So you decided to leave the southern hemisphere and move to London, some things are simpler here, like beers come in pints, or half pints (these are for women only, ordering one is considered shameful even if you have had 12 pints already today). Simple, no schooners, pots, pints, pony’s, jugs or handles. Other things are a little more complicated hopefully this guide will make the move easier.
Getting to London.
First step getting to London, most of our cities have 1 or 2 airports, London has 5 (6 if you count Southend, but it is a pathetic excuse of an airport, and I think the End in Southend refers to it being on the end of the earth, and definitely not in London) and this is the distance from London City (aka “The CBD” English people do not understand the meaning of CBD)
City 7miles (11km)
- Heathrow 20miles (32km)
- Gatwick 28miles (44km)
- Luton 34.5miles (55km)
- Stansted 36.7miles (59km)
You can get from central London on the tube to any of these airports in around 1hr 20min. There are also Express services that can get you to the City (aka CBD) in 15 minutes but these are usually more expensive than the tube, and depending on where you are going may not save you much time.
- Gatwick Airport to London Victoria £19.90 or £17.75 online as opposed to £7.40
- Heathrow to Paddington £26 or £21 online as opposed to £5.70
- Stanstead to either Stratford or Liverpool St £23.40 as opposed to £8
By now you are likely extremely confused, so before you come download the Citymapper application on your phone as this will give you a list of options and prices. If you do decide to take the tube no need to buy an Oyster Card (contactless public transport pass) you can use your contact-less credit card now and get the same prices as an Oyster Card.
Getting around London.
Just to clarify there are different types of trains in London, and you can use your Oyster or contact-less credit card for all of them.
Tube – This is mostly underground but outside of central London can be overground, this does not mean it’s called the Overground though, that brings us to the Overground.
Overground – This is the Orange line which looks like a tube, but exclusively travels overground, also do not get this confused with National Rail.
National Rail is an inter-city train you would use to leave London so being from the Southern hemisphere you may have plans to travel around the UK on these, but you will likely end up only taking them to the airport and spending the rest of the time in a pub.
The DLR – this is the Docklands Light Rail you can use this to get to city airport and it has no driver so a seat up the front has a decent view.
There are also Trams, and River Boats on the Thames, but I can’t imagine you will use this much, again Citymapper is the best bet.
Now you may have been given an address by your buddy in London, something like “WC2R 2PH” this is a postcode and is not specific to a whole suburb (The UK doesn’t have suburbs but they have “Boroughs” instead) but to a few houses, some houses even have their own postcode. Just put it into Citymapper.
Taxi’s in London are particularly expensive, but Uber is here and is half the price of a Black Cab (Use code “ubernomads” for $30 off your first ride).
Tips for using the Tube:
- Do not ever make eye contact with anybody
- No talking to strangers
- Stand on the right (I know they drive on the left, but in the tube you stay right, nobody can explain why)
- No smiling
- Always listen to music or at least have earphones on so you can pretend not to hear anybody violating rule 2
- The buttons on the tube no longer do anything (some exceptions like the DLR and Overground) they are reserved for tourists to press so Londoners can smirk and roll their eyes.
Finding somewhere to live In London
Step one is to sell a kidney, you probably heard moving to London was expensive.
Alternatively you can lower your expectations from home and if you’re really lucky you might get a room with four solid walls at least an hours commute from London, our advice on flat hunting is to find one on the same tube line as work/friends. Check out http://www.spareroom.co.uk/
Most houses in the UK are furnished, and there is usually a 4-6 week bond, plus a fee for the agent to write up a contract, this can range from £50-£200.
Bills might not be included which will be an additional £60-£100 a month, now before you settle down on your new couch to watch TV make sure your house has a TV license (not joking) these are £150 or £50 if you only have black and white (again not joking). Luckily after you just spent all the money you earned for a kidney booze is cheap, so head down to your local bottle shop (off license) and drink away your sorrows.
Most banks will let you open an account once you have an address or a friends address you can use as long as you do so within the first 6 weeks after arriving. However you need to make an appointment and take all your documentation, passport, etc.
I also moved my money between Aus and the UK with OzForex.com.au the rate Commbank were offering was rubbish, it takes a little setting up but the rate is much better.
Before you start work you will need a bank account and a National Insurance or NI (Tax File Number). You need to call 0345 600 0643 see here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-national-insurance-number and they will send you the required forms. You need an address to get this sent out however.
A prepaid sim card will likely work best and if you attempt to get a plan before you are established you likely wont have a credit rating. A quick trick is to register to vote as a commonwealth citizen you can do this and then magically get a credit rating that is decent enough to get a phone on a plan. https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Ok so you’re likely fitter than the average English person, but just in case you get drunk and hurt yourself its best to register to get free health care. Once you have your NI number you need to find a doctor near your house, make an appointment and take along proof of address (phone bill, NI paperwork, voter registration or lease), and then you get your NHS Number, you always need to use the same doctor or register for a new one if you move.
Once you are registered at a doctor you can also apply for a European Health Insurance Card, this will cover you for urgent treatment within the EU and is often required if you purchase health insurance from the UK https://www.gov.uk/european-health-insurance-card (we strongly advice getting this before going to Oktoberfest.
Making friends In London
Now you are fresh to this crazy city and may not know too many people, luckily the use of Tinder is so commonplace you can never run out of matches, the average quality may not be as high as your used to, but there is a distinct lack of snobbyness.
Once you have a few dates lined up, head to your local tube station on a Tuesday for a free copy of Time Out magazine for some date ideas. Just remember when meeting English girls you need to greet them with “Are you alright?” (How are you going).
Looking to meet other Australians, head to the Walkabout you should know how to get to WC2R 2PH by now, or like Aussies in London or Kiwis in London (Or both) on Facebook, they don’t mind if your Aussie and join Kiwi’s or vice versa, but good for flat hunting, pub crawls, complaining about the cold, etc.
Driving In London
Lets be honest you can’t afford to drive in London so unless you are going away for the weekend you likely wont need this but you can use your Australian license for up to 12 months, but can change to a UK license after 6 (or before if your Australian is due to expire, this lets you drive in the whole EU without an international drivers license.
Eating In London
Breakfast, Coffee, and brunch. You thought Europe would have better food than back home. You were terribly wrong, there are good places but they are often run by Australians, and they are few and far between. That avocado and haloumi you used to use to cure a hangover will be replaced with beans from a can, and a piece of fried bread.
Again check your trusty Time Out magazine or www.londonist.com or download Foursquare on your phone and this can help find the best coffee in new parts of London in a rush.
Groceries are however cheaper than Australia, remember that time you bought an avocado for $2.5 well here they are 40p? Limes for $1.80 here they are 20p. Australian wine you used to pay $20 a bottle for can be had for £7
Drinking In London
- Men do not order half pints, doesn’t matter if you already had 10, this is not OK.
- Stella Artois is the equivalent of VB, New, XXXX, etc. and is affectionately known as “wife beater” don’t drink it.
- Bottle shops are off licenses
Officially we all speak English, but there are a few differences here are a few so you don’t look like a twat (idiot).
- Pudding Menu – Desert Menu, even if there is no actual pudding on it.
- You alright – How are you going?
- Thongs – G String
- Flip Flops – Thongs/Jandals
- Vest – Single
- Waistcoat – vest
- CBD – City
- Doona – Duvet
- Manchester – This is not where you buy your bedding in a department store but a City in the north that you have every intention of visiting but will likely end up spending every weekend drunk and never make it (apparently the term comes from when the place was the fabric manufacturing capital of the world).
- Quid – Pound £
- p – Pence, the equivalent of a cent
- Scone rhymes with bone not gone like at home
- Scarf – This is now longer exclusively a fashion item for metro sexual men and women, but a piece of clothing used to prevent your neck from freezing solid.
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