How to Land on Your Feet When You Head to the UK
It’s almost a rite of passage for young Kiwis to head ‘home’ to the Motherland at some point during their lifetime. The classic OE is increasingly becoming a major life choice to live and work overseas for much longer periods than your average working holiday. What was once a three-month tiki-tour around Europe has morphed into up to 10 years living and working in London.
London is a popular destination for many Kiwis heading overseas. Culturally, the UK’s largest city is pretty similar to home (which isn’t surprising given that 80% of New Zealanders have some British ancestry), and at last count approximately 60,000 New Zealanders currently call London home.
If you’re planning to relocate to London, the good news is that while it might seem like a big deal, it’s actually fairly straightforward – especially because so many Kiwis have forged the way before you. Need some pointers to get started? Here are a few of our favourites:
Before you move to London, you will probably need to get a visa. Give yourself plenty of time to organise this because it doesn’t happen overnight. Travelling visas are different to working visas, and if you’ve got family over there or you’re married to a British Citizen you might fall into another visa category altogether. Many Kiwis are entitled to a British passport because their parents or grandparents were born there.
Having a British passport means you won’t need a visa; you can literally just walk in and start working. At the moment, a British passport also means you can freely travel around Europe (although this may change once Brexit is formalised). To find out more about UK visas, what one you need and if you need one at all, click here.
How you get your personal belongings to London is determined a lot by how long you’re planning on being away, whether you’re going alone or taking the whole family with you, and what you’re going to be doing once you’re there.
Many Kiwi travellers who are planning on seeing the world squeeze their entire lives into a couple of suitcases or a tramping backpack, while others who are relocating for work might look into using an international relocation company. Keep in mind that international relocations don’t happen overnight so make sure you’ve prepped to live out of a suitcase for potentially the first few months of your new life in London.
Before you arrive in London, make sure you’ve got somewhere to stay – even if it’s simply sleeping on a friend’s couch or staying in your third-cousin-twice-removed’s spare room. You’re going to need a base to set up your new life from, so take whatever accommodation (preferably free!) you can get. Once you’ve found your feet, enquire about short-term leases or temporary flatting situations while you find a job.
If you’re looking to get your own flat, you will probably need to have a job and a local bank account first, so make those your priorities as soon as you arrive in London.
Use as many contacts as you have to find a job in London. Better still, have some interviews lined up for when you get there. Sign up with a couple of London recruitment agencies and harass them until you get a job (after all, more than 8 million people live in London so it’s easy for them to forget about you). Job websites like The Guardian Jobs could also help you land your dream (or simply adequate) job.
Remember, if you’re only in London so you can travel the rest of Europe, you might be happy with a casual job like waitressing or temping as a receptionist. If you’ve moved to London because you want to live and work there for the foreseeable future, be prepared to work harder to find a job that suits you better (and keep in mind that there’ll probably be much more competition so nail your CV and cover letter templates before you arrive in London so you’re already one step ahead).
Cost of Living
It’s generally cheaper to feed yourself in London than in New Zealand, but accommodation is more expensive so the cost of living roughly evens out. If you’ve always relied on a car to get around back home, you will definitely save money in that area because most people rely on public transport.
Visit markets to find fresh (and cheap) fruit and veges. Aldi is one of the cheapest supermarkets (think Pak n Save), while Waitrose is the most expensive (think Farro). And remember, the more you can save in your day-to-day life, the more travelling you’ll be able to do (and the more savings you’ll be able to take home with you).
London is home to one of the world’s most efficient public transport systems which makes it pretty easy to get around. Unfortunately, because the city is so big commute times via the Tube or bus system can be very long. It’s not uncommon to spend more than two hours a day on a train to get to work. If this is an issue for you, think about moving closer to work (although accommodation closer to the centre of the city is much more expensive than further afield so you’ll have to be willing to pay for the convenience of a shorter commute).
As soon as you arrive in London, get an Oyster card which will make getting around the city much easier.
Moving to London? Crown Relocations can help, whether you’re moving your family, your business or yourself to London. We offer everything from furniture moving to office moving – and everything in between. For an accurate and competitive mover quote, talk to the trusted Crown team today on: 0508 227 696 or request a free moving quote online.