Living in London: 15 things to know before you go

Author: Clark Tos
2022-09-30 15:05:03

Have you always dreamed of living in London? Discover the 15 things you absolutely need to know before starting the steps required for your expatriation.

What are the advantages of living in London?

Happy woman on Westminster Bridge in London Credit: Vladimir Vladimirov

Do you dream of a new life elsewhere than in Paris or another city in France, without going too far? Located just two hours by train or plane from France, London is the ideal base. Many French people have already chosen to settle there. In fact, living in London has many advantages.

Despite the Brexit , London is a city where it is particularly interesting to live. If you are still hesitating to leave France for England, mainly for the capital, note that settling in this city offers certain advantages, starting with its cosmopolitan dimension . In addition to the English, you will meet New Zealanders, Austrians, Italians and many other people from all over the world.

Living in London also means considerably improving your level of English . London is also a moving city . Between musicals, visits to shops with items bearing the effigy of members of the royal family, cinema and other festive events, the capital is a city where there is no time to get bored. Enjoying the expat life, the beauty and the size of the city or the ambient optimism are all advantages of settling in London.

However, before embarking on the great adventure of expatriation, here is a guide including the 15 essentials to know before settling in the capital of England and the United Kingdom.

1. Living in London: currency and money

Sterling banknotes and coins Credit: Bernhard Richter

The official currency in London is the pound sterling . Remember to spend euros in pounds beforehand if you plan to travel by metro or other public transport as soon as you arrive in England. If not, do not hesitate to go to an exchange office in London. However, since you are coming as part of an expatriation project, the best solution is to open a British bank account.

2. Living in London: administrative procedures before departure

Woman with suitcase getting ready to fly to London Credit: Alina Rosanova

If, before, making a trip to London was easy, since Brexit, various steps must be taken. To start a moving project in England, the passport is compulsory for the French since October 2021. In addition, since 1 is January of that same year, you must also make a visa application to settle on British territory. This is valid both for French people looking for a job and for students wishing to do an internship in London. Also, don't forget to apply for permis international  (maximum within 6 months after leaving France).

Also remember to declare your departure to taxes and the bank, and to terminate contracts (Internet, telephone line, etc.) before moving to the United Kingdom.

3. Living in London: registering on the register of French people living abroad

Woman on Westminster Bridge in London Credit: Maridav

Once you arrive on British soil, remember to register on the register of French people living abroad. Although recommended, this approach is not not mandatory . This registration will allow you to take advantage of certain advantages, such as the possibility of vote at the consulate or coverage in the event of a health or natural disaster requiring repatriation to France.

4. Living in London: registering with a General Practitioner

Stethoscope on the UK flag Credit: Valerii Evlakhov

As in France, health services are free in England. However, apart from the price of the visa, you must also pay a tax on the health system or NHS (National Health System) to be able to settle in the country.

This price depends on the type of visa requested and expats working for the NHS are exempt. Each expatriate then benefits from this coverage for health costs . To take advantage of this, you must register with a GP or General Practitioner , equivalent to an attending physician in France. To do this, go to the NHS website, enter your postcode, then choose a GP in the neighborhood where you plan to settle.

5. Living in London: finding accommodation

Houses in London Credit: fazon1

To settle in London with peace of mind, avoid looking for accommodation before you even leave France. Indeed, scams are often numerous on the property rental market in England.

After your trip, settle into a hostel or a hotel to be free from make visits to find your accommodation. In most cases, the payments relate to the first month's rent and the deposit for the rental of a dwelling. In particular, research can be carried out via l’application SpareRoom .

As far as the district is concerned, Hampstead, Soho, Notting Hill or even Bermondsey are among the safest neighborhoods to settle in London. Note that in England, both tenants and landlords must pay Council Tax or housing tax , often included in the rent. The price varies between £700 and £2500 per year depending on the accommodation to be rented.

6.Living in London: opening a bank account

Bank in Angleterre Credit: peterspiro

Once you arrive in this English city, you must open a bank account. For this, it is necessary to provide divers documents  such as an identity document and proof of address proving that you actually reside in London. If you have already found a job, a letter from your employer must also be provided. Note that for your future steps such as applying for a loan for a real estate purchase, banking seniority is particularly important.

7. Living in London: choosing energy and water suppliers

Taking out a contract with a water supplier in London Credit: sonsam

If you live with a roommate when you arrive in England, finding an electricity and/or gas and water supplier is not necessary. On the other hand, if you live in non-shared accommodation, you must sign a contract from an energy and water supplier. Generally, documents indicating current suppliers are provided by the real estate agency. Do not hesitate to consult comparison sites to get an idea of ​​​​the prices.

8. Living in London: the job market

Workers in London Credit: Pukkascott

The labor market in England being dynamic, London is experiencing a relatively low unemployment rate compared to France. Finding a job is not complicated. Note that for the English, past experiences are much more important than diplomas. Know how to be enterprising during your interviews for a job. Also remember that your Curriculum Vitae must be written in English. Writing is not done in the same way as a French CV. To find offers, go to French organizations in particular.

9.Living in London: Applying for a NIN

UK tax return Credit: PaulMaguire

In order for you to be able to pay your taxes in England, you must apply for a NIN or National Insurance Number when you arrive in London. It is the English equivalent the social security number in France. Although it is possible to start a job without this number, it is advisable to apply for it quickly, at the risk of paying the maximum taxes.

10. Living in London: opening a telephone line

Phone booth in London Credit: BrianAJackson

When settling in the UK, you must also open a telephone line. This will allow you to be reachable by official services, but also by potential employers if you are looking for a job. Note that since Brexit, your operator in France may charge you a fee after a few months. To open a line in England, choose an operator and buy a sim card , to be recharged with the desired credit.

11.Living in London: schooling your children

School children in London Credit: Caiaimage/Chris Ryan

If your expatriation in London also concerns your children, you must also think about finding a school for them once they arrive in England. Private schools, public schools (free), program in French, program in English or even bilingual program, you are spoiled for choice. As in the whole of the UK, children go to school from the age of 4 in London. The admission procedure depends on whether the schools are public or private.

12. Living in London: transport

London Underground Credit: IR_Stone

Getting around the country is relatively easy. In the case of London, different options are available to you. the subway Londoner , operating from 5 a.m. until midnight, allows you to choose from more than 10 lines. If the underground is not for you, you can also choose the London bus, bike or train. If you plan to travel outside the city, the car is recommended.

13. Living in London: the weather

Rain in London Credit: tombaky

Although the rate of rainfall per year in London is less than in other cities like Barcelona or Milan, they can spread over several days . To avoid being taken aback, always remember to bring an umbrella and waterproof clothing when you go out in London, especially on winter days.

14. Living in London: Shopping

Shopping in London Credit: martinrlee

Before embarking on your new life in London, you must also know the good plans for shopping. Like the rest of England, London offers a huge selection of large supermarkets and convenience stores. For a food purchase, Aldi and Lidl offering a Excellent value are especially recommended.

15. Living in London: Leisure

Exterior of the British Museum in London Credit: VV Shots

Being among the destinations most popular vacation spot for travelers around the world, London is a tourist hotspot . Moreover, this city is home to some emblematic sites of the country, to visit absolutely during a tourist trip, but also for expatriates.

Among the places not to be missed in London, and more generally in England, are the British Museum , the London Eye  or even the Tower of London . On weekends, theaters, musicals, but also discos and pubs will allow you to unwind after a busy working week.