Okay, so you’ve just graduated college – congratulations! – and you’re looking for your next big adventure. Adventures don’t come much bigger than moving abroad! One of the most popular cities to move to after graduation is London, thanks to its multicultural vibe, thriving job market, and English-speaking majority. So, how can you move to London after college? Let’s find out more!
Should You Move to London After Graduation?
First things first, you’ve got to think about whether you should move to London or not. It’s not the right move for everyone and honestly, it just might not be the right time for you.
London is notoriously expensive, so if you don’t have a job lined up there it can be really difficult to afford rent and bills, especially if you have to take a minimum-wage hospitality or retail job in the meantime.
On the other hand, London is filled with recent graduates. With so many headquarters of huge companies and start-ups being in the capital, thousands of grads move to London to take part in graduate schemes and get that much-needed boost onto the job ladder.
This almost means that there is a lot of competition for places. Unless you’re trying to break into banking, publishing, or fashion, there are plenty of other major cities that will be more affordable with equally great job opportunities.
Want to start up your own business straight out of college? That’s amazing, but really you shouldn’t move to somewhere so expensive if you’re trying to establish your business.
You’re going to want to keep costs low until you have clients and name recognition – that’s when the money is going to start rolling in.
Moving to London at this point means that you’re probably going to be stretching yourself too thin financially. That is unless you’ve already got a backer or investor, in which case London is great for networking.
What to Consider Before You Move to London After You Graduate
There are definitely a few things that you need to consider before you move to London as a new graduate. You need to think about whether this is a permanent move or if you’re just planning on having a gap year in London.
There are very different financial and visa-based realities if you’re only planning on being in the UK for a year than if you’re staying indefinitely.
Another thing to consider is can you afford it? If you’re coming from the US, it’s more than likely that you’re going to need a job lined up to be eligible for a visa, unless you’ve studied here or have family connections in the UK.
Even so, accommodation costs in London can be ridiculous, so you might need to look at flatshares rather than having your own place.
Is this something you’re cool with, or are you craving your space after sharing it with people all through college?
Alternatively, are a few of your friends planning on moving to London as well? It can be a lot less scary and risky if there’s a few of you making the leap.
At the same time, don’t just go because everyone else is. If you’re not the kind of person who likes being in big cities, London clearly is not going to be your vibe and it’s a big move and a lot of money to spend time in somewhere you’re not going to be happy.
There’s a lot to think about and there’s no right answer, it’s all down to your personal preference and situation.
I‘ve lived abroad for many years and love helping others find work abroad and figure out their “Move Abroad Plan.” Check out my class below to get you started ASAP!
How to Get a Visa to the UK After College Graduation
Okay, now the technical stuff. There’s a few options for US citizens to move to London and although it’s not as easy as it is for Canadian or Australian citizens, there are definitely ways to make it work.
The main way that US graduates move to London is through a work-sponsored visa.
Essentially you get a job at a UK company and they support your visa application, vouching for the fact that you should be able to pay your bills.
It’s worth saying that if you do choose to leave that job, you need to make sure that your next employer will take over the visa sponsorship otherwise you might be kicked out of the country. Not ideal.
If you want to move to London for six months or less and have enough saved up that you don’t need to work – lucky you.
US citizens can stay in London on a tourist visa for up to six months (180 days) without a visa, however, you can’t work, not even remotely and if you’re caught you will be kicked out of the country.
Did you study in the UK and have a student visa? Well, you can convert it into a two-year graduate visa if you want to stay and move to London after college.
This gives you the opportunity to try and find a job while you’re actually in the country and figure out where in London you want to live. I did this after I finished my master’s in London and it really takes the pressure off.
Once you’ve found a job that’s willing to sponsor your visa, you can convert it so that you can stay beyond those two years.
Finally, if your parents or grandparents are from the UK, you can get a visa that way without having a job lined up. This is a great option if you’re eligible and gives you the time to find a graduate job that you really like rather than having to find one that offers visa sponsorship.
How to Find Accommodation in London
So, if you’re committed to moving to London, you’ve booked your flights and have your visa all sorted, you’re going to need to find somewhere to live. Check out this post for the best neighborhoods in London for Expats.
This obviously varies based on whether you’re moving to London on your own, with friends, or with a significant other, but there are plenty of ways to find accommodation in London.
The best sites for finding rooms in a flatshare or houseshare are SpareRoom and Gumtree. Gumtree is basically the UK’s answer to Craigslist so you can get pretty much anything on there and it’s not accommodation specific.
SpareRoom on the other hand is used by students, graduates, and professionals alike and has plenty of filters to help narrow down your search.
You can also use SpareRoom and Gumtree to find full flats or houses to rent if there are a few of you or if you have plenty of money to burn. If you’re trying to find a whole place, Rightmove and Zoopla are also really great sites to check out.
Make sure that you check the rental agreement or listing to see if your accommodation includes any bills or utilities as well as any restrictions over getting out of your contract early. It might be that you have to find a replacement housemate or pay until a replacement is found.
This is super common all around the UK but can be annoying if you want to leave. Also if you don’t want to deal with an expensive utility company, spending some more time finding a place with all-inclusive bills might be the right move for you.
How to Find a Job in London After Graduating College
Much like in any other major city, there are a few ways to find jobs depending on your seniority and industry.
For general job searches, sites like LinkedIn Jobs, Indeed, and Monster are the best places to start your search. You can also set alerts for when relevant jobs come up, so you don’t have to keep checking every day.
If you’re industry specific like publishing, journalism, accounting, etc. you might find that there are dedicated job sites for those sectors. You’ll find them if you Google your industry and London jobs afterward.
For the majority of US grads moving to London, you’re going to need a job before you sort your visa out, so the old-school method of dropping resumes into offices or shops isn’t an option unless you’re on a graduate or family visa.
Online recruitment is still key and it’s a good idea to sign up with a few recruitment agencies in your industry so that they can find jobs suitable for your requirements and ensure that those businesses are going to offer visa sponsorship.
The other option is to check out US expat forums for living in London. These people have been there and done it, so they’ll be able to offer some useful tips on specific businesses that offer sponsorship as well as the right questions to ask about visas in interviews.
Moving to London after college is a really cool and exciting thing to do. The city is full of young professionals, and opportunities and each borough has a unique vibe that you’re going to love.
I loved living in London after college, and if you’re a city person, you’re going to love it too!