Moving, Advice, London

Lyvly's guide to moving to London

June 27, 2019 - Read time 9 mins

The lure of living in London is more than just checking out Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and afternoon tea at the Ritz (these things are, however, genuinely amazing and not enough Londoners actually do them). It's a city, full of rich culture and incredible diversity and one of the world's best places to live as a young professional looking for adventure. 

If you've decided that life in the UK is what you want, ahead of looking for houses or flats to rent, there are a few things to understand and check off your lists before you make the big move. It's a lot to consider, so we have created a guide to help you through the process. 


At the moment EU nationals have the freedom to move, live and work in the UK without any kind of restrictions; all that’s needed is a valid passport. Obviously the looming prospect of Brexit means that first sentence isn’t as reassuring as it used to be for EU citizens.

The uncertainty surrounding Britain’s exit from the EU means we can’t say exactly how it will look post-Brexit. The current deadline of 31st October 2019 is when it’s expected to all go down, whether the UK and EU stay friends or end up not speaking is still to be decided. However, an agreement has been reached to protect the rights of EU citizens in the UK and vice-versa. 

There’s an implementation period, currently due to end on 31st December 2020, which means you can still live and work here with the same rights as before. You will, however, need to apply to the EU resettlement scheme before June 2021. This will give you either settled or pre-settled status to remain here. For more information, visit the British government website



If you’re not an EU citizen, you’ll probably need a visa to live and work here. In certain cases, like people from British Overseas Territories or certain former Commonwealth countries, you could be eligible to stay without needing one. The majority of non-EU workers coming to the UK for work are on the Tier 2 Visa.

Your future employers will most likely be sponsoring you to be here and you will need to secure sponsorship before applying for one, which you can get up to 3 months before you are due to start work.

The other avenue for long-term workers is when you are looking to start a new business, either with the Innovator or Start-up visas. There are conditions depending on which visa you apply for, surrounding the kind of endorsement, funding and innovation, which will affect whether you will be granted a visa. 

Something that unites all of these visas options, is that it will cost you money before coming to Britain. For instance, a Tier 2, or skilled worker visa, can cost from £464 to more than £1220 depending on how long you are planning to stay, where you’re coming from and the kind of job you’re doing.

Tier 2 Visa costs

Who you're applying for Yourself You (citizen of Turkey or Macedonia) All dependants 
Up to 3 years  £610 £555 £610
Up to 3 years    (shortage occupation) £464 £409 £464
More than 3 years £1,220 £1,165 £1,220
More than 3 years (shortage occupation) £928 £873 £928

To obtain a skilled worker visa you’ll need a few things:

  • An offer letter from your new employer, proving you have a job waiting for you here. Your employer will acts as your visa sponsor. 
  • A Certificate of Sponsorship from your sponsoring employer
  • A passing grade on the points-based assessment for your specific visa type

The point based assessment can feel a little complicated to digest but basic requirements are:

  • The ability to speak English
  • An appropriate salary offer
  • “Maintenance,” or having £800 in your bank account for at least 3 months prior to your application
  • A certificate of sponsorship that meets at least one of four requirements (to be met by your employer)

Once you’ve been given a Tier 2 Visa, you can stay in the UK for 5 years and 14 days, so long as you’re still employed by a business willing to sponsor you. 

On top of the visa fees, there’s also something called the Healthcare Surcharge. It costs £400 for each year that you plan to stay in Britain to have access to the NHS. Often your employers will pick up cost of your visa and anything on top, but it’s not legally required, so far from guaranteed. It’s definitely worth finding out the information up front to factor into your costs ahead of moving. 

For more information about UK Visa requirements, Expatica has a more in depth explanation and the GOV.UK site can help you work out what you’re eligible for and how much it may cost.


When you arrive



For people living in the UK, NHS treatment free of charge. It is funded by taxation. Whether or not your treatment is free is dependant on being a resident of the UK, rather than which country you are from.

Essentially there are no advantages that EU citizens enjoy vs non-EU citizens in using NHS services, you just need ‘ordinarily resident’ status. Ordinarily resident means living in the UK on a lawful, voluntary and properly settled basis. 

You are able to register with a local doctors surgery (a GP) for everyday medical complaints and use emergency services for more serious situations. Prescriptions are subsidised by the UK Government, but most people still have to pay £9 for them. 

Dentistry is one of the few NHS services that patients have to pay for. It can range from £22.70 for emergency pain relief or fillings to £260+ more complex procedures. NHS dentists don’t work on the same basis as local GPs, you do not need to live in the area they are based to register as a patient, so finding a surgery near your place of work is absolutely fine.


National Insurance Number

If you’re from the EU, you should apply for the National Insurance number immediately after finding somewhere to live. Confusingly, It’s not anything to do with insurance - it’s actually about paying tax and towards your British state pension. You need an address in the UK to apply for it, but without one you may end up on an emergency tax code and lose a big chunk of wages whilst you are waiting. 

Non-EU citizens will have something called a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) created when granted a visa. This makes it slightly more straight forward than EU citizens, however, you will be given a 10 day window and a specific post office to collect it from. You can also choose to have it sent to your sponsor (i.e. your employer) If you don’t collect within 10 days, then you could face a fine of £1000. So make sure you don’t forget!


Working in London

The lure of working in London isn’t difficult to understand. It’s the UK’s biggest jobs market - home to its financial and creative industries, with an environment where multi-national corporations and startups are all able to thrive (with the right product of course!). As discussed earlier, your ability to find work here is very much determined by your nationality, with it being far more straight forward for EU citizens, pre-Brexit at least, to arrive here without a job, sponsorship and visa.



Cost of living

Depending on where you are moving from, how much it costs to live in London can seem like a bit of a shock, as well as a little confusing. Monthly rental costs often won’t include bills, and you’ll have to consider very British expenses like council tax and the TV licence. 

When you are budgeting, using something like a salary calculator, to understand how much you’ll be paid each month is a great way to work out what you can afford to spend on rent, travel, eating, drinking etc before you unwittingly move into a place that is way too much for your budget. Luckily with Lyvly, your household living costs are taken care of in your rental payment, it will remain the same for your entire tenancy and we sort out all the bills for your whole household, so before moving in, you’ll know exactly what everything will cost.

As a resident in one of Lyvly's homes, the stresses and of managing household bills and budgets are removed from the equation. Our all inclusive rent means we take care of everything. 

  • Utility bills 
  • Council Tax
  • TV Licence 
  • Broadband

Bank Account

If you live in the UK, you are able to open a British bank account. In order to open an account in one of the traditional high street banks, you will just need a proof of address (utility bill, council tax bill, tenancy agreement) and proof of ID. International banks like HSBC do have international account options that you can arrange overseas before arriving, but they can require things like lump sum deposits or monthly fees.

Current accounts are normally free of charge, as is withdrawing cash the majority of the time - some ATMs can charge up to £2 but they are generally in independent shops rather than attached to official bank branches.

Traditional High Street banks

There are also a number of modern ‘challenger banks’ like Starling or Monzo. These are all app-based, so can feel more convenient and designed with modern living in mind. You are able to set up with just a passport or another form of ID, so if you are new the UK and don’t have any proof of address yet, it wouldn’t matter. You will need to supply an address to have your new card sent to, but there’s fewer requirements than you may experience with a traditional banking organisation. 


Mobile Phone 

Arriving from the EU, theoretically, you could stay with the provider from your home country. Whilst we wait for news on post Brexit agreements, you still won’t have to pay roaming charges in the UK and your current contract or pay as you go agreement will work as if you’re using your phone at home, but it would not have a UK number. 

If you need to organise a new SIM card, there are a number of avenues to go down. Most modern phones are compatible with British networks, but you may need to get yours unlocked before moving to Britain. Once here, there are 3 ways to get a sim card: Pay as you go, sim only and contract.

  1. Pay as you go -  the most straight forward - buy a sim, top it up with money and you’re ready to go. Data, calls and texts tend to be more expensive than in a contract agreement. 
  2. Sim only - use with your current phone, you just buy the sim card and pay a fixed monthly fee. These are generally cheaper than contracts as you are not also buying a phone.
  3. Contract - these generally last for 2 years and are more expensive and they come with a new phone, the cost of which will be spread across the length of the contract.

For Sim only and contract agreements, you will need to provide bank details, ID and proof of a UK address.

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