I arrived in London on the 24th and since then, my time here has been a whirlwind. There are some things that you can only do once you’ve landed so the first few days end up being less ‘fun’ and more practical. Here are the things you should do ASAP:
1. Find a Job or Meet with Employer
I arrived at 6am and had an appointment with Prospero, the teaching agency that found me a job, at 2pm. I really wanted to get everything sorted as soon as possible so that I could start working as soon as possible. Although my job is for September, I’m hoping to supply teach in the next few weeks. The Canadian dollar/pound exchange rate is killing me as it’s two dollars to every pound. Also, everything here is on sale and it’s been REALLY HARD. But I digress… You’ll want to find a job asap.
2. Find Somewhere to Stay
If you have friends in London, yay! You can skip this step! You need an address in London when you pass through customs so I would encourage ringing up friends or booking a hostel for a week before hand. Finding a place to settle in is not as easy as it looks and you’ll need a few days before you find the perfect fit. We’re staying with Ross’s mom but she lives in a one-bedroom with a cat and a massive dog. We’re totally inconveniencing her (though she’d absolutely never say it) and are so grateful that she is letting us stay there.
3. Find Somewhere to Live
I was lucky that Ross arrived here before I did and I
forced him suggested that he find us a place to live while he was here doing a bunch of job interviews. I’ll be honest, finding a place to live sucks. Between housing ads that are dishonest, agencies that capitalize on finding people places to live and a small window after people’s work day in which to see these places, it’s not exactly a party.
The jobs we were given are in North London and we wanted to find a place to live that wasn’t far out, close to transport and lively. We were willing to pay a bit more and not live in the ‘burbs. This search led us to Camden, home of the famous market and the best doughnuts you’ll ever eat.
We used spareroom.co.uk to find a room in a house share. We had originally tried to find an apartment on our own but the rent would’ve cost us a fortune and our bed probably would’ve also been the bathtub. We have a huge room in an old church conversion and we’re sharing the flat with 4 other people. Not ideal, but considering the fact that it’s large, centrally located and affordable, I’m pretty excited about it. Another huge draw is that shared housing usually includes most of the bills in the rent. We don’t have to worry about setting up internet, setting money aside for taxes or worrying about how long our showers are because it’s already been looked after. Here’s to hoping our housemates aren’t weirdos and that it isn’t haunted…
4. Apply For a Bank Account
You’ll want to get the ball rolling pretty quickly on this one and hopefully your job will help you out. Typically, to open an account here you need a letter of employment and proof that you’re living somewhere in the UK. This is annoying because the only two requirements are probably already stressing you out. Once you’ve got those two things you need to make an appointment with the bank (usually about two weeks away) and then they’ll let you put your money there. I got my account through Lloyds as they tend to be the easiest– all they need to see is your passport.
Some Other Things You’ll Need ASAP:
- Oyster card- this is your travel card to get around. It is £5 of travel freedom that you need if you’re going to be taking the tube or a bus. Also, figure out whether it’s worth it to get a monthly pass here.
- Sim card- because who can live without internet on their phones!? We have a £20/month no-contract plan that gives us unlimited data, 5000 text and 2000 local minutes. Don’t mind if I do…
- Apply for a National Insurance Number here (you do it by phone).
Lastly, make friends! I’m lucky that I came over with a built-in buddy but this is where your hostel, Facebook and Twitter will pay off. There are so many people living in this city, especially expats, that making friends will be easy-peasy. Prospero organizes a bunch of teacher socials so look into what your job or job agency offers in that respect as well.
Once you’ve sorted out the above, get out there and enjoy the city!
If you missed the first two parts in the series you can find them here and here :)