Moving to a city for the first time can be a challenge, particularly when it’s a capital city. London is the 27th largest city in the world, with a population of about 8,674,000. It is comprised of 32 boroughs and the City of London, which is a central area of about 2 square miles.
The whole of Greater London covers about 607 square miles. Contemporary London is home to over 270 different nationalities and over 300 different languages. Rich in cultural diversity, London is one of the most exciting cities in the world, but moving there for the first time needs a little forethought, so here are a few tips to help you on your way.
Can you afford it?
Like all capital cities, everything in London is more expensive than it would be elsewhere in the UK. Do your research and make sure that you have a good idea of what your accommodation costs, travel costs and council tax bills are likely to be in different areas of London. Once you have that information you can start to decide which areas of the city you can afford to live.
Consider a flat share or room in a shared house
Space is always at a premium in the city so you may have to settle for something small, like just a room instead of a whole flat, in order to get the location you want. Once you start to make more money you can look around for something more spacious.
Are you suited to London life?
London is an intoxicating environment, but it is also an exhausting one. Consider carefully the hours that you will have to work and the distances that you will have to travel before you move to the city.
Get an Oyster Card
An oyster card is a London travel card that you can top up at any station. You can also use a contactless card. If you have a discount railcard such as the 16-25 railcard, you can have the discount attached to your oyster card and this will prove much cheaper.
If you are moving to London with a family
If you have children, you will need to consider their schooling. You can’t apply for a school place unless you already live in London, but once you know the borough in which you intend to live, you can contact the school admission team and they will advise you about the availability of places.
If you intend to buy a house
London house prices can be volatile, so take advice and consider your options carefully. Make sure you’re eligible for a mortgage and that you can handle the numerous fees – such as the arrangement fee for your lender and legal fees for the solicitor, who will be doing the legal paperwork.
Do you really need a car?
There is a congestion charge of £11.50 per day in central London and even if you don’t need to travel in that area, driving and parking in London is deeply problematic. If you can do without a car, you are well advised to do so.
Finding your way around
Download the app Citymapper, which will give you all your travel options in real time and help you find your way around the city.