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Moving to London - general travels tips please!!

Moving to London - general travels tips please!!

Old Nov 1st, 2012, 02:56 AM
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Welcome to London!

One site I dont think has been mentioned yet is www.walks.com they are great for affordable walks in London, but we also love their daytrips! Highly recommend them!

Some things that we learned when we first moved here from Vancouver:

1. Setting things up here takes MUCH longer than in North America. Because the houses here are generally conversions they dont have all the necessary wiring etc for the utility companies to easily install things like internet. Expect it to take several weeks (up to a month sometimes!!) to get your tv, phone and internet set-up. British Telecom (BT) couldnt even tell us what our phone number was in our rented flat and our landlord wouldnt let us change it - we had to track down the former tenant in Japan to find out what it was before we could set up our phone line. Internet took 6 weeks to get installed as well.

2. Setting up banking takes longer then you would expect. You need to bring in photo IK (passport), and proof of address (utility bill in your name to your home address) before you can open an account. Then you get sent your debit card in the mail, and a PIN in a separate letter in the mail before you can use a bank machine. To get access to cash in the meantime you will need to bring your passport into the bank to get it from the teller. Internet banking is similar. Once you have your account you need to register and get sent a PIN through the mail. This whole process can take a couple of weeks so be prepared.

3. Dont expect 24 hour shopping. Most grocery stores close on Sundays at 5pm or 6pm. So dont wait till dinner time to run to the store!

4. Online grocery shopping will change your life hahaha - best thing ever and the produce is fresher than you get in your stores!

Hope this helps!
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 05:42 AM
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"That was Paris, that is not to say it does not happen in London, but I think the thread was also about lack of interest from the police and starbucks staff etc."

I am sure that kind of stuff goes on everywhere, stateside and Europe. I just remember being taken aback that it would never have occurred to me to watch out for that kind of thing (though I do remember the point of the thread was more along the lines of "no one seemed to care"). I am not a suspicious person by nature and grew up in a very small town.

Working in a restaurant in college I was flabbergasted that one of the cashiers was skimming of her drawer by not ringing up beer and pocketing the money. I would never, ever have thought to do that - much less actually done it.

Of course, I am not in college anymore - and I am sure we will do great. I just don't want to be the tourist that leaves her purse on the floor while eating only to have it snatched!

Thank you for all the links everyone! I will enjoy checking them all out!!
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 07:52 AM
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Because the houses here are generally conversions they dont have all the necessary wiring etc for the utility companies to easily install things like internet.>>

conversions from what, jamikins? - just curious! though I agree with you about the difficulties of setting things up like bank accounts - ridiculous.

natalie - we even have 24 hour shopping here in Cornwall, though jamikins is quite right when she says that they close early on a sunday - it's 4pm round here for the main supermarkets, though you'll probably find a corner shop open for longer.
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 08:10 AM
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Sorry annhig - I meant many flats are Victorian conversions (thinking of my old flat in Clapham). Since they arent purpose built they have interesting quirks, like switches that no one knew what they did, or phone lines that actually werent phone lines etc.

In Canada I could sit in the apartment I was moving into on the morning of the move, call the cable company and stay on the phone while they flipped a switch and turned on the cable and internet in the house...whereas in London we have found that it is a bit more complicated (wiring is done throughout the Victorian conversion and the box is somewhere central that requires someone to come sort it etc). Everything just took way longer in our experience!
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 08:29 AM
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A guide to British English, as you will find that quite a few things are different.

http://www.effingpot.com/
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 09:18 AM
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ann, haven't you come across big (or even quite small) Victorian family houses converted into as many different flats as possible? A lot of gash jobs were done in the 60s and 70s (I know, I bought one......), and I can well believe some of them were left with the cheapest possible re-wiring.

Incidentally, bearing in mind the fun and games on a certain other thread, should we point out to the OP the necessity of checking their liabilities in respect of council tax and the TV licence (I'm assuming they may not have a relocation expert handling all this for them)......
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 10:41 AM
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ann, haven't you come across big (or even quite small) Victorian family houses converted into as many different flats as possible? >>

aha- it was the converted "house" that threw me - say "converted flat" [which is what it's been converted into] and I'm there.

lol - they aren't the only properties with old wiring - a house we bought in the early 80s had pre-war wiring. [don't ask which war!] it's what estate agents call "character" i suppose.
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 02:33 PM
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Ok - that slang glossary includes fanny. As long as there's that input (a source of humor for Brits when they hear Americans say "fanny-pack"), it's legit.

Definitely agree that you should take the boys (all four, if possible) to see Brit sports - football, racing and if the boys are getting fussy - a Cricket match for napping. "West London" is Fulham/Chelsea territory, but tickets won't be cheap. And Premier League matches aren't necessarily family friendly - the words uttered by the surrounding fans won't be the ones you want the 5-year old to learn (even if he's heard his older brothers say them).

Also rugby - that's always interesting but the rules are so different for rugby league and rugby union that they're nearly different sports.
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 06:42 PM
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bigruss - we do not have a relo expert, but i was lucky enough to find and expat forum where I found plenty of info on budgets. So - my tentative budget does include tv license and council tax, among other things, including rent that is more than double our current house payment, lol!

We will definitely be hitting up some of the sports, but we will steer clear of the Premier League until the boys are a little older I think, lol!

I have already warned the boys to not refer to their pants as pants, but rather trousers or risk being laughed at. I think it will be quite amusing all the way around
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 11:46 PM
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Natalie, not that I want to add to your preparatory homework, but you might find this thread on another forum interesting and possibly of some value:
http://slowtalk.com/groupee/forums/a...4/m/4101007861
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Old Nov 2nd, 2012, 12:05 AM
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Because the houses here are generally conversions they dont have all the necessary wiring etc for the utility companies to easily install things like internet. Expect it to take several weeks (up to a month sometimes!!) to get your tv, phone and internet set-up. British Telecom (BT) couldnt even tell us what our phone number was in our rented flat and our landlord wouldnt let us change it - we had to track down the former tenant in Japan to find out what it was before we could set up our phone line. Internet took 6 weeks to get installed as well.

1) Most internet access in the UK comes down the phone line. It's a matter of plugging in an adaptor and connecting your router to it. Rarely do you need wiring installed. Getting signed up to an ISP can take longer
2) Dialing 17070 will give you the phone number
3) In most of the UK TV is a simple case of plugging in the aerial lead, turning on the TV and retuning it.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2012, 12:59 AM
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Thanks for the blog plug, Patrick.

We are 1.5 years into a 3 year assignment (though living in Derby not London). With 3-5 years you'll have plenty of time to sort out the travel bit. We had some pent up travel desires (Paris, Rome) but we then shifted focus to more UK endeavors figuring we could always come back to the typical holiday but wouldn't necessarily for some of the closer, UK ones.

We've found that we really enjoy the scenic bits (Scotland, North Wales, Peak District, Lake District, etc.).

A couple of other tips:

English Heritage (castles and such)
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/

National Trust (manor homes and gardens)
http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

Friends and Family Railcard for rail discounts
http://www.familyandfriends-railcard.co.uk/online

Good Luck.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2012, 02:38 AM
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alanRow - great that things have been so simple for you. I came over with KPMG expats (about 30 from around the world) and probably 20 out of the 30 had the same issues getting internet hooked up as we did. Maybe it was the IPO but every single one of us had to make an appt about 6 weeks after our move to have someone come to our flats to get internet hooked up - I have never heard of this being the case in Canada. Maybe this is just in London - my point was to be prepared for things to take longer here.

Interesting that no one at BT thought to give us that number - sure would have been more helpful than telling us that we had to figure it out!
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Old Nov 2nd, 2012, 02:50 AM
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....alanRow - great that things have been so simple for you...
It surprises me too. I just got onto BT, they sent me a router and some splitters for the telephone line and Robert was your proverbial. Perhaps it is different in an older flat conversion.
I suppose that TV might be more complicated if you want cable or satellite, but if you are happy with Freeview, you just plug your set in, attach it to your aerial and tune it. If it's a pre-digital set, you might need a digital box, but they are not expensive.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2012, 02:54 AM
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Maybe I should clarify - it was the satellite/cable. Freeview was no problem.

I'm not trying to argue with people and I am glad others have had a such smooth moving experiences. My point in posting was to provide my experience moving from N. American to England and the things that struck me as challenging compared to back at home.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2012, 03:07 AM
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One of the struggle in the UK is buying energy. There are loads of gas and electricity suppliers but the contracts are very difficult to understand. As a result there are a bunch of comparison websites (all of whom are good) who can tell you which is the best contract.

TV can be pay to view (great if you like sports) or freeview (which has just about everything else and is free). Access is normally by a simple arial plug, though of course you can just use internet TV. However for all or any service you will need a colour TV license. If you don't want a TV (and some don't) you have to convince the powers that be that you do not have one.

Telecoms. Worth understanding the BT hub service and how the telecoms package can run with an internet package. BT is not the only supplier but it does run the last few metres of cable for everyone.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2012, 03:18 AM
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BT are expensive and their customer service can be awful. For phone and internet check out Plusnet, excellent customer service and cheaper.

You can get a broadband connection either through your phone line or via cable depending on which supplier you go with.

This is a very useful comparison and advice site for many things http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/
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Old Nov 7th, 2012, 07:46 AM
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A few good resources I loved in Lonson Time Out Magazine. You can get the magazine by mail and also access on line. Has a special category for kid activities. And for travel when I was there I think it was Time Out also published a guide as to what was at the other end of the budget airline routes that fly from London. Many of them are not your usual suspects for European travel, some of them are not exactly in the large cities but it was a good guide for inspiration. And finally one of the more off-beat books is a couple of guides on Medievil and Tudor England matching the history with how to travel to see it and what else to do there by Kettler and Trimble (there is one for London and two others for the rest of England). Finally the CAMRA travel guide. It's the "real ale" association and has good information for pubs and B&B's wherever you might travel around the UK. Enjoy!
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Old Nov 7th, 2012, 11:43 AM
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Sorry - normal safety precautions are NOT just for big cities.

A friend of mine had her purse stolen from her grocery cart while she was putting bags into her trunk. In a very nice middle class area. And I saw a women have her purse grabbed off the chair next to her in an outdoor cafe - in extremely upscale Greenwich, CT - by a youth on a bicycle. and the battery was stolen out of my father's car while sitting in the driveway overnight - again in a very pleasant middle class suburb.

You should be following thee rules everywhere - since it happens everywhere. And every child over the age of 4 or 5 should know all of these rules - as well as the standards (full name, names of parents, address, phone numbers) - since you never know when they might be separated from you. I've seen enough screaming, terrified kids in busy malls who seem to know nothing but their first name and that their parents are called mommy and daddy - to understand that you must prepare your kids for the real world. (And sometimes they don;t even seem to know their own names. How many times have you heard security asking for the parents of a child - read description of child and clothes - to come and get them.)
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Old Nov 7th, 2012, 04:03 PM
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We've been expats for over five years now. We love the UK!

Here are a few travel tips:

Don't forget Wales! It's a straight shot down the M4 and has some of the best castles in Great Britain.

www.castleexplorer.com has already been mentioned but it's worth mentioning again. The big castles with exhibits are great, but we've always preferred the smaller (often free) castles. Much less crowded and make for long games of hide and seek.

www.mumsnet.com is a great UK website for mums!
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