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Moving to London - London Expats Guide, Moving to London from any country is a huge move. You might have an overseas job posting that requires you to move here, or perhaps you want to attend university. It might be that your partner’s work means you too have to move, or perhaps you’re going to join family who already live here. Immigration and visas Of course, while many of us have dreams about relocating to a different country, the first thing that needs to be determined is if you’re going to qualify to move here. If you come from the European Union then there’s no issue, as you automatically qualify to live and work within any of the member states. However, if you’re hoping to move to London from any other part of the world, then you’ll need to get the necessary visa. The official website of the Home Office and UK Border Agency can be found here, and provides valuable advice on all types of visa and immigration. You can even apply online, making the process much easier than it used to be. Depending on your reason for moving to London, there are different types of visas available. London is a big city London is a sprawling metropolis. And whilst central London and all the main tourist attractions are fairly close to each other, the surrounding areas make for a large and, to those who’re not familiar with the city, somewhat confusing location. After all, would you know whether to search for a house in Kensington or Shadwell Hill? Brixton or Chelsea? Or how about Walthamstow or Leytonstone? Knowing in-depth information about the various different areas is vital before you begin your house hunt. Luckily, choosing a suitable area in which to live can be done, to a very large extent, before you leave. The first thing to understand about London is how the different areas are described. There are 33 boroughs of London, each with their own infrastructure, local government, council and highly individual feel and identity. The London Town website provides a map of these boroughs, as well as some great descriptions about each individual area. These boroughs are then further broken down into what are known as ‘postcodes.’ Each postcode begins with one or two letters, followed by a one or two digit number. This code identifies a particular area within a borough, and is then followed by another number-letter-letter combination that identifies a particular area in a street. Museum of London provides a complete postcode map of the whole London area. Depending on whether the area is North, South, East or West, the postcode will begin with N, S, E or W. And wherever you choose to live in London, the whole area is well served by the public transport system of buses and the underground train system, known as The Tube or The Underground. See Transport for London for further details, or check out our Travel page. Finding the perfect home Once you’ve decided the area of London you wish to move to, then you’ll need to decide the type of housing you’re looking for. There are different kinds of living accommodation, and it can be a little confusing as the terminology used in the UK is probably very different to that used in more familiar surroundings. For instance, a flat is what you might know better as an apartment, des-res means desired residence, and a two up-two down is literally a two rooms downstairs, two rooms upstairs house. See our house hunting page for further details, and a step-by-step guide to finding a suitable property in London. Who’s coming with you? You may well be moving to London on your own, or perhaps with a partner or the whole family. What about the family pet/s? Can you bring them as well, and if so, what are the regulations concerning this? Bringing pets to the UK differs whether you’re coming from an EU (European Union) country or from elsewhere. Animals such as dogs and cats coming in from within the EU can usually travel freely as long as they have what’s known as a Pet Passport. This involves the animal being micro-chipped and being vaccinated against rabies. Full details of the Pet Passport scheme can be found here. Moving with your pets from outside the EU will usually require the animal being quarantined for up to six months at the point of entry. Once again, the Defra website provides full details on exactly what this will entail. Schools If you’re moving with your family, then finding suitable school/s for the children will be something high up the list of priorities. The UK has an excellent education system, and there are some very good schools in the London area. The schools in each area are under the command of the Local Education Authority, each reporting to the Department for Education. Information about the different types of schools and how each one performs can be found here. One thing to be aware of is that schools have what is known as ‘catchment areas.’ This means that children living in the immediate vicinity of the school usually get priority over places. This might mean that where you choose to live may well be determined by the school you wish your child to go to. However, if you choose a private education for your child, as opposed to using one of the state run schools, then this would not apply. Schools Web Directory allows you to search for schools by postcode, local education authority, or school name. Finances Opening a bank account Moving to London, even for a relatively short period of time, virtually necessitates that you have a UK bank account. Without one it can be extremely difficult to carry out day to day actions such as paying utility bills, getting a mobile phone (cell phone), buying items such as a car, paying your rent or mortgage – in fact, practically everything that we take for granted in our own country. If you bank …
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