Moving to London!

Flying into London

“Moving to London is a chaotic & rewarding experience, full of  success and false positives but if you survive it will be worth it”.


In the past (and I’ll continue to do so in the future) I’ve used this website as a place to share my view on places I’ve visited & events I’ve been too. I enjoying writing, I enjoy story telling and I enjoy sharing my experiences with other people. If you read my blog regularly, follow me on Instagram or watch my YouTube videos then you’ll know I post things in a pretty random order.

That’s generally because I don’t keep my postings up to date with my actual life and while 99% of my life is boring, the other 1% contains fun, interesting, cool things like moving to London.

Moving to London - My story of flying 18,000km to the other side of the world
Flying into London

Since moving to London, half way around the world on my own with no local support team is as about as interesting as my life gets right now, I thought I’d share the journey. Not only have I done this, but I’ve also done it alone, forging my own path as I go. It’s not the easiest route, it’s not the route of safety but I believe it is the route that will eventually make me proud of the work I put in.

Flying 18,000 km for a new life

It’s not all tight-rope walking over the Thames, I guess I have a safety net if things get really bad (I mean I definitely have a home based safety net, thanks mum & dad!) but because London is an OE supercity for New Zealanders, a strong community bond has formed to help each other out.

There are downsides to going it alone. This was pointed out to me by a friend when we first met. She moved from NZ to Aberdeen, Scotland because she was moving to the UK for the experience, not to hang out with fellow kiwi’s in London. I’m with her on this idea. I like the fact that the kiwi expat community is there, but I’m here for the British experience, not the expat experience.

I will concede, I’ve fallen back on the community’s help but I’ll discuss that later (Even this post is behind).

Why Moving to London was right for me

London has always had a special place in my heart. I first came to the city when I was seven, I returned 14 years later with the intention of moving. I ended up travelling for a few months before returning home. A year later I decided that London was where I really wanted to be. The strange this is, I don’t know why. London is such a diverse, chaotic city that adjusting can be a challenge. Especially once you see how things are done. I already miss the simple ways things are done at home like getting a bank account. But it’s a rewarding experience in terms of the people you meet, the places you see, the melting pot of cultures you get to experience all in one place,

First time in an AirBnb

Look, I might be a millennial and I might be under 25 (just) but until a month ago, I’d never used AirBnb even though I travelled extensively in 2016.

Seeing as less than a week before arriving in London, I still did not have accommodation and hotels were more expensive than bitcoin, I hit up AirBnb and found a nice place in Little Venice. It was advertised as having canal views, What more could you ask for!

Arriving into Heathrow meant another super long walk from terminal 3 to baggage and customs etc. You know, just the thing you want after a seven hour flight. Customs was chill just wondering if I already had a job or not. It was great because I’ve heard horror stories of people being integrated even though they hold a valid visa. Then a little bit of panic set in as I waited and waited for my bag. Each time the belt did a loop and I saw bags go around that I’d already seen, the dread built up inside me more and more. After a while the sign changed to say “all bags delivered”, yet my bag was nowhere to be found. Now the panic was real. Was my bag missing?

I waited a bit longer and eventually my bag did appear and I was able to set off towards the train.

I opt to take the Heathrow Express to and from Heathrow when travelling for three reasons, especially if you are staying near Paddington Train Station. One, its cheaper than a taxi. Two, there’s no traffic. Three, its way easier and quicker. If I’m just heading out towards Heathrow or going there for a reason other than travelling, I’ll take the Piccadilly Tube Line. I find that at the start it’s fine to travel on but by the time you’re going under central London, the train is far to packed for any sort of comfort.

Of course, the AirBnb did not have canal views but who honestly expected that… Otherwise it was fine and as advertised and expected. I had seven days there and seven days to sort my new life out.

Little Venice, London
Little Venice, London

Step 1: get my phone sorted

Last year I got myself a sim card so I had data and minutes etc. All I needed this time was find a Three store so I could get a top up voucher.

On the way to get my phone voucher, I topped up my Oyster card that I got last year. The Oyster Card is used to travel on the Transport For London (TFL) network.

My nearest Three Store was Bayswater, one stop on the circle line from Paddington. Actually buying the voucher in store and topping up my account was easy. The only annoying part and this is 100% a first world problem. I didn’t have a UK credit/debit card so I couldn’t do it online.

Step 2: A place to rent

The next step to moving to London was find somewhere to stay after my seven day AirBnb finished. On a limited budget, on my own and facing off against everyone else, I had to find a place to call home. Read about renting in London and how I ended up wishing the busses in London were silent.

Follow me on Social Media

Twitter: @calvinlaurenson

Instagram: @calvinlaurenson

Instagram: @calvinphotographs