London's newcomers tips

Protected by Copyscape Unique Content Check
Published: 30th September 2010
Views: N/A

If you have decided that you want to come to the UK to live the difficulty of the process will largely be a matter of where you are coming from and the reason for your move. The most general points to remember are that if you are coming to the UK from outside the European Union for longer than six months you will most likely need a visa - a certificate put into your passport by an Entry Clearance Officer at a British mission overseas - and that you must sort out all visa issues before leaving your home country.The good news is that in these days of the Internet, information can be tracked down quickly. The first stage in the process is to determine what your status is and what forms you need to fill in - those traveling from the USA should go to Others are advised to go to, where you will find a questionnaire which should help you quickly determine whether you need a visa and what forms you need to get hold of.

Finding a place to live The first thing that everybody worry about and hurry to do is to find a place to live. Looking for somewhere to live in London involves a crash course in the layout of the city and of the property market - it also requires comfortable footwear and not a small degree of patience. Rents are high, certainly the highest in the country and among the highest of comparable world cities. If you are thinking of buying property, well, house prices too are very high. It is an estate agents' cliche that the most important factors in the property game are "location, location, location," and you will soon pick up the extent to which property availability, to rent an apartment London or any house prices vary according to area.

London's housing stock can be broken down into four main types: Owner-occupied: property lived in by those who have bought it. Privately rented: property let by a landlord to a tenant or tenants either directly or via a letting agent. The landlord will either be a property company whose business is letting acquired property, or an individual who is making money out of the property he or she owns. Some landlords let out rooms in the house they themselves occupy.

RENTING Renting from a private landlord is generally the most feasible and favoured option for those newly arrived in the capital. Although the rental market tends to be more stable than the buying and selling one, it is nonetheless the case that since the 1980s rents in London have risen faster than the rate of inflation. Your rental options include renting apartments London or house on your own or as part of a group from a private landlord or property agent; choosing to rent a room in an already established shared house or flat (known as a houseshare or flatshare);or renting a room in a landlord-occupied house. You may strike lucky and find a l place quickly, but as a general rule, be prepared to put in a good deal of legwork before you find something that suits you.

Money Matters Gienerally all you will find you need to open a bank account is a UK address and roof of earnings. Many building societies have forgone their mutual status and converted into banks. All major banks and wilding societies offer a comprehensive range of personal financial services be-ond simple bank accounts. All manner of other companies, from supermarkets to football clubs, also now offer their own financial products. Phew! FINANCIAL SERVICES-COMPLAINTS Financial services are regulated by the Financial Services Authority (; helpline: 0845 606 1234). If you have a complaint about a bank or financial institution, in the first instance contact the complaints section of the relevant company. If you do not receive a satisfactory response contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (, 0845 080 1800), which exists to resolve disputes between consumers and financial firms. As you settle into your new life and get organised it's likely you'll need to access some general services.

HEALTHCARE NHS HEALTHCARE In the UK, the right to free healthcare, from "the cradle to the grave," is a principle closely guarded by the population and the government alike. The publicly funded National Health Service (NHS) was set up in the wake of the Second World War as part of a package of welfare reforms, and offers free medical treatments to those living in the UK at most levels, from visits to one's local doctor to ante-natal care to major operations. Anyone who has been living legally in the UK for at least six months, or is on a student or similar visa, is eligible to access free NHS care. The UK has reciprocal health agreements with a number of European countries, which means that visitors from those countries can access free treatment if the need arises during a vacation or short visit. If you do not come from one of the countries covered by such an agreement, and your stay is for less than six months, then travel or medical insurance may well be advisable. NHS Direct on 0845 4647, for information on NHS service provision and general health and treatment queries.

FINDING A DOCTOR To receive general medical services through the NHS,you'll need to register with a local General Practitioner (GP) in your local area, usually defined as within a mile or so of your home. Most surgeries set aside times during the week when they accept new registrations, so phone or visit web sites to find out when to attend. Doctors can refuse to register someone if they choose (though they rarely do). Once registered, you are not bound to this physician, and can switch doctors for whatever reason.

FINDING A DENTIST Dental treatment is available as part of the NHS at a subsidised cost or free to certain groups such as children and pregnant women. Dentist surgeries do not have lo provide NHS treatment however, and some only operate as private practices. The range of treatments available on the NHS is also fairly limited and excludes most cosmetic dentistry, and so those who are able to afford it usually enrol as private patients.

EMERGENCIES Dial 999 to summon an ambulance in an emergency, if you are at the scene of an accident or if someone has an accident or falls ill in public.

RENTAL SERVICES As London's market in rented property is weighted in favour of furnished flats, furniture rental stores are rare, and whereas television and video rental stores were once an established fixture on the high street, they have all but disappears I now. For those buying a property or renting unfurnished, purchasing furniture on credit or second-hand are ways to minimise the initial costs.

CONSUMER PROTECTION Each local authority in London has a Trading Standards Office, which should be able to take up any complaint you have regarding faulty, dangerous, or misleadingly advertised goods. Contact your central council and ask to be put through to Trading Standards. Nationally the relevant body is the Office of Fair Trading who can direct you to help; call 0845 722 4499 where you will find a wealth of useful information about your consumer rights and current scams.

DOMESTIC SERVICES Domestic cleaning companies, dry cleaners, and gardeners are listed in paper and online directories, as well as often advertising their services in the local press or via flyers pushed through doors. However, many cleaners and gardeners are found by word of mouth, so if you are looking for this kind of help let friends and work colleagues know. Note that there are dry cleaners on most major and minor high streets so delivery is not typical and those that do deliver are significantly more expensive.

POSTAL SERVICE The Royal Mail is the UK's national postal service delivering letters and parcels to residential and business addresses. Although other delivery agencies are allowed to undertake domestic deliveries, the vast majority are handled by the Royal Mail. It operates in conjunction with the Post Office, which provides counter services through high street branches.

PACKAGE DELIVERY The Post Office offers a range of guaranteed and insured parcel and package deliveries - pop into your nearest one to find out the options. For same-day deliveries around London, there are dozens of courier firms that operate out of central London. You can find their numbers online or in the phone books. The following are the major international courier companies: DHL, 0870 1100300,ParcelForce, 08708 501150,TNT, 0800 100600,UPS, 08457 877877.

This article is copyright

Report this article Ask About This Article

More to Explore

You might like