Planning your move to the UK from abroad? Want to know the really important things about living in London?
When I moved over from America 11 years ago, there was so much that was familiar like the language and the modern buildings, but boy there is a lot that is very different!
To help save you unnecessary stress, I thought I’d share 5 top things you need to know for moving here!
- Get to know the different underground lines
We have all had the stress of trying to catch the train and missing our opportunity to get to our destination on time. However, London actually has great public transport that will swiftly get you to basically anywhere in a flash – when you get to know the different lines and options.
To start – there are 12 underground (or Tube) lines which are colour coded to help you map out where they intersect and take you to.
There are a few main lines you’ll need if you are living in the city.
Central Line – is the red line and runs through central London, from Epping, Essex, in the north-east to Ealing Broadway and West Ruislip in the west. It has 24 hour service on Fridays and Saturdays.
Victoria Line – is the Light Blue line which also offers a 24 hour service on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s really efficient and takes you all the way from Brixton in southwest London to Walthamstow Central in the northeast, via the West End.
Jubilee Line – is the Grey line that travels between Stratford in east London to Stanmore in the suburban northwest, via the Docklands, South Bank and West End. This is my absolute favourite for the amount of stops you can reach directly.
Bakerloo Line – One of the oldest lines and stations as it opened in 1906, it is the brown line that goes from Harrow & Wealdstone in suburban north-west London to Elephant & Castle in south London, via the West End. It serves 25 stations, 15 of which are underground, over 14.4 miles.
Don’t forget that in addition to the underground tube network, the overground transport network is incredibly handy for circumventing central London and getting you say from northwest to southwest London.
To help you navigate the lines, I highly recommend downloading one of the many helpful travel apps to your phone that help you navigate the stations and trains available. Even google maps can showcase the best public transport options to take. My favourite is CityMapper which specialises on central London travel. Another great app to mention is Bus checker
And soon we will have the Elizabeth line which is scheduled to open this year and will offer incredible east / west connections. If you want to know more about the Elizabeth line (formerly known as Crossrail), check out my video giving you everything you need to know.
- You can get your culture fix from anywhere
One of my favourite things about London is the diversity of the arts and culture scene. There are actually 170 museums to choose from, which means those of you who may think London is just a city centre for fast-paced workers may be surprised!
For example, on the banks of the river, there is the fantastic Southbank centre which offers art, exhibitions, plays, concerts and theatre productions all in one space. It’s also next to the National Theatre, as well as the BFI centre, so you really have a host of cultural things to get up to in just one area alone!
There are also countless art exhibitions, historical statues, quirky installations and many more across the city that you can discover.
- There are parks to enjoy in almost every neighbourhood
While London is a metropolis filled with tall buildings and lots of neighbourhoods, it actually an incredible green capital city.
The biggest and most well-known parks are what are called “Royal Parks”. They were large areas of land that were used by the royal family for hunting, and recreation, that are now open to the public. They are beautifully cared for, so you will be sure to find anything from stunning blooms, & children’s playgrounds to swimming ponds and even a national zoo!
Check out my previous video that shares the top neighbourhoods to be near parks – https://youtu.be/BV8nJiPG2W4 or my video that shows the top 5 parks in London – https://youtu.be/JvTS75sYX0Q
- Know the different legal parts for investing or renting in London
As a buying agent for many expats looking to move to London, I often get surprised responses when we discuss the different legalities of purchasing a home in England. There are some fees you may not know about such as Stamp Duty, sinking funds, and service charges. The process is also very different to that of the US and other countries – for example, it is not legally binding when you make an offer to go through with the whole process and actually, one in three sales fall through in the UK, which can be incredibly tough for both sides.
You may also be unaware of the difference between freehold and leasehold properties when buying – this is why you might want to check out this video to help you better understand what these mean if you are looking to invest in real estate in the UK.
There are also additional bills you may need to pay when buying or renting a property – from council tax bands and water bills, to TV licensing, I highly recommend creating a budget that factors all this in. If you have any questions about the buying process, please reach out or you can even leave me a message in the comments.
- Make connections in different ways
London can feel lonely for some, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Whether you make new connections through the local pubs and bars, or find social clubs, membership organisations, or places to discover a new hobby. I recommend checking for local expat groups that may be a good way to connect with those in the same situation as you, as well as searching for those regular events that happen in London that will enable some group interactions. I recently joined a private members club which is a great way to meet other people. Some are oriented around industries such as media or finance. If you want to find out more, you can check out this video.
Search for your hobby and you will be surprised by how many events are going on at any time. There are also events happening regularly in the city, so search on websites like Visit London, Timeout, eventbrite or sign up to my newsletter for a monthly guide to things to do for the month ahead!
So, these are just 5 of the things in London that I didn’t originally know about before moving here. I hope you found them insightful and interesting! If you live in London, what has been most surprising to you?