Moving to London from Australia: what to pack and what to leave behind

Moving to London from Australia: what to pack and what to leave behind

Moving to the other side of the world can be overwhelming, but the cost of literal ‘extra baggage’ and backaches from poor planning is worse. Keep things simple with a guide to packing for London.

Whether you have been dreaming of jetting off to Europe with your friends or moving to London for the foreseeable future, the one thing you cannot avoid is packing. Your options are leaving most of your belongings at home, selling them, or moving most of your prized possessions with you across the globe.

If you, like many Aussies, are thinking of applying for the Youth Mobility Scheme and living in the UK for up to 2 years, we recommend the first two options. However, if you are lucky enough to be able to live in London for an extended period of time, consider shipping the bulk of your belongings through a removals company that specialises in international moves.

Despite the duration of your time in the UK, there are a few things you should know before packing. First thing is to resist the urge to pack everything and anything, and bring it with you just because you have it lying around at home.

Moving check-list

Unless you are moving house, you can replicate pretty much everything in the UK. Let’s begin with the items that you should not pack when moving to London.

What NOT to pack when moving to London

  • Winter clothing – Especially if you think winter means a hoodie and a hat. ‘Winter’ in Australia is not what you’ll face in London. Save yourself the backache of lugging around clothes that will only be suitable for autumn/spring and purchase your actual winter gear in London. We have shops, we promise! Exceptions: any durable winter clothing from that one time skiing or boarding.
  • Books – Leave behind your books. You will not read them as often as you think – or ever – because you will be doing other things like exploring your new environment. Plus, if you’re planning on working, you’ll most likely be commuting, which means hauling around books will quickly take a physical toll. Exceptions: if you’re a researcher, lecturer, or for some reason bought all of your textbooks for uni way ahead of time.
  • Summer clothing – Yes, the UK does have a summer and you will most likely travel to warmer climes on holidays and city breaks. However, one pair each of shorts, bathers, sunnies, and sandals are sufficient. For a majority of the year your summer stuff will be sealed in a vacuum bag under your sofa anyway. If you need more once you get here, there’s always Primark. Exceptions: none.
  • Stuff you didn’t know you had – Start making a mental list and come across some furniture, clothing, or appliances you never use or didn’t even know you had? Donate them, especially if they contain some of the radio transmitters that are banned from the UK. Exceptions: anything mentioned in the next two lists.
  • All of your decorative items – If you want to recreate your current environment in London, you’re moving for the wrong reasons. It’s okay to want to bring a bit of home with you, but be realistic. You will find new things here and make more memories to fill up those picture frames. Exceptions: artwork, handmade items, heirlooms, and life-sized Star Wars Stormtroopers.

What you should pack instead

  • Waterproof jacket – That mac you currently have may not actually be suitable for London’s damp seasons. It doesn’t rain all the time, more of a consistent grey; but as an island, the weather can creep up on you, usually when you forget your brolly. Sydney actually gets more rainfall than London.
  • Umbrella – It probably will break with the first genuine storm, but at least you will be prepared. Compacts are great for travelling, but you will want to get a heavy duty one when you arrive.
  • Aussie treats – While you can’t bring dairy, meat, or some other unpackaged food items into the UK, a few Tim Tams will last you until you find a specialty store in London like SANZA.
  • All of your children’s things – Moving with the whole family? The transition will be easier if all or most of your children’s things from home come with your family to London.
  • White goods – If you have them – and they’re in working order and are over a year old – they should work fine in the UK once you change the plug. For items that are newer than 12 months, you may have to declare them and pay a fee.
  • The good furniture – The old pieces of furniture that have seen better days aren’t worth keeping now, let alone bringing to London. If you’re moving into an unfurnished flat or house, having the essentials like a bed, table, and wardrobe will instantly make you feel at home.
  • E-reader - Your best friend on flights, trains, the tube, and on rainy weekends. Perfect for bookworms and students alike; you can read those pdfs for lecture on most e-readers.
  • Guitar - Only if you actually play it. You don’t have to be an aspiring musician to bring along your guitar, but a comforting item, especially one that will help you make unlikely friends, is always a good item.

Essentials for London

  • Passport – This should be at the top of your list. Not only should you pack it, you should make sure you have at least the duration of your stay in the UK left on it. Yes, you can renew your passport here, but then that means time without your passport and time not travelling around. It’s also just a hassle of a process.
  • Some cash – There’s nothing like the kind of despair you’ll experience when your card doesn’t work because you forgot to tell your bank you’re moving abroad. £50 is plenty.
  • UK SIM - While many airlines offer free UK SIM cards for passengers to then top-up on their own, ordering one prior to departure eliminates worrying about whether or not your phone will work abroad.
  • Address book – Add your family, friends, and where you will be staying in a small notebook. You’ll need the latter for filling out the landing card upon arrival, and everyone loves a postcard.
  • Camera – This one doesn’t need an explanation.
  • Medications for 2 months – England does indeed have pharmacies and a healthcare system similar to Australia, though it may take a bit of time to get you situated once you move to London.
  • Multi-plug board – Save on the extra adapters for all of your electronics and bring a powerboard from home.

No matter how much you think you cannot live without this or that, you’ll be glad when you won’t have to pay for an extremely overweight bag (or five). And when your suitcase handle doesn’t break whilst carrying it up the steps in the Tube. Leave the heavy items for the movers and only bring what you will need for the start of your new life in London.

MoveHubThis article was written by MoveHub, an online platform helping people move abroad. MoveHub can help you get up to six quotes from different removals companies so you can decide who to help you move to London.

Australian Times

Australian Times

For, by and about Aussies in the UK.


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