Getting started in London

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So you have arrived in London and spent a few nights on a mates couch, now it’s time to do the important stuff….

 

Bank Account
No one wants to arrive in London and have to constantly withdrawal money from the cash machines, only to be charged a ridiculous withdrawal fee. Lloyds used to be the only bank that allowed you to open an account without proof of address but unfortunately they stopped this in Feb 2017. Before you move, if you know anybody with a UK address I would recommend changing your address with your home bank. Then you can request a bank statement to be sent to the UK address in time for your arrival.

National Insurance Number
Your National Insurance Number (NIN) is the equivalent to an IRD number / security number in NZ. Once you arrive in the UK, I recommend getting onto this straight away, as it does take a few weeks to process. You are able to start work in the UK while your NIN is being processed, you will just need to prove you are eligible to work within the UK.

The hassle is that you are required to phone them as there is no online form to complete. I know right?! I can’t believe some government entities are still operating in the old ages. Also just to top things off their calling hours are 8am – 6pm.

Telephone: 0345 600 0643

Transport
As soon as you arrive in London, there is no doubt that you’ll be using the amazing underground transport and will require an oyster card. You can pick up one of these bad boys from your nearest station for £5.

Setup an online login on the Oyster website. Here you can top up as “pay as you go” or purchase “travelcards”. Purchasing the “7 day travelcard” is handy once you have landed yourself a job. If you’re travelling between zones 1 – 2, it’s £32.40 and you can travel on the underground and buses as much as you want.

If you decide to with ‘pay as you’ here is some useful info –

Underground Fares
Zone 1-2 Single Fare Peak (06:30 – 09:30, Mon – Fri) = £2.90
Zone 1-2 Single Fare Off-Peak = £2.40
Oyster Card Daily Cap between Zones 1 and 2 = £6.50

Bus Fares
Single Bus Fare = £1.50 (All zones)

IMPORTANT: Buses DO NOT take cash. You must have an oyster card. Of course the tube is faster but if you want to save some moolah, use the bus. Tap in but don’t tap out.

Are you planning to train to Bath, Brighton while you are here? If you have travelled with your bae or friend then I highly recommend getting the Two Together Railcard. You pay £30 for the year and you will receive a 1/3 off the price when you travel together. You practically receive your money back after the first couple of train bookings.

Mobile Phone Setup
There are loads of mobile phone companies. The best thing to do is some research and comparing. Once you arrive it’s best just to grab a ‘pay as you go’ sim, then once your bank account is set up and you have proof of address you can go onto a contract.

I have a contract with 3 Mobile for £11 per month. It includes all you can eat data, unlimited text and 200 minutes. Plus you can use your phone abroad (18 destinations) for no extra cost.

3 Mobile
Vodafone
O2
EE
GiffGaff

Register with a GP
Once you have completed the above list, you will need to register with a GP. I was super fucking slack and only registered after 11 months of being in London. If you’re prone to getting sick or if the doctors is like your second home, I suggest you do this as soon as you have a permanent address.

There is a bit of checklist to follow before becoming fully registered.

  1. Finding a GP – Use the NHS website to locate your local surgeries.
  2. Once you have narrowed down your options of surgeries, you will need to check whether they’re accepting new patients and whether you live in their practise boundary (Since 2015, patients are able to register outside their catchment area but it is down to the surgeries discretion whether they accept your request.)
  3. You will need to complete a pre registration form online and then go into the surgery to give proof of address and photo ID.
  4. Once the paperwork is completed, you’ll most likely be asked to use their surgery pod. The surgery pod records your blood pressure, weight and height etc to keep on file.

Bills, Bills, Bills

So you’ve splurged out in your first few weeks of being in London and then BAM, realisation kicks in that you have a horrific deposit to put on a flat, followed by numerous bills.

So just to give you a heads up here are the common bills you will need to pay monthly…

Council Tax (Dependent on the borough you live in e.g. Lambeth, Tower Hamlets etc)
Thames Water
Gas and Electricity (British Gas, First Utility and  Southern Electric)
Internet (BT Internet, Sky, EE and Talk Talk)
TV Licence

Apps

I’m not a huge app person but I would recommend the following:

Citymapper – I prefer it over Googlemaps as I think it shows faster routes.

Skyscanner – You will be planning your next weekend getaway in no time so this is great to keep up-to-date with dirt cheap flights.

Waze – If you ever decide to buy a car or rent one for a weekend, definitely use Waze. It’s a navigation app that will give you live traffic updates and take you through the back streets to beat the traffic.

Uber and Hailo – I’m sure you have heard of Uber but Hailo is an alternative app that uses the famous black cabs you’ll see around London. Perfect if you want to pre-book a taxi somewhere.

Just Eat – It’s a Friday night, you’ve come home from work and you can’t be fucked cooking. What do you do? Open your Just Eat app and scroll through the endless takeaways in your area that will generally have free delivery.

Pimping out you and your flat

Lets go shopping! Head to Oxford Street and go to Zara, H&M and Topshop if you have been dreaming of a new wardrobe.

Primark – This place is like every shopaholic’s dream. It has clothes, accessories and bedding. The quality isn’t great but it is super cheap. Whether I need some basic singlets or some pillows, I head here.

Poundland – Great if you need to stock up on cleaning products.

Argos – This place is next level. You walk into the store where you are greeted with nothing but computer screens. The idea is that you search through the digital brochures, pick out something and go to the cashier, who will go get your item from out the back. Argos has everything from electronics to jewellery.

IKEA – If you are willing to make the trip out to the IKEA in Wembley, good on you! Just remember…whatever you buy you will need to transport it on the tube.