At, Cornerstone we pride ourselves on being a cutting edge relocation agency that combines innovative technology and unsurpassed local knowledge. With our headquarters based in London, and it being where our journey began, we are confident that we have the expert advice when it comes to a London relocation. We’ve got it covered. Welcome to our backyard!
The relocation process – with it’s many variables and with the UK now no-longer being part of the European Union – can potentially be quite complicated. Whether it be home rental search, schooling finding, buying a property, shipping, Visas & Immigration processes or perhaps just lifestyle management once you land… we are here to navigate the logistics and make your London relocation an exciting reality.
We strongly believe the advantages gained by living in London will make it all worthwhile, and perhaps one of the best decisions you’ll ever make! Whether you are moving alone, or with a partner or family it is a fantastic city to start a new life, for career progression, and experience quite literally a flavour of all cultures worldwide. There is just so much opportunity to try different things, be part of an incredible social scene, and have access to some of the best education – schools and Universities – and healthcare worldwide.
To get the ball rolling we’ve compiled a guide below, that details not only the pros to London life but those potential deciding factors you to need to consider too. We’ve also put together a checklist spanning our recommended timeline and London relocation services we can offer, to help you get started and make sure you don’t miss any key deadlines, because as they say ‘knowledge is power!’
Super Expat Friendly…
London is one of the most ethnically diverse cities on the planet, and has always attracted people of all walks of life from all over the globe. Being an outsider simply doesn’t exist in London. Finding communities similar to your home community would not be a challenge, alternatively nor would meeting new people with different lives, stories and backgrounds to yours either. One of the best places to start is to check out Meet up for the local events happening near you!
An extremely popular city to visit, you should perhaps factor in the many tourists that descend its vast array of sites all year around, for example in the area of Camden Town. However, given the size of London, it is quite easy to live and cohabit those more local areas, and only embark on the buzz of the more touristy spots when and as you wish…
Amazing social scene and culture…
One of the best things about London’s cultural scene is that many of the events and sites either have free entry or student and family discounted tickets… some offer late evening openings too; so if your slammed with work but still want to soak up some culture there’s a time to suit all. We’ve compiled a list of some of those that are free and that we love…
London literally has it all. Whether you want to visit one of its…857 art galleries, 22,000 music performances annually across its 300+ venues, 192 museums,197 festivals, 800 bookshops and over 325 public libraries, 200 shows daily across the West End, London Fashion week’s catwalks or the highest number of live comedy shows in any city in the world – and breathe… – you can! But, don’t take our word for it, check out London Government’s site for more information!
Career & Finding a job…
London is the global hub for many many industries including the financial and professional services sector, arts and fashion, education, commerce, transport, research and development. It is one of the pre-eminent financial centres of the world and arguably the most important location for international finance. More than half of the UK’s top 100 companies (the FTSE 100), 75% of the Fortune 500 companies, and 100 of Europe’s 500 largest companies have headquarters based in central London. There is also a high concentration of media companies in London, with the media distribution industry being London’s second most competitive sector. It’s a competitive city but the economy is strong their is usually an abundance of work in all sectors for those willing to graft!
London does offer higher wages than the rest of the UK, but it is also increasingly more expensive to live here. This is something to really consider when relocating to London, as cost of living is generally speaking much higher than other areas of the UK, or capital cities around the world. Finding a job is never a simple process, but you’re in one of the best cities to find that perfect job. We suggest you start your search on Indeed, LinkedIn and Reed, or perhaps if you’re education establishment has a large alumni network to look at the resources they have available – many universities have linkedIn network groups, online job boards and perhaps partnerships with firms or universities in London. Why not sign up to a recruiting firm that specialises in your field, it is always a great place to start and to scope out the job market in your desired area! Remember – you will need a contract of employment to rent a home and that generally speaking if you’re coming from a visa requiring country, you will have needed employment to apply and obtain your visa!
Eating and Drinking…
To go for a pint, is something you may wish to learn to do and probably appropriate from the British Culture! Perhaps due to the climate, or perhaps for some historical reason long forgotten, all that remains to be said is that the cosiness of an English pub with a drink of your choice is a staple of London life. Why not try the Londonist best pubs where you can search for that perfect spot for you and your friends by location and recommendation! If this wasn’t enough, London is home to some of the best mixologists and creative thinkers when it comes to cocktails, drinks and overall bar experiences. With roof top venues, underground secret spaces, members clubs and nightclubs why not design your night here.
You can quite possibly find any cuisine under the sun in London. With over 250 languages spoken in the capital the richness of it’s population has very much translated to its dinner and café tables. With 69 Michelin starred restaurants to choose from, to an incalculable number of independent cafés, restaurants or your ‘household favourites’ lining the streets… I defy you not to find something for your taste, occasion and budget. We suggest you start making your way through the Time out EAT List, be warned though dining out in London can be an expensive affair!
Extensive Public Transport System…
The transport system in London is extremely comprehensive, and really it needs to be, London is not a small city, with just over 9 million inhabitants, 32 boroughs and spanning 610 square miles. The Underground – known locally as the ‘tube’ – rail network, docklands light railway, trams, and overground trains cover every corner of London. For those wanting to travel more ‘above ground’ – you have a huge network of London’s iconic buses, black cabs, river buses, uber, uber river boats – coming soon – and a public cycle hire scheme too. Whether it be one or a mixture of these modes of transport, getting around the city is very accessible; but do keep in mind that London is a very crowded and congested city, and that an average journey takes around 45 minutes to an hour. Despite the introduction of a congestion charge – which has reduced traffic by a quarter since 2008 – rush hour if possible, is to be avoided with many commuters complaining of crowded train carriages and highly congested roads. London is also one of the most polluted areas in the UK due to its high volume of traffic, however it is engaging with the ‘Climate Action Week’ campaign to explore energy solutions, zero-emissions transport and stronger laws on controlling global temperature increases.
If its the rush of professional sport you’re after, then London does not disappoint. Home to 13 football teams in one of the best leagues in the world, including Arsenal Football Club, Chelsea FC or Tottenham Hotspurs FC, you are spoilt for choice if you’re fanatical about football. London’s Wembley stadium also hosts the FA Cup Finals and is the home ground for the national team. Rugby and cricket – perhaps lesser known sports but equally as thrilling – are played in abundance in the English capital too, the home of cricket ‘Lords’ is in St John’s Wood, with over 200 years’ worth of history and Twickenham stadium the home of English Rugby in Twickenham. Finally if its a truly British sporting day out you’re after, look no further than the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in July every year for one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world, Wimbledon.
Visas & Work Permits
Researching, sorting and confirming your UK visa requirements should be the very first thing you do around 6 months before you plan on arriving in London. Depending on where your citizenship is currently, how long you want to stay, your personal circumstance and skills and why you want to come to the UK, acquiring a UK visa could be anywhere from nearly impossible to unnecessary. The best place to start is the UK.gov’s visa requirements page and working through the options based on your personal details.
Below we’ve put together a quick summary to get you started, and one important thing to note is that all residential visa applications must be made from outside the UK.
Commonwealth Citizens (New Zealand, Cyrpus, India, Australia, Canada, etc.): If you are a citizen of one of the Commonwealth countries you can apply for a Tier 5 Mobility Scheme. This visa however is only eligible to those between the ages of 18-30 and for a duration of 2 years. Should you wish to stay longer you would need to find an employer who would be willing to sponsor you on a general Tier 2 visa (you will need to return home to apply) and be employed in a skilled job, alternatively you could try for an inter-company transfer if your company has a UK office.
Students: A student visa is offered to individuals who have been offered a place on a course by a licensed student sponsor. The student needs to have enough money to support themselves and pay the course – the amount will vary depending on their circumstances, as not all student visas allow you to work. Universities can often set limits on how many hours you’re allowed to work each week too. the individual will need to speak, red, write and understand English, have consent from their parents if 16 or 17 and will need evidence of this for their application. If over the age of 18 and the course is at degree level, the visa is usually for a duration of 5 years, if below degree level normally for around 2 years.
American Citizens: Making the move from America to the UK is not easy unless you are eligible for an ancestry visa (see below). The easiest route is through an employer and a Tier 2 visa, there will also be salary requirements usually around £30,000 a year and other financial rules to meet.
EU Citizens: this also includes the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland (not in the EEA or the EU, but part of the single market). Individuals that were living in the UK before 31 December 2020 can apply for an EU Settlement Scheme. As of 1 January 2021 if you want to move to the UK from one of the countries in the EU or EEA etc, you may need to apply for a visa.
Ancestry visa: Individuals who can meet all of the following requirements… are a commonwealth citizen over the age of 17, can prove one of their grandparents was born in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, are able and planning to work once in the UK, have sufficient financial funds to support themselves and independents without relying on public funds and various other eligibility requirements may apply for an ancestry visa. The visa usually has a duration of 5 years.
Other Visa Options: There are other visa options that depending on your circumstances may be applicable. The spousal visa available lets you move to the UK if you have married a UK citizen, several Tier 5 visas for temporary workers that last 1-2 years usually granted to those that work in the creative, religious, charity, government, entertainment and religious fields. There are also Tier 2 visas for certain careers ‘shortlist’ – this changes with the UK economy, however the frequently included fields are engineering, nursing and other highly skilled fields.
Temporary housing is a great option if you are still looking for permanent accommodation close to your arrival date! Rushing due to time constraints to find a home is never ideal, and having an extended window of time to find the right home is far more preferential. Knowing that before you embark on your move, you have a safe and comfortable place to stay when you land is really important; especially when making such an exciting but daunting life change. It’s crucial you feel as settled as possible from day one. Whether it be a few weeks accommodation to a few months there are lots of temporary housing options in London that we can help you with. We operate with strict quality control on all our home finding. We would never offer any options we wouldn’t consider living in ourselves! For more information why not check out our Temporary Housing page or have a chat!
A Home in the City or Suburbs…
There is however one catch when relocating to London and this is the cost of renting. The idea of living central near to shops, cafés, pubs, a decent tube station and maybe even some green space comes at a cost; and many find themselves living in that charming period apartment or mews with a flat mate or two. Arguably, depending on your preferences, living in good company is not much of a sacrifice – and a great way to build your social circle when you arrive! London is one of the most expensive cities to rent in the world, and so depending on your situation some sacrifices will need to be made when trying to find the right home – creating a priorities list is always a good start, allocating those factors that are a ‘must’ over ‘preferential’…
When it comes to where… we can help too. Perhaps you want to live in the suburbs, enjoy a little more space for your money and sacrifice a short commute into town, rather than a central location – the borough of Harrow for example offers this option and is the second safest and leading borough for recycling! Perhaps you’d like to live in a community similar to yours – Brent is the second most culturally diverse borough in London, and affectionately named ‘Little Brazil’. Looking for somewhere with a relaxed vibe, why not try Hackney voted one of the most chilled boroughs with the lowest anxiety score in London! Maybe you want to be close to work, Camden and Southwark have been voted some of the areas with the best job opportunities; boasting some of the highest numbers of active businesses operating across many industries. Finally, it is important to keep in mind that no Landlord is going to let you a flat or apartment without a job, and being a jobless tenant will leave you far behind in the extremely competitive lettings market. Why not get in touch, and chat to us about what you need?
London is arguably one of the best cities around the world for variety of property, architecture and housing options. Whether it’s a modern build or something more authentically ‘old school’ – like those London ‘period properties’ you see in the films – a high rise, terrace house, mews or apartment; London has them all. Its buildings are arguably an attraction in themselves, and just wandering around the different boroughs is a feast for those who love architecture, with many of the public buildings like Syon House, Chiswick House and Fenton House also open to the public.
Given London is notorious for exorbitant property prices, and an extremely competitive rental market; the best properties in the best neighbourhoods go under offer within 24 hours of being listed. Cornerstone, with our impressive knowledge of the market, relationships with all the top agents and feet on the ground can really help you solve this problem, making the Home Finding process structured, timely and efficient. Let us remove the headache!