Since moving to London, several people have reached out to me as to how I managed such a move (from Canada to UK). Here are 5 tips to move your life to this amazing city (of course, you can use these tips for any city you desire to move to). It’s also essentially the 5 main things I did in order to get here, but understand that every person’s situation may be different! Here it goes..
1. Contact everyone you know who lives in that city (as appropriate)
When I knew I wanted to move to London, I contacted everyone I knew who lived in the city (Facebook and LinkedIn). Most of the people in London who I knew also made the big jump to the city, and was eager for more people to join them! Once I started skyping/talking to these friends and acquaintances on the phone, many were eager to introduce me to people in their network who were working in a similar field or had experiences that they feel would be relevant for my move to London. This step is probably the MOST important as 1) it convinced me that I absolutely wanted to live here from the chats I had with people 2) it got me totally stoked and 3) talking to these people ultimately landed me a job in London.
2. Visit the city (especially if you’ve never been before)
I had personally never been to London before I decided to move here, so I invested in a plane ticket to the city and immersed myself as much as I could (walks around the city and different neighbourhoods, met people who lived here, met with recruiters, go to interviews if I was able to manage it in my time slot that I was here!). If you’re afraid to quit your 9-5 before moving here, you can use your vacation time as your “networking” time in your dream city. Pre-plan as many meet ups as you can before you get to your dream city. However, London is such an incredibly busy/international commerce city that I’ve had multiple friends come here with no job lined up. They did have a working visa and was able to get a job within a month. I strongly encourage that to people who absolutely do not want to stay wherever they are, they may has well hit the ground running in the dream city and fully dedicate to being there!
3. Get your VISAs in order
As a Canadian who’s under 30, there’s the phenomenal Tier 5 – Youth Mobility Visa – that allows any Canadian to work in the UK for two years. Based on my sample size of five people who’ve applied for it, you almost never get rejected (I don’t think we ever come close to the quota of VISAs given out to Canadians). One caveat – you must indicate the start date of the VISA when you apply, so when you get the VISA with that specified start date, it’s GO time! It takes about 3 weeks to get the VISA (and you won’t have your passport during this time, so no travelling out of the country!) and less than that (I believe 1-2 weeks) if you pay a premium charge. Be prepared to fork over $1500CAD for the VISA (the application fee alone is a few hundred bucks, but they make it mandatory for you to pay for the UK National Insurance in order to be eligible for the VISA).
4. Get your butt to <insert dream city>
Ideally, you would have a friend that you can crash on their sofa (saving money while you look for your own place/job). In London, the popular flat-hunting service is SpareRoom so I was on the app looking for nearby locations. I had walked multiple areas of the city to see which parts I liked the best, I ended up in an area which was close to a great food market, river bank (for morning runs!), and most importantly, work! Tube during rush hour is a nightmare!! Even thought I’ve only been here for 3 weeks, there has been a 24 hour tube strike that literally shut down the city! I recommend bringing lots of cash when you come to London, as it’s very difficult to open a bank account here. You need to prove an address in UK (ie: a London address bill with your name on it) which is nearly impossible since everyone flat shares and the bills are included (paid by the landlord). I ended up with HSBC that required the employer to write a letter to them, confirming my Canadian and UK addresses. Getting phone service is easy – make sure your phone is unlocked before you get here and you can walk into any phone store and have it set up within 20 minutes! I had my phone set up at Vodafone (corporate discounts) and it was done within 20 minutes for 20 pounds a month. Ta-da, immediate UK number!
5. Start having fun!!
As a noob under 3 weeks here, I’m still figuring this piece out!! But I’m definitely keeping my eyes open for things beyond tourist attractions, meeting flatmates/colleagues/friends of friends, and going to world-class events in this city that I would never have had access to! Best of all, I’m in the city that is the portal to the rest of Europe, so expect lots of updates about trips to Europe. Any must-sees?
That’s it – simple 5 steps to moving your life! Obviously, I’ve simplified it a lot, but those were the big things I had to do in order to get here. It may sound terribly scary to move your life, but in my opinion, if you’re young and without many obligations, there is no saying why you are bound to live in a certain city, you were merely there as a matter of circumstances and you can change your surrounding and consciously pick your city! Imagine that, picking your city – where you want to wake up every morning and spend your weekends exploring!! London is an expensive city, but there’s plenty of interesting, exciting cities that aren’t as expensive in SE Asia, Africa, or South America. The world is your oyster!