Planning a move from Hong Kong to London? Whether you’re heading to the UK for work, study or to be with family, you’ll have a lot to organise.
This includes applying for visas, finding somewhere to live and sorting out the logistics of moving your belongings thousands of miles. You’ll also need to set up a bank account, find a job and work your way through all those other smaller tasks that will help you settle into your new life in London.
To help you organise your to-do list, we’ve put together a full guide to moving from Hong Kong to London. This includes everything you’ll need to do. And of course, all those important things you need to know about life in the UK.
We’ll also show you some ways to make the moving process a little easier. This includes info on international moving services and storage solutions in London. So if you need some extra space, or a helping hand during your move, you’ll know what to do.
So, let’s get started.
Applying for a UK visa
The first step in moving from Hong Kong to London is to get your visa sorted. This will give you legal permission to enter and stay in the UK. If you’re a British expat currently living in Hong Kong, you may not need a visa.
There are several visa options available, depending on your circumstances. These include the following:
- Skilled Worker visa
This is for skilled workers who have already been offered a job in the UK. To qualify, you must have a job offer from a UK employer with a valid sponsorship licence. The visa is valid for up to five years and can be extended.
- Student visa
If you plan to study in the UK, this visa is for you. To qualify, you must be an international student with an offer of a place from a UK educational institution with a valid sponsor licence. The visa is valid for the duration of your studies.
- Youth Mobility Scheme visa
This visa is for young people from participating countries who want to live and work in the UK for up to two years. To qualify, you must be between 18 and 30 years old, meet a minimum amount in savings, and be a citizen of a participating country. If you’re a Hong Kong citizen, you’ll need to be selected in the Youth Mobility Scheme ballot before you can apply.
- Family visa
If you have family members who are already in the UK, you may be eligible for a family visa. This visa is for partners, children, and dependent relatives of UK residents.
- British National (Overseas) visa
This is for people who are from Hong Kong and are a British national (overseas). If accepted, the visa is valid for up to 5 years.
There are also visas available for people wanting to start a business, and for those who are leaders in particular fields of work.
To apply for a visa, head to the UK Government visa website for all the information you’ll need to know. In many cases, you can apply for your visa online.
You will need to provide a range of documents, including your passport, proof of funds and other types of paperwork. There’s also an application fee to pay. This varies depending on the type of visa you’re applying for.
The visa application process can take several weeks, so it is essential to start early and allow enough time for processing.
Finding somewhere to live in London
Once you’ve secured your visa, the next step is to find somewhere to live in London. You might want to rent at first, before buying property later on. However, this may depend on your budget and financial situation, as the London property market is both competitive and expensive.
London is a vast city with a range of different neighbourhoods. Each has its own unique character and appeal, and of course rental and property prices will vary by area. Here are some key factors to consider when looking for accommodation:
Consider the proximity to public transport links, work and family, as well as local amenities like shops and restaurants.
London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. So, it’s essential to do your homework and set a realistic budget.
- Type of property
Consider whether you want a house or an apartment, and whether you prefer a furnished or unfurnished property.
Ready to start your search? Here are some of the most popular websites and property portals to try:
- Rightmove – one of the largest property search engines in the UK, with a range of properties to rent and buy.
- Zoopla – similar to Rightmove, this is another property portal with a range of properties to rent or purchase.
- SpareRoom – ideal for finding flatmates and shared accommodation.
- Gumtree – a classified ad website with a range of properties to rent and buy.
Ideally, you’ll want to visit properties in person to make sure they meet your needs. So, you may need to factor in a few trips from Hong Kong to London before your move, so you can view properties. Alternatively, you can use a local agent to find you a property, although this is likely to come with extra costs.
Planning your move
With the essentials sorted, it’s time to start thinking about the logistics. Namely, how will you get your belongings between countries?
Will you take everything, or put some items into storage? What will you do with your car – take it with you, or buy a new one when you arrive? These are all questions you’ll need to answer while planning your move.
We wouldn’t recommend leaving it until the last minute to plan all of this, as moving internationally can be complicated and expensive.
So, it’s a good idea to start researching international shipping options and getting some quotes at this early stage. There’s a lot to think about, from customs duties and taxes to shipping costs and delivery times. You’ll also need to choose between air or freight, finding the right balance between speed and cost.
With all this to think about, it could be a smart move to go for a fully managed international shipping service. This is what we offer here at Kiwi Movers. We’re experts in the shipping industry, and handle every last detail on your behalf. We can even arrange car shipping if needed.
Contact us for a quote, or to find out more about our services. Call us on 020 8080 6735 or email [email protected].
Why choose Kiwi Movers?
Here’s a quick look at what you get when you choose international shipping with Kiwi Movers:
- A dedicated project manager – they will oversee your move, and act as a single point of contact for you.
- All the correct forms and documentation taken care of
- An easy door-to-door service – from your old address in Hong Kong right to your new one in London
- A global network of trusted handlers and shipping partners
- Full insurance and other cover arranged for you
- Online tracking
- Fast, reliable delivery.
If you’ve not found accommodation that’s big enough for all your belongings, you might need to arrange short-term storage in London. Or perhaps you have items that you want to store for longer periods, until you’re ready to find a permanent home for them.
Whichever is the case, we’re here to help. We have a sister company, Kiwi Storage, which has a number of convenient, centrally located self-storage facilities across Greater London and the surrounding areas. This includes Richmond, Kingston, Battersea, Wandsworth, Teddington, Wimbledon and many other locations.
There are units of all sizes, which are priced accordingly. This means you’ll only pay for what you use. Not sure how much space you need? Simply use this handy space estimator tool, or contact Kiwi Storage here.
As well as being conveniently located for easy access, all of our London self-storage units are clean, dry and fully secure. You can book a unit online, and move your stuff in when you’re ready. If you don’t have transport, we can arrange door-to-door delivery. We can even include storage as part of our international shipping service.
Whatever you need to make life a little easier, we’re here to help. Get in touch with Kiwi Storage for more information or to book a unit – call 020 8877 9682 or email [email protected].
Now, let’s get back to organising your move from Hong Kong to London.
Tips for planning your overseas move
To make your move run smoothly (and potentially save you money), there are a few things you can do in advance:
- Declutter! The less stuff you have, the less it’ll cost to move. You can even make some money selling things you don’t need. However, bear in mind that it could be cheaper to ship your belongings over to the UK, rather than having to buy everything new when you arrive.
- Make sure everything is carefully and correctly packed. Otherwise, you risk items being lost or damaged. It can also cause delays in the customs process, if your shipment can’t be inspected.
- Make a detailed, itemised inventory of all your belongings. This can take time, but it’s well worth doing. It’ll help with customs requirements, and help you keep track of anything that goes missing.
- Make plans for pets. You’ll need to read up on the pet import rules and policies in the UK, and perhaps work with a specialist pet relocation service.
Need help with any of the above? Feel free to get in touch with the Kiwi Movers team for advice.
Life in the UK – what you need to know
We’ve covered most of the big tasks you’ll need to tackle at the start of the moving process. But of course, moving to a new country is a pretty big deal. There’s lots you’ll need to know, and many more tasks to be crossed off your to-do list.
Let’s run through a few of the key things here:
Cost of living
The cost of living in London is expensive compared to other parts of the UK. But the good news is that it’s similar to Hong Kong, according to the world cost of living database Numbeo. Monthly rent and utilities are likely to be more expensive, as are restaurants and public transport.
So, you’ll need to make sure you budget accordingly, so that you have enough to live on during your first weeks and months in London.
When you move to the UK, you’ll have access to the National Health Service (NHS). You’ll be required to pay a healthcare surcharge when you apply for your UK visa. Through this, you’ll be able to access healthcare services such as doctor’s appointments and emergency care for free.
However, just like UK citizens, you’ll need to pay for some services such as dental treatment and eye tests.
Banking and finance
Setting up a bank account in the UK is essential for managing your finances. After all, you’ll need it if you’ll be earning a salary, as well as to pay your bills.
You may also need to transfer funds from your Hong Kong bank account to your UK account.
Foreign citizens can open bank accounts in the UK, but you’ll need to provide proof of identity and address. There are also digital banks, whose application requirements may be less strict than traditional banks.
Culture and language
The cultural differences between Hong Kong and London can take a little getting used to. It shouldn’t be too much of a culture shock though, as both are large, busy, multicultural cities. And of course, English is spoken in both.
London has an extensive public transportation network, including buses, trains, and the famous London Underground. Although there are plenty of similarities to the public transport system in Hong Kong, it might take you some time to learn the best ways to get around in London.
Employment and education
Moving to London for work or study? You might already have a job or university place secured, as part of your visa application. But if not, you might want to start finding a job. Here are some websites to try:
- Total Jobs
You’ll need a resume, known in the UK as a CV. It could also be a good idea to sign up with an agency to find work, or use online job portals to search for work.
Understanding the UK tax system is particularly important if you plan to work or do business in London. You may also need to consider the tax implications of transferring money from your Hong Kong accounts.
Unfortunately, the UK tax system can be quite complex, especially if you’re new to it. So, you might be best seeking professional advice from an accountant or financial advisor.
We’ve covered a lot of ground here in this guide, so it’s understandable if you’re feeling daunted with everything you need to do.
To make it easier, here’s a quick checklist of essential tasks to work through ready for your move:
- Apply for your UK visa
- Search for accommodation and arrange property viewings
- Research moving companies and get shipping quotes – including for car shipping if needed.
- Look into London storage options if needed
- Book flights for yourself and anyone moving with you
- Start looking for a job or researching study options in the UK
- Open a UK bank account (you might need to wait until you have a UK address sorted)
- Get advice on your tax obligations, especially if you’re planning to start a business
- Register with your local NHS doctor and dentist
- Look into childcare and schooling options (if relevant).
Let’s make your move easier
Moving to a new country is no easy thing to do. It can be stressful, expensive and time-consuming. There’s lots to do, loads of new information to take on board and of course, the upheaval of the move itself.
When it comes to the logistics of moving your belongings from Hong Kong to London, we’re here to help.
Kiwi Movers are international shipping specialists. We work with trusted global partners and provide door-to-door moving services, whether you’re moving within the same country or heading abroad. We can take care of everything, including packing, loading, shipping, storage, customs duties, taxes and much more. And there are never any hidden costs to worry about.
Our experienced team can handle anything, from shipping a single item through to the contents of a four-bedroom house. From vehicles to priceless antiques, we’ll treat your belongings with the utmost care. And of course, we’re fully insured for your peace of mind.
We’re happy to answer all of your burning questions, and do all we can to make your move quick, easy and stress-free.