London is a very attractive destination for young expats from across the world, with young kiwis finding the city to be a great career opportunity. Moving from your home to one of the most cosmopolitan metropolises in the world can pose a challenge for most. And being on the other side of the planet can make things even tougher.
A few handy tips for kiwi expats to London are:
Get the right accommodation: One of the biggest concerns is finding a suitable place to stay in the city. And in terms of convenience there is no better place then Central London. There are several hotels near Hyde Park which offer top notch accommodation at an affordable price.
If you do not have a friend or relative who is staying and working in the city it would be best to stay at a hotel, until you find accommodation that is suited to your taste and budget. A good choice would be the Shaftesbury Metropolis London Hyde Park Hotel, which is known for its luxurious ambience, top quality customer service and affordable price. On the other hand if you do have somebody in London you could probably hook up with them for a bit, until you find a place to stay. Of course that means you should pitch in with home chores and chip in for the utility bills, while you stay there. London is an expensive city and if you do not want to appear to be a freeloader, it is only right that you share the expenses. One of the benefits of staying with someone who is already well set up in the city is that they can help to show you the ropes in the beginning, until you find your own way around.
While on the lookout for accommodation you could consider the suburbs of the city. While it would be ideal to find a home in the centre of the city, it is prohibitively expensive. In London the postal code you plan to stay at makes all the difference. The impact is felt on the price you will have to pay for rent, parking, groceries and commuting costs. While there are certain parts where the prices are far lower you may not be comfortable to stay or work in. As a norm, most Antipodean expats tend to work and live in West London, so it is the best place to set up base.
Open a bank account: After you find a suitable house the next important aspect to consider is to open a bank account. One option is to open an account online before you arrive. You could even consider getting a credit card for use to make purchases although a debit card would as well. A debit card is an EFTPOS card back home in New Zealand. You could explore the options of banking with Lloyds, Barclays, Santander, Nat West or HSBC which are the prominent banks in the country. Of them Lloyds is the easiest as all they would need to examine is your passport. You could look for a bank where you do not need to pay a monthly fee. The benefit of choosing a bank account where you need to pay a monthly fee is that it may entail insurance for your mobile and travel (confirm with the bank authorities). You could look around for the best offers before you sign up.
Get an Oyster or Contactless travel card: Once you arrive in London it is essential that you get yourself an Oyster or Contactless travel card for use on public transport. The benefit of using these cards is that they are much cheaper an option then going in for tickets. You can get a top-up of a prepaid sum, which can be used whenever you use any of the public transport modes in London. The London Underground popularly known as the Tube is divided into six zones and the fares are based upon the travel zones you intend to use. There is a daily cap on an Oyster Card and this is beneficial if you have to make multiple trips, without having to spend an extra penny.
Transport options: When you are on the lookout for a job you need to factor in the time it will take you to commute to and from your workplace. Preferably look for a job that is not more than a hour’s journey away from your home. Having to change multiple modes or lines of transport is best to be avoided if possible. Having to change twice at the maximum is okay as it becomes less of a hassle. Ensure that you look up the TFL (Transport for London) website when you look for a place to stay or a job. The transport options you could choose from are:
The Tube: The most popular mode of travel with Londoners is the Tube. Fares are based upon the zone of travel with it being more expensive if you have to cross zones. For those who are less than 26 years of age there are discounts available through the use of a Young Persons Rail Card. All you need to do is swipe your Oyster or Contactless card both at the beginning and the end of the trip.
Bus: Also out of the most popular modes of public transport, the bus network in London is one of the best in the world. You could use an Oyster card when you board but do not need to swipe when you get off. Cash is no longer an option and you can only use an Oyster or Contactless Card.
Taxi: The only cab that you can hail on the street without booking is its ubiquitous black cabs. Apart from them no other taxis are permitted by law to pick up passengers from the street without prior booking. This is also to ensure public safety as getting into an unlicensed cab is the city could pose a serious risk. The best option is to pre-book with a cab company before you decide to travel. There are a number of popular mini-cab companies to choose from and you could choose to use one that has high ratings with travellers. The only drawback with using a black cab is that they can be very expensive.
Bike: A great way to explore the city, while getting a fair bit of exercise is to hire a Boris Bike. They can be hired all over the city and are a healthy and economical way to get from one point to another. There are docking stations all over London and you can return them at any station.