Moving to London seems like a dream come true; and it’s not necessarily wrong to think so, really.
It’s a giant megalopolis filled with items, foods and people from all over the world; with opportunity and new directions; with ways to improve your understanding of the world, and your outlook on what it’s like to be an adult with responsibilities.
Still, it comes with its own challenges, that might not be evident; especially not if you had never lived by yourself, or had never moved before.
Here are some things to look out for when you’re an immigrant in the UK.
Find a hobby
It might sound a bit ridiculous when you think about moving and immigration; believe me, though, it’s actually important.
Hobbies may seem like something that will just help you occupy your free time when you’re bored… which they will, honestly, and that’s already good enough. But in reality, hobbies will also help you make connections when you oh so desperately need that.
London is notorious for having incredibly niche interest events in their local community centres and libraries — anywhere from something as widespread as LGBTQ+ centred events, to something as specific as Dungeons and Dragons sessions for beginners.
Regardless of as to whether you’re a young student, or a really, uh, aged person past your forties, hobbies will help you connect — and believe me, an immigrant myself, that connections will help you out with multiple issues, from career to residency, to personal well-being.
Check the services and leisure around you
This advice applies for anything really — from electricity companies and the police department, to the nearby pubs.
Most importantly, however, it applies to the basic survival and transportation needs. Before choosing an apartment to move in to, always check how well-connected it is to public transport and grocery stores + pharmacies. It might seem decently simple, but commuting in London is actually quite a pain in the ass, especially in the more areas.
Explore the area you live in
You never know what you might find in the area you’re moving in to. Check for local pubs, local events, important local services (as mentioned above), local transport… But also, check for what the surrounding area is like before moving in.
If you’re a light sleeper, you really don’t want foxes screaming bloody murder under your windows. If you’re, for whatever possible reason, ornithophobic (fear of parrots), you don’t want to move in to Charlton, where free wild parrots are normal… etcetera. All areas in London are peculiar, one way or another.
In addition, there aren’t that many cities in Europe with such a large number of different ethnic communities; checking them out in advance may help you move in exactly where you belong (if that’s what you feel like).
Beware of your expenses
It is super easy to overspend in London. Transport is really expensive, food is kinda expensive, bills and even groceries are expensive… Beware in advance, especially so as an immigrant.
If you have to travel between multiple zones often, then investing in a pre-paid Oyster card might be beneficial. If you’re moving in to a new area, checking what the main water & electricity providers in said area are is worth it. If you’re a student, don’t forget to abuse the powers of your student ID (it usually provides you with a 10% discount at most places).
If you do big grocery shopping days, then going to ASDA is beneficial — compared to, say, Sainsbury’s or, even worse so, Waitrose. If you’re looking for a gym membership, then you can find ones as cheap as £18, if you look hard enough.
Basically, the whole point is be careful.
Do things in advance
This is pretty straightforward, but is still worth mentioning.
Check out the council tax band of your area before moving in. Check all of the papers you might need at least a month in advance before applying. Check out the schools in the area, if you’re moving with kids, or if you’re planning to have kids in the future. As I’d mentioned above, check how the billing works in that area in advance…
The list goes on. It never hurts to be prepared, especially so for an immigrant. Especially so in England, where, if you don’t bring something up, then the other party will just hope you have forgotten all about it.