Thursday December 22nd, 2011
After moving to London many young professionals are left confused about how to get into the social, singles scene. With London being such a large city getting out and making friends can easily become overwhelming. Sometimes just having a common denominator is all that it takes to make new friends after an international relocation.
That is precisely why I recommend participating in a pub crawl settling after a corporate relocation. Not only is a pub crawl a great way to meet other young professionals, it’s also a good way to learn one’s way around the city. With pub crawls ranging from guided to self-guided and covering a variety of topics and themes there is bound to be something for everyone.
I’m most impressed with The London Pub Crawl Company. They offer everything from free PDF downloads of pub crawls to very affordable downloads of pub crawls with interesting facts and history included to guided pub crawls. There crawls are located throughout the city and include themes like “Jack the Ripper”, “Notting Hill” and “Oxford Street”.
Even if those fresh to the city after an international relocation are forced to go it alone it will still get one out and about and allow them to discover pubs in their neighborhood. Participating in a pub crawl is also a great conversation starter while enjoying a pint in one of the listed pubs. London relocation agents all agree that the best way to get over homesickness for the States is to jump into a social scene and start meeting people.
Relocation jobs can be very demanding emotionally as well as physically and mentally. In order for one’s relocation to be successful and enjoyable one must acclimate to the city and there is no better way to do that than over a pint. Regardless of whether young professionals are seasoned travelers or here for the first time, visiting pubs through the eyes of themed pub crawl is a creative way to meet people, find a nearby neighborhood pub, and hopefully kick-start a wonderfully enjoyable relocation to London.
Wednesday December 21st, 2011
After moving to London many families wonder what they will do with their children. If the kids are school age things are pretty easy, but for those families with children under school age it gets a bit hairy. Much like in the States those new to London due to international relocation have several options when looking for childcare during the day.
A popular choice for many families moving to London due to international relocation is to hire a nanny. This way young children can stay in their home during the day and do not have to go through the disruption of changing locations. The other advantage is that one’s child is guaranteed one-on-one interaction with the caretaker. The average cost of a nanny in London is £10 per hour or $15/hour.
Nursery is the British way of saying day care, plain and simple. Much like American daycares families moving to London can expect nurseries to provide educationally based child care with similar child to adult ratios as in America. Nurseries are excellent choices for older preschoolers who will benefit from peer interaction. The cost of nursery care ranges but on average is £1500/mo or $2250/mo ($625/wk).
A choice growing in popularity for all families in England, not just those new to London for relocation jobs, is an Au Pair. An Au Pair is a young woman who lives with the family and provides childcare in the home. They do not work around the clock but rather the same hours as a nanny would. The benefit to an Au Pair is that because they live with a family they are more flexible in their availability. Many Au Pairs come from other countries. While an Au Pair costs on average £100/wk ($150/wk) families are required to also pay housing and transportation fees.
In the States this type of child care is called in-home daycares. Many people (often with their own children) babysit in their homes. This is popular with Londoners and costs less than a nursery or nanny. On average child minders are paid £4/hr ($6/hr).
When moving for an international relocation finding a reliable and trustworthy childcare provider can be a scary venture. Relocation agents will work with families to find a quality provider but ultimately the choice is the family’s. Regardless of what type of childcare a family decides upon it is safe to say the cost will be significantly higher in the UK. This is important for families to understand when considering moving.
Wednesday December 21st, 2011
The first decision to make for those moving here will be where to find the perfect rental. Choosing whether one will become a Northerner or from Sarf London is the first step. There are many factors to consider when making the decision on which neighborhood to move to and while relocation agents can provide useful insight, the choice will ultimately be based upon families’ preferences.
Sarf London, as it is known to the locals, is a wonderful place to live. Not traditionally the haunt of Americans moving to London, the high prices of accommodations elsewhere have many expats looking further afield for a home. The biggest drawback to living in south London is the transport system. Despite massive improvements during the last year, there are still fewer tube stations available than in north London. Those choosing to move to Sarf London will have to familiarize themselves with the bus routes and overground train system.
People often make the assumption that South London is somewhat shabbier and poorer that the North. This could not be further from the truth. Neighborhood’s like Wimbledon and Clapham have become premium addresses in South London. Families moving due to relocation jobs will still have to hunt around if on a budget, but South London has some real potential and opportunity.
South London has some of the biggest parks and open spaces, and while they are not as popular as the central London Royal Parks, areas like Clapham Common are huge and within walking distance of many suburbs in South London. South London is also the prefect launching point for travel into England. Families don’t have to battle the traffic to get out of town when they’re living south of the river. It’s refreshing to know after an international relocation that one is less than an hour away from the countryside and the seaside when living in South London. Travel by car also becomes a realistic possibility when families choose South London as a home.
When moving the most important decision is where one will live. There is no right or wrong location and relocation agents understand that every family has unique needs. Rather than base one’s new address on popular opinions and trendy hotspots, families involved in international relocation should look for the neighborhood that best suits them.
Tuesday December 20th, 2011
Many Americans moving to London carefully avoid and traditional British dish with ‘pudding’ in the title. While many of the puddings consumed by the British are very different from American cuisine, there are a few that are delightful regardless of one’s familiarity with puddings or lack thereof. No British Christmas dinner is complete without the Christmas Pudding and those Americans spending their first Christmas in London because of international relocation should consider trying their hand at their own Christmas pudding.
When many Americans moving to London think about pudding they think of a wonderful creamy children’s treat found in a box mix. Most have never tried a real pudding or know the origins of the dish. London is home to many puddings but Christmas pudding is perhaps one of the most famous. A sweet dish, traditionally served ablaze, the Christmas pudding is as much a part of Christmas as the turkey in England.
Traditionally Christmas pudding is made on Stir-It-Up-Sunday, or five Sundays before Christmas, in accordance with the Church of England’s calendar. On that Sunday the ingredients are combined and every member of the family stirs the pudding to ensure good luck. At least thirteen ingredients are used in the pudding to represent Christ and his twelve disciples. Often little trinkets are added to the pudding much like a King Cake during Mardi Gras.
Every family has their own special recipe for a Christmas pudding but most have the same basic ingredients. Traditionally, beef suet is used for the base of the pudding although now many people opt for vegetarian suet for health reasons. Added to the suet are candied fruits, dried fruit, fruit juices (lemon and orange) and spices. Rather than baking the mixture it is boiled and then left out to ‘cure’ for several weeks, intensifying the flavor. A day before being served the pudding is soaked in brandy. The presentation of the Christmas pudding is as important as the pudding itself. After Christmas dinner is finished the pudding is lit on fire with the alcohol from the brandy burning off.
Although a Christmas pudding may seem exotic to many Americans moving to London it is a fun tradition that is sure to make those finding themselves in London after an international relocation feel a part of all the festivities. The best way to combat feelings of sickness during the holidays is for those in London due to relocation jobs to try to incorporate native traditions and festivities.
Thursday December 15th, 2011
There are several details of relocation to London that one will only be able complete once the plane has landed and they are on the ground. London relocation agents will be able to sort out quite a few of the details like opening a bank account and finding families the perfect flat. Not all things can be done by London relocation services; getting healthcare is something one has to do in person.
The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK requires that all new residents register in person at a General Practitioner (GP) to be eligible for all of the healthcare benefits while living in London. Once a GP is found in one’s neighborhood, they will have to make an appointment to see the doctor as well as register at the practice.
Once arriving at the doctors rooms Americans new to London from corporate relocation need to request a GMS1 form which should be completed with all one’s medical details. It is important to bring a passport and visa along to the doctor as one may be asked for some proof of identity by the GP. There is no waiting period for people to register with a GP. Those who are legally allowed to work and live in London are automatically eligible for healthcare.
Once the GMS1 form is completed the practice will forward the application to the Primary Care Trust that will issue a NHS card, number, and let inform all covered that they are on the system. It can take a couple of weeks, though, so those needing medical attention before that should use the free clinics, (they really are very good), or go to a local hospital.
There is one requirement of the system that may take some of time. All people wishing to join the NHS have to register at a doctor in person. Americans moving here cannot register on behalf of their spouse or family when they arrive in the UK. This is why it is important to spend the first week after relocation sorting out the details before starting relocation jobs and getting too busy.
Anyone needing advice on how to register or where to find a GP can inquire with London relocation agents or visit the NHS website which has a comprehensive list of all areas and the addresses of all the GP’s.
Thursday November 17th, 2011
It’s not just the different words or even the strange array of British accents that befuddles many Americans moving to London. It’s also the nuances in speech that many expats struggle with. If you are planning your relocation to London then you might want to tune into British television so you’re attuned when you arrive.
It cannot be said that the English speak “better English” than Americans. Just a quick listen to the array of accents in London and the amount of slang used, puts paid to that theory in an instant. They do however speak a language that is filled with slight nuances and differences in meaning.
If you’re moving to London as part of a relocation jobs package, you may have to spend some time figuring out what your colleagues are trying to tell you. The British tend not to be as direct as people from other countries. They don’t tell you what you need to know in short sharp sentences and they very rarely get to the point precisely.
Some call it eloquence, others call it irritating…
Self-deprecation is another aspect of business life that you’ll have to get used to after your relocation to London. People in the business world tend to downplay their contributions. This means that grand boasts and “blowing your own horn” is considered uncouth in the business environment in the UK.
For all the British sense of decorum and reserve, the one thing you will have to get used to is the sarcasm and even the use of swear words in casual conversation. Don’t wither and fade into the background if you’re the recipient of a sarcastic comment. What you consider hurtful and even offensive, may just be part of some light-hearted office banter.
As a foreigner, moving here is not just about organizing a home or finding your way around the city by tube. It’s also about immersing yourself deeply into the life and the culture of the country. You don’t have to lose your own culture, but fitting in and adapting your style of English usage could help you out quite a bit if you’re starting a new job after your relocation to London.
Thursday November 17th, 2011
Your professional London relocation services company will ask you a lot of questions when you contact them with regards to helping you with your relocation. Today’s blog entries are not about the trendiest or most fashionable areas that many Americans moving to London look for, but rather the facets of you as an individual that will help your relocation agents find the best area for you!
Relocation Jobs and the Importance of Your Commute
One of the most important aspects of relocation and choosing a new home will be the distance you are prepared to travel to get to and from work. Your relocation agents will ask you for the physical address of your offices so that they have a good idea of the closest public transport hubs and the amount of time it will take you to travel to work in rush hour.
Some lines are more crowded than others during ‘peak time’ and you’ll have to decide how long you’re prepared to travel each day. If you don’t mind a commute involving a couple of tube changes and bus ride or two then you can live pretty much anywhere in the city. If you’re looking for quick and convenient, your choices of neighborhood may be restricted. The average commute for a local is about an hour, unless you’re prepared to pay the exorbitant process of living in the heart of the city and being able to walk to work each day.
If you have a social network here or are planning your relocation with children this will be another factor in your choice of neighborhood. This is a huge city and if you have friends or family in a certain area you may want to tell your London relocation agents that you’d like to be close to your support structure as far as possible.
You don’t have to make up your mind over the internet, most relocation agents will organize a list of properties in different neighborhoods to show you within a day of arriving in the city.
Wednesday November 9th, 2011
What do you really need to plan for when you are moving to London? What comes first? All the planning that you do in your country of origin will be leading you towards one goal: how to hit the ground running when you arrive at Heathrow. Touchdown Tips An international relocation to London can be a challenging and stressful time and one of the best ways to make it stress free and easy is to use the services of a company that specializes in London relocation services. Your London relocation agents will be able to help you with the big details of your move, including finding a new London apartment, as well as opening a bank account and dealing with smaller details like registering at the council and a doctor.
Get Your NI Number One of the most important details is getting a National Insurance number. If you’re being transferred as part of a relocation jobs package by your company then they will probably take care of the details for you. But what about your partner or spouse? You can ask your London relocation services company to help you with applying for an NI card. The purpose of an NI card and number is to allow the government to record your taxes and benefits. If you don’t have an NI number you will pay the emergency tax rate, which is much higher. An NI number also entitles you to free health care from all doctors and hospitals in London, as well as making applying for credit and store cards much easier.
Opening a UK bank account is also one of the first things you’ll want to do. If you carry on using your debit or credit cards from home, you’ll be paying through the nose for commissions on buying foreign exchange as well as increased bank charges and fees. Having a bank account in the UK is vital if you intend to rent or even buy property. It will also help you to get a phone contract, credit for car loans and a host of banking and financial services that you may need when you are moving here. If you’re worried about moving and the details involved, the best thing you can do is leave your worries in the capable hands of one of the professional relocation agents. They know where you’re coming from and they know where you need to be in the first weeks of your relocation.
Tuesday November 8th, 2011
While you’re busy dealing with the administration of moving to London you’re also going to have to deal with the emotional aspects surrounding an international relocation to London. Don’t think that you won’t have to deal with culture shock: It’s a very different culture in the UK!
It may be slightly easier if you’re moving to London and you speak English as your native tongue, but there are many differences that you’ll have to accept, get over, or deal with, so be kind to yourself during the first few months and know that what you’re feeling is normal.
London is a multi-cultural which makes it easier to find people who are going through the same thing that you are. There are over 350 foreign languages spoken in London alone, so you’re bound to find someone from home to help ease you through the caverns of culture shock.
It’s important though, not to only make friends with other expats. You may just be missing out on the opportunity to make new friends and speed up your immersion into the culture and the excitement of living here. Try to make an effort to become a part of your community.
Get out and participate in activities and hobbies in your neighborhood. It might be daunting to walk into your local pub and make friends over a pint of bitter, but you can join your local gym or take a class at your community center that interest you. Get involved with work events and activities and show that you’ll willing to try new and different aspects of life. The British are friendly, welcoming and will go out of their way to make you feel at home if you have the right attitude.
It can be hard for an accompanying spouse to make new friends if they don’t have the advantage of a relocation jobs package. You need to make an effort to get out and meet people on a daily basis after your relocation to try to adjust to culture shock. Get out, go shopping, learn as much as you can about your community, and your neighborhood. Ask people for help about classes and groups. One of the best ways of getting out and into your community is to volunteer at a charity after your relocation to London.
Tuesday November 8th, 2011
When you are starting to plan your relocation to London you need to have a good idea of what your monthly expenses could be in the first few months after you arrive. An international relocation is quite different to making a move within your home country. There are additional expenses that can take a substantial chunk out of your finances. You need to think about approaching your employer for a specific relocation jobs allowance to help you get settled.
Relocation to London – Comparing the cost of living
You can get a general comparison of the cost of living between different cities at Numbeo, and you’ll notice that while London is a bit lower than say, New York or even Sydney, if you’re moving from a smaller town and not getting any increase in your salary, you may struggle to make ends meet, especially in the first couple of months.
When you speak to your London relocation agents, get a quote on what you will be expected to pay when you sign the lease on your new home. You cannot make a direct comparison between rentals in New York and the equivalent in London because you might be expected to pay a holding deposit and a month’s rental in advance on top of your first month’s rental. You will also have to pay additional fees to get your utilities ‘turned on’, and pay an amount towards your council tax.
Relocation to London – Expenses you can expect in the First Month
- Double rental and perhaps a deposit. The best way to minimize your initial rental outlay is to source your accommodation through a reputable London relocation services agent. They really do understand the challenge of an international relocation and will make sure you know upfront what your costs will be.
- Council tax: You will have to register at the council and make arrangements to pay your yearly tax amount by direct debit order.
- Utilities: Your water, gas and electricity all may require a deposit to get them turned on and registered in your name.
- Television Licence: If you have a television, even if you only watch TV via your computer, you have to pay an annual TV licence.
- Internet connection/Telephone: You will have to pay to get connected to the World Wide Web and the world at large.
You will only be able to organize many of these expenses and bills if you have a UK bank account, so talk to your relocation agent about getting a bank account set up for you even before you arrive.
Monday November 7th, 2011
If this is your first time abroad and you’re getting excited about the opportunity of relocation you need to make sure that you’ve got your finances nailed down with your employer before you start packing.
We’ve developed a short list of items that you ought to ask as part of your negotiation and as a general guide to the cost of an international relocation:
Moving to London: Financial Checklist
- Salary – Will the salary offered as part of your relocation jobs package cover the cost of living in London?
- Housing/Accommodation: Will your employer help you with relocation to London housing costs?
- London relocation agents: Ask your employer if they can provide you with a third party London relocation services agent to help you find accommodation quickly. They will also be able to help you with smaller details that could become a big issue if you do it alone.
- Transportation Allowance: Does your employer have a transport scheme? This could have a big impact on where you are able to live and how long it takes to get to work each day.
- Visas: Will your employer pay for your visas and handle the submission and paperwork or will you be expected to do this yourself? Is your employer going to submit the paperwork on behalf of your spouse/partner?
- Moving costs: If you are keeping items in storage will you employers cover those costs? Do they have a limit on the amount that they are prepared to pay to ship your furniture and personal belongings to the UK?
- Will they pay all moving costs or just the transatlantic cost of moving?
- Are you eligible for a repatriation bonus to help you get settled?
- Taxes: Does your employer have a good package to handle taxes of Americans moving to London? Can they recommend a good international tax attorney to handle the issue of double taxation?
These are just a few of the issues that you need to raise with your employer when you are moving to London. Tomorrow we will discuss a list of typical expenses that you can expect to pay in the first two months of your relocation.
Monday November 7th, 2011
Many London relocation services agents will tell you that the very FIRST aspect of your move to London is to negotiate a great expat package with your employer. The chance to live and work in one of the most famous, fascinating and fabulous cities in the world could be decidedly dreary if you’re not paying attention to your salary and the package offered to you by your employer.
If you’re moving to London as part of an international relocation jobs program, your employer will likely have some experience of moving people around the world on secondment, but you still need to sit down and make sure you’re going to have enough money to cover your move and all that it entails.
Living in London is expensive, so you need to make sure that your new salary is a) market related, according to other jobs in the city of London and b) enough to sustain you in a comparable lifestyle. For many Americans moving to London this will mean a big increase, but before you get excited, the cost of living is much higher in London than in many American cities, so you need to do a bit of research before you sign the contract.
London Relocation Agents
If you are able to, try and negotiate that your employer makes use of professional relocation agents to help you with the challenge of finding an apartment. A good agent will have you into your new apartment in a day. If you’re going it alone you could spend months trying to find a landlord who will rent to foreigners and the credit rating from a British bank to cover your lease agreement.
You need to be very sure on the subject of tax when you are planning your relocation. You will be paying double taxes while you are living outside of the USA and you need to make sure that your package covers this. Your finances will form a big part of where you are going to be able to live and before agreeing to anything, you may want to do some research on your expected monthly expenses before you start. Consult with one of the professional relocation agents to get a better idea of what you should be asking for when you are negotiating your relocation jobs package.
Tuesday November 1st, 2011
One of the easiest ways to do research before your relocation is to watch as much ‘local’ news as you can before arriving in the city. For Americans moving to London this may be a case of watching BBC America as often as possible, but you can also tune into several television stations on the internet to get a good idea of what is happening before moving to London.
If you have never visited before, learning as much as you can bout the city will be a huge help when you finally arrive. It really is the small things that can make a big difference when you’re hopping continents. It will help you in so many different ways and give you an idea of what people are talking about when you’re trying to settle into your relocation jobs program. Although it is tempting to slide easily into an expat community after your relocation, you’ll experience so much more if you make an effort to get to know the locals.
Local news can be important when you’re moving to London.
If you’re still planning your relocation, you probably won’t be interested in learning about the fact that over 5,000 jobs have been cut from councils in the London area, but it could have an impact on service delivery in your neighborhood after moving. When you’re on the ground, you’ll want your local council to be accountable.
It works the other way as well, for many Americans moving here. The lack of news from back home can make you feel homesick. America and Canada are really only regarded as one of many international news stories and you won’t get in-depth local news like you used to. Thankfully CNN really is everywhere in the world, and you can probably get a lot of your favorite shows on satellite television, but for now you need to start watching English shows to get a handle on what you can expect after your relocation. It’ll help you decipher the accent and attune your ear to the way people speak in London especially if you watch a good cross section of shows that reflect the modern face of London.
Friday October 28th, 2011
If you have just completed your relocation to London and started your new job, you will probably be invited out on a Friday night for drinks after work. It is somewhat of a city institution and your colleagues are welcoming you to the city of London in the way that Londoners know best: Out for a boozy night on the town.
How to Handle a Night out with the Boys
If you are moving to London as part of a relocation jobs program, you’re going to want to settle in as fast as possible. Your London relocation agents will help you with the practical side of moving to the city, but you’ll have to get used to working and interacting in a new city with quite different working conditions. This is is a vibrant city and Londoners have active social lives that usually involve quite a bit more drinking than you are used to. It is very common to go out for drinks with the lads after work, any day of the week. It is a form of bonding and can carry on quite late into the night. If you are starting a new job, this is a great way to get to know your colleagues and co-workers and it will help you fit in and feel like you are part of the team.
Sometimes it can even be a part of the working day and it is quite acceptable for a work team to go to a pub at lunchtime and discuss business over a couple of pints and a pie. While drinking during the working day is a dismissible offence in many countries, it is the norm to have a tipple during working hours.
Best Tip for Americans Moving here: Do not try to keep up with amount of alcohol that locals can consume. They are notorious for being able to really put it away and still walk straight at the end of the evening. Four pints of British beer will have a decidedly greater effect on you that the same amount of American beer, which has lower alcohol content. This is probably why beer is not served in pitchers over here.
Thursday October 27th, 2011
Great advice, especially if you’re planning your relocation to London. If your international relocation jobs package allows for it, you should try to visit the city, a couple of months before you move, just to get an idea of what to expect. This is particularly important if you moving to London with your family, or are trying to find out which suburbs you would like to live in.
Consulting with professional London relocation agents can certainly help you to see what is available as well as possibly helping to narrow down your list. Giving your future potential neighbourhood a pre-emptive visit can also serve another function besides allowing you to see what home you want to rent. It’s also an opportunity to get to know what might lay in store for you, and it might throw up other things that you may have missed or had not considered when you first thought about moving. Of particular importance to those with family and kids, coming over for an early visit gives you the chance to ask for firsthand advice on what schools that are available for your kids.
At a bit of a loss as to how you’re going to get around after your relocation to London? Here again, going in for an early visit can let you test out the available services yourself. Found a place that suits you? Find out where the nearest places are for offering anything you might need, from a school, to a doctor, police, through to a library. These things can seem like trivialities or maybe not that important earlier, but when the time comes when you will need them, you’ll be grateful that you had thought to check it out as the effort to find the required information won’t be needed.
Remember, moving home can be a complicated affair, akin to a military undertaking. In that respect, you want you’ll have to plan for every eventuality and as such, an earlier visit and getting professional advice from your London relocation agents can only help your relocation to London.