A lot of people stumble across my blog looking for inspiration and tips on making the move over here themselves, so in honour of my huge milestone I thought I would share some of the tips that I have learned from my move to Edinburgh.....
Before you book your one way ticket you should take a look at what's happening in Edinburgh (or any other UK city you are moving to) around the time when you want to arrive. Every year Edinburgh hosts a variety of massive festivals (aka The Fringe and Hogmanay) that are great to experience, but are awful times to try and find a flat to rent. A lot of flats will be let on a short term agreement for the festival and this rate is often WAY more then what it would go for any other time of year. I would recommend arriving in Edinburgh a few months before these events as they are actually great times to find some work and that'll give you time to secure a place to rent before festival prices kick in.
2. Sort out your bank account BEFORE you travel
You may be tempted to just sort things out when you arrive here, but I would recommend that you do it before you leave home. If you need help organising your VISA for the UK (if you need one) then I recommend using 1st Contact, who not only helped me make sense of all of the paperwork, but they also help me set up a bank account for the UK and make a international money transfer to the account. I cannot stress how important it is to have your bank account sorted before you arrive. You'll also need some character references or a reference from a previous landlord to be able to sign up to a rental agreement here so arranging this in advance will save you time when you arrive.
3. Only sign a lease with a Letting Agent
It may seem like a no-brainer for some but believe me when I say some people come over here and sign a lease with a private landlord without knowing the rules and regulations for renting in the UK and then end up in a lot of trouble. I highly recommend that when you move here that you only sign a lease through a letting agent- they liaise with the landlord on your behalf and most property companies have their own maintenance people who can come and fix problems for you at short notice. Letting Agents also collect your bond/ deposit money that you pay when you first agree to a rent and it is then kept with a 3rd party to avoid any horror stories of landlords not returning bond money when you move out. If you're looking to rent in Edinburgh, I recommend Factotum and s1rental as a great place to start.
4. Get to know the area
From experience, I can tell you that reading about an area in your Lonely Planet guide is vastly different to actually having to live in that area. Before you make a decision on signing a lease, I would recommend you spend a bit of time in the area you want to rent. Check things like the bus links to the city centre, supermarkets and shops nearby and how safe the area is. Edinburgh is generally a pretty safe city, but its worth checking how safe it is at night, especially if you want to be walking home after a night out.
5. Invest in a Lothian Bus pass
I don't know where I would be without my bus pass. Lothian Buses operates some of the best city bus routes I've come across in any country. They have a bus route to just about anywhere you would want to go. Bus passes are around £50 a month (depending on whether you are a student or sign up to a direct debit), but the pass gets you unlimited travel on any Lothian bus route, the Night Bus, the Airlink (the airport bus) and also the relatively new Tram route.
You can't work in the UK without one. The National Insurance card is your tax number and most employers will ask for this during the application process. You can apply for one by filling out a form at Job Centre, and you usually get your card in the post pretty quickly.
7. Be realistic in your job hunt
FACT: For Aussies making the move to the UK, the salaries in the UK are probably going to be a lot lower then what you can get in Australia- but you're here for the experience right? When I moved to Edinburgh I applied for a variety of different jobs and wasn't too fussy with what I got to begin with. The first two jobs I had over here, I got through the website www.gumtree.com, so I definitely recommend you take a look there for your job search. If you are wanting something a little more professional then s1jobs is a great place to start. If you want bar work then most bars/ restaurants advertise vacancies in their windows and you can just drop your CV in. Edinburgh has a lot of recruitment agencies as well so it might be worth dropping your CV in there as well.
8. Watch your pennies
Moving to the UK can be a big expense as you set yourself up and find a new job, so you're going to want to watch your pennies. Let me introduce you to my two favourite stores when I first moved here- Poundland and Pound Stretcher. As their names suggest, they are stores where everything is £1 or a little over £1. Here, you can buy pretty much everything- toiletries, household cleaning products, pots, pans, kitchen items, duvets, pillows, food, sweets, stationary.... the list could go on. When I needed to set up my flat with household appliances and toiletries etc this is where I found it all and all for a fraction of what it would cost if you went to other stores or supermarkets.
9. Make friends with your work buddies
Edinburgh people tend to stick to their friend groups- and you're either a work colleague or a friend they've had since school. It's in your best interest to make friends with your work buddies and go along to after work drinks to meet new people and start a bit of a social life for yourself. This might seem a bit obvious, but even if you aren't keen on your work colleagues you'll still be in a social environment where you can meet others. Also, I cannot recommend highly enough that you take up a hobby. The University of Edinburgh offers short courses in a range of subjects (hello learning and friend making!), or you could join a gym (which is actually where I met all of my Edinburgh friends).
10. It's okay to panic!
Undoubtedly there is going to be a moment (probably several) when you panic and question why the hell you gave everything up to move somewhere new. I'm not going to lie, sometimes it's going to be tough. Especially when your friends back home get together to share a birthday or milestone and all you get to do is look at the pictures on Facebook. You're probably going to want your Mum a lot more then what you ever did when you were at home, and it's totally okay to burst into tears.....but I'm telling you now that it is all worth it. Every hard moment is often counteracted with many more moments of happiness.
Moving overseas was the best decision I have ever made, I've travelled to some amazing places, met some amazing people, worked in jobs I never thought I would find myself in, grown as a person, met the love of my life, but most importantly discovered the kind of person I am. Yes, I've had tears and many moments of doubt, but I wouldn't change any of them for an moment. It's okay to have your panic moments, but just remember why you wanted to move in the first place and be thankful for every new thing you see and experience- there's plenty of time to be safe and boring when you are old!