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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 25 April, 2018
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Column: The truths and costs of moving to London

Many young Irish people who have exhausted their job search at home are choosing to pop across the water to London – if you’re one of them, here are some much-needed tips, writes Jenny Conlon.

Jenny Conlon

I MOVED TO London over three years ago now. I sailed over here on the ferry, the James Joyce Ulysses to be precise, although that was probably the most romantic part of the entire move. Initially I didn’t choose to move to London but in the end, I didn’t really have any other option, career wise.

After completing my Masters in Journalism in 2010, I spent about 10 months working and interning in various magazines, papers, I produced and presented a radio show and threw myself into anything I could.  I had exhausted every avenue and finding any stable full time or paid employment was quite impossible.

The physical moving to London is the easy part but it’s the start up costs and things that you don’t know, but need to know, that make life quite difficult. Normally people will make sure they have a job before they move and find somewhere to live afterwards. I did the total opposite as I made up my mind that I was moving and just went with it.  I was lucky to move in with a girl in London who I had already met a few times through working in radio in Ireland.

Money, money, money

Before I got here, I had to pay a deposit upfront for the house that we were moving into . The standard requirement is 6 weeks up front. Rent in any standard room is minimum £650 per month wherever you go in London when you include council tax and bills.

When you move into a place, the landlord will require references from past landlords.  As I didn’t have this, one of my parents had to be my guarantor. This involved getting a physical signature from one of my parents, a faxed or scanned signature copy was not acceptable. This delayed the process with moving into our house.

Red tape

Everybody who works in the UK needs to have a national Insurance number, this number will remain the same through your whole life. In order to get a National Insurance number you need to make an appointment which involves an interview and producing necessary documents like your passport and a bill with the proof of address.

The proof of address is what gave me the most problems. I went to open a bank account and if you don’t have a bill which your name and address on it, it makes life more difficult. I then had to use my tenancy agreement signed by the landlord to open a bank account. And this again, could not be a copy, it needed to be the original.

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You need to register with a doctor immediately. I learned this the hard way. Within two weeks of being here, I was frantically searching for a job. I think the stress was starting to get to me as I realised I was totally clueless about how the job interview process differed here to Ireland. It’s quite a long process here, this was something I had to learn to be patient with.

I then broke out in a nasty rash around my mouth. I went to the local doctor in my area and asked to see a doctor.  I wasn’t registered with a doctor so I was told I couldn’t. I was informed that I could fill in some forms and it would basically take a week to get registered and if I wanted to come back, I’d need to make an appointment a few days in advance. As the rash was erupting like Mount Vesuvius on my face, I decided to take matters into my own hands and head to A&E at Paddington where I got a strong anti biotic. It’s typical that these things will happen so registering with a doctor is so important and saves a lot of added stress.

Getting an English mobile number will probably be the next thing you need. If you’ve just opened a bank account in the UK, you may as well be non existent before that. I wanted to register for a contract phone to begin with. The mobile companies run a credit check on their system and if you don’t meet a certain criteria, due to having no history or records, you’ll have to make do with a pay as you go phone for a while. Things that will help increase your credit rating will be registering to vote, joining a gym, registering with a doctor, getting a credit card, using it and obviously paying it back.

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice!

I know many people will have had so many different experiences whether it’s London or somewhere else in the world, some good and some bad but it’s all been a bit of an adventure for me. It took me about six weeks to find a job and I’ve never looked back. I’m lucky enough that many of my friends have moved here since so it’s almost like I’m a little bit at home again.

I know London isn’t that far from Dublin but if you’re moving over, make sure to ask someone who’s already done it, as it will make your life a lot easier, trust me!

Jenny Conlon is an Irish journalist living in London.

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Jenny Conlon

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