London is a great city and a favorite among travelers of all ages from all walks of life. I should know, I lived there for almost six years while I was studying for my Master’s degree! So I’ve put together this guide on how to live in London for 6 months so that you can do it, too.
It’s a fun city to spend your time in and there’s so much to do that many visitors struggle to fit everything into one trip.
So, why not extend your visit and live in this beautiful, vibrant city for six months and experience London like a local?
Why six months? Well US visitors can stay in the UK for a maximum of six months on a tourist visa.
That being said, you can’t work on a tourist visa so if you’re looking to supplement your income while you’re out on the road, you might want to check out a student or work visa, depending on what’s best for your situation.
Regardless of whether you’re saving up before you visit so you don’t have to work, have a temporary working contract in London, are working remotely, or are studying for a short period in the UK capital, there are a few things that you’re going to want to consider.
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3 Important Steps to Live in London for 6 Months
First things first, you’re going to need around $2000 before you visit.
This is because if you’re temporarily renting a place in the UK you’re going to need a deposit which is normally one month’s rent, plus your first month’s rent upfront.
This might sound steep, but remember London is one of the most expensive cities in Europe to live in.
Before you commit to a temporary flat, house, or room in a flatshare – all great options depending on your budget – consider staying in a hostel or Airbnb for a week when you arrive. This way you can get your bearings and explore the different areas before settling on the area that’s going to be best for you.
With London being on the pricier side, it’s common to live in a house or flatshare with a few other people. Not only is this a cheaper way to stay in better areas of the city, but it’ll also give you a more social experience during your time here.
You can find six-month lets pretty easily in London using sites like Gumtree, Spareroom, Ideal Flatmate, and Airbnb.
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Okay, if you are staying in London for six months on the standard visitor visa or tourist visa as it’s sometimes called, you cannot work.
This includes remote work if you’re employed by a remote-first or hybrid company in your home country.
If you’re planning on working remotely from London during your six-month stay, your company is going to have to sponsor you for a work visa, or you’re going to have to apply for one yourself.
This is the same if you’re on a six-month contract with a UK company. You don’t want to get caught out by getting the wrong visa!
The only other way that you can work in the UK is if you’re eligible for a student visa. On a student visa, you can work up to 20 hours a week (Monday-Sunday).
This might be a good option to boost your spending money and there are always plenty of part-time, flexible jobs going in cafes, bars, restaurants, retail, and more that you can get with relatively low experience.
If you’re not planning on working during your six months in London, make sure you’ve got at least $2,000 a month to live and experience the city comfortably, if not more.
The average amount that a single person needs to live in London excluding rent is around $1,150 and the average price of a room to rent in the capital is $940.
So, even in a flatshare, you’re going to need a good amount saved up!
So, if you’re coming to one of the most entertaining and interesting cities on the planet, you’re going to want to get out and experience it all!
If you’ve opted to live in a house share or are staying in a hostel dorm while you find your feet, you’ve already got a socializing network ready to go!
Ask your new roomies where the best places to go are and where those secret, more affordable spots are.
Especially if you’re staying with other expats or foreign travelers, they’ll be able to let you know what’s actually worth seeing during your six months in London and what big events are coming up soon.
If you’re staying in your own place, or your new flatmates aren’t the most social people in the world, it’s not a problem.
The sheer size of London means that there are at least another ten people who share whatever niche interest you have!
The easiest way to find a club, gathering, or social night for your hobby or favorite pastime is to either jump on Facebook, Meetup, or Eventbrite for upcoming events.
Most of the time, especially with Meetup, you’ll find that the majority of people are new to the city, looking to socialize, meet new people, and have a good time.
General Tips for Living in London for 6 Months
Let’s round out this guide for living in London for six months with a few final tips.
1. How to Use the Tube
The best and cheapest way to get around London, other than walking or cycling, of course, is by using the Tube (London’s subway system).
It takes contactless payment by card or Apple and Google Pay so you just need to tap in and tap out again at your destination.
Unless you absolutely need to, steer clear of taxis – you’ll spend more time in traffic than anything else.
2. Everything is further than you think.
What looks like a twenty-minute walk on a map is actually like an hour trek. London is massive, so give yourself plenty of time to get to where you need to be.
3. Check Twitter for free pop-ups and events.
With London being the capital, lots of brands and stores have free events in the city to try out new products or need live audiences for TV tapings.
Keep an eye out for this affordable way to stay entertained in London.