Pre arrival

Congratulations, you’ve made the decision to throw it all in back home and head to London, a city of around 8.7 million people (greater London) and around 13.8 million in the metropolitan area… that’s a lot of people!  Like any journey, you’ll need a basic plan on what to do before you get here.  Here are some basics for you!

Get a visa!
Most Kiwis coming to London won’t have the luxury of an ancestry or work visa so you will need a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa, otherwise known as the 2 year Working Holiday visa.  Despite what you hear on TV and in the newspapers, this visa is not under any threat at all and in fact it’s not being used as much as it used to.  That’s sad as we want more Kiwis to come here and experience London!

To get the Tier 5 visa, you have to be between the ages of 18 and 30 and you can apply online and up to 3 months before you arrive.

Open up a bank account 
Say what? Yep, you can now open a bank account up before you leave NZ or Aus (or anywhere!).  As long as you have applied and got your visa you’re able to set something up back home so you can really hit the ground running!  We searched far and wide for a banking product that would let you do this and found Unizest! These guys make it all so easy and NO proof of UK address needed!  Whew! You’ll get a debit card to use as well and it’s such a great product you’ll be feeling a little smug when others are struggling to get their bank accounts open!  Check them out here!

Pro Tip!
You can pay companies to help you if you’re finding the forms a bit tricky!  We are of the opinion that you can do these without paying but if you are a bit nervous, can’t be bothered to do the chasing or just hurried for time, then we can recommend 2 companies who can help you – who are by far the most competitive price wise!
BritBound can help you with your forms and they’ll throw in a welcome meeting when you arrive, sort your bank account and National Insurance number and some social events too!
1st Contact also offer a Kickstarter package with bank account, National Insurance number set up, money transfers and more.

Book Flights!
Pretty obvious, unless you plan on getting here overland, but with airfares being so competitive these days, it’s always a good idea to shop around to get the best deal. The better the deal, the more you will have in your pocket for when you get here.  We like Skyscanner for cheap flight deals.  You’ll end up loving that website when you get here too as you’ll soon find yourself within 2 or 3 hours from dozens and dozens of cool European cities for far less than you imagined!  Using a travel agent is still popular but we find that unless you do a good price match, you’re paying commission and they do love to try and upsell you things that you don’t need.

Travel Insurance!
You will need a provider who can offer you one way travel insurance to the UK. And on top of that, you cannot get a UK travel insurance policy until after you have been in the UK for 6+ months and have a GP (both easy to do!) After 6 months, for insurance purposes, you are deemed a UK resident. And insurance in the UK is very very good price wise and so flexible!  The market is very competitive!  However, in the meantime, your best bet is to get a policy with World Nomads!  They offer one way insurance and can look after you.  Always check your policy wording or contact them before you purchase but these guys are the popular ones for helping us when we’re making that initial trip over!   Check them out here!  We have a sweet link to a easy UK based insurer that you can set up on your smartphone in the next section!

I can’t stress this enough.  You’ll be paying a deposit and month up front for a flat, using the tube daily and most jobs pay monthly, meaning you could be in for a wait before getting that first pay cheque!  Better to have some extra cash so that you’re not too strapped.

Hostel Search
Need to find a place to crash for a few days when you arrive?  There are many hostels you can choose from that are well equipped for exhausted Kiwis.  Here are some we like and are used by many of our community!

St Christophers is a popular chain of hostels. We especially like their Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush branches as they’re right across the road from the tube stations, are in lively areas and have bars downstairs for that arrival pint!

Wombats!  Like all the others, has wifi, lockers and a lively atmosphere incl bar.  We have stayed in other Wombats in Munich and Vienna and they were very good! The London one is another excellent edition to the chain!

Places like Generator are also popular too. With all types of room options from £9 a night and a raging social scene!

Early Job search
Doesn’t harm you to have a look at what work is available in London. If you’re seeking a new vocation or have an established career, there are thousands of recruitment agencies in London, many of them want Kiwi (and Aussie) workers. We have collated a huge list of these recruiters in almost every field, given to us by recommendations from the community and personal experiences, check it out!    Get that CV dusted off and remember that agencies here are job specific, so don’t write a general CV or send your CV to every agency unless they are recruiting for people in the job you want.

To pack or not to pack?!
Fancy dragging heavy bags around the streets of London? Trust us on this, you don’t want to overpack as you’ll be carrying this stuff across the other side of the world.  You can buy everything (aside from the much missed Kiwi food) here in London and probably for cheaper too.  Take essentials, as you can always accumulate more later on.  Read this excellent bit of advice about what to bring over on our chat page!

Join our Social Page as well as our Facebook page!
Not only do we have a enormous Facebook page, we’ve also started a group that is perfect for getting that pre arrival advice!  Join the group, have a search for your question in the search box first and ask away and everybody will be keen to help you. And people in there LOVE to become your friend… yeah we’re all usually very friendly and always want to go out and have fun!

Register to send money home…
Seems strange, planning ahead to send your hard earned pennies home already, but why not get prepared in case the exchange rate is really sweet and you want to not come home broke 😉
Have a look at Halo – we like them as their business development manager is a Kiwi (yay!) and so is well aware of what we want, can save us a lot of fees and has awesome customer service! (something you’ll appreciate when you have to deal with British customer service!)
Never use a bank for sending money home, costs way too much!