If you’re an accountant looking at relocating to London, first of all, great choice! London is one of the world’s most vibrant and interesting cities, offering a genuinely unique place to live and a gateway to businesses and cultures from all around the globe. As an accountant, there are a lot of amazing work opportunities for you in London, however, there are a few things that you will need to understand before you make the move.
Here’s what you can expect as an accountant relocating to London…
The most obvious aspect is that, if you’re not a citizen of the UK or EU you’ll need to have your visa sorted before hopping on a plane.
For the majority of people relocating to the UK for work, who don’t have a passport from the UK or EU, a work visa is required. There are some exceptions to this – for example, if you’re a student you will only need a student visa – but assuming you’re a full-time accountant coming here to work, a work visa is a must-have.
When it comes to immigration advice it’s always best to go directly to the source, which in this case is the GOV.UK website. Here you will find all the information you need about visa requirements and how to apply.
To give you a head start, the CliffsNotes version is that if you’re from America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or are a national for certain other countries, you’ll be able to enter the UK initially using as a visa-free tourist. This does not give you the right to work. But it may be easier to sort your visa out once you’re here. That being said, it’s not necessarily the best strategy, as the practicalities of living while not employed often lead people to take on work before they’re eligible. If you’re caught working without the proper visa you will more than likely be deported and may be banned from re-entering the country for up to ten years.
Once you’ve secured your visa you’ll want to arrange somewhere to live while you’re in London. With the option to either buy, rent, or house share, there are plenty of options. Renting somewhere before you arrive is a good idea – it can be tricky finding great accommodation in the city due to demand, and you don’t want to risk arriving and not being able to line somewhere up.
That being said, if you’re able to deal with the uncertainty of not having somewhere secured before your arrival, and staying in temporary accommodation such as a hotel or bed and breakfast while you find your feet, it’s better to wait. For one thing, unless you already know where you’ll be working you could inadvertently end up with a killer commute. For another, various areas of London offer incredible diversity in terms of atmosphere.
Getting to know the city before deciding which part of it you want to live (and indeed, work) is a good idea.
If you’re tempted to buy a place, try to resist the urge for a while. Buying and selling property in London is both time-consuming and expensive. Give yourself time to really settle in and find the best possible place to put down roots before you commit, as it’s well worth getting this right first time!
The most common complaint from Londoners (aside from the weather!) is the commute when you’re not within walking distance of work in London. This is one of the reasons we recommend settling in and finding your role before committing to a place to live. But even then, it’s not always possible to find somewhere that’s in easy walking distance of home. For 90+% of people, it’s not possible. An increasingly popular option is to cycle around the city, but this isn’t for the faint-hearted, partly due to the traffic, and mostly due to that pesky weather.
If you’re working outside London but living in the city, you might consider a car or a car service such as Zipcar or Zipvan. For everyone else, you’re relying on public transportation, and there are a few tips to bear in mind:
● Where possible try to live and work on the same transportation line – there are a few, including National Rail, DLR, Overground and the Tube. It will save you a lot of time transferring if you’re able to get from home to work and back on a single line.
● A disproportionate amount of attention is given to the Tube, but don’t rule out trains running on National Rail, particularly if you’re in South London.
● Another good option is to live on a DLR and/or Overground line.
● Avoid using the bus! While there are 50% more journeys by bus than tube on a daily basis, the buses are notoriously unreliable and frequently don’t show up at convenient times.
● You’ll hear a lot of talk about an Oyster card as the best way to pay for your travel. If you’re commuting five times a week, during peak times, it is almost certainly the most cost-effective way to travel. However, if you’re commuting at non-peak times, or don’t work standard days/shifts, it might not be.
● Taxis are always an option in London, and the iconic Black Cab is frequently thought to be the only late-night option. Just be aware they’re expensive options, and you’re likely better getting an Uber – they’re usually half the price, and you can get your first ride free.
And now we come to the reason you’re moving to London in the first place – work. With the London economy booming, and the price of living in the city high, finding the right role as quickly as possible is paramount. If you’re not a citizen of the UK you probably won’t have National Insurance Number. The first thing to do in your job search is to get one, you can learn more about the process, and apply here.
If you’re looking at relocating to London and need help finding the perfect accountancy position, get in touch.