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Things you should know before moving to London

  • August 09, 2018

Moving to another country is a big move and moving to London is an even bigger move. You might have found your first job within the NHS or you are the spouse of a doctor who is relocating – this guide aims to provide you with all the information people wish they knew before making the move to the Big Smoke.

If this article does not cover something that is of interest to you – comment below and we will be happy to answer.

Quick London Facts:

  1. Population:6 million (2018 estimate) of which 37% were born outside of the UK
  2. Official Language: English but over 300 other languages are also spoken
  3. Consists of: 32 boroughs, plus the City of London

1. London is a big city­­

London is a sprawling metropolis. Whilst Central London and all the main tourist attractions are fairly close to each other, the surrounding areas are large and confusing for those who are not familiar with the city.

Knowing in-depth information on the different areas and particularly the area you will be living, and working is vital before you move.

The basics – London is a city made up of many smaller towns. There are 32 boroughs of London, each with their own identity, local government, council and infrastructure.

Each London Borough is then broken down into ‘postcodes’. Depending on whether the area is North, East, South or West – the postcode will begin with N, E, S or W.

Please visit the London Town website for more in-depth information on each Borough.

2. Living in London – General Rules of Thumb

  • Prices to rent and buy generally decline the further out of Central London you go.
  • The closer a flat or house is to a station, the more expensive it is. Underground stations command an additional premium over stations served only by the Overground, DLR, and/or National Rail.
  • London’s property market is changing very rapidly – with formerly unfashionable/affordable areas becoming fashionable/unaffordable in as little as twelve months.

Bonus Tips for Choosing Housing

Keeping it Affordable - Flat Shares

It is very common in London to share a flat with other people. Typically, you will have your own bedroom and then share communal areas such as the kitchen, bathroom and the garden.

Whilst flat shares are significantly cheaper than renting your own flat, you do lose out on privacy.

Websites such as Spare Room, Easy Room-mate and Ideal Flatmate will make your search to find accommodation easier with filters such as a required garden or to live with non-smokers.

Advice - Never agree to rent a room before viewing it in person. Often pictures posted online of properties can be deceitful and so it is always best to go and view the property before you agree to live there.

Furthermore, you will not be able to agree to rent a flat before viewing it in person. So whilst it is good to look at what is on the market – wait until you are in the city.

Once you view a property that you like, and you can afford to get it – get it. The competition for London properties is very high so do not take too long deciding.

Keeping it accessible – The right location for those Night Shifts

Although it may be difficult to find the perfect flat, we do advise for you to try and find a place close to your hospital or at the very least close to a Night service tube station (Victoria, Jubilee, and most of the Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines.) This will make it easier during night shifts and on-calls.

3. When you get to London – don’t panic

When you arrive in the city you may feel overwhelmed at its size and in the beginning, you will find it challenging to get your bearings.

But do not worry! Technology will save the day.

There are great Smartphone apps such as City Mapper. This app will inform you of nearby tube or rail stations, provide you with the best route to get to your required location and it will even inform you of how many calories you will burn if you decide to walk the journey.

4. Don’t bring your whole house with you!

London is a large city and so you will find absolutely everything you need when you arrive. For example, there is no need to bring your duvet and pillows as they will just take up space in your luggage and you can buy them in the city fairly cheaply.

5. London is not the UK

Of course, London is in the UK, but it is very different from the rest of the UK. London is like a mini country within a country, often with its own politics.

Life in the city can be a world away from other places in the UK. So, if you find London too busy for you – you might enjoy somewhere else in the UK.

Tips for when you first move to the city

  1. Stand on top of Primrose Hill at sunset
  2. Find a nearby park and familiarise yourself with it, especially if you work in Central London. The park will act as a great escape from your busy lifestyle.
  3. Don’t walk while using your phone, you will slow down the pace of the crowds.
  4. Look at the yellow lines on the underground and stand where the paint has faded – that is where the doors open.

If you are an international doctor who is interested in relocating to London or any other part of the UK send your CV to [email protected] and one of our Specialist Advisers will be in touch.

Come and say hello! Join our Facebook Group IMG Advisor - this will give you access to frequent relocation blog posts, the ability to ask relocation questions and receive advice and support, and to meet other IMG's!


Randomly London. (2018). Moving to London? Ultimate 2017 Living & Working Guide. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Aug. 2018].

Little Miss Spaghetti. (2018). 16 things you need to know before moving to London - Little Miss Spaghetti. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Aug. 2018].


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