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Moving to London: Advice for students moving to London for university

10 August, 2016Ryan Ciecko

Moving to London for the first time can be daunting experience for students. Figuring out where to live, how to get around, and how to save money can be a tough task. To help, we've compiled some of our best tips to help students moving to London.

The tubeLondon is unlike any other city in the world, but we know it can be a daunting place for anyone coming to live here for the first time. Every year, thousands of students move to London from around the UK and abroad to study at the many world renowned universities located here. To help you with this big task, I've compiled some of the best advice for moving to London.


Finding a good place to live in London can be challenging, although if you’re open-minded, flexible and willing to put in some work, you should have no problem finding suitable living accommodations. There are, however, a few important factors to consider.

• What type of accommodation do you want to live in (shared houses/flats, studio flats, private student residence halls, etc.)?

• Do you want to live alone or share with other people?

• What neighborhood do you want to live in?

• How will you get to university from your accommodation? Are there good transport links?

• How much rent can you afford on a monthly basis?

On top of thinking about where you want to live, who you want to live with, and what kind of accomodation to look at, you have to think about all the additional costs that you may be faced with prior to moving into your accomodation.

• Deposit (the amount is decided by the landlord and can be up to six weeks' rent)

• One month's rent in advance

• Administration fees – there are sometimes additional fees involved for drawing up contracts or collecting references.

Opening a Bank Account

If you're from overseas, and you already have a bank account with a global service provider it would be worth checking with them to confirm whether you are able to open a local account in the UK. This will be a much easier option than starting anew.

To set a up a new bank account after you have moved to London, you will need several proofs of identity, such as your passport, driving license, visa, proof of address (or if you do not have a UK address at that point, proof of a previous address and a letter from the university confirming residency should suffice) as well as previous bank statements. Most banks do not charge commissions on student current accounts.

compressed business-money-pink-coinsLiving on a Budget in London

As a student residing in a major metropolis like London, you need to ensure that you have sufficient funds in place to cover everyday living expenses, such as accommodation, food, transport, and academic books. Most students find a part-time job in conjunction with their academic studies in order to earn additional spending money.  

You can generally find free or cheap things to do through the free magazines handed out at stations - Time Out is a particularly good source for free or cheap events, nights out, exhibitions and even restaurants. You could also look on Meetup.com or on local Facebook groups to find free or cheap events - which are also a great way to meet new people.

Avoid eating out every night. Not only does a home cooked meal cost much less, but it’s also a great way to conserve money so you can splurge on a fancy meal, or a night out, every now and then.   

Travelling Around London

Oyster cards can be picked up at any tube station ticket desk. You can top up your card with credit at tube stations and shops, then “tap in” at the tube gates or on buses. There are set prices for individual journeys depending on how far you travel or how many journeys you make, and your card will automatically cap at a travel card price to save you money. This is always cheaper than paying for an individual ride. Oyster cards work for the London Underground (Tube), the Overground, bus routes and London trains.

CityMapper is an excellent app, which can help you navigate your way around London - as well as telling you the cheapest options available.

Aside from using the public transport system, if you're close enough you can cycle, using the famous 'Boris bikes' or just walk and take in the city up close.

Miscellaneous Tips

• Be sure to bring a raincoat, an umbrella and your wellies.

• Whatever expectations you may have, ditch them! Allow your experience to be interesting and unique.

• Most universities offer mentoring and pastoral support services to students. Find out how we can help our students get settled into London.

• Never stop exploring while you're in London. It’s a world of opportunity out there!

• Be open to all philosophies and make friends from different nationalities in order to broaden your cultural horizons.

• Stay in intercollegiate residential halls if possible — that way you'll mix and mingle with people from several colleges and universities, not just your own. 

• A part-time student job will earn you additional money and give you vital skills, such as team work and time management - great for your CV.

• And finally...""no matter how many pints and/or spirits you’ve had, never eat a night time hot dog from Trafalgar Square"" (special thanks to one of our final year students from the Finance, Investment & Risk course for that one — we assume he's speaking from experience).

Find out more about the student services we offer, including career help and support, mentoring programmes and events.