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My experience of moving to London

My experience of moving to London: Red bus


As I’m approaching the milestone of living in London for 4,5 years (5 in February!) I thought I would write something about moving to a country that’s “not your own”. For some reason I’ve never really approached the subject before, and so I really wanted to share my thoughts!


I’ll divide the post into two different sections to make it a bit easier to read – maybe it will even help those considering taking the plunge! Also just let me know if you have any questions – this subject is understandably very close to my heart so I’ll happily share any advice or experiences!


My experience of moving to London: London skyline



I moved to London from my hometown of Helsinki, Finland, in February 2013 without any bigger reason other than I just really wanted to try out what it would be like to live in (what I considered to be) the best city on earth. I had already spent 5 months in London doing a work placement a year and a half earlier, but it never felt like I actually lived here – it was almost just like a very long holiday.


Before moving (back) to London in 2013 I saved money for one year as I had heard so many horror stories about how difficult it was to find a flat without having a job and vice versa (all true, though not impossible). So I saved about 1000 euros and then borrowed a bit more from my family, just in case me and my friends would had to pay 6 months rent in advance (which is the custom if you don’t have a job when signing a rental agreement).


Aside from saving money I had to figure out what to do with all my belongings (turned out I had a lot of those…) – what to get rid of, what to give to the storage rooms of my very helpful parents and what to squeeze into my two suitcases that I was moving out with. I lived in a quite a big studio apartment (I still fondly think about those times when I only paid 400 € rent and didn’t have to share with anyone…) so this process took about a month.



In the end I packed a few pieces of clothing for all seasons, make up and other bibs & bobs such as random pieces of cutlery and my teddy bears with me. Don’t underestimate how difficult it is to squeeze 24 years of life into two suitcases…


I also had to…


✅ inform the Finnish government I was moving

✅ book a hotel for the first week until we could find a flat

✅ cancel my phone contract and all other bills

✅ schedule “dates” with all my friends to say goodbye – this was the hardest part!

My experience of moving to London: Salisbury House




There was three of us moving, so we booked a hotel room for the first few nights as our base while we were looking for jobs and a house to live in. We had tried to look for flats from Finland, but securing a flat without being in the country turned out to be very difficult so we decided to leave it for when we moved over. We did end up finding something really quickly, but because we didn’t have jobs we had to commit to paying six months rent in advance.


In the end, however, we didn’t end up moving to that house, because due to unforeseen circumstances my friends had to go back to Finland (don’t worry, they’re ok!). At that point I had to make a tough decision: would I go back as well, even though I had planned this move for over a year, saved a lot of money and, most of all, dreamed about it for so long. In the end, I decided to stay on my own and it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.


Having to go from being so excited about living with friends to suddenly being alone in this massive city with no idea what to do was a shock to the system and I remember sometimes being so devastated and lonely that I couldn’t stop crying. But I forced myself to look for work and in the end I got a part time job in a cafe, and then, three months in, a job as a receptionist in a hotel, which is what I wanted to do. After that, I started making friends, and a year after living here I met my boyfriend who I now live with.


Moving, and most of all, staying here, was the hardest thing I ever did, and if I’m proud of anything, I’m proud of myself for sticking to it even when I just wanted to go back home. It was my dream to live in London for so many years, so the fact that I’m now here, making a life for myself makes me very happy and, yes, even proud. Sometimes dreams do come true!


Practical things to do:


✅ Get a NI number (boring, but very important), as well as a new phone contract (3 is the cheapest)

✅ Use apps like VINA, Bumble BFF or Couchsurfing to find new friends if you don’t know anyone in the city

✅ When signing a rental contract, make sure that your rights are being protected (i.e. that your deposit is being protected and that you have a proper tenancy agreement)

✅ ENJOY and EXPLORE! Don’t spend all your time commuting and working – try to do as much as you can in your new city. There must have been a reason you wanted to move here, after all?


If  you have any questions (practical or non-practical) about moving to London, please ask away! I’d love to help if I can.




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18 comments so far.
  • Hayley Rubery

    Loved this post lady – so incredible to hear about your story and move to London! Can’t believe it’s been nearly 5 years, bet it’s flown by! I adore your London foodie posts, always my go-to when I’m stuck on where to visit! <3

    Hayley xo

    • Laura Emilia

      Thank you so much! It’s definitely gone so quickly – I actually can’t believe it’s almost been 5 years! Crazy.

      I’m so glad I’ve been able to help you with finding new London foodies spots – I love discovering them too! xx

  • I can relate to this post ! I moved from France to London 20 years ago ! I only just 6 months ago moved out from London for the Oxfordshire. I am now engaged to my British fiancé and we have a 6 months old baby. Having said that I think we both will move again ..probably in France because of Brexit I don’t feel so welcome in this country anymore.


    • Laura Emilia

      Ohh that’s a long time you’ve been here! I’d love to try living somewhere else in England too and not just London – it can get a bit too busy sometimes!

      I can relate to the feelings about Brexit – I feel really conflicted about it and a bit scared on what’s going to happen. xx

      • Indeed ! I know what you mean . I can tell you that when I first moved to London 20 or so years ago it was busy but not as insanely busy as it is now. I guess more and more people moved there and it is sometimes suffocating . I live near Oxford now and the countryside life is great although iIdo miss London a lot! I miss all the blogger events , the shops, the free museums, all those art galleries, restaurants etc…and I bloody miss Liberty London!!!! Ah well London is only one hour away by train from where I live so I can always visit

        Yeah I am worried about Brexit too, we’ll be fine they are not going to get rid of European that lived here for years as it will be a catastrophe for the economy but its just the after that worry me I think it was a huge mistake and that old generation removed the future of the younger generation! I want bridge to be built not walls 🙁

        anyway …on a better note here my latest blog post ! fresh from this morning 🙂


        • Laura Emilia

          Ahh I can imagine! I definitely would miss London but I think maybe the compromise is to move somewhere that’s not too far away so that it’s always possible to visit! I’m thinking of Brighton – it’s still quite vibrant and the trains to London are fairly quick and cheap! We’ll see what happens…


          • Indeed! That’s why my partner and i moved to Banbury (little town one hour away from London by train & 15 minutes away from Oxford) . we wanted to buy in London but it was too expensive hence why we bought in Banbury ! Brighton is so lovely ! I would love moving there too ! I think if you move there you ‘ll love it and its by the sea !!! Perfect for your Instagram and blog stuff . 🙂

  • YOU ARE SO BRAVE. This is such an insight into what it is like to move to a completely different country. I am so glad you did decide to stay, even without your friends as yours is one of my all time favourite blogs! Go you! xx

    • Laura Emilia

      Aww thank you SO much Lynsey – this comment just made my day! I’m so glad I stayed too, living in London has been so rewarding (even if a little scary too!) and I can’t imagine life without this experience now. 🙂 xx

  • I’ve found this so motivating! I’ve always dreamed about moving to London but in recent years (because it’s becoming more real) i’m getting quite scared about moving. Worrying about things like if i’d make friends and if i’d enjoy living there as much as I love visiting there. Also i’m from Australia so it’s a whole 24hours away. Still, I would love to do it and hope to in the next few years. So much admiration for you moving and doing well!
    Holly x | http://www.thechroniclesofholly.com/ | https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/chronicles-holly-13610625

    • Laura Emilia

      Hi Holly – I can completely relate to feeling scared about it! Of course it was easier for me as I only lived an 3 hour flight away, but the rest of the feelings are the same I think. When it comes to making friends I found that using all these internet apps was really helpful – once you make a few friends through them the rest will come too. I met a lot of my friends through my work as well!

      Good luck with everything! xx

  • I’m glad everything worked out for you! Moving abroad is such a huge step – I nearly took the plunge myself before realising that I wanted to stay in the UK, and I had no idea there was so much to think about. This is a really interesting post and I’m sure it’ll help lots of other people who are in similar situations 🙂 xx


    • Laura Emilia

      Thanks so much Beth! You’re right, it is such a big decision that needs to be thought about very carefully – sometimes the circumstances are just not right, either! xx

  • Ah these photos are gorge!! It can be so hard to move overseas, I’m so glad I had some family over here so I had a base to crash at whilst I sorted myself out!! x

    • Laura Emilia

      Thanks so much Jasmin! You’re so right, it definitely can be super overwhelming! Having family here must have helped so much – although you do have a lot longer flight back home which I imagine makes some things a lot harder too! xx

  • This is such an interesting read! I moved to London about five years ago, but it was just a case of moving cities rather than countries – you definitely had a lot more to consider and work out! I’m so glad things worked out for you and that you’re loving it here 🙂

    • Laura Emilia

      Thanks so much Milly! Moving cities can be really overwhelming too – you’re still leaving your friends and a familiar environment behind! I’m definitely glad I’m still here too – sometimes perseverance is rewarded haha! xx

  • Zed

    That is absolutely amazing of you to stick it out especially when your friends went back to Finland. I can’t imagine how you must have felt. I’m glad it all worked out in the end. I’m going to be moving to London soon and it’s the flat hunting I’m not looking forward to.