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Moving to London

Katie Cullen
Written by Katie Cullen
25th January 2017

Moving to London is an exciting prospect and often, a life changing experience. There is lots to consider and a tonne of planning, prep and actual work to do but don’t sweat it, the Compare My Move Team know all there is to know about the Big Smoke and about the process of moving there. Here you will find everything... Like literally, EVERYTHING you need to know about Moving House to London!

This article will cover the following points

Planning your Move to London How much does it cost to live in London? Where to live in London? Properties in London Moving to London with Children Employment in London Getting Around in London London Survival Tips Things to do in London

Planning your Move to London

Moving home, no matter where you’re going requires planning. If you are moving to London, there is some serious planning to be done. Let’s skim over the basics first… When and How?

When?

There may be circumstances that will determine when you will move to London but, where possible, you should take some control over when you will move. Moving in the winter is a good idea… Particularly after Christmas. The city is quieter and you might even find some good deals on accommodation. The summer is a peak time for people moving house so if you can avoid it then, do. Weekends are popular for a house move. If you can, try moving mid-week… This is a great moving house tip, it will be easier, the roads and streets will be quieter and you might find that you get a better deal on your removal costs.

How?

It’s going to be a tricky task… You will need to think carefully about how you will move to London. It is not advisable to try and do it yourself. A removal company will be an absolute must. They will know and understand London and having them help you out will relieve so much stress. You can employ the help of family and friends but with such a big move, it’s best to let the professionals take care of it. They will be able to offer packing services as well. You can’t go wrong. It is also worth remembering that you may need a permit to park your removal van. Some London Removal Companies will take care of this for you and all will advise on how you go about this. It usually involves contacting the local authority and applying for a short-term permit to park.

How much does it cost to live in London?

So, this is a pretty difficult question to give a straight answer to so we will need to be a little vague… But we will give you as much of an insight as possible. Based on research, we can give an estimate of around £1,300 to £ £2,300 a month for a single person on an average income. That’s a total cost, rent, food, bills and entertainment. Of course, you can be uber-frugal when it comes to food and entertainment and teeter around the lower end or even below that mark. It really depends on your lifestyle, age and circumstances but to get an idea, there are some estimated monthly costs below.

Rent£500 - £1200
Bills£100 - £160
Phone £40
Food£320
Entertainment£200 - £400
Travel£160


It isn’t a cheap place to live, it’s one of the most famous and prestigious cities in the world and you are going to have a whale of a time there but it’s going to be pricey. For more detailed information on the cost of living in London, you can check out this guide from Expatistan

Where to live in London?

It’s one thing to decide to move to London but guess what? London is huge! You will now need to decide where in London you are going to live! 

Popular Places to live in London

Clapham                       Hackney                Brixton

Balham                         Dalston                 Stockwell

When choosing where to live, it’s a good idea to go and stay in London for a little while. Stay with friends if you can or you can use AirBnB. That way, you can go to a few viewings and take in certain areas. Here are a few pointers for you:

North

The North of London, particularly the North West is a fairly expensive place to live but it is a charming, attractive area full of stylish and swanky restaurants and eateries, trendy and busy bars and quirky, bustling markets that capture that London spirit. Popular North London locations are:

Islington

Lovely Islington is a bit of a celebrity Hotspot so if you’re moving there, you’ll be in good company. Prices in this area are pretty steep so it is something of an upper-middle class zone full of affluent families and stylish professional types.

Camden

A very famous part of London, famed for its ‘arty farty’ vibe and its alternative, open-minded and spirited atmosphere. Camden attracts a young and creative crowd. It’s an interesting and expressive place to live and it’s home to one of the best markets in London.

Crouch End

Another breeding ground for arty types (London really is a creative space). There are celebs and actors known to reside in Crouch End which has made it something of an upmarket location in recent years.

Kensal Rise

Also famed for its celebrity status, Kensal Rise is rife with young, trendy and cool inhabitants. Bursting at the seams with the rich and famous, the cost of renting here is high and rising but on the plus side, it is so conveniently close to the centre of London. 

South

The South of London is great for families and there are some lush green areas in the South West. Accommodation is reasonably priced and the transport links are great. There are good restaurants, quaint antique markets and fantastic architecture.

Greenwich

Located in the South East of London, Greenwich is a lovely place to live. There are actual leaves in Greenwich which, when you are used to the grey cement of London, is a welcome treat. There are lovely pubs, a market-town atmosphere and it’s close to Central London.

Clapham

Quite the sought after place to live, Clapham has seen its rent prices go up and up in recent years. It’s a great location and it’s on the Northern line so it’s convenient but the Northern line is super busy and crowded.

Peckham

Famous for more than being the home of the Trotter brothers. Peckham is going through a gentrification process so you will see more and more organic shops and stylish pubs popping up. You can still get some reasonable prices on rooms in a flat share if you’re moving to Peckham.

Richmond

A short commute to central London, Richmond Upon Thames has a country village atmosphere. There are great schools in the area so it’s a popular choice for families. If that wasn’t enough, you’ve got Twickenham stadium nearby and the beautiful Richmond Park.

East

If you fancy yourself a bit of a hipster or even a good old-fashioned hippie, then the East of London is the place for you. This part of London has been through a massively quirky transformation in recent years and is helping redefine ‘cool’. The place is full of organic food stalls, trendy coffee shops and stylish boutiques. The East of London attracts young, creative thrusters, looking to take the world by storm. House prices are fairly tame in the East (well, tame by London standards at least) and of course, as ever, this will depend on where.

Shoreditch

Shoreditch, also affectionately dubbed ‘Hipster Town’ is a bohemian spot in this great city. Shoreditch boasts cool hang-outs and stylish bars so it attracts creative professionals… They work in media or PR…. You know the type… Is that you?

Dalston

A bit of an East End gem, Dalston is a popular choice when moving to London. Not far from Shoreditch and equally as stylish. There’s a thriving nightlife in Dalston so it can attract young, artsy residents.

Bethnal Green/Whitechapel

Bethnal Green has managed to hold on to some of that ‘Old East End’ charm over the years. It was one of the more affordable areas but now with the great transport links, it’s a popular spot.

Hackney

Hackney is a pretty fashionable place to live. It has kind of transformed in the last 10 years to a much swankier version of itself so naturally, rent prices reflect that makeover. With stylish Shoreditch just around the corner, it’s a desirable residence.

West

The west of London is a truly beautiful place, It’s the famous part of London… where the Queen lives. There are areas in London that us mere mortals can reside but generally, you can’t be short of a bob or two to live over this way. The West attracts families, particularly affluent families and is full of beautiful and traditional architecture and the odd soldier in a tall, black, fuzzy hat. Some haunts of the West are:

Kensington

An extremely sought after area to hang your hat. Generally speaking… you need to be a millionaire…  it is a very expensive part of the world to live. Full of Museums and the prestigious Royal Albert Hall.

Earl’s Court

A lovely part of West London. Again, it will cost you a shiny penny to move to Earl’s Court but with its lovely big houses, wide streets and a slightly less urban feel, it’s not a bad place to be. Some might refer to it as a ‘posh area’ but you can make your own mind up on that one.

Notting Hill

Another upmarket location. It’s very expensive but does bear an undeniable charm. Made famous by the movie of the same name, Notting Hill has attracted a bit of an American community. In general, you’ll find well to do, middle-aged people in Notting Hill.

Shepherd’s Bush

Shepherd’s Bush is also quite a pricey part of London but if it’s any consolation, it’s cheaper than Notting Hill! It still has that ‘posh’ and upmarket feeling. If you like shopping then you’ll like Shepherd’s Bush as it’s home to one of the largest shopping centres in Europe.

Central London

It goes without saying that Central London is a busy place. Some Londoners just plain avoid it for fear of getting dragged away in a sea of tourists. It is a bustling metropolis and an impressive place, full of amazing food, awesome music and incredible sights. It is a real cultural hub. You might not be looking to live in central London but don’t sniff at it, there are options. Have a look and think about Farringdon, Mayfair and Finsbury Park to name just a few. 

Properties in London

House Share

Often, house sharing in London is the best or even the only option, particularly for young people moving to London. Then again, even professionals in their 30s or 40s have been known to house share in London as it’s an affordable option for most. It can be nice having people around you in a city as vast as London, but you will naturally have to forego any real sense of your own space. If this isn’t much of an issue for you then house share is definitely the way to go. You will be able to split the rent and even the bills. Sometimes, the utilities are included in the cost of the rent. You can find housemates or house share options on Gumtree.

Renting

If you are going to be earning a decent enough wage (clever you), then you may find yourself in a position to rent your own place in London. You may be moving with your family and looking to rent somewhere for your brood. Rent rates in London are, of course, on the steep side, you already know that and it’s to be expected but there are some places far pricier than others. The trick is knowing where to look.

Buying

In general, most people rent in London but if you are planning on moving to London permanently and buying is for you then, go for it. London properties are, as you’d expect rather on the expensive side but the process of buying a house in London is much the same as anywhere else save for a bit of extra paperwork.

Moving to London with Children

If you are moving to London with children then choosing an area where there are good schools is of huge importance to you. London can be a big and scary place for kids so it’s a good idea to get them acquainted with the area before moving. A sightseeing day trip is a must and then take them to the area you’ll be living. They may be surprised to find how normal it is. You are also probably concerning yourself with thoughts of safety. Parts of London have a bad reputation for crime and poverty, but really, is this any different to any other city? It’s about knowing where to go. You may hear horror stories about the criminal underworld or gang culture in London but you’re not going to be involved in any of that and it’s more than easy to avoid... Just as it is anywhere else. Family oriented areas of London with plenty of great schools include Richmond, Walthamstow, Greenwich, Sutton, Dulwich and Brockley.

Employment in London

Something London is not short of is opportunities. Work may not be too easy to come by but it is out there so you need to go for it. It’s massively advisable to get your name known in your chosen industry. Networking is key, go to events, send out emails, do work experience or an internship. You will find some sort of link to every line of work in a city as big and significant as London but some of the bigger industries are:

  • Technology
  • Design and Media
  • Finance

If you are looking to work in creative industries then you might like to look at areas like Camden, Soho, Dalston and Shoreditch for your new digs. If finance is the one for you then you might like to hang your hat in the Isle of Dogs, Tower Bridge or Wapping.

Getting Around in London

Renowned famously or infamously for its busy commute and rush hours, travelling around London can be an arduous task. It requires skill, patience, resilience and above all else knowledge. It will take some time to suss out the transport in London but don’t stress over it, you will figure it out... Everybody does. The good news is that although transport in London is busy, it is really easy to get around. Don’t bother with a car, the traffic is terrible and parking is scarce. An Oyster Card is an absolute must. This is a ‘smart card’ that holds pay-as-you-go credit for travel on the tube, bus, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail. Emirates Airline, River Bus Services and most National Rail Services.

Tube

The tube is a great way to get around in London. It might seem like a maze you will never master at first but trust us, you’ll be a pro in no time. The different lines are colour coded and the changing stations are clearly marked. You might have to break out the elbows during rush hour, it can be a pretty ruthless affair but just get in there like true Londoner!

Bus

The bus routes in London are vast. Often, the bus can be just as quick as the tube, depending on traffic of course. You will soon suss out what times are best to hop on the bus and which routes to take. As with the tube, the bus will be busy so be prepared to nestle into a perfect stranger. It’s the London way!

Cycling

Cycling is a popular option for braving your way through the busy roads of London. You can use your own bike or any of the bike hire stations around the city. You can use your debit card in the machine which will charge you £1 for 24-hour access, and you can use a bike for up to 30 minutes for free and then re-dock at a new station. There are over 700 docking stations found every 300-500 metres in London, which are easy to locate. If you’re doing a part tube, part cycle journey then you could be one of those Londoners with a fold up bike… Everyone else on the tube will hate you but whatever.

Taxi

There’s not much like a good old chinwag with a stereotypical London cabby! Of course, they aren’t all super-friendly but still, a taxi is often a good option. Traffic can be a nightmare but usually, the taxi will know the best ways to avoid it. These guys know London like the back of their hands. Taxi is the most expensive way to travel in London. Remember to ask the driver for an estimate of how much it will cost before you leave for your journey. Black cabs with ‘for hire’ signs lit up can be hailed from the street. You can also consider using an Uber Taxi which can be cheaper. If you’re a beginner with London transport, you’ll find a useful guide on the Transport for London site.

Walk

Yes, believe it or not, us humans are land creatures. We were designed to walk. You can do it. If you can get to where you’re going on foot then do, you’ll save yourself a wad of money and you might shed a few pounds too. Sometimes, due to the busy traffic, walking is actually cheaper and quicker. Invest in some comfortable shoes and carry your work shoes with you… Oh and a great tip… Layer your clothing, carry sunglasses and an umbrella because if anything can be said of British weather, it’s that it is unpredictable. 

8 Survival Tips for Moving to London

  1. Use a trusted Removal Company
  2. Move during the winter
  3. Get an Oyster Card
  4. Dress warm (It’s chilly most of the year)
  5. Read the small print (Landlords in London can be sketchy)
  6. Get a bike (use your own or use the Boris Bikes)
  7. Do not go up the wrong side of the escalator (Londoners lose their minds)!
  8. Take a book on the tube (you don’t even have to read it but stare at the page to avoid eye contact with strangers)

Things to do in London

So many people spend years living in London but don’t actually get out and explore the City. They leave all that to the tourists but it’s a huge waste. You get some down time, there’s nothing wrong with being a tourist every now and then. It’s always fun to make the most out of living in such a famous city by having friends and family visit you and taking them out to see the sights and experience London in all its glory. Just a few ideas:

  1. Go Sightseeing – From Big Ben to Buckingham Palace, the London Eye and Tower Bridge!
  2. Eat a Rainbow Bagel! You can get them at Selfridges
  3. Go to the National History Museum
  4. Have a picnic in Hyde Park in the Summer

And there you have it – Moving to London is a real adventure. It’s a fantastic part of the world and whether you are going to live there for a short while or if you’ll spend the rest of your life as an honorary Londoner, it’ll be one heck of an experience. Enjoy!

Last updated on Monday 13th November 2017