Moving to London
An overview of London
London is the UK’s largest and most exciting melting pot of people, cultures, and lifestyles. With 32 boroughs to explore – each with its own quirky characteristics – a move to the capital will open the door to new possibilities and adventures at every turn.
Although it’s often depicted as a concrete jungle in the films, there's a lot more to London than ominous architecture. You can find corners of London with cute, cobbled streets – often covered in wandering feet, exploring local markets. And since 47% of the capital is green space, you’ll still be able to get a slice of nature amidst the hustle and bustle of city life.
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The cost of moving to London
The cost of moving to London will vary from person to person. Mainly, the cost will depend on two key factors: where you’re moving from, and how much stuff you’re bringing with you. If you are looking to move the contents of a three-bedroom house (roughly 875 cubic metres of stuff) from Manchester to London, for example, you should expect to pay roughly £1,339. This fee includes:
- Packing services/materials
- Dismantling/reassembling of furniture
- The fee for distance travelled
The drive from Manchester to London is around 208 miles, and most removal companies charge £1 per mile. (Source: comparemymove, 2020).
The amount of money you’ll end up paying for the move will also depend on the removal company you hire, your moving date, and whether you opt for any supplemental services, such as packing and assembly.
Cost of living in London
Similarly, the cost of living in London varies from person to person. The price of property, council tax, and food in London will fluctuate, depending on the neighbourhood you settle on. Lunching in the luxurious neighbourhood of Chelsea, for instance, will cost you far more than grabbing something to eat in somewhere like Bexley.
To give you a rough idea of how much money you’ll be spending, we’ve outlined prices for a few food and entertainment items below:
|12 large eggs
|1kg of local cheese
|A loaf of bread
|Good quality red wine
|Basic dinner out for two
|2 tickets to the cinema
|A pint of beer
Data from Expatistan, November 2020
The cost of bills in London mainly boils down to your habits – how frequently do you reach for that light switch, or charge your devices?
According to NimbleFins, the average cost of electricity in London is 17.7p/kWh, which is slightly cheaper than the UK average of 18.75p/kWh. When it comes to standing (fixed) electricity prices, however, London residents pay the highest charges in the UK, at £92.40 per year – 9.2% more than the UK average.
It’s tricky to estimate council tax costs in London, since the price not only depends on which borough your house is in, but also the band it falls under.
Generally, Wandsworth and Westminster council tax prices are on the lower end of the spectrum, with the cheapest bands priced at £529 and £520 per year. Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames sit at the higher end of the spectrum, with the cheapest bands priced at £1,247 and £1,316 per year.
Property prices in London
It’s no secret that London property prices are enough to make your eyes water. Currently, the average price for a property in London is £666,264. In terms of property types, flats are likely to cost an average of £540,735, whereas a terraced house will be quite a bit pricier at £720,554.
Considering renting instead? The average asking rent price in London currently stands at £1,596 per month. For anyone moving to London alone, it’s worth looking into a houseshare to help reduce the cost of your rent. Sites like SpareRoom or Rightmove will help you find the perfect flatmates!
A pink sunset sky, washing over central London
Public transport in London
Greater London spans a massive 45 miles, so looking at different public transport options is wise – plus, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) means driving will be out the window for most people.
Below, we’ve listed the most popular ways to travel from borough to borough without a car:
- The Underground – Also known as the Tube, this network consists of 11 lines – Bakerloo, Central, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria, Waterloo & City – reaching 270 stations. In recent years, the Mayor of London has also introduced The Night Tube, meaning various lines now travel at all hours of the night
- The Overground – This rail network covers a large part of Greater London, as well as the county of Hertfordshire, with 112 stations on nine different routes. Unlike the Tube, this service usually clocks out just after midnight, but starts again in the early hours
- Bus – London’s streets are teeming with red double deckers. Roughly 8,600 buses are available, operating on 700 routes and serving 19,000 bus stops. The Night Bus network also means that the journey home from a night out is safe and convenient for everyone
- Bikes – There’s a huge array of Santander Cycles dotted around London. It only costs £2 for up to 30 minutes to hire one. For journeys longer than 30 minutes, you pay £2 for each additional 30 minutes. Plus, you don’t need to book them – simply hire a Santander Cycle, ride it, then return it to any docking station within 24 hours
If you’re commuting to Central London, you might be able to save a few pounds by investing in a weekly, monthly, or yearly travelcard. Below, we’ve listed prices of travelcards from different zones into Central London.
If you’d like to travel between any other zones, check out TFL’s price list.
Working in London
The capital is a great place to start or further your career. As the economic epicentre of the UK, you can guarantee that no matter what career route you go down – whether in tech, finance, media, art, music, data, or science – London will have an abundance of opportunities for you.
There tend to be greater career opportunities in London than other spots in the UK, thanks to a lot of the big brands choosing the city for their head offices. London currently ranks 4th globally among world cities in terms of tech investment – so if you’re a tech graduate looking to start your career, this is the place to be.
London is also a great place to start your own business. Not only are you likely to be surrounded by other entrepreneurs, but you can also make use of the many networking opportunities the capital has to offer.
The best neighbourhoods in London to live in
Narrowing down the very best places in London is almost impossible – each borough is unique in its own way.
We’ve listed our top three neighbourhoods below, but if you’d like to learn about more places in the city, head over to our page on the Best Places to Live in London.
- Shoreditch – For anyone looking to explore trendy bars, rustic restaurants, and cute cafes, Shoreditch is perfect. Although living here might give your bank account a hard time, you’ll be just down the road from some of London’s most acclaimed food spots, including Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane Food Market, and Boxpark.
- Richmond – Richmond is a perfect place to raise a family in London, thanks to its low crime rates, top schooling, and green spaces. Schooling in Richmond is among the best in the city, falling only seven points behind Harrow, the leading borough. Plus, here you can take the little ones to the deer-filled forests of Richmond Park – not exactly what people picture when moving to London with kids!
- Islington – This booming borough is perfect for students. In between lectures, you can try the diverse restaurants, bars, vintage stores, and independent shops. Plus, the majority of universities in London lie north of the river, which makes Islington an ideal location. The Victoria Line (the fastest line on the Tube) also runs right through Islington, and straight into Central London within 10 minutes.
Silhouettes of deer wandering around Richmond's luscious park
Things to do in London
Nightlife in London comes in all shapes and sizes – from quirky bars that light up the street, to dingy underground clubs that will leave you bouncing on your way home at 5am. And if your idea of a night out is sitting in your local pub with a few pints, London has traditional English pubs on practically every corner.
If you want to explore the top nightlife venues, head over to Time Out’s nightlife page.
Whether it’s during your first few weeks in London, or when friends and family come to visit (expecting you to be their tour guide), sightseeing is a must. Gaze over the London landscape at the top of the London Eye, try to make the Royal Guards laugh at Buckingham Palace, or sip some very expensive champagne at the top of the Shard.
Go full tourist and try a walking tour
Traditionally, walking tours involve strolling through the city, learning about its history and culture. Whilst these are still alive and well in London, the capital has taken it one step further. Instead, you can go on a tour of all the Harry Potter hotspots, stumble through London on a wine tasting tour, or even bring out your inner detective on a Sherlock Holmes tour.
Explore cuisines from across the globe
One of the best things about London is that it’s a melting pot of cultures – meaning you can find authentic food from across the globe all in one place. Whether it’s Greek, Indian, Italian, Thai, Turkish, Spanish, Moroccan – you name it, London has it.
Try the local markets
The beauty of London is that every now and then, you come across a market that makes you feel like you’re in a quaint town, rather than the Big Smoke. Welcome a new addition to your plant collection at Columbia Road Flower Market, dig into some street food at Camden Market, or hunt for vintage treasures in Portobello Market.
Take a peaceful stroll in the Royal Parks
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of city life – especially when commuters in London like to break a sweat on what should be a leisurely stroll. So, take some time to relax in one of the capital’s luscious, green parks every now and then. And since 47% of London is covered with green spaces, you’re sure to find a lovely pocket of nature and wildlife near you.
Enjoy the music scene
Make sure you experience some of London’s historical music venues. Head to Camden to see your favourite musician play at the Roundhouse, or enjoy some hip hop, soul, grime, rock, techno, or samba at the Jazz Cafe. And, of course, you have to nab yourself a seat at the Royal Albert Hall – the architecture is enough to take your breath away, let alone the music!
Visit some art galleries
If it’s art you seek, London has a lot to offer – including The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, and the Tate Modern. This day out won’t cost you an arm and a leg, either, since many of London’s largest art galleries have free entry, whilst still boasting some of the world’s most recognised pieces of art.