Hello friends, it has been a while. I know my hope was to update you along the way but the logistics of moving aren’t all that interesting, who knew! Now on to our 11th day here in London I figured I would share where things stand with everything and what I’ve learned along the way. Also for your viewing pleasure, my first ever YouTube video/vlog (not freaking out or vulnerable at all).
Luggage + Stuff
When flying with a budget airline each bag will cost you, take a look at the price of the ticket, but also consider the baggage costs on top because you will need more than that one free bag when you’re moving countries. What I found was that the airlines, for example, with a $25 cheaper flight had larger baggage fees, so you actually end up paying more for the trip overall, multiply that for two people and moving costs can really add up. Another thing I’ve noticed is that some airlines, at least in Toronto, have turned to automated check-in and baggage drop off – which means that there isn’t a person to have mercy on your 2 kg over weight bag. The machine doesn’t care, it won’t let your bag through. Due to the fact that 2 of our bags were overweight, we were looking at an almost $200 fee to let 4 kg go through, so what we did was go to the luggage store in the airport, purchase an $18 duffle bag and put items from the overweight luggage into the duffle bag. The additional bag was only $35, coming to a total of $53 v.s $200.
We didn’t bring any furniture or appliances, for a few reasons. First, the voltage isn’t the same nor are the outlets. Second, London apartments are small, leave all North American (mammoth) size furniture items back in North America. Last but not least, the cost of shipping all the items is not worth the cost of said items. We sold our furniture on Kijiji and started the process about 2 months prior to our move. Make sure to price the items fairly and they will all go within a week.
Apartments + Agents
I recommend booking an Airbnb for the first 4-7 days when moving countries, this will ease the stress of trying to find an apartment for when you land. The area for the Airbnb isn’t as important as picking an area to live. Before you leave, say maybe a month or so, start doing your research on neighbourhoods, anything from what type of restaurants they have, entertainment, price of living, safety and for those who have kids, schools. This will help narrow your search, especially in a city as large as London.
We narrowed it down to East, West and North London (all neighbourhoods North of the river). When we were looking we considered price (of course) but also how far each place was to overground or underground transportation, with a 10 minute walk being our cutoff point. We landed on East London as many of the neighbourhoods had like minded individuals, cool restaurants, little shops and markets, easy transportation to central London (30-40 minutes depending) and fair price of living.
Many London apartments are rented out through agents and while we thought that would be simple, it’s not. They need proof of everything and because we were coming from a different country some were asking for 6 months rent upfront on top of their fees (which you have to pay as a renter and can be anywhere from £400 to £1000, depending on the agency) and deposit (which is paid on all flats here, usually 6 weeks rent). We decided to move forward with using private landlords as we wanted to avoid those fees, especially since we were incurring the fee of flying over the Atlantic Ocean.
We set up 3 or 4 appointments (a day, for the first two days) before we got here with private landlords in the neighbourhoods we liked and we ended up finding a 1 bedroom flat within our price range and with everything we were hoping to have in the first 48 hours. Yeah…I work fast. The great thing about private landlords is that they’re flexible. We only signed a 6 month contract as we are not sure where we would like to live down the road. If we like it here and she doesn’t want the place back we can stay even longer. We also looked for places that were available once we arrived as I wanted to move in straight away so we could get settled as fast as possible. We also decided to go for the furnished route so we can save up some cash and buy nicer furniture for the place we want to live in for the longterm.
The UK is very bureaucratic and you need about 300 supporting documents and appointments to do absolutely everything. When we landed, Brendan just re opened his bank account that he never really closed (lucky for us), although here you can’t use your lease agreement as proof of address and because all our bills are included in our rent I have no proof of address so I can’t open a bank account. We think we may have found a work around but we can’t get an appointment until January…yes, you read correctly. Interestingly enough, you need a bank account to get a flat and proof of address to get a bank account, a real catch-22.
As I explained in my previous post, one of the reasons we moved was because of all the opportunities for Brendan and myself. As a teacher, Brendan is already in full time work which he’s excited about and I was able to find a job as well, I start Monday!
We are going to settle in for the next month but we are hoping come February we will begin to travel on the weekends. Stay tuned for the vlogs and blog posts!
– Silvia x