6 Things To Do Your First Week in the UK

As a Canadian, I’ve been living in the UK for the last 7 years! Being an expat is definitely overwhelming and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start… but here’s a list I think you should do your first week in the UK.

One side note: getting a place to live is pretty high up on the priority list. If you don’t have that sorted, I would focus on that.

For me, I moved to the UK to live with my British boyfriend so I didn’t have that first stress of finding a place to live. Even if you’re going to be living out of an AirBnB or hostel while you scout out other options, I would still recommend doing this list your first week.

Week One: What do you your first week in the UK

1. Jump into a regular routine as quickly as possible

Getting into a regular routine as quickly as possible includes stuff like waking up at a regular time, eating meals at the right time and going to sleep at the right time.

While it seems simple, a basic routine makes a huge difference adjusting to the time difference and getting into regular “British” life! If you want more tips, make sure to check out my post all about reducing jet lag. It feels a bit stupid, but it’s shocking how much of a difference it makes.

2. Get a working SIM Card with a UK Number

Pretty much everything is done with a UK mobile phone so it’s really important to get this set up as soon as you can!

Thankfully SIM cards are really accessible and inexpensive in the UK compared to North America. You can even buy a cheap SIM card from a supermarket and get going right away.

You probably won’t be approved for a phone contract when you first arrive in the UK as you’ll have no credit score, but make sure to get a working UK SIM in the meantime. I’d also recommend checking out these UK apps to make living in the UK even easier.

3. Explore your neighbourhood, village, town or city!

Moving abroad can feel really isolating and overwhelming and I know I felt really detached from everything around me.

I made a point of walking around my area as much as I could. Eventually I learned how roads attached, how to get from here to there and the general layout of my new home.

While it seems basic and silly, this made a huge difference for feeling “at home.”

When I got more brave, I would add in the bus or train to explore further afield, and eventually it became second nature. Even now when I move house, I’ll spend some of my free time outside of work exploring the new area – it makes a huge difference.

4. If you’re going to using the train at all, get a Rail Card

I’ve saved hundreds of pounds each year by travelling on the train with my rail card.

It’s basically like a train-membership: you still have the pay for a train ticket, but you can get discounted rates. The railcard itself is typically about £30 for a year, but if you travel a few times a month, you’ll pay it off in savings. Just make sure to apply your rail card when buying your train tickets and the discount will be applied to the final price.

5. Find a local cafe, sit and enjoy living in the UK

I think the UK has so many lovely cafes and tea houses, especially little independent ones. One of my favourite things to do is to have a coffee, sit, read if you’re alone or spend time with friends if you’re not.

The more you experience the day-to-day regular life “stuff” the more it feels like home and everything feels a bit less scary. Also, the whole point of moving to a foreign country is to experience the local culture!

6. Go on a staycation (if you can!)

One regret I had when I first moved to the UK was that I immediately looked for a job and went straight into working. This process definitely has its benefits and sometimes it’s necessary if you don’t have a lot of savings, but before getting my first UK job I wish I took a week off to travel around the UK before setting into a 9-5.

Thankfully the UK offers a lot more holiday time than North America, but just something to consider.

What about a job?

I went right into applying for jobs, but it would have been nice to just have a week to not think about that and settle into my new home. Realistically, looking for jobs after a week in the UK won’t break the bank.

As for things like registering with a GP (a doctor) or a dentist – these are important but they don’t need to happen your first week. Take a deep breath. Enjoy how far you’ve come!!