Welcome to London! Here’s a brief guide on the main things that I needed to sort after arriving. DSC_3221 When you land at Heathrow

  • Assuming you’re landing at Heathrow, there are 2 options to getting you to your hotel/hostel/mate’s place.
  • If you’re not feeling up to public transport after a long flight/have heaps of baggage, pre-book a private transfer from the airport. I haven’t used this myself but I’ve been told on good authority it’s straightforward and significantly cheaper than taking a taxi.
  • If you’re game for public transport, there are 3 options (in order of descending travel time + ascending cost) – heathrow express, heathrow connect and the normal underground network.
  • I personally took the underground and found it to be hassle free (I do travel quite light though) – just pick up your oyster card from the manned station or if you have a 28 degrees card, you can actually just ‘pay-pass’ / swipe your card at the gate and it’ll let you through.

Getting connected

  • This is crucial – a lot of the other things you need to get sorted e.g. finding a place to live can’t be done without a contact number.
  • Longer term, the 3 network is popular with travelers because it allows you to use your existing credit and data as you ‘roam’ through select countries in Europe. If you need a sim quick-smart that won’t tie you in to a contact, giff gaff fits the bill until you’ve sussed out which provider works best for you.

Orientating yourself

  • Mobile data makes getting around so much easier – My tip is to walk everywhere (and I mean everywhere) in your first week, using the Thames as your reference point (and failing which looking up google maps on your phone.
  • If you’re in a rush or just buggered, download the citymapper app to navigate the public transport system.

Setting up a bank account

  • As an interim measure until you get your UK account sorted, change your AUS bank account mailing address to a friend’s UK address. This should be sufficient if any of the other things you’re trying to set up require proof of address in the UK.
  • Most banks in the UK offer some form of fee-free everyday transactional account. Most ATMs in the UK allow you to withdraw money fee-free (even if you don’t bank with them) so it’s not as critical as AUS where you might want to go with CBA because they have the largest ATM network.
  • Metro Bank is a popular choice because it works similar to the Citiplus account in AUS i.e. fee free withdrawals from ATMs during your travels around Europe.

Finding a home

  • Before finding a room/home you’ll need to orientate yourself. A good starting point as any is the tube map – if you don’t know where your future place of employment will be, pick somewhere that has good transport links e.g. Waterloo, London Bridge, Bayswater, Baker Street.
  • There’s a host of websites out there but I used houseshare.com to find a room for rent. It’s probably not the best site if you’re a couple/renting a whole apartment to yourself so I’m afraid I’m not going to be of much help there.
  • Regardless of whether you’re renting a room or a whole apartment though – you need to be quick. If possible try to inspect during the week, and as early as possible to get the jump on everyone else because if a place is semi-decent it seems to (from my experience) get snapped up brutally quickly.
  • The only thing you usually need to secure a place if the room is being marketed by an agent is a deposit of 1-2 weeks rent. If you’re dealing with the landlord directly – well anything goes.
  • In either case use common sense to protect yourself – get something in writing and don’t just hand over cash without some form of receipt.

Securing a job

  • In a previous post I talked about how you might try to go about securing a job before leaving Australia. In case it didn’t work out, don’t sweat it as that’s what the majority of people on the tier 5 youth mobility visa are faced with. London is a huge market so you’re bound to get something if you aren’t too particular – the main thing is that you’re now in the country and have the right to work so lining up interviews shouldn’t be an issue.
  • Speak to the recruiter relevant to your industry. Talking to others, it seems the recruiter you’re dealing with can make a very big difference in terms of the types of opportunities that you’ll be presented with so best to go on word of mouth recommendations.
  • Hopefully you’ve already tidied up your CV and incorporated feedback before coming over so that you can focus on discussing job opportunities at your first appointment.

Apply for a National Insurance Number

  • At some point you’ll need to apply for a National Insurance Number which is effectively the UK version of AUS’ Tax File Number.
  • To apply, you’ll need to call the Jobcentre Plus application line on 0345 600 0643 – which is open Mon-Fri from 8am-6pm. They’ll ask you a few questions and then send you a form in the mail which you’ll need to complete and return by a (stated) deadline together with photocopies of your passport, visa etc.

Register with your local GP

  • Unlike AUS where you can rock up to any GP’s office – you need to pre-register in the UK.
  • There’ll be a bunch of forms you’ll need to fill out in person at the GP as well as presenting photo ID and proof of residence.
  • Apart from obvious health reasons, you’ll also need to be registered with a GP in order to apply for travel insurance policies with the main UK providers.

Buying travel insurance

  • You can still buy travel insurance if you’re not registered with a GP in the UK – it’s just that you’re choice is a lot narrower. Some insurers even need you to have lived in the UK for 6 months.
  • An example of a provider who doesn’t have a residency requirement is Globe Link – I can’t speak for the quality of the product as I haven’t made a claim yet (so please don’t take this as any sort of an endorsement) but just be aware of the potential residency requirement and check the fine print of your policy.
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