wrong. But there are also lots of ways to socialise for less in the city. Luckily, there are so many free things to see and do, and there are free events all year round (even during the darkest depths of winter!)
If you’re looking to start a new hobby, you can take free classes such as free dance classes, or try out a gym for free with a free gym pass. But if you’re looking to enjoy more of the London high life, there are also plenty of drinks deals to be found, beer gardens aplenty, and fabulous independent bars scattered throughout the city.
And if you’d like a drink or restaurant deal? Head to LivingSocial where there are hundreds of food and drink deals in London on offer, as well as sight seeing and discounted tickets for when family come to visit!
Finding work in London
Ideally, before you move to London you’ll already have a job lined up, but that’s not always the way things work out. So if you’re going to be looking for work in London after you’ve moved to the city, we’ve still got some tips on finding a job in London. After all, with the high cost of living, you’ll definitely need to be making some money!
On average it will take about 6 weeks to find a job in London, and one of the best things that you can do is to register with some recruitment agencies. Reed, Michael Page, and Hays are all popular agencies in London. If you work in a niche industry, you might also consider industry specific agencies such as Venturi (tech roles) Fashion & Retail Personnel (fashion, buying and merchandising) or Vertical Advantage (FMCG roles).
And if you’re still feeling stuck? Use UK based job sites such as Indeed, Totaljobs and LinkedIn. You can create a profile on these websites and apply to jobs directly, and you may also get contacted by recruitment agencies directly as a result of creating a job profile.
Moving and storage
So you’ve found your new home, you’ve got a move in date, and you’ve prepared yourself for moving to the city and all that it entails. The next thing to think about is how you’ll actually move to London. Will you drive? Take public transport? Will you get a removals van? This piece of admin is vital to get sorted early on so that you feel settled in your new place sooner rather than later. There are some great man and a van services in London and the surrounding areas (we love AnyVan) which could be your best bet for moving to the city.
If you’re moving to an unfurnished property, you’ll need to think about what furniture you’ll need. Will you be looking for second hand furniture, cheap furniture, or to sell your existing furniture that you no longer need? Be sure to sort out the logistics of your furniture sooner rather than later.
And if you’re moving from a larger house to a smaller one in London? Think about your storage options. When you are downsizing (whether temporarily or more long term), you will often need to store your belongings nearby. A great, flexible option is easyStorage, but you can see our whole list of recommended providers for cheap storage in London here.
How to travel in London
In London, virtually no Londoner will EVER take a black cab. They’re far too expensive. Instead, we tend to use Uber or Bolt to get around if we need a taxi. But that said, The Tube runs late into the night (some lines run a night tube), and so you can get to most destinations via public transport.
Other public transport options include London buses, The Overground, and rail services. London is extremely well connected when it comes to public transport. Most people will not need a car to get around in the city. You can even hire bikes and scooters should you wish to get around quicker. But also be prepared for lots of walking- Londoners love to walk everywhere at speed!
So what will you need? You can get a railcard if you’re aged 16-25 or 26-30, and you can apply this to your Oyster travel card to get 1/3 off, off peak train services (including The Tube!). If you’re not eligible for a railcard, just use your bank card or Apple Pay to pay for your transport, TFL is a cashless system and you’ll pay more if you buy a paper ticket from a machine.
Safety in London
Generally, London is a pretty safe place to live as long as you follow common sense guidelines. Ideally you should not walk alone after dark and most definitely avoid parks, alleyways and other public spaces after dark.
It’s important to keep your belongings safe on your person while on public transport, and make sure that you don’t keep valuables in your pockets. Like many other cities elsewhere, pickpockets operate on public transport.
Make sure that your house or flat is always locked and secured, and make sure that your windows are closed whenever you are not at home.
If you’re concerned about how safe a certain area of London is? You can look up the latest crime statistics in the area here.
Making friends in London
Making friends in London could arguably make or break your experience in the city. Luckily, there are thousands of people moving in and out of the city every year, so you will definitely find some likeminded people to spend your time with.
As mentioned, one of the best ways to meet people is through a houseshare, but you may also meet people through work, or through a sports team or hobby group. We feel so passionately about it that we wrote a whole post about making friends in London. You can be sure that with a little effort, you will undoubtedly make some new friends for life in the city.
Is it worth relocating to London?
It’s worth relocating to London for work, especially if you’re moving to London from the UK, because there is a wealth of opportunities in the city. Not only for work, but for lifestyle, culture, and meeting new people. It’s vibrant, with a rich history and lots of diversity. It’s a great place to live, and is an experience worthwhile. If you don’t love it? You can always move back!
How much do you need to move to London?
If you’re moving to London from within the UK, you don’t need a huge amount of money to start off with, especially if you’re moving for work. You’ll need enough for your rental deposit, moving costs, and your first months’ worth of expenses. This could vary depending on where you’re living, where you’re moving from, and how much you’ll spend in your first month as a Londoner.
How do I cope with moving to London?
Take the move one step at a time. Moving to London can seem overwhelming, but once you’ve slowly got the admin out of the way you will start to be able to see clearly and get excited about your move. The most important part of moving to London is finding a place to live, and if you follow the tips in this guide, you’ll hopefully feel confident about finding the right place for you.
Is it worth moving to London 2023?
Yes, it’s still worth moving to London from the UK in 2023, in fact, more people are moving back into the city. Demand for rental apartments and houseshares are still at a high. With one friend receiving 70 messages in a day about a room available in her houseshare! Whether it’s for work or for life experience, London is unbeatable as a place to live, even if you just stick around for a few years. You can guarantee you’ll have some wonderful times in the city.