Skip to Content

FREE Work Abroad Crash Course on April 27th Sign Up Here!

Moving to London for Work: What to Consider First & How to Make the Move

Honestly, moving to any new city or country for work can be scary. It’s a big thing! You’re leaving a lot of people that you know and love, a city or town that you’re familiar with, and jumping completely out of your comfort zone. So here’s what you need to know about moving to London for work to make sure you are prepared!

It’s also a pretty amazing adventure and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’ve learned so much by moving to different countries and cities for work.

Each time I meet new people, embrace a new culture, and get to see places that I love as a local, not just a tourist passing through.

Should You Move to London for Work?

In my opinion, if you get the opportunity to work in London for work, you should definitely jump on it!

I spent four years living in London while I was doing my Master’s Degree and stayed on a graduate visa, landing a product manager role that’s led me into the career that I love. 

London is a really cool city with a different atmosphere depending on where you choose to live. Brixton is different to Camden which is different to Islington which is different to Bexley – you get the idea. 

It’s also a great place to move to if you’re an English speaker but want to live somewhere other than the US or Canada. Removing the language barrier made the move much easier and meant I could integrate and adjust to daily life in London much quicker.

What to Consider Before Moving to London for Work

Before you make your decision about moving to London for work, there are a few things you need to consider.

1. Visas

So, depending on your situation there are a few different visa routes when moving to London for work.

passport with visa stamps

The main one is through a sponsored position, where your new company (or current company with a branch in London) will sponsor your visa application and essentially vouch for you and your financial stability.

This is probably one of the most secure and common ways for internationals to move to London for work, but it does require a lot of back and forth between you, your new or current employer, and the relevant government departments.

It also means that you’re essentially owned by that company and you’re reliant on their role to stay in the country unless you can find another company to take over your work permit.

Not every company wants the hassle of sorting through work visas and you have to show that you are more qualified or suitable for that job than a local candidate, but there are ways around that. 

If you’re studying in London like I was, there is a way to transform your student visa, where you can only work 20 hours per week, to a working visa.

It’s called the graduate visa and it’s a two-year visa that allows you to apply for work, post-graduation, rather than being kicked out of the country straight away. 

You need to make sure that you not only like the company and the job that you’re committing to but also that they’re paying you enough.

Most work visas have a minimum amount that you’ll have to hit on a monthly basis in order to stay. Find out what this is and use this as your starting point for job hunting.

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!

move abroad master class

2. Jobs

Speaking of job hunting, there are a number of ways that you can find a job in London.

If you’re reading this because your current job is offering you a transfer to London, then you’re in luck! You don’t need to worry about finding a job.

The main thing you should be looking into is any change in salary. You might actually be making less than you were in the US or your home country than you will be making in London.

One of my personal favorite sites for vetting companies is Glassdoor because you can read reviews from employees and interviewees as well as see the actual salaries of people who work there.

A lot of the time jobs will be listed as having a “competitive salary”, and this can honestly mean anything. Especially when you need to be hitting a certain amount each month, you want to know that you’re going to get at least that before you waste your time applying.

You also want to make sure that the company you’re applying for is going to offer sponsorship for your visa.

The best thing to do here is read reviews on expat forums for bigger companies, see if that’s mentioned on the Glassdoor reviews, or ask the recruiter or HR person before applying. 

If you’re applying through LinkedIn – another one of my favorite ways to find jobs – it’ll tell you who the hiring person is and give you a link to their profile.

In most cases, they’ll leave their email for any questions, or you can message them on LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn is a great way to find jobs and easily see the kind of work that goes into different roles. This is super helpful if you’re looking for grad schemes and you’re not sure what job you want to go into. 

Accommodation

Although some companies might help you out with relocation costs or give you an idea of where to stay when you move to London, most of the time, you’re on your own.

Obviously you don’t want to be miles away from the office, but at the same time, living in central London can be ridiculously expensive.

You’re also going to want to find somewhere that’s got a social vibe. You might be moving to London for work, but you’re going to need to let off some steam and build a social life wherever you put down your roots.

Each borough of London is different with its own pros and cons, as well as massively different accommodation costs, so you’ll probably have to do some compromising between location, atmosphere, and price.

The average price for a room in a house share is around £768 a month while a two-bed property is around £1800.

Depending on if you’re moving solo, as a family, and the wages that you’re going to be on, you’ll be able to decide which route is the right one for you.

move abroad starter kit

Cultural Shift

Although London has a lot in common with many Western or English-speaking major cities there are some cultural things to be aware of before you move.

Most of these cultural tips are based around the London Underground – otherwise known as the Tube – etiquette. I’m serious. Londoners take their Tube etiquette very seriously and the easiest way to look like a tourist is if you don’t pay attention to these tips.

a girl standing in front of the Parliament building and Big Ben in London

Always stand on the right of the escalators. The left-hand side is for people who are walking down or up the escalators if they’re running late for the train.

Even if you’re traveling with someone else, stand in front of one another rather than blocking the escalator. 

Make sure that you have your contactless card or Apple Pay at the ready for the barriers. London tube stations are busy places so you don’t want to be holding everyone up at the ticket barrier while you search around your bag for your phone.

There’ll be plenty of side eyes and tutting if you do. Also, don’t forget to tap out at the other end otherwise you’ll be charged the maximum day rate!

There’s also the small talk. If you get asked “how are you?” the only answer is “I’m good, thanks, you?”.

It’s a pleasant and polite way to get a conversation going and most of the time, the person does not want an honest answer. You’ll get a strange look if you launch into the problems with your life at this point.

There is a load of other little shifts and cultural niggles about living in London, but a lot of the time, you’ll pick it up as you go.

text says "want my personal help?"

What should you expect from your company when moving to London for work?

Different companies will offer different things depending on your role. In terms of grad schemes, you can expect to receive support, training, and occasionally some form of progression once you’ve finished the scheme.

There’ll also be some social events with the other graduates or within the team to welcome you to the business.

If you’ve been headhunted or are coming in for a more senior position, you might be able to negotiate moving costs as part of your remuneration package or help finding an apartment so you can be focused on your new job as soon as you land in London.

These are all details that can be ironed out in the contract stage of the job process.

Although moving to London for work might feel like a huge leap, so many people have been in the same boat as you – myself included! There are plenty of resources and forums online to help you find your way and I have tons on my site that you can check out for free. 

Read More About Living Abroad: