New to UK? London? Our guide to help you hit the ground running

Welcome to London

This guide is basically all the stuff I wish someone told me!

So hopefully it will make your life easier.

Click on the tabs below to be directed to tips or alternatively scroll down.

Uk travel info        Money Matters        uk phone

finding work        accomodation        money saving tips

fun events


Travelling on Public Transport

The Transport for London (TFL) website is a good source for information including pricing.

Getting an Oyster Card/Contactless Card or App: You have a choice of using a Contactless card or Oyster Card to pay for use on public London transport.  An oyster card can be obtained at at the airport and London train stations. You pay a small deposit for the oyster card which you can get back when returning.

Download the TFL/Oyster Card App and register your card which enables you to track your journeys on London's transport as well as payments made using an Oyster or Contactless card. 

Apps for Getting Around London:

Bus Times gives you a real time countdown for when your bus arrives and also has an excellent Satander Bikes locatorCity Mapper works out your journey options for you and is super useful, TFL: Oyster and Contactless tracks your journeys and helps manage your Oyster/Contactless Cards. Uber and Kapten are both value for money taxi services. Tube Map is a useful tool for journey planning.

Bus Times      City Mapper    TFL: Oyster 

Uber                  Kapten            Tub

Scroll below to the phone section for the more great Apps for London



Basic Money Matters

Getting a National Insurance Number you will need to arrange an appointment which is just making a simple call to 0800 141 2075. You can find more information here on our website. Please do not pay anyone for this service as its free and do it as soon as you arrive as it will take time.

Getting a Bank Account Look to get a Bank Account  once you have a UK phone number as we recommend opening an account with a online current account provider such as Monese, Monzo and Starling. This is far simpler than applying with the High Street Banks.(They usually want proof of address documents which make it difficult to acquire when you have just arrived in the country.)   If you want to use a High Street Bank wait a few months once you have the required proof of address requirements before applying and use a online current account in the interim.

How much tax you should pay?  Listen to Taxman is a good tool and works out money you will receive after tax.

How much money should you be earning? Payscale is an excellent site to understand your value but also speak to recruitment agencies relevant in your industry.

International Money When travelling abroad we recommend getting a Revolut prepaid Mastercard/Visa that uses interbank exchange rates, doesn't charge fees for spending unless exceeding £5000 a month and allows you to withdraw up to £200 a month for free at international ATM's.

Money Transfers The best way to save money transferring money internationally is either through Transferwise or InstaRem

Insurance Matters (Protecting your money)

Insurance (Car, Home, Healthcare etc)Try Go Compare, Compare the Market, Confused, MoneySupermarket

Travel Insurance Travelsupermarket or try Coverwise

*** Looking to Hire a Car in Europe: Organise Car Hire Excess Insurance prior to reaching the car hire desk. You will save significantly on what the car hire company offers and protect yourself against in damage claims and high excess costs! Try ICarinsurance or TravelSupermarket.





Getting a UK Phone Service

To find the best Phone deal we recommend Hoppy which is a comparison site.

London Stranger's recommendation is using either GiffGaff (on the O2 Network) or Voxi (on the Vodafone Network) pay as you go as you are not locked in to a contract and they represent great value for money!

Best Apps for London

Apps for Getting Around London:

Bus Times gives you a real time countdown for when your bus arrives and also has an excellent Satander Bikes locatorCity Mapper works out your journey options for you and is super useful, TFL: Oyster and Contactless tracks your journeys and helps manage your Oyster card. Uber and Kapten are both value for money taxi services. Tube Map is a useful tool for journey planning.

Bus Times      City Mapper    TFL: Oyster 

Uber                  Kapten            Tube

Apps for Communication:

The BBC News is good for up to date information, while BBC Sport is great for sports results and coverage. Tune in radio gives you all the radio stations around the world (including your favorites back home, while Google Translate is great for travelling as well as for those with basic English.

BBC News        BBC Sport    Tune In Radio

Google Translate


Apps for London Life:

Dusk is good for bars and nightlife, Opentable great for dining out, Vivino rates the wine you are looking to buy while Nectar Card (Sainsburys), Waitrose and Tesco are supermarkets which offer rewards for loyalty.

 Dusk                Opentable        Vivino

Nectar            Waitrose          Tesco Club Card


Apps to Save you Money:

Quidco is a service that will give you cashback for purchases and Voucher cloud is great for offers with shopping and entertainment.

 Quidco          Voucher Cloud 


Apps for Travel:

Trainline        Momondo      Currency

Booking        Airbnb




Getting a job: Some useful tips

Recruitment Agencies and Job Boards are important tools in finding work in London but also don't be afraid to approach companies direct. Everybody's job hunting experience will be different depending on industry, experience level and location so remain positive and work hard in finding the work you seek and luck will eventually fall your way.

Recruitment Agencies

  • Register with agencies relevant to your search the REC is a good place to source agencies.
  • If meeting with them dress professionally to make an impression (so they trust you more to put you forward for roles)
  • Once registered contact regularly so you stay in their thoughts when roles come in
  • There is no rule to how many agencies you should register with.

Job Boards

  • Popular job boards worth putting your CV on include Reed, Monster and Total Jobs. Jobs Today is a good App and Indeed also has a lot of vacancies advertised. Broadbean is good for sourcing industry specific job boards
  • Make sure you put in a UK address near to where you are going to be looking for work so your CV gets found by recruiters when they do location based searches.
  • Login to the sites every 2-3 days so your CV gets picked up in recruiters searches.
  • Look for industry specific job boards relevant to the work you seek and use the boards to source relevant recruitment agencies. 

Approaching Companies Direct

  • The best way to find the work you want and companies like it as it shows that you're proactive, interested and they don't have to pay a fee.
  • A good way to source suitable companies is to search for industry exhibitions and look at the exhibitors list. Look at the Excel, Olympia and NEC Exhibition Centres for industry events as well as googling events in your industry.
  • Linkedin is also a good tool in which to source people in those companies that you want to approach.
  • Don't be afraid and look to approach both the HR person and potential hiring managers.


Finding a home and setting up yourself in London

Short Term Accommodation: 

For Hotels: Try our London Hotel Guide (powered by or TravelSupermarket (which compares hotel booking sites including

For private rooms/properties Try Airbnb, 9 Flats and Gumtree.

For Hostels: Try Hostel World or Hostel Bookers.

Long Term Accommodation:

House Share Options: Spare Room, IdealFlatmate and Gumtree.

Easy Room Option: Lyvly is a new room option in furnished homes to a home spec. Designed for singles (they build social living/community into their service) and offering a solution ideal for those who may need/want to move around different suburbs in London all in the one tenancy! They also cater for expats relocating to the UK with no need for the renter to have a UK bill or bank account. 

Renting a property: Zoopla and Rightmove are good sites that will advertise properties to let. Also register with agencies local to the areas you are looking to live in.


Setting Your Home Up:

The value for money shops for home stuff such as bedding, cooking utensils etc are Ikea, Wilko, Homesense (Part of TK Maxx) as well as the Superstores for Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury

For Gas and Electricity Services use a comparison site such as Energy Helpline to help you source the best deal.

For Home Telecommunications Services (e.g Broadband) use Broadband Genie to help you source the best deal.

Save up to £537 on energy bills



Ten Money Saving Tips

Discount Dining Cards (Get up to 50% off your food bill)

Discount dining cards represent excellent value where you can get up to 50% off your food bill! There are three cards Taste Card, Gourmet Society and Dine Club. They all offer great incentives to join and represent excellent value. You only need 1 card between 2 people and as the cards are similar really only one of these cards although the excellent promotional incentives means you might want to trial all of them.

Cashback Sites (Average active members receive £300 back per year)

Cashback sites give you back cash on your purchases. Example they have an offer for £8.70 cashback on your first online grocery purchase above £45 at Tesco. So effectively you would be paying £37.30 for £45 of groceries when you get the cashback. This all adds up and makes it worth checking Quidco (click link below) with every online purchase you make! Signing up is Free click on the banner below!

Grocery Savings (Know the tricks)

      • Sign up to the different supermarket rewards cards, It's FREE and given you are going to be shopping at one of the supermarkets you might as well be rewarded. Scoring a 99p Rotisserie Chicken from Waitrose is an amazing feeling.
      • Know when your local supermarket puts out heavily reduced items to clear them. It is usually between 6pm-8pm and there are some great discounts that can be found. 
      • Most of the supermarkets offer a discount/cashback for every first online shop. At time of writing (Sainsbury, Tesco, Waitrose, Asda and Morrison) all had at least £7.50 cashback off first online shop. That represents £37.50 in your pocket. To find these discounts go to
      • The larger versions of the supermarkets all have more products and therefore more discounts/savings opportunities where as the smaller convenience versions of the stores can be considerably more expensive if shopping there regularly.
      • Mysupermarket is a comparison site for the various supermarkets so can be a good way of deciding where to shop and save money.

Movie Tickets (40% off, 2 for 1 tickets and Unlimited Movie tickets)

Car Hire for London, UK and Europe.

  • Owning a car in London is an expensive and often unnecessary cost. You may want to consider becoming a member of car sharing services such as ZipCar.
  • If looking to hire a car use a comparison site such as TravelSupermarket, Easy Rent Cars or Momondo to source the best deal.
  • When hiring a car don't purchase excess car hire insurance from the car hire desk. Excess car hire insurance is well worth purchasing and you can save a great deal of money sourcing it on either Travelsupermarket or ICarhireInsurance. You can't trust car hire companies not to try and sting you on even the smallest of scratches so Excess Car Hire Insurance is well worth it 


Booking Flights

  • Plan your trips well in advance and book as early as possible to get the best deals. Where possible avoid school holiday times.
  • Use a flight comparison site such as Momondo, Cheap Flights or Skyscanner to source the best flight deal.
  • Think outside the box. Look for nearby or connecting airports for cheaper flights. E.g Flights to Cancun and Havana might cost around £750 from London. Flights London to Miami can be found for around £300 at times. So it could be worth flying to Miami and using that as a base to fly to either Havana or Cancun where return flights might be £100. Therefore saving £350 on a direct flight! 
  • Factor in the cost of travel from the airport to your final destination, as some airports you fly to may not be as central as hoped and therefore cost more than if flying to a more centrally located airport. 
  • If you are good with managing money consider signing up to a BA American Express Card where you can acquire points and be rewarded with discounted flights and upgrades.
  • Happy to follow a great bargain, Jack's Flight Club sources cheap discounted flights if you are happy to travel during the time deals are on.
  • Be aware-if you have a cancelled or delayed flight longer than 3 hours you might be able to receive compensation. My Delayed Flight offers a no win, no fee service and can help you obtain compensation of between £210-540!


London Sightseeing

London has so many fun things to see and do it can be worth planning both for your time to make sure you can fit in what you want to see as well as save money.

  • London has a lot of free attractions so you can enjoy the city without spending a lot of money!
  • Book well ahead if you want a to enjoy the view over London from Sky Gardens. Its FREE!
  • There are a lot of wonderful attractions that cost money e.g Tower of London, Churchill War Rooms, London Eye, Shard, London Dungeons, Hampton Court Palace etc....and many more. Consider purchasing a London Pass (limited by time offering a 1,2,3,6 or 10 day pass) which can save you considerable money or London Explorer Pass (limited by attractions you can visit) as both passes represent great value for money as well as saving you time in queues.


Value for Money Stores

The UK is one of the worlds great shopping hubs and that comes with some really excellent value for money stores. This link will direct you to many of the great value for money shops in London and in doing so will leave you with a smug feeling when making some wonderful purchases.


Comparison sites

Comparison sites make it easy to find the best deal. We have put this list together to make it easy for you.

What you are looking for? Where to get the best deal? What you are looking for? Where to get the best deal?
Booking Flights

Momondo, Cheap Flights or Skyscanner

Booking Insurance (General)

Go Compare, Compare the Market, Confused, MoneySupermarket

Booking Accommodation

TravelSupermarket or Trivago

Financial Services

Go Compare, Compare the Market, Confused, MoneySupermarket

Booking Car Hire

TravelSupermarket, Easy Rent Cars or Momondo

Looking for the best Gas/Energy Deal

Energy Helpline

Booking Travel Insurance

TravelSupermarket or 

Looking for a Broadband/TV Supplier

Broadband Genie

Sending Parcels Home/Man with a van

Parcels Compare and Compare Man with a van

Supermarket Shopping




Useful tools to help you make the most of your time in London

Our 2020 Calendar for interesting events happening in London, the UK and Europe.

Major Music festivals Guide for 2020.....for London, UK and Europe.

Major Sporting Events in London for 2020

London Theatre happening in 2020

Arts and Culture London Highlights for 2020

And for more events check out the London Stranger Events Directory where you can search by category.



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