Top tips: 5 things to do before arriving in London

University enrolments are just around the corner, and it’s time to start packing. Here are a few tips to make your move to London easier.

  1. Book your accommodation

Arrange your accommodation before you arrive. This is important whether you plan on living in student halls or in private accommodation.

Check your university website for details about how to arrange campus accommodation or visit sites like Rightmove and Spareroom to find a flat or a house-share. Alternatively, take a look at Urbanest’s private student accommodation featuring stylish rooms near many London universities.

If you haven’t secured long-term accommodation yet, book a room in a hotel or hostel before you arrive and then arrange your accommodation when you are here. Consult our student accommodation section for more information.

  1. Plan your travel

Plot your travel route before you arrive so you feel calm when you reach London. Most London airports offer express train and coach services to central London, which can be booked online ahead of arrival or at the station on the day.

Once in the city, get an Oyster card or use your contactless debit or credit card to hop on the Tube or catch a bus. Use the Transport for London (TfL) website for more information and to plan your journey.

Taxis are a great option if you have a lot of bags, with the choice of black cabs or mini-cabs. Black cabs, London’s iconic taxis, cannot be pre-booked and use a meter to calculate your fare based on distance and time. If you’d like to pre-book your pick-up, use a mini-cab and confirm your fare in advance.

Some universities also offer an airport welcome service or can facilitate the transfer to their students’ accommodations. Ask your university directly.

  1. Sign up for online banking

Save time by signing up for a digital bank account. Open an account with Unizest from your home country and have your bank card ready to use from the moment you land. Unizest charges a small monthly fee, whereas Loot offers a free digital account which you can register for once you arrive in the UK.

Alternatively, you can order a pre-paid credit card and top up enough money to last you for the first few weeks.

  1. Print relevant documents

Come prepared with key documents including your university offer letter (CAS), your accommodation details and recent bank statements. Pack them in your hand luggage as an immigration officer may ask to see them.

We also recommend that you take photocopies of all your important documents (e.g. passport, accommodation details, phone numbers) and keep these as a back-up in case you lose the original documents.

  1. Get a UK sim card

Check if you will be able to use your phone in the UK and consider any roaming charges before you connect to the internet.

Most London airports have vending machines in the arrival hall where you can buy sim cards. This means you can call your parents the minute you land and let them know you have arrived safely. Make sure your phone is unlocked to take any sim card.

Once you’re in London, check out, the official visitor guide, for tips about life in the city and places to explore.

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