Welcome to London!

So you've arrived. First thing you're going to need to do is get out of Heathrow! These days you don't need an Oyster card, you can use contactless on your card, but it doesn't always work with Australian bank cards and you'll get smashed with conversion fees anyway, so you might be better served getting an Oyster card anyway, at least until you've set yourself up with a UK bank account. You can do this at both Heathrow and Gatwick.

This website gives you a bunch of information on Oyster cards and how they work: https://www.londontoolkit.com/briefing/oystercard.htm

And this website gives you a rundown of the current fares: https://tfl.gov.uk/fares/find-fares

Getting into London from the airport

  • Heathrow is on the Piccadilly line and going into the centre of town will cost you £6 at the time of writing. This is definitely a better way to go than catching the Heathrow express which is £25+ and drops you at Paddington. The tube takes longer but is for sure better value for money. You can also catch a bus. Busses in London cost £1.50 irrespective of the length of your journey and you don't have to tap off. We've all made that mistake!
  • The quickest way to get into London from Gatwick is to catch the train. Follow the signs at the airport and you can't go wrong. There are plenty of staff on hand to help get you where you need to go. As with Heathrow, the Gatwick Express will take you into Victoria station. It's more expensive than just a regular train and really not worth it. There are standard trains which run to London Bridge, Victoria and King's Cross. Aim for these.
  • City Airport is the dream. You walk out and jump straight on the DLR (Docklands Light Railway - basically the same as the tube) and head into the centre of town. Again, you'll need an Oyster card.
  • Luton is in the North of London. In order to get into town you need to catch a shuttle to the train station then a train into town. It costs a couple of quid (£) to catch the shuttle and you may need cash, so definitely worth having some on you for when you land. £50 notes aren't really a thing here, so make sure you come prepped with £5, £10 & £20 notes instead.
  • Stansted is also in the North and connected with London by both busses and trains, same as every other airport. If you're catching the train here you have no choice but to catch the "Stansted Express" for which you can buy a ticket at the airport. The Stansted Express will bring you back to Liverpool Street station.

Google Maps & City Mapper will help you plan your journey around London and City Mapper even tells you the cost - simple as.

Getting Set Up

Once you're here you're going to need to get set up. Make a list and be sure to include the following:

  • National Insurance Number
  • Get a bank account
  • Transfer cash
  • Find a flat
  • Get a SIM card
  • Register with a doctor

We'll run you through each of these in general below. Be sure to jump on our page and join our group so you can ask any questions.

National Insurance Number

Your National Insurance Number is like your Tax File Number in Aus. You can start working without one, but you're going to want to get it sorted pretty quickly so you're not over taxed.

This government website walks you through everything you need to know; it's all pretty straight forward. It can take a while to get an interview, but they don't always ask you for one.

Getting a bank account

The process for getting a bank account changes CONSTANTLY! Do some research into each of the main banks' policies just before you move over. The main banks who don't need proof of address at time of writing are:

  • Lloyds
  • TSB
  • Barclays

In order to open an account with most banks you will need to book an appointment. Check out their websites for all the details and to book an appointment.

The bank you'll probably hear everyone talking about is Monzo. Monzo is awesome because it's simple to open up an account, but what's even better is that you can use your card all through Europe without being charged currency conversion fees. It's an internet based bank, so it might be worth opening a standard bank account too, but definitely one to check out.

Transferring Money to London or sending money home

Once you’ve set up your bank account you may want to bring money over to London or send money home. Our TOP TIP is ….DO NOT use your bank – they offer you terrible exchange rates and charge you an outrageous fee!

We recommend you use our favourite Foreign Exchange Specialist, Halo Financial. They can help you achieve the best possible exchange rates and they don’t charge fees for our Aussies in London followers! Halo’s rates are awesome and they offer an award winning customer service (something you’ll appreciate when you have to deal with British customer service!)

We should add …. their Business Development Manager is a Kiwi, but she loves Aussies, so Halo really will look after you and help you achieve more pounds for your dollars (if you are bringing money over) or if you are sending money home, Halo will help you achieve more dollars for your pounds!

Once your account is set up with Halo, you can use Halo Online to transfer your money easily online or call Halo on +44 (0) 20 7350 5470 and they can guide you over the phone!

Keep an eye on our Facebook page, Halo will keep us updated on AUD and GBP exchange rates and alert us when the rates are good!

Or simply register with Halo to keep up to date with AUD/GBP or other worldwide exchange rates.

Phone: +44 (0) 20 7350 5470
Email: geraldine.collett@halofinancial.com
Website: www.halofinancial.com

*remember to mention ‘Aussies’ in London’ to get preferential exchange rates and no fees.

Find a Flat

Check out our Finding a Home page for our advice on finding a flat.

Getting a SIM Card

The SIM card space is constantly changing with all the deals that pop up. Check out our SIM Cards page for all the latest.

Register with a doctor

Registering with a Doctor is easy once you've found somewhere to live.  Your doctor is allocated to your postcode or area in London.

Go to NHS Choices and enter your postcode. Have a look at your options, contact the GP that you like and ask how you need to register.  This will usually mean you bringing down your passport, your BRP and proof of address.

NHS Services are ALL free from when you arrive in the UK aside from prescriptions that are heavily subsidised.
Though, with your visa you likely paid the NHS surcharge... so that helps cover the cost 😉

Ladies, the contraceptive pill is also free.

If you want to see a dentist, go to this NHS Choices page and follow the same instructions as the GPs.  Dentistry is heavily subsidised here, it’s great. Click here for the latest charges

Finding a job

With the help of our mates at Kiwis in London and community feedback we've put together a list of recruiters and jobs in our Job Directory

Getting help with any and all of the above

If you need help with anything, you can always post about it our page or in our group; that's what we're here for. If you want someone to take care of a lot of this for you, there are agencies you can use:

  • BritBound can sort your bank account and National Insurance number and have some social events too
  • 1st Contact also offer a Kickstarter package with bank account, National Insurance number set up, money transfers and more

Join the community

As well as our Facebook page, we've recently created a group which will allow you to chat to other members of the community, ask questions and socialise.