I WANT TO MOVE TO ENGLAND /UK /LONDON
Updated in July 2018 for rental prices
BREXIT IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER :
After the Brexit, I’ll have to edit the content of this article (especially when it comes to finding a job in the UK, even if you are an EU citizen). If the UK government will go ahead with the Brexit it might not be as easy as it was before the referendum.
The data are still uncertain for now, as the UK has 2 years to re-negotiate their treaty with the EU, so, for now, nothing will change but I will keep you posted following the latest news.
Thanks for your patience while I will re-write the article as the new deals with the European community and the rest of the world will be finalized.
If I could get 1 euro for all the people that asked me this question, I would be rich. I get the point. The UK, London in particular, with its melting pot of culture, history, social life, and job opportunities, has it all.
Not to mention that England and the UK in general offer so many opportunities to explore some of the best landscapes in Europe (yes, I know…once you’ve settled down!)
Read some of the posts I have written about the beauty of the UK, England, Scotland and Wales in here:
Do you want to move to the UK, but you don’t know how, and you need some advice from those who have already been there? If this applies to you, this free guide is all you need to get ready. So relax and keep on reading!
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THIS GUIDE:
I’m Italian and at age 30 I didn’t speak a word of English. I moved to the UK in 2006 and I lived as an expat in London for 6 years, starting from ZERO.
Given these premises, I will try to address all the key points for you to get started and make sure that you will walk under the shadow of the Big Ben as soon as possible!
I will speak in detail of:
- A list of useful links, when the topic is too wide to be explained in full, I will refer you to a source that is reliable and will give you further guidance.
In short, everything I wish I’d know when I decided to move to England. For each section, you will find useful links (tested by me on multiple occasions) that will help you dive deeper into the topic! Plus some personal insights into how I did it.
Are u Ready? Let’s get started!
PIN IT FOR LATER!
4 basic things to consider before you decide to leave:
1) Have a clear idea of what you are looking for:
I met many people who wanted to leave without having the slightest idea of what to do.The UK and London in particular can be a wild Jungle. Make a plan, write down a list of the jobs you are interested in and your skills. Use it as a starting point to focus on your research. The more your plan is detailed and accurate, the greater your chances of success will be.
How I did it: When I decided to leave Italy, I focused my attention entirely on how to become an Au pair. For months I visited forums, specialized sites, and contacted several families until I found the perfect one for me.
2)Knowing basic English is crucial:
Many people want to move to the UK even if they don’t even know the basics. Unfortunately, this is not possible. It is not always necessary to be fluent, but today the competition is fierce. You will be dealing with people who already have a good knowledge of the language. Before leaving, take the time to study. Be prepared. You should at least be able to understand the language a bit and hold a basic conversation with the locals.
How I did it: My Basic English was super rusty. I armed myself with about 30 DVDs in the original language, and for 5 months in a row, I saw at least 3 movies a day.
I’ve improved a lot and in a relatively short time (and my friends thought I took a course in cinematography 🙂
3) Choose the right location:
England is big, don’t rule out the possibility of living outside London. Of course, the capital is the most sought-after destination, but why not consider other places and see what they can offer? At times, choose to live in less popular areas is the key to success. Competition for jobs is lower, and the opportunity to interact with native speakers is much higher.
How I did it: I chose a family about 1 hour south of London, in a small village in the countryside.Was it hard? A little, but the initial effort paid off. My English improved quickly and I made friends with locals pretty easily.
4) Know your Minimum budget to start:
I left Italy with 600£ on me, but I already had a place to stay and a job as an Au Pair (remember my first point: planning in advance is crucial).
As a general rule, the initial budget must cover the cost of food, transport, and accommodation for the first month: You’ll need about 1500 pounds as a start to be on the safe side. This figure can vary, depending on your plan of attack.
You want to try to be an Au pair? Detract the costs for accommodation and food. Do you want to live in London, not far from the center? Add 30/40% to the initial budget. Let’s say that 1000/2000 pounds as an average should be enough to cover the costs, considering the location and different lifestyles.
Whether you choose to live in London or outside London, there are 2 main ways to find accommodation in the UK:
Through Newspapers adverts and Forums/websites. A bit risky but worth a try. The site Gumtree is my Bible: I’ve found everything, from accommodation to a temporary job as a receptionist and even a second-hand computer for 30£. The site offers room to share and flat rentals across all the main towns in England, sorted by type of accommodation, basic price per week/month and areas.
Advantages: No agency fees as you can contact the Landlord directly. Possibility to find short-term rentals.In some cases, it’s not necessary to prove that you have a job (proof required by many well-known agencies)
Disadvantages: You have to be cautious and carefully evaluate the offer. Most landlords are honest people, but sometimes you can end up in very unpleasant situations (I found mice in the house the day of the move, and had to call a lawyer because the landlord would not give me back the money for the deposit. I ended up losing time and 500£. A real nightmare.
Real estate agency:
It is certainly the safest bet, but you have to provide more documentation (which will be checked carefully before they give you an answer).
- Proof that you have a job in the U.K. (In case you’re still looking for it, it is better to look for a room to share through Gumtree)
- Proof of residence in the U.K. for the 2 (sometimes 3) previous years. If you do not have that record, your home country address will suffice.
- Letters of reference from previous Landlords (not always required, but sometimes they require this information too)
- English bank account. It is not mandatory but is often required, and it’s necessary when you find a job, so you might as well do it as soon as you can. More info in the chapter “Useful Links” at the end of the post.
Advantages: The guarantee of a legal contract that you can hold in the event of a dispute, and the possibility to turn to the agency for any problem about the house.
Disadvantages: The agency fees, in addition to the deposit (which is typically a month, or 6 weeks). Always ask how much is the agency fee before signing up. It may vary widely depending on the agency. You can read this interesting article on how agencies try to “scam” you on commissions.
Short rental websites to find accommodation in London with FG Properties
If you decide to try your luck in the super expensive London, another very good option you can consider for the first few weeks (until you find a suitable place to rent, find a job and sort out all the other documents) is the “short rental” option. It obviously works better when you are a group of 4 or more people and can be the perfect choice to save money.
Why? There are many reasons to consider this alternative.
- You will have a kitchen and (trust me!) this is a huge advantage to save money on food
- The location near the tube station is ideal to move around when you are looking for a job
- The feeling of being “home”
I used this option with FG Properties last November when I went back to my beloved London for 1 week. I stayed in the busy area near Earl’s Court, just a few minutes away from the tube station, a proper kitchen, sofa, and 2 big bedrooms.
The price for an apartment like this can be lower than renting a room (always considering that you are a group of 3-4 people of course). These are the pictures taken at the apartment I was staying in, lovely to go back to a place like this! Definitely worth checking out for groups, otherwise a nice, conveniently located Hotel can be another good choice for you to consider.
Agencies / most used sites to find accommodation in the UK
Before signing any contract, I suggest you read it very carefully, and make sure that there are no special clauses.
For more info on the most common rental contracts in the UK, you can read this link. As they say in English: “Better be safe than sorry”!
Average prices per month for a studio flat:
London (the further from the center the cheapest the price but consider transports & area)
South East London: £ 550 – £ 650
Central London: £ 2400 – £ 3000
South London: £ 600 – £ 700
West London: £ 700 – £ 1500
North London: £ 400 – £ 4000
Excluding Expenses (council tax, electricity, water, internet, tv license): they are in the range of 60 to 120 pounds per month. Depending on the house, the location and the number of people who live there.
Note: In England, they are extra strict if you do not pay your bills regularly. Especially the Council Tax and TV license. Do not try to get too smart. they will immediately send you a letter of warning and make you go to court even for as less as £ 100.
England is often seen as the land where you can start over and find a job within a week. But is it really the truth? Unfortunately, things are no longer as easy as they seemed to be in the past.
The UK has not been spared from the recession and it may take you some time before finding the right job for you. But don’t get discouraged: There still are plenty of opportunities in England. All you need is get prepared and be patient.
I’d like to share with you what I have learned from my mistakes in my 6 years living and working in London, both when I was still looking for a job and as a recruiter for the British company I worked for.
6 Tips to find a Job in UK
1 | The Resume is essential:
If it’s done wrong and it’s inaccurate or incomplete, you could be the perfect candidate for the job, but you will be trashed immediately. In the UK, they are very selective about this. Get help from a native speaker. There is nothing worse than a good resume that’s written in bad English.
2 | Do not underestimate your potential:
Some people think that as soon as they arrive in England they will find a “qualified” job. Others don’t even dare to try for the fear of not knowing the language well enough, or not being “enough.”
The middle way is always the best. Take one step at a time. If after a few interviews you realize that you still don’t feel confident, or that the demands are much higher compared to your experience, lower the fire.
Several interviews will give you more confidence and you’ll approach them better. For this reason, try to leave the companies that you care more about and the end of your “wish list”.
3) Have a good Word/Excel knowledge:
If you are looking for secretarial jobs, be aware that many recruitment agencies will ask you to complete a 1-hour test on a computer to assess your knowledge.
If you don’t pass it, your application will be rejected. This is a widely used practice in the UK. Do not waste an opportunity because you are unprepared, it happened to me and I was quite disappointed as no one had told me how it worked.
4) Go to the recruitment agencies in person:
It has a winning impact and gives you a better chance of scheduling an interview with the recruiter right then and there. I found my job as a production assistant in a fashion company this way.
If you present yourself well, you appear confident and willing to adapt, the recruiter won’t risk to lose you and he/she will find something suitable for you. Always show a positive attitude. Don’t be arrogant but try not to appear too desperate either.
5) Do not get intimidated by age:
In England, if you are over 30 and looking for a job, this is of little importance.You are not automatically cut out like it would happen in many other countries. If you have the experience and a good level of English, that’s all you need.
I was 31 years old when Burberry London hired me, and they didn’t ask for my age once. There is actually a law stating that asking for your age is considered an act of discrimination, so you don’t even have to put it on your CV.
6) Test your telephone conversational skills:
Sounds stupid, but answering the phone is more difficult than having a conversation in person (for those who still struggle with English). Make sure you are well prepared when you receive a call back from the recruiter.
Believe me, who is calling will remember exactly if you sounded insecure or if you asked them to repeat the same sentence 5 times (it happened to me, and it is no good). As a friend, possibly a local, to practice with him. I did it and it worked wonders.
TYPES OF JOBS YOU CAN FIND IN ENGLAND:
Some industries, such as healthcare and IT still offer many opportunities. Always keep in mind the knowledge of the language, which in these cases must be quite good.
You can see the most requested jobs in the UK with a detailed description and the average wage by clicking on this link.
This will give you an idea of what to expect and to evaluate objectively whether or not you have what it takes to apply. Do not stop to the list mentioned above. If you have specific skills, continue your research through the major recruitment sites online.
Be stubborn, if you really believe in something, and you have the skills, you will be rewarded.
ADMINISTRATION JOBS IN LONDON, TIPS & TRICKS AND USEFUL LINKS:
There may be lots of talk of jobs becoming automated and the mythical ‘paperless office’, but there are still thousands of administration jobs to be had in a wide range of fields and industries across London.
After all, whatever your business, you need to keep on top of the paperwork, staff the telephones and generally keep the wheels of your office turning smoothly. So it’s no wonder administrators are considered the backbone of any company.
Equally, opportunities for administration jobs in London tend to be plentiful whatever your age, previous experience or qualifications.
You’ll need excellent attention to detail and to be highly organized, with the ability to stay calm when under pressure, plus a thoughtful, methodical approach to your work, and the ability to juggle tasks and to do well in a team.
Typing skills and telephone manner are also important. You could also think in terms of working towards an NVQ or SVQ in Business and Administration, levels one to four.
And, if you want to progress, it’s often possible to move on from an admin role into becoming an office manager, PA or supervisor (Which is exactly what happened to me while working for Burberry London: I started as a simple temporary admin Assistant and after 1 year I was promoted to coordinator).
Jobs across London attract salaries from around £22,500 and up to £37,500. The average is probably somewhere around the £25,000 mark.
The majority of young people who want to move to the UK falls into this category. What opportunities are there, and what is the best approach?
One of the easiest jobs to find. Go door to door with your résumé and ask to speak with the manager. Many restaurants looking for staff put the flyers in the window, pay attention when walking on the streets.
Waiters in England earn a considerable amount of money just because of the tips. In some cases, the new arrivals get fewer tips but as you gain experience, the tips increase accordingly.
The average salary: 800/1300 pounds (including tips)
RECEPTIONIST FOR LUXURY RESTAURANTS:
You will be welcoming the customers, store their coats and bags in the cloakroom and escort them to their table.I did this job and it can be quite stressful, but if you are fond of gossip you can be rewarded by seeing Hugh Grant, Madonna or Gwyneth Paltrow eating their favorite plate of spaghetti 🙂 (I did saw them actually, and I was working for the restaurant less than 10 days).
The average salary is 800/1200 pounds per month including tips.
Relatively easy to find if you have a good knowledge of the language, The best approach is to go directly to the hostel and ask to speak with the management. Recruitment agencies are also a good place to find these kinds of jobs.
The average salary is around 1000/1300 pounds.
Pretty easy to find if you ask the big franchising companies like H & M, Top Shop, Zara, Monsoon, Accessories. The level of English required is basic and it’s a great start even as a part-time job. You will be able to enroll in one of the many English courses and try to apply for more specialized positions when your English will be better.
The average salary is 900/1300 pounds
In my opinion, this is one of the best ways to start working in the UK if your main goal is to learn the language before starting to look for qualified jobs.
Below are some of the advantages:
1) Possibility to live with the locals and quickly improve your English (HUGE headaches in the beginning but so worth it)
2) The job is not that stressful (if you enjoy being with kids is actually fun!)
3) Free food and accommodation, plus a weekly small salary to cover your little expenses (approximately 50 / £ 100 per week depending on how many kids you take care of, the location and whether you should also clean the house or not)
4) In some cases, you will have your own car (I did and it was such a great experience!)
5) Ability to attend college (many families will pay for it)
7) Several free hours, many weekends off and sometimes the possibility of having a second job (I earned £500 a month for a few hours working in a Sandwich bar during my spare time)
Considerations on finding a job in the UK:
These are just a few of the most common jobs to start a new life in the UK. What you need in the beginning is a great deal of patience, endurance, and a positive attitude. It will not always be easy. I’ve been there. Receiving 10 phone calls and 10 “Thank you, we are not interested” in a day, can be daunting.
Don’t get discouraged. You only need to sharpen your weapons, study the market a bit more and learn how to “sell” yourself better! Be confident and make sure you know what you want. Put all your enthusiasm, optimism and passion for it.
Trust me: the results will arrive, and this obviously applies to every aspect of your life. Not only if you want to move to England of course. I learned my lesson and your attitude plays a huge role to determine whether you will be successful or not.
Arriving in a foreign country without knowing their bureaucracy, is like rowing against the wind. You can do it but it will cost you fatigue and frustration. You already have so much to think about without adding further stress.
Make sure you are prepared, and know exactly what to do. This will also help you with some very rude and unhelpful clerks in banks and public offices. If you look like you don’t know what you want, some of them won’t be patient enough to help you out.
Documents you need when you arrive in the UK:
Undeclared work in England is not common and the UK employers always do everything by the book.
In order to get a job, you will need to go to a job center in your area and ask for the NIN.
As soon as you arrive in England it is highly recommended to open an English bank account. There are various options, I got one with Barclay’s and I had no problems so far. The procedure was smooth and they opened it straight away. Natwest and HSBC are also widely used in England. As a general rule, English banks have no fees for opening and closing the account.
For all the info on how to open a bank account and the documents requested, you can click here.
The famous card that allows you to travel on public transport in London without having to buy a daily ticket. Once you buy the Oyster you can top it up it with an amount of your choice or with different types of subscription (weekly, monthly, yearly and according to the different areas of London) You can also choose to take only Bus or the Bus and metro combo.
You can buy it at any newsstand or metro stations for £ 5, and reload it with cash or debit card in the machines at the tube stations.
For more info, you can check this link. For Info on disruptions, bus, metro, train departure times and more, check out the London Transport website (very useful! I used it on a daily basis, it will also tell you the exact time your bus is due to arrive at the bus stop).
(see also the section on tips on how to make a Resume and Cover letter, how to get ready for the interviews etc):
- Official Website of the British government: www.gov.co.uk
- Official Health Care website: www.nhs.co.uk
- English Language tests: Requirements to certify the ability to work in Specialized professions, link HERE
MONEY TRANSFER WHEN YOU ARE IN THE UK
Sometimes the beginnings can be a bit challenging money-wise and you might need assistance from relatives back home, or simply have some help when it comes to currency exchange rates and so forth.
There are specialized websites/online agencies to help you out. They will make your life easier, especially when you don’t have the time to deal with all this by yourself, as you’ll be too focused in finding the right job for you, or sorting out the important documents you need.
I recommend you check out the Baydonhill website: They provide several useful services like helping you (or you family) in sending money all over the world, online support, foreign currency exchange at competitive rates and much more.
FINAL TIPS TO MOVE TO THE UK FROM AN EXPAT:
Moving to the UK has been one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my entire life. Six years of living in one of the coolest European capital, so many doubts, successes, and failures.
England can give you a lot if you have the right attitude.
When I was thinking about the advice I should give you to close this post, I realized that they all sounded very personal. Different people have a different reason for moving. The expectations and the attitude may differ from person to person.
In the end, I thought that the best way to help you is to listen to what you have to say, to your doubts and your projects, and reply to your requests one by one.
So Feel free to comment here or to send me an email and ask me anything you want to know!
I hope this guide was useful for you and that it gave you another good reason to try a new exciting experience as an expat in the UK!