As an expat, getting to grips with everyday life in your new home can be challenging. Thankfully, these days there are plenty of mobile apps on the market that can make life in the United Kingdom a little easier. Whether you’re going to work in Glasgow or grabbing bargains from your local bakery in Bristol, there’s an app for practically everything.
To help get you started, here are the top must-have apps in the UK:
- Getting around: public transport
- British TV apps
- Socializing and events
- UK mobility apps
- Living a sustainable lifestyle
- Money transfer apps
- Keeping entertained
- UK Banking
- Finding a home
- Eating and food delivery
Getting around: public transport
Moving around a new city is always challenging. Whether you’re a recently-arrived expat or simply visiting for the weekend, mastering public transport in the UK can be difficult. Thankfully, there are a whole host of transport apps on the market to help out.
Citymapper is a public transit app that operates in some of the largest cities in the UK, including London, Manchester, and Glasgow. The app lets you plan your route using all modes of transport, from walking and cycling to trams and carshares. You can also keep track of your activity on your personal account, including money saved and distance traveled.
The official app for UK train information, the National Rail app will help you get around the ease. You can use the app to buy train tickets, plan your route, and get alerts about your upcoming journey.
If you’re living in London, the Transport for London (TfL) app is essential for making your way around the capital city. The free app helps you manage and top up your Oyster travel card, monitor your journey history, and get alerts if your card is running low on credit.
British TV apps
Looking for ways to integrate yourself into British culture? What better way to do it than by catching up with all the latest news, sports, and UK TV shows? Not only will this help you practice your English (or Welsh… or Scottish Gaelic), it will also give you an insight into British culture.
BBC iPlayer is a streaming and catch-up service from the BBC that’s also available online. The app has a range of TV shows, from the latest BBC news and current affairs to live sports and kid’s shows. You’ll also be able to download boxsets of new and classic comedies and dramas and watch offline – perfect for those commutes on public transport.
Channel 4’s official catch-up app, All4, has a wide catalog of British TV and film to choose from. Whether you like comedies, films, or documentaries, all you need is a UK address to access plenty of entertainment.
One of the UK’s largest streaming platforms, download ITVX to watch the latest shows and vintage classics from ITV. There’s something for everyone on the app – from reality TV to anime shows. It’s also a great option if you’re looking to improve your English language skills.
A catch-up service from Channel 5, My5 also has a wide range of entertainment to help you unwind. With a free account, you can save your favorite shows and movies, while discovering other British gems along the way.
Socializing and events
Arranging your social calendar in a new city like London or Manchester can be tough. There’s often so much to see and do, it can be difficult to know what to do first. Then, of course, there are all the upcoming events. From antique fairs to British festivals, there never seems to be enough days in the week.
Time Out London is an international culture and entertainment guide that was founded in London back in 1968. Alongside their world-famous magazine, the app is a great way of keeping up with the latest goings-on in London, Birmingham, and more. You’ll find restaurant reviews, gig listings, and outdoor activities on this handy app.
Looking to meet new people in the UK? Download Meetup to find people with similar interests and explore events in your area. The app also has plenty of expat-friendly events, allowing you to meet with people in the same boat as you.
UK mobility apps
Stayed out late and missed the last tram home? Or maybe you don’t feel like braving the Underground with heavy suitcases? Whatever your reason, ride-sharing apps can be an important lifeline for expats living in cities around the world.
FREE NOW is a ride-hailing app operating in nine of the UK’s biggest cities. It allows you to connect with drivers across the city; helping you get home safe and sound. Previously known as Hallo and myTaxi, it’s available across Europe if you find travel beyond the UK’s borders.
A market leader in ride-sharing platforms, Uber is an essential app for mobility across the UK. Operating in several UK cities, the app will find drivers in your vicinity to get you from one place to another. You can also choose your vehicle of choice for your ride and see how much your fare will come to – all before confirming your ride.
If you’re living in London and love to cycle, Santander Cycles is the app for you. Operated by TfL, the app helps you hire bikes and see where the nearest docking stations are in central London. With an in-built journey planner, you can also use the app to plan your route by bike.
Living a sustainable lifestyle
We all try to live a little more sustainably these days, but it can be hard to get into good habits in a new country. For some, finding the right way to recycle in the UK can be challenging enough. However, with the right apps on your phone, you’ll find making those all-important choices to live sustainably a lot easier.
Too Good To Go
Too Good To Go helps you cut down on food waste by connecting you with cafes, restaurants, and bakeries in your local area. Their community of waste warriors can pick up fresh food at a reduced rate from local outlets; food that would otherwise be thrown away. It’s a great way to grab a bargain while helping the environment.
To cut down on plastic usage, download Refill. This app shows you where you can refill your renewable water bottle around the UK. What’s more, it also points you towards businesses where you can comfortably use your reusable lunchboxes, coffee cups, and reusable bags.
Good On You
Avoid fast-fashion choices with Good On You. This ethical clothing app helps you make the best choices for your wardrobe in the UK by providing ratings based on sustainability. With the aid of expert research, you can understand how ‘green’ fashion brands really are.
Money transfer apps
Getting your finances in order is one of the most important things to do before moving to another country. You might be surprised at the number of unexpected costs you face after you arrive, and you don’t want to be caught off guard. That’s where a money transfer app comes into its own.
Atlantic Money is a relatively new money transfer app that allows you to send funds abroad. They tend to be cheaper for larger transfers, as they charge a flat fee of £3 and adhere to the live exchange rate. The app offers ten different currencies, including Australian, Canadian, and US dollars, euros, and Indian Rupees.
Transfer your money with ease from and to the UK with CurrencyFair. With this app, you can open an account to hold over 20 currencies at once and avoid excessive bank fees. You can also keep track of exchange rates and receive alerts for any noteworthy changes.
Wise is a global leader in quick and easy international money transfers, meaning you’ll have funds wherever you are in the UK. For that extra bit of security, you can even open a Wise multi-currency account. What’s more, you’ll get a debit Mastercard you can use across the UK.
Are you a good listener? Maybe you prefer switching on the radio to turning on the TV? Or perhaps you just like catching up with the latest episodes of your favorite podcasts? A great way to understand the UK is through your ears, and there’s no better way to listen on the go than with an app.
BBC Sounds is one of the UK’s leading apps for enjoying radio, music, and podcasts. The BBC’s many national and local radio stations are a great way to keep up with local news, sports, and music. There are also celebrity podcasts and performances from your favorite bands and musicians to listen to.
If you’re a sports fan who likes to watch TV, then DAZN is the app for you. An online subscription-based sports streaming service, DAZN offers live and on-demand matches and events. Available for streaming on your smart devices, you can take your matches with you and never miss a goal. It is also a great option to learn about sports in the UK.
Are you a fan of the classics? Then you’ll find plenty to watch on Disney+. Known for its beloved animated family movies, this subscription on-demand service also has plenty of shows and movies from Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic to get lost in.
For many expats moving to the UK, sorting out their bank account is at the top of their to-do list when they arrive. Opening a bank account in the UK is essential in settling into your new home, from setting up home utilities to paying for groceries at the supermarket.
Starling Bank is a mobile bank that operates in the UK. Their mobile banking app offers a range of financial services, including debit cards and budgeting tools. The app will let you split any bills with your new UK friends, and if you need to deposit money, you can do so at your local UK post office.
If you’re looking for an app to help you save for big goals, check out Moneybox. This UK-based app will help you invest and grow your money with time. You can set up weekly deposits and monthly payday boosts as you work closer to your goal.
Finding a home
What better way to make your life in the UK more comfortable than by finding the house of your dreams? Buying property and renting in the UK can seem daunting to a newcomer, but there are plenty of apps available to download that help make house-hunting that little bit easier.
Rightmove is one of the UK’s leading online property search platforms. Whether you’re buying, renting, or simply checking property prices, their app helps you get to grips with the UK’s property market. The property search features can be particularly helpful to expats who aren’t familiar with the local neighborhood services and transport links.
If you’re looking for a flatshare, SpareRoom can help. Wherever you are moving to in the UK, the app will show you what’s available in the area, let you save your favorite listings, and contact advertisers. If you’re looking for a flatmate, you can also use the app to put up an advertisement.
Spotahome takes the stress out of finding short-term rental properties. This London-only app helps you rent quality homes – including apartments, rooms, studios, and student residences. Offering virtual tours of their accommodation, the app has the benefit of showing you around your home of interest without making the journey there in person.
Eating and food delivery
British food might not have the best reputation around the world, but don’t let that fool you. There are plenty of great restaurants, pubs, and cafés to explore across the country. Alternatively, why not bring those UK flavors home? Whether you’re exploring your local British grocery store or signing up for a recipe box, there are plenty of options.
HelloFresh provides innovative meal kits straight to your front door. Sign up for weekly deliveries and treat your family to some fresh and flavorsome home-cooked meals. They cover all major UK cities, although delivery is limited in more rural parts of the country.
Milk & More
Get your daily essentials by downloading Milk & More. You can use the app to get your groceries delivered early in the morning from local, sustainable suppliers. What’s more, you can cancel and pause deliveries whenever you want if you need to change your order on the spot.
Hungry and fancying a takeaway? Use Just Eat to order your favorite food straight to your door. With a huge selection of restaurants using the apps, you’ll be spoiled for choice. You can also follow your delivery in real time until it reaches your house.