Our resident Kiwi has compiled a list of frequently asked questions as well as helpful advice for Australians and New Zealanders moving to London during their gap year or OE.
Not from Australia or New Zealand? Read on any way for advice about moving to London.
What is the first step in planning a gap year?
Look at what you want from your OE and use this to help you find a base.
If you only speak English, the UK is a great base for your European travels and it will make finding work easier. The Netherlands or Norway are also good second options, as most people speak a high level of English.
Being an Au pair for 6-12 months is a good option for either case, as it will give you a chance to settle in, take language classes and make local connections, before potentially branching out on your own.
You will need to look at visa options for each country and depending on the passport you hold or your ancestry, you can get different visas.
We ran through the visa options for the UK here.
Contacting the specific embassy in New Zealand or Australia would be my first step. They will be able to inform you of your options.
Is London expensive?
Unfortunately, yes. Though if you have been living in Sydney or Auckland, it may not seem that bad.
Accommodation is some of the most expensive in the world and I have heard stories from other Kiwis about sharing a double bed. Needless to say, available rooms can be thin on the ground…
But there is another option: Find a live in position! Some of the benefits are:
- No need to find a room or flat, or pay rent for that matter.
- Food is covered too!
- Work is sorted. The family you live with will also need your help – and they’ll pay you for it.
- Avoid paying a big deposit and having to buy furniture. Money to use on travel instead!
- Help to settle in and someone to give you advice, should you need it
- Most families live in safe and well-connected areas. These are generally well out of the price range of your everyday backpacker
- All of our live-in Nannies and Au Pairs are provided with a good sized bedroom. Not always the case in a flat…
- Save on commute times, often up to 90 minutes each way. You won’t have to pay for the tube either
You might consider living out after you have settled in to London, but I can definitely recommend a live in role initially, if not for your whole stay.
If you would like to live out from the beginning, £500-1000 per month for a room is quite standard, depending on location, size etc. Check Facebook for rooms. The groups for Australians and New Zealanders are especially helpful. There are always people moving in and out of London regularly, leaving a room free for you!
Word of warning for anyone looking for a flat – never send money until you have seen a room and signed a rental contract. Scams are out there, y’all…
What sort of jobs can I get?
Our families are always keen to have a native English speaker, so we have a range of roles all year round, from Au Pair through to experienced Nanny. As long as you have a valid work permit or passport and enjoy working with children, families or elderly, we can help you find a position.
Does it rain all the time in the UK?
Happy to say no to this one! The last couple of summers have been hot and sunny, while winter is much the same as Paris, Amsterdam or Berlin.
Are there groups I can join to meet people?
Absolutely! Kiwis and Aussies seem to be in all corners of Europe, especially London. They hold Anzac and Waitangi celebrations in London every year, as well as regular meet ups.
How much money should I save before moving to the UK?
This depends on your plans.
If we ignore the money required for the visa application and your flights over, I would suggest having enough to cover the first three months of your stay. This money will help to cover:
- Travel costs and bigger trips. If you have trips in mind, contact STA travel to get an idea of the price
- Rent, if you live out
- Insurance (Heavenly recommends you purchase this in advance, though)
- One off set up costs. These could be paying a deposit, or signing up for a rail card.
- Daily expenses – Phone plans, gym, public transport, groceries, etc.
Regardless of how much you plans, it is always more expensive than you think. I wouldn’t leave home with less than £2000 and more is always better – the minimum savings required for a Youth Mobility Visa is £1890 too.
However, if you were to choose a live in position, as I mentioned above, many of these initial costs can be reduced. More money for travel!
What are the benefits of moving to London?
- There are so many! My favourite thing would have to be that London is an unbelievably multicultural city. You can experience a different culture, just by going to a different part of the city.
- There is always something happening, and events change with the seasons. Hyde Park Christmas markets and ice-skating outside during winter, or outdoor cinemas, rooftop bars (a favourite of mine is Bar Elba), and food markets along the Thames in summer.
- Anyone will tell you that the museums and galleries of London will keep you occupied for months, if not years. I still haven’t seen all of the Natural History Museum!
- London is very well connected, with five airports and major train links to the rest of Europe. It is a great place to have a base. Also, since you need to pass through a border to get to and from the UK, you will get more stamps in your passport! Take a look at this article by the Spinoff and be prepared to fill your weekends with trips too!
- As an Au Pair or Nanny with Heavenly, we will put you in touch with other Au Pairs and Nannies from all over the world. You will be able to make a ton of connections! I often don’t need to book a room when travelling due to the wonderful friends I made as an Au Pair with Heavenly. Just be prepared to return the favour when the world comes to Australia or New Zealand!
Are there any downsides then?
The difficult, but also exciting, part about moving to an unfamiliar place, is that it is unfamiliar.
You will be far away from your family and friends, you’ll feel homesick, everything will be strange and hard for a while, and you will consider giving up at least once in the first month.
My advice for my fellow Australians and New Zealanders moving to London is to remain positive! Home isn’t going anywhere and you have the rest of your life to live there. Make the most of your time away and throw yourself in to your new life. There is heaps to see and do here. Find activities for the weekend. Take trips. Meet new people. Learn about the locals. Eat something new.
You’ll be settled before you know it and hear yourself saying “I can’t believe it’s been 6 months already” to anyone who will listen.
What other countries can I move to?
Heavenly works with a range of countries throughout the world. If you aren’t keen to move to the UK, or would like to try another country after your stay here, let us know and we can put you in touch with our local partners.
Got your own questions for someone who has been there and done that? Contact us today to get further advice on Australians or New Zealanders moving to London!