It’s so easy to want to pack the kitchen sink when you are moving overseas. In this article, I’m going to cover what you should pack when moving to the UK.
One of the hardest things I had to do when moving was packing my life into 30kgs. At the end of the day, the UK has plenty of shops so whatever you miss you will be able to buy here. Just make sure you add the potential cost to how much money you bring to the UK.
I am also a fan of using what you already own so investigate shipping your stuff over! I’ll go into this in more details in another article (coming soon).
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There is nothing worse than rocking up to the airport and the airline wants to charge you a small fortune to take your stuff on the plane. Check the airlines baggage rules and the size of luggage that they allow.
If you’re shipping over your belongings check if there is any import duty or additional surprise fees.
When it comes to the main luggage, this is personal preference and the main thing is utilising as much space as possible that the airline gives you.
I always go with the lightest suitcases I can find as it can easily add to a couple of kilos that you cannot use.
One of the things that I do recommend regarding your hand luggage is to bring a backpack over a wheelie suitcase. The reason being is that if you plan on travelling then airlines won’t charge you for a backpack. However, they will charge you for a wheelie case these days.
It’s just super handy to use as a day pack. This is what I carry my camera and laptop and other day to day items in. My favourite is Osprey backpack, they have a great range that suits all types of needs.
What should I pack for the UK?
There are several factors to consider before you visit the UK, most importantly, the weather! The temperamental nature of the climate in the UK means you need to come prepared for any eventuality!
Layering is key for every season so make sure as many items mix and match as possible so you can remove things as you get warm and put them back on as it gets cool.
Clothes Items to Consider
Work and Interview Outfits
There’s a high chance that you’re going to be wanting to find a job while you’re over in the UK so bring at least one interview outfit and a few sets of work clothes.
I work in the corporate world, so my interview outfit generally is a nice jacket with a dress. My go-to colour is a white dress, it’s never failed me to this day to get a job on the first interview.
As a male, you would want to bring some nice shirts and a suit. As suits can be expensive it will save you some cash by bringing your favourite suit over then buying a new one.
In recent years, I have noticed a change in workplace attire where the vibes have gone to smart casual attire rather than the traditional formal suits dependent on the industry. When chatting to the recruitment agencies or potential employers ask them what attire is in their policies.
If you are worried about moving to the UK without a job, I cover my tips in this article and how I did it.
It rains a lot here. When I say it rains, it drizzles, so an umbrella will be a staple.
Rain jackets can be better than the umbrella and they don’t blow away in the wind! Also great for layering underneath so you get nice and cosy and not have to worry about the rain.
When I moved over from Australia (from Perth) I didn’t bring my winter coats as I didn’t think they would handle the colder weather, so I bought winter coats here.
If you’re from Canada or somewhere that does get cold then chances are you probably have something warm to pack in your suitcase.
Light Jacket and Jumpers
As I said above, layering is key! Light jackets and jumpers are the perfect layer items plus you need something for the warmer months as well.
Dresses are nice and light, and they’re easy to layer up. Pack some tights or stockings to add additional warmth for the cooler days.
Personally, I love tops I can use for multipurpose so the ones you can wear to work but also casually or on a night out.
As a male, a mix of shirts and tops will be perfect for all occasions.
Bottoms – Skirts, Jeans and Chinos
Jeans are a staple in my wardrobe in the UK. I wear them quite a lot, so they’re definitely an item I recommend bringing with you. Add in a few skirts for variety.
If you’re a male, I would also suggest adding some chinos so that you can wear them on a night out. You might want to wear them on an interview, dress down Fridays, those kinds of things.
Bring a summer set, and nice cosy winter pyjamas that you can just wrap up and snuggle when it’s nice and cold and grey outside.
Bring a couple of pairs of shoes, especially trainers! I use them to walk everywhere around London and the UK.
Comfortable boots or something equivalent should be a staple in your wardrobe. Perfect for the autumn and winter wardrobes, and they’re comfy to walk around.
Add shoes that will fit your casual and work wardrobe. A pair of flipflops, sandals, formal shoes, loafers and whatever else you can think of.
Be careful about how many you bring because they will take up your suitcase.
One thing I do recommend if you’re a female is not to bring heels. I barely wear my heels here. I have a pair of wedges, two pairs that I wear to weddings and Christmas events and things like that.
Underwear, Socks and Other Items
All the essentials like underwear, socks, bras and swimwear.
I would always go for the higher number of underwear as I don’t like ever running out!
Essential Travel Electronics
Here are the essential travel electronics I recommend considering bringing over.
Unlocked Mobile Phone
The pesky phone companies don’t always give us unlocked phones and its key to getting a SIM Card when you get here. Additionally, check if your phone will work with a UK SIM card.
Laptop or Tablet (optional)
Finding a job in the UK is a lot easier when you have a laptop or tablet making searching for and applying for jobs online easier.
A camera is a great addition if you’ve got one because you’ll be exploring the country and travelling around, and it’s a fun way to capture your moments.
Leave Behind the Hair Dryers
I don’t recommend that you travel over with something like a hairdryer. Every single hairdryer that I’ve had from another country has blown up in the UK or whilst I’ve been travelling and that’s because the voltages do change. I’ve never had a problem with something like my phone or my camera but hairdryers just always seem to explode on me. Maybe I’m just jinxed.
I bought one when I landed in London and it’s lasted over 6 years now so it was worth the £20 I spent.
Travel Accessories List
Here are the must-have travel accessories that will come in handy or to add to your buying list when you arrive.
Travel adapters are inexpensive and I recommend getting one for worldwide use. This enables you to use your adapter for all of your travels and doesn’t lock you down to the UK. My favourite adapter is the VGUARD Worldwide Travel Adapter, 4 USB Ports (Amazon).
You may need to consider getting a voltage adapter for your electronic depending on what country you are from and the manufacture of that item. Here are the voltages:
- UK/ Europe- anywhere from 220 to 240 V
- United States- 110/120 V
- Japan- 100 V
- Australia- 230 V
- Brazil- 127/ 220 V (in the process of changing, some older buildings are still 127 V)
Home Country Powerboard
If you’re moving over with lots of electronic items, then your home country’s power board will be useful. This just makes your life a lot easier when you’re trying to charge multiple things at the same time.
Noising Cancelling Headphones
Noise-cancelling headphones are great for plane rides, bus rides, and general peace while you are out and about. If you have a pair add that to your hand luggage.
These are my go to noise cancelling headphones as they are super affordable!
Having a reusable water bottle comes in handy in day to day life, especially if your office is like mine and they run out of cups every day! There are plenty of free options; I recommend buying a reusable water bottler like the Super Sparrow Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle (my go-to water bottle).
What to know more about drinking water in the UK, I’ve got a guide here explaining everything you need to know.
Keep cups are a great way to save landfill and money on coffee! Places like Starbucks, Pret A Manager and other coffee stores will give discounts if you bring your own coffee cups.
Padlocks like the TSA approved ones are ideal for your bags, lockers, gym and future travels.
Phone Power Bank
Phone batteries just don’t last like they are used to and when you are new to a place you will be using more battery to find your way. I just picked up a power bank like this one and pop it into my day bag. Remember the cables for your phones/devices so when the battery is low you can stay connected.
Anker is a popular brand for portable power banks, see the range on Amazon.
Eye Mask & Ear Plugs
Depending on the initial accommodation you choose eye masks and earplugs helps you zone out from the world.
You need to bring your passport, bank and credit cards and your biometric letter (if that’s applicable).
If you are planning to stay in the UK for an extended period, then you should consider bringing important documents with you like:
- birth certificate
- marriage certificate
- citizenship certificate
- divorce and custody arrangements
- tax documents (tax assessment etc)
- vaccination card
- educational qualifications.
Scan all your important documentation along with your passport and visa. Losing your document overseas can be a real pain and hard to replace! Having the scanned copies can be used to help sort out replacements making the process much easier.
Setting up a bank account in the UK can take some time and can be difficult when you don’t have a residential address. With the wave on online banking there are ways you can set-up your money until you can get a high street bank.
Starting an account with companies like Transferwise means that you can easily access British Pounds and have UK bank details. There are more bank account options which I detail in my 101 guide to moving to the UK and Can I Get a UK Bank Account Before I Move to the UK? With Solutions.
If you are someone that needs to take medication like I do for my migraines, then bring over a stock of your medication. That will give you time to sign up to a GP and get your life settled here without having to stress of running out of medication.
Here’s a quick checklist:
- Ensuring that you have enough for 2-3 months to get you through the initial set-up in the UK. For ladies this includes your pill (even though it’s free in the UK it will save you stressing).
- Get a letter from your doctor supporting the medication you take, how much, why you take it and any medical documents to support this. Also, not all medication is the same in the UK so it might be worthwhile asking your doctor to investigate UK alternatives.
- Keep the original packaging when travelling.
- Check with your doctor that it’s legal in the UK or some medication in your home country might not be available over the counter for example.
Toiletries really bulk up and add weight to your bag! Waiting until you get to the UK means you will have more space in your bag for the things that are more expensive to buy.
Avoid items that spill/explode like nail varnish and if you do make sure they are wrapped!
I did bring all my make-up over as that is costly to replace!
When I first moved I brought a quick dry towel with me because big fluffy towels take up a lot of space. However, if the UK is your only destination you might want to household items like bedding and towels with you.
The most popular size of bed is a double. You can easily pick up household items from Sainsbury’s, TKMaxx and other house stores for £10 or so.
In your budget include a set of funds for household items, unless you plan on shipping items to the UK. As a minimum you will need duvet, pillows, fitted sheets and towels.
Nothing adds a personal touch like sentimental items. Photos frames, books (in moderation, they are heavy), posters, decorations and the list goes on. Wrap them carefully or pack them in your hand luggage so they are nice and safe.
Lots of expats move to the UK to travel. I recommend that you get travel insurance to cover your first 6 months in the UK.
Do read the fine print when purchasing as travel insurance companies in the UK will not cover you in the UK until you have been living here for 6 months.
Just to give an example, this the requirements travel insurance companies can use to determine if you are a citizen or resident:
A citizen is described as a passport holder with:
- a permanent residential address
- with unrestricted right of entry to the country.
A resident is a holder of a residency visa with:
- unrestricted right of entry into the country
- access to long-term medical care
- a permanent residential address in the country.
World Nomads is a very popular for this reason as they will provide insurance to you without being a resident of a country.
Globelink is another insurer that also provides cover for those without residence.
Recap of what to pack when moving to the UK
Save the list below to your phone so you can tick it off while you’re packing!
- Work and Interview Outfits
- Rain Jacket
- Winter Coat
- Light Jacket and Jumpers
- Dresses (optional)
- Bottoms – Skirts, Jean and Chinos
- Underwear, Socks and Other Items
- Unlocked Mobile Phone
- Laptop or Tablet (optional)
- Cameras (optional)
- Travel Adapters
- Home Country Powerboard
- Noising Cancelling Headphones
- Water Bottle
- Keep Cup
- Phone Power Bank
- Eye Mask & Ear Plugs
- Important Documents
- Household Items
- Travel Insurance
Stock up on your favourite things! There are some things that you can get in the UK, for example, Australians can get vegemite but if you are a chicken salt lover this won’t easily found in the shops. Same goes with beauty products as some brands may not be available in the UK.