Moving to London in 2024: Everything You Need To Know

A Step-by-Step Guide to help you sort out your move

It is undeniable that relocating to London is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! But the move, also comes with a lot of admin to sort out.

Getting your paperwork in order, finding a home to rent in the current crazy house market; even finding a school for your kids is a difficult task as an Expat.

Matutto makes your move actually simple. Our relocation experts, in combination with London Expats, have put together this step-by-step guide to help you better understand everything you need to do for a smooth move to the UK’s capital.

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Topics in this article

1. How much money do you need to live in London?

London is known for being an expensive city, so it's important to have a clear understanding of your cost of living before you move. The total amount you can expect to pay to live in this metropolitan city can greatly vary depending on your lifestyle, where in the city you live, and your personal situation.

Below is a breakdown of the most common expenses in the city to help you calculate your London budget. You can also use Matutto’s Cost of Living Calculator to more accurately estimate your expenses based in your lifestyle.

Housing Costs: One of the most significant expenses in London is accommodation. Whether you choose to rent or buy, prices can be steep. Rental prices vary depending on the neighborhood you choose to live in, with central areas commanding higher rents. On average, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost anywhere from £1,500 to £2,500 per month, while outside the city center, prices may range from £1,000 to £1,800 per month. Outside of the city center, you can find cheaper rent prices, but if you need to commute to the center for work every day, you’ll pay higher transport prices instead. Make sure to familiarise yourself with the different neighbourhoods in London and their prices.

Transportation Expenses: London boasts an extensive public transportation network, including the iconic red buses, the Underground (Tube), Overground, and trains. While public transport offers convenience, it can also eat into your budget. A monthly travelcard for zones 1-2, covering most central areas, costs around £135. If you prefer cycling, investing in a bike and using the city's cycle hire scheme can be a cost-effective alternative.

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Food and Groceries: Grocery shopping in London can be pricey, especially if you opt for convenience stores or upscale supermarkets. To save money, consider shopping at budget-friendly chains or local markets. On average, a single person can expect to spend around £200 to £300 per month on groceries. Dining out at restaurants and cafes is also popular in London, but it comes at a premium. A meal at a mid-range restaurant typically costs £20 to £35 per person.

Utilities and Bills: Don't forget about the additional expenses that come with maintaining a household. This includes utilities such as electricity, gas, water, and internet. Utility bills for a one-bedroom apartment can amount to around £100 to £150 per month, depending on usage and provider.

Entertainment and Leisure: London offers a plethora of entertainment options, from West End shows to museums, galleries, and nightlife. While many attractions offer free admission, others come with a price tag. Budgeting for leisure activities is essential to avoid overspending. On average, I would set aside £100 to £200 per month for entertainment.

Schooling and Healthcare Costs: Luckily the UK provides national healthcare and schools, meaning that access to these come at no extra costs for residents. If you are moving with kids, you won’t need to account for schooling fees if you are happy for them to attend estate school, although it may be fair to allocate some budget for extra curricular activities, uniform and books. The same goes for Healthcare, although some Expats may choose to opt for a Private Health Insurance, in which case then you need to account for this extra monthly expense.

2. Finding a Job and getting a UK Visa

Photo of a woman handing in her passport while sat behind and office desk that has a UK flag on it.

If you are coming to London for work, you will most likely require an employment visa. The skilled worker Visa and Student Visa are the most common types of visa for Expats moving to the UK. Applicants will need to have a study offer from a UK university or educational entity; or alternatively, a job offer from a UK employer who is a licensed sponsor.

Do European citizens also need a Visa? The short answer is yes. If you’re moving to the UK for the first time after Brexit, then you will need a Visa to live in the UK like everybody else.

If you’re at the stage of looking for a job in London, here’s some tips to help you with your job search:

1. Research the job market Familiarize yourself with the job market and top companies in your area of work to determine the best match for your skills and qualifications before you start applying. It’s possible that not all employers are able to sponsor Visas for international employees, so it’s critical you apply for positions and companies who are able to do this.

2. Network Reach out to people in your field and attend networking events. Join professional organizations related to your field and connect with people on LinkedIn.

3. Use UK Websites and Requitment Agencies Use UK online job portals and company websites to apply for open positions. Make sure to tailor your CV and cover letter to the specific job requirements. A great way to access open roles is by speaking to recruitment agencies in your field who will know which companies with sponsorship licenses that are recruiting.

Naturally, you’ll need to make sure that you have all the necessary paperwork to move to the UK. This includes a valid passport, a visa (if required) and your National Insurance Number, which you can apply for once you arrive in the UK. You can find a detailed list of how to sort out all your paperwork when you Sign Up to Matutto.

3. Make a list of everything you need to do

Photo of a woman revising a checklist, surrounded by packed boxes in an empty home.

Moving abroad can be an overwhelming task - there’s a lot you will need to prepare ahead of your move, from documentation to housing, to learning how to get around in your new city. That is why we have prepared a detailed checklist to help you navigate the entire moving process.

Here’s the most important things you cannot forget to do during your move:
✅ Getting your Visa
✅ Applying for your National Insurance Number
✅ Finding a House to rent
✅ Open a Bank Account
✅ Get a local phone number
✅ Pack, ship and store my things
✅ Book my travel
✅ Register for National Healthcare

You can find a detailed list of everything you’ll need to do for your move in your Matutto account when you sign up. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to learn how to get each and every single one of these things sorted, as we have all the detailed and verified information on how to get everything done inside our platform.

4. Finding a home to rent in London

Photo of a street showing the front of traditional UK brick homes.

As you know, one of the most important things will be to find a place to live. And given the city's vast and competitive rental market, it can be a daunting task. But London offers a really large variety of housing options: From bustling city center flats to cozy suburban houses, co-living spaces and house shares.

We always recommend booking short-term accommodation for your first couple of weeks in London, during which you can find a place to rent long-term. During your House search, here’s a few things you’ll want to do to speed up the process of finding a home:

  • Define Your Priorities: Before diving into the search, take some time to define your priorities. Consider factors such as location, budget, size, and amenities.
  • Research Neighborhoods: London is a city of diverse neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and amenities. Research different areas to find the one that best suits your lifestyle and preferences.
  • Start Early and Be Flexible: The London rental market moves quickly, with properties often snapped up within days of being listed. Start your search early and be prepared to act fast when you find a suitable property. Keep an open mind and be flexible with your requirements, as compromises may be necessary to secure a desirable rental in a competitive market.
  • Attend Viewings Prepared: Once you've shortlisted potential properties, attend viewings prepared with a list of questions and observations.
  • Understand Rental Agreements and Costs: Before committing to a rental property, carefully review the tenancy agreement and ensure you understand all terms and conditions.
  • Seek Professional Advice if Needed: If you're unfamiliar with the rental process or have specific requirements, the Matutto team can provide you with a Relocation Advisor to help you with your move. You can contact us here.

5. Learning the transport system in London

Photo of the London Underground arriving at a station.

London has an extensive public transportation system that includes buses, trains, and the underground. Take the time to learn how to use it, as figuring out the most effective route can save you a lot of money and time.

The London transport is divided into 9 Zones. The further away you travel, the more your rides will cost. In addition, travelling at certain times of the day, called “Peak Times” will be more expensive than doing the same route at an “Off-Peak” time.

You can read more about London transport below, where we deep-dive into the details of this and how to save money.

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Related Article: How to find a rental in London

6. Preparing your taxes in the UK

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As an expat, your tax obligations in the UK will depend on your residency status, sources of income, and length of stay in the country. The UK operates on a residency-based tax system, meaning that residents are taxed on their worldwide income, while non-residents are only taxed on income earned in the UK.

Most common taxes include income tax, corporation tax, value added tax (VAT), council tax, and stamp duty.

The income tax rate for individuals in London ranges from 20% to 45% depending on the income bracket. It’s important to note that your take-home pay will be affected by the amount of income tax you’re eligible for. On top of that, you’ll also need to pay for National Insurance out of your pay check. You can calculate your estimated Take-Home Pay with this UK Tax Calculator.

7. Opening a bank account in the UK

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Opening a local bank account will be essential for paying your bills and receiving your salary in London. And, even though it should be a straight forward task, it can be a little complicated for newly-arrived Expats.

Firstly, determine what type of account you need - Do you need a personal or business account? Do you require a current account, savings account, or both?

Then, gather all the documents you need to create a bank account. Usually, this includes:

  • Your Passport
  • Your Visa or BRP (Biometric Residence Permit)
  • Proof of Address in the UK

Most banks in the UK will require proof and address, such as a home lease contract or a utility bill; to confirm that you are living in the UK. If you require a bank account with a GBP wallet before securing an apartment, there are plenty of digital banking alternatives that you can use until you can open a local bank account. Create an account on Matutto to find a list of local banks and digital alternatives we recommend for Expats.

8. Getting a SIM card

photo of a hand holding three SIM cards.

You will most likely want to purchase a SIM card for your phone as soon as you arrive, so you can stay connected with your family and friends. It also really helps having internet on your phone to get around the city.

Before buying a SIM card, make sure your phone is unlocked, so you can add a SIM card from the UK. if that’s not the case, there are many technology shops in London where they can unlock the phone for you, for a fee. If you’re moving from the United States, check with your phone providers that your phone can be unlocked.

Once you’re ready to buy a SIM card, you’ll need to choose a provider. London has several major mobile networks to choose from, such as EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone, each offering different plans. Compare the plans and choose the one that suits your needs.

You may need to provide your personal details and a form of identification. You may want to consider getting a prepaid SIM while you receive all your UK paperwork, as you don’t need to prove that you’re a UK resident to get one of these. Sign up to learn more about the Phone Plans we recommend for Expats.

9. Signing up for National Healthcare

Photo of a doctor and nurse talking in the corridor of a hospital in the UK.

The National Health Service (NHS) is a publicly funded healthcare system that provides medical services to all UK citizens. If you are a UK resident, you automatically have access to these services. To register, make sure to sign up to an NHS GP who will act as your primary point of contact for any healthcare services you need while in the UK.

If you prefer a more comprehensive range of services or quicker access to medical services, you can consider private health insurance. There are a number of insurance companies in London that offer private health insurance. Sign Up to learn which ones we recommend.

10. Adjust to life in London

Photo of a street in London, with a classic red telephone cabin at the front, and the iconic London buses in the background.

London is one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in the world - Once you’ve settled in, it really is a joy of city to explore! You can get started with familiarising yourself with life in London by taking on the following activities:

Embrace the British Culture
Embrace the quintessential British pastimes, such as enjoying a pint at the local pub, indulging in a Sunday roast with all the trimmings, or taking a leisurely stroll through one of London's many parks. The arts, literature, and theater also play a significant role in British culture, with world-class museums, galleries, and performances to explore throughout the city.

Enjoy the Food
London is a foodie's paradise, with cuisine from all over the world available. Try new dishes and visit local markets to sample the best of British and international cuisine.

Meet New People
London is a melting pot of cultures and nationalities, making it easy to meet new people. Join social clubs, attend events, or join a local sports team to meet new friends.

Make the Most of the Outdoors
London has plenty of green spaces, including parks, gardens, and open spaces. Spend time outside, enjoy picnics, or join a park run.

And voilá! You are ready to enjoy your new life in London. We hope this guide has been useful. Don’t forget to Sign Up to Matutto to access more up to date and reliable information about moving to London.

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