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Advice for moving to a new city in the UK
Advice about properties
21 December 2020

Advice for moving to a new city in the UK

Daniel Strieff
Writer & Editor

Making a major long distance move can feel like a chore, but it also presents an opportunity.

It allows you to explore new places, people, and interests, while only bringing with you the best of your old life.

Sure, relocating to a new city in the UK can be a logistical challenge.

But, if you look at moving as something to be taken advantage of rather than an ordeal to be endured you’ll find it goes much more smoothly.

There’s no best way to relocate to a new area, but I’ve found that breaking down the move into discrete steps that can be ticked off one at a time helps make it more manageable. It’s also helped me quickly get back to normal life after a big relocation, whether within the UK or abroad.

How should I get ready for my move?

Do some research into the city, town, or area you’re moving to. Establish a context for making your decisions.

Look up:

  • Property prices: Can you afford to rent or buy? Should you look for flats or houses?
  • Cost of living: How do daily expenses in your new city compare to your current home?
  • Local connections: Do you know anyone already living there?
  • Transportation options: Is this a place with good public transport? Will you be driving everywhere? Is the city walkable?
  • Schools (if you’re relocating with children): Where are the best schools? Do they offer in-year admissions?

Start with Google before delving into more specific sources, such as user forums and local news sites.

Should I sell or rent my old home after I move to a new city?

Before making this decision, you’ll need to consider your situation.

  • Can you afford two mortgages?
  • Is your move temporary or permanent?
  • Are property prices rising or falling?

Renting out your property can be attractive because it offers a steady income stream and gives you flexibility if you want to return. But being a landlord can be challenging. Also, renting means you won’t get a large lump sum of cash, which you may need to buy a place in your new city.

Selling, on the other hand, means you’ll get a large cash infusion. It could also help you feel like you’ve truly turned the page and are starting fresh. But selling your property rarely happens quickly, and it comes with many fees and expenses.

Visit GetAgent’s guide to selling your property for tips on how to get ready to sell.

Should I rent or buy once I’ve moved to a new city?

The first step is deciding whether to live in rented accommodation or to buy a new home straightaway.

Both approaches have pros and cons.

The advantages of renting boil down to flexibility and simplicity. It also gives you time to learn about the city before making a permanent decision.

But renting also has drawbacks. You’ll feel less settled and will need to move again soon. Plus, you may need to move some possessions into storage. If you have children, that could mean an extra school change for them.

Buying a new home offers different advantages. You can settle in more quickly and begin investing in your new home. You can choose a home that’s right for you in terms of size, style, and location. It can also help you regain stability and a sense of normality.

But it has risks, too. Feeling under pressure, you could make a hasty decision and get saddled with a poor investment. You won’t have had the time to get to know different neighbourhoods in your new city yet. Plus, it adds to the stress of a major move.

How do I find a home in a new city?

Finding a new home when you’re not yet living in a new town can be made easier by breaking the process down into manageable steps.

How should I move my stuff?

Whether you’re moving across town or across the UK, you’ve got three main options for moving your possessions.

Once you’ve packed your things, you can:

  • Drive them yourself: If you’ve got a large vehicle or you don’t have many possessions, this can be a flexible and budget-friendly option.
  • Hire a van, truck, or trailer
  • Ship them in containers: If you choose to go with a removals company, they will probably collect your boxes from your home, but the loading and unloading will cost extra.

Make your decision based on how many possessions you’re moving, your budget, and convenience.

This is an opportunity to bin your old, unused items. This will lighten your load during your move. The less you take with you, the cheaper it will be!

Some people have their moving expenses covered by their employer, which can ease some relocation anxiety. Check the government's guidance on which relocation costs are exempt from reporting and paying tax and National Insurance.

How can I settle in once I move to a new city?

Everyone adjusts at their own pace, so don’t feel that you’ve got a timeline to adhere to.

But among the first things you can do are:

  • Decorate your new home

If you’re hopeless with household repairs, considering hiring someone who can help with anything from DIY to errands

  • Locate important shops (and cafes and pubs …) in your neighbourhood
  • Establish yourself officially

This means taking the boring (but necessary!) steps of changing your address with your bank, updating your voter details, and ensuring other registrations have your new information

  • Do things you normally would

Walk the dog, visit museums, the cinema, or the library, or run or cycle around your neighbourhood.

Once you’re comfortable, you can:

  • Explore the city -- on foot, tyre, or rail
  • Download local mobile apps and join neighbourhood listservs
  • Make social and personal connections

Start by posting on Facebook or other social networks that you’ve just moved: maybe your connections know someone in your area and can put you in touch. Sites like Meetup offer chances for ‘friend dates’. If you’re single and moving to a new city alone, dating apps allow you to get right to the point.

  • Hobbies and pastimes

Take advantage of your new surroundings: Maybe you’re in a village with great cycling all around. Or there’s a knitting shop across the street. Cooking classes, walking or photography clubs, football leagues, pub quizzes, movie nights, local theatre -- the possibilities are endless.

There’s no underestimating the challenges of a major relocation.

But taking a methodical approach to the move, staying positive, and being open to new opportunities and experiences will maximise the chances that your move will be successful.

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