If you happen to be considering moving to London from Australia then there are a number of items specific to Aussies who are moving abroad.  Certainly, you are going to be amongst a number of Australian Expats who have called London home for long enough to take over certain London living areas.  So not to worry that you will be too homesick; you will find that London is a very welcoming place for those moving to London from Australia.

If you don’t already have family or friends to get advice from here in The Capital than you should hold tight to this entry and keep in mind that your London Relocation agent is here to help you not only find a London apartment.  We are also here to help you find areas that will be comfortable for you as an expat living in London. So here are some items we’ve selected to get your thinking cap buzzing as you prepare for your arrival on the London scene.

1: A National Insurance Number:

If you are moving to London from Australia for work then it’s likely that your employer will have this sorted out for you. However, if you are the significant other moving to London from Australia then you will need to take care of this item on your own if you plan on working in London.  This identification number from the UK is often referred to as your “NI” number and its essential you have one if you are moving to London and plan to work.

So to get such an identification number you will need to visit the website of the UK government.  Start here on Https://www.gov.uk/apply-national-insurance-number.  The contact phone number is 0345 600 0643, or you can text 0345 600 0644, anytime during regular working hours, Monday through Friday, 8am to 6 pm.  The only way you won’t need to follow this step is if you have a biometric resident permit, called a BRP, if you do you likely have the NI number already issued on the pack of the card.  Keep in mind that you can only apply for an NI once you arrive in London, and you must have the correct visas to study or work in the UK in order to receive an NI number.

The only way around the NI number if you are fortunate enough to find a job before your NI interview then you have to have proof of a working visa.  Your employer will likely be alright with your documentation to let you begin working so long as you have an interview scheduled.  The appointment is to verify your identity it’s called an Evidence of Identity Interview at your local Job Centre Plus.  If you get an appointment bring official proof of identity, passport or birth certificate and license, and an account of all your past work and travel records for the past few years.

2- You will still need to lodge an Australian tax return.

Unfortunately, unless you don’t work at all you will still need to file an Australian return on any income earned even when earned out of the country, which also includes exempt income. While that doesn’t seem to make too much sense it is the law so there’s literally no getting around filing an Australian return come tax time.  You must declare that income even if tax was deducted in the and by the country where the income was earned.  Luckily, the one advantage is that the Australian government makes it easy and you can file online, we know, not much of a consolation is it?!  The only way you won’t be obligated to file an Australian return is if you don’t earn any income.  When your residency changes so can your tax situation in a number of ways, so we recommend you search thoroughly the www.ato.gov.au/individuals/international-tax-for-individuals/going-overseas/ just to be in the know.

3-What to do with your Australian residence.

For property owners in Australia, the government gives a number of breaks. If you leave your home to live in London temporarily and you decide to rent your place back home you can continue to treat it as your main residence for a period of up to six years in accordance with capital gains tax (CGT) purposes.  If you don’t rent your home at all you can treat it as your main residence for as long as you please.

If in fact, you cease to be an Australian resident while overseas, the Australian government deem some of your assets (generally those not considered taxable by the Australian property) to have been disposed of for CGT purposes, which may mean you become liable to pay some CGT.  You can elect to not have the deemed disposal apply but if you do eventually dispose of the asset, they take into account the whole period of ownership.  This includes any period when you’re not an Australian resident when they calculate a gain or loss for CGT purposes.

4-Getting the correct Visa to move to London.

So depending on the reasons behind your moving to London from Australia you may already know just what sort of visa will apply in your situation.  Just in case you’re not sure or if you have a significant other who will be coming with you here is a brief list of the types available.  Now the UK office that handles visas has changed names from the UK Border Agency to “UK Visas and Immigration” which seems to be more descriptive at least.  You can get more detailed information by visiting www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-border-agency  So if you are coming to London to work, settle, study or visit the UK this is who will issue your visas.  There are a number of types of visas and here’s a brief rundown.

  • Skilled worker visa: Or called a Tier 2 General Visa, which is the one that will allow you to live and work in the UK, which can either be specified as a Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List visa, or it can be sponsored by an employer who has been unable to fill their position with someone already settled in the UK. These are requirements the employer worries about, not you.
  • Highly skilled worker visa: This type is for people who already are in the UK under the Highly skilled migrant Programme. This covers independent lawyers, writers, composers, or artists. If you didn’t apply before 06, April of last year than this option no longer is available to you.
  • Ancestry visa: If your grandparent was born a UK citizen and you are a Commonwealth Citizen then this is the correct visa for you.
  • Youth mobility scheme visa: Or a tier 5 visa and is just for those between the ages of 18 and 30. It entitles you to live and work in the UK for up to two full years.  It does have a monetary requirement that you have saved a verifiable £1,890 in order to make application.
  • Student visa: This is called a tier 4 visa General visa and are for those students wishing to study and visit and live in the UK. The minimum age is 16 years old and you have to have been offered a place on a course in England, have a good working knowledge of the English language and enough funds to support yourself and pay for the approved course you have a spot in.

5- Picking a spot to live in.

This is again something that can be determined at least partly by your reason for moving to London from Australia.  If you are working someplace you know of for sure you will want to reside in that zone for public transport if you can afford to in order to save money on your daily commute.  But if you are looking to settle around other Aussies than there are a few places they seem to populate more than others.    Some of the biggest Aussie settlements are in Acton, Queens Park, Earl’s Court, Sheppard Bush, and Willesden.  That’s not to say these are the only spots in The City and surrounding areas to find an Australian neighborhood, but these are certainly some of the bigger areas.  Since you will have the aid of your London Relocation agent who can help you find a place you can both afford and feel comfortable with you needn’t worry about this item as much as some of the others on this top ten list.  If you care to see prices in some of these neighborhoods now check out these pages; Acton Apartments,  Rentals in Queens Park , and Earl’s Court rentals, or just go to our find a flat now search page.

6- Cell phones and internet connections.

It’s going to be waaaay too costly to try and use and retain your Australian sim card from the UK, so you will want to purchase a UK sim card when you arrive in London.   Like Australia, there is no shortage of mobile phone providers in the UK to select from.  Some of the biggest are Vodafone, 02, Virgin, and EE. Most all have pay-as-you-go, SIM only, or monthly contract offers.  Instead of trying  to recommend any in particular it’s best to seek out the consumer comparison sites.  We’ve found a few useful, they are, in no particular order, www.moneysupermarket.com/mobile-phones/ ; www.uswitch.com/mobiles/ ; www.comparethemarket.com/mobile-phones/ and www.confused.com/mobile-phones/

Getting a Wifi signal in London is pretty much a given everywhere that is public, like cafes, restaurants, hotels and pubs.  Even most of the underground and overground stations have wifi these days, and you will get to those if you plan on moving around town anyplace.

7- Open up a bank account.

You will certainly need to take care of this first thing when you are moving to London from Australia.  This is something that your London Relocation agent can help with, but we also have a pretty complete explanatory post on how to open a bank account and what documents you will need to do it here on our blog.  One thing that is different aside from opening a bank account is getting money here from Australia.  If you go to the institutional banks to transfer money you are certainly going to pay top dollar to do it in fees and bank charges, but you will also likely take a beating in the exchange rate the bank gives you. The alternative we suggest is to use a transfer service, its far less expensive and the exchange rates are generally more competitive.  There are a number of services like Transferwise.com and 1st Contact Forex which is an International money transfer company.  They run promotions that even make your first transfer free so check around for the lowest cost, but these are two to get you started.

However, we do not want to minimize the importance of setting up your bank account in a UK bank. If you already have an account in Australia with Barclay’s bank or HSBC then you are in luck as both operate in the UK, so if you don’t have one yet you may want to consider doing this while you’re still in Australia.  Either way, if you plan to work in London most employers direct deposit your pay directly to your bank account.  Also, some landlords will want to see that you’ve established an account in the UK.

8-Get familiar with the public transport and The Tube.

By far, moving to London from Australia will be the most different when it comes to getting about town.  Invest in some really good walking shoes because as you will see you have to walk to the transport stations everyplace in London.  Though there are so many underground and overground Tube Stations and rail stations that you will likely feel pretty overwhelmed.  Not to worry, we’ve a number of posts here on the London Relocation blog about getting familiar with London’s intricate transport systems and alternatives, as well as how to pay for such transport.  Search our blog for the “Oyster card” or check out the latest 10 top transport differences post here.  But mentally divorce yourself from having a car and driving in London, even if you could afford to bring your vehicle over, there is an astronomical fee for parking and it’s just too cost prohibitive.

9-Canceling private health insurance when moving to London from Australia.

In Australia, you know the importance of carrying health insurance and the penalty or Medicare levy surcharges you can be subject to.  While this may be one bill you can’t wait to unload you’d best do some checking before you cancel your policy.  Turns out that if you are working in the UK that the income you make here will be added to any from Australia and counted toward your Medicare Threshold.  Bummer eh?  So for instance, say you made 20k before leaving Australia, and you will be earning £75,k at your new gig in London.  The Australian government counts your total towards your threshold earnings as the full 95K.  So if you are single you would fall into the $90,000-$105,000 tax bracket and be charged a Medicare levy surcharge of 1.0% on the $20,000 taxable income, or a total of $200.  For just this reason you want to check with your agent or fund to see what you will save before you cancel your policy.  And one more thing, travel medical insurance is not a substitute for private patient hospital cover.

10-Clear your calendar for January 26th each year.

In the UK there is no doubt what you’re going to be doing on Australia Day in the UK, 26, January every year….pub-in it!  Be ready for a bunch of Brits to crash the party and wear Australian flag shirts.  Though there are a number of Walkabout pubs making your local street a great place to gather and have a pint or a few, there is one place that is Mecca for Aussies from down under in London…a little place known as “the Reddy” or The Redback Tavern.  This is the best place for Australasian live music you can find.  Its right in the middle of Acton, and it has three bars in one.  There is also a huge split level dance floor and a massive beer garden.  The Reddy springs for free bus service if you are traveling within a 1 mile radius, but it will do drop-offs and pick-ups in Acton over a mile if you’ve more than 4 people celebrating with you.