Moving to a new place is always a little bit daunting, but when you’re moving across the world on your own, it can feel overwhelming. There are a lot of things to think about before you commit to making a move. If you’re planning on moving to London alone, budget is a huge factor as it’s one of Europe’s most expensive cities to live in.
Don’t worry though, plenty of people move solo to London every day, there are just some things you’re going to want to consider! Let’s dive in and find out more.
Just a quick word on safety before we dive in any further. Yes, London is a big, capital city, so there are always safety concerns, just the same as in New York, Toronto, Berlin, or anywhere else of a similar size and scale. Living alone can be scary, so be aware and try to keep your wits around you.
Things like walking in groups at night, letting someone know where you are, and generally looking after your stuff in crowds. It’s a lot of basic things, but refreshing our memories is never a bad thing when it comes to safety.
Okay, with that said, let’s move onto the 5 things to consider when moving to London alone!
Let’s start off with everyone’s least favorite thing to think about: budget. No one wants to look too deeply at their finances or how much a potential move like this is going to cost, but we have to be realistic.
The average price of a room to rent in London is around £860 a month, and this doesn’t include utilities and other bills. That’s a base starting point because obviously, some places in London are cheaper than others.
You also need to think about how you’re going to be making money. This is central to your visa process anyway, so you’ll have to have a fairly concrete plan. While it’s true that US citizens can stay in the UK for six months without a visa, you legally cannot work.
Given how expensive London is, you’ll have needed to save up a lot of money to survive and thrive here for half a year with no income.
Once you know what your income is going to be you can look at your outgoings and expenses like food, transport, accommodation, insurance, and general fun stuff and work out what your housing budget looks like.
You’re probably also going to need a pretty big buffer for when you first land. Unless you have somewhere to live sorted out before you fly, you’re likely going to be in a hostel, hotel, or Airbnb while you hunt for a place to live.
Finding somewhere decent might not happen overnight, so a contingency budget is crucial.
It might be that your particular visa states that you need a certain amount saved up in your bank balance first – that’s for situations like this where you’re either not working or need to spend a lot of money setting up your life in London.
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Okay, so I’ve started talking about accommodation, but let’s really get into it. Most people who move to London on their own move into a flatshare or a house share and buy a room. You can share the kitchen, bathroom, and common areas, and you’ll likely share the bills.
This is super common and sites like spareroom.co.uk are always full of people looking to fill their house or take over a room. Even with bills included, you’re probably looking at around £1000 a month.
If you want your privacy, a one-bedroom flat is around £1300 a month without bills. So, all in with no one else chipping in, it’s looking more like £1600 a month. It’s not cheap. You can use sites like Rightmove or Zoopla to find places to rent all around the UK.
That being said, if you think buying is the way to go so you can save some rent money and actually have an asset, the average house price in London is £523,666. That’s over twice the average of many other places in the UK.
Of course, some boroughs and areas are cheaper than others and the general rule of thumb is that the further out you are, the cheaper it gets. There are some exceptions to the rule, and some areas have a lot of gentrification.
If you’re considering living further out, weigh up the accommodation savings against what you’ll have to pay in transport to get into the city center for work or socializing. Also, consider the amount of time you’ll spend getting around – it adds up quickly!
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3. Working or Studying?
A big thing you’ll want to factor in is whether you’re working or studying when you’re moving to London. If you’re studying, you’ll want to be relatively near to campus and the university itself should be able to help you with accommodation with other students, so there’s in-built socialization.
If you’re working in London and you’re going into the office every day, you’ll want to decide how long you’re willing to commute for each day.
Working from home? You’ll need to make sure you have space to work separate from your living or chilling area. In London, that’s a premium, but arguably worth it for the sake of your mental health.
4. Getting Around
Like any big city, driving really isn’t an option in London. You’re likely to be stuck in traffic more than you’re moving and the congestion charge together with ridiculous parking charges make it an expensive option. Most people get the Tube (London’s answer to the subway).
You can just tap in and out with your contactless card, Google Pay or Apple Pay, rather than getting physical tickets which is a speedy bonus. There’s a definite etiquette to getting the tube and it basically revolves around the fact that you should keep moving at all times.
- Get your payment card or ticket out well before you reach the barrier so you don’t hold people up.
- Stand on the right if you’re just standing on the escalators – the left is for people who walk or run down the escalator.
- Personal space is not a thing in rush hour. You will get packed in like a tin of sardines and you just have to deal.
Overall the tube system is the quickest and cheapest way to get around London. While there are buses, they’re only convenient if there’s no tube stop nearby, or there’s a strike.
Taxis are another option but agree on a fare beforehand if you can and don’t ask them to go to the other side of the river. It’s a long way and it’s unlikely to be worth their time getting back into the city afterward.
5. Getting Social
If you’re moving to London alone, a big thing to think about is socialization. Moving to a new place where you don’t know anyone means that you have to put yourself out there. Join a sports team or go to a regular gym class. Sign up for a language class or a stitch and b*tch circle.
The good thing about London is that there’s always something going on, with many pop-up events being free. Think about what you like doing and go from there.
Moving across the country or world on your own can be pretty terrifying, but as long as you’re practical with your finances and have a rough plan to get by, it might just be the best thing you ever do!