Living in any new city can be overwhelming and moving to London can take the biscuit! So, we've put together a lost of apps you could use to make London Life just a bit easier.
Here's our top 10 apps to get if you're moving to London:
If you only download one app from this list, make it Citymapper.
Even though I’ve lived in London for almost a year now, I still use this app multiple times every single day.
Citymapper simplifies travel around London. It combines all the transport options into one place, showing you the fastest and/or cheapest way to your destination.
Simply put in your current location and desired destination (you can use GPS to find your current location), and the app will show you how to get there via tube, bus, train, foot, bike, taxi, Santander cycle, ferry, tram, and more!
Once you’ve decided your route, the app will give you specific and easy to follow directions with real-time updates, so you always know how long the journey will take and what time you’ll get there.
The app shows you tube line disruptions, minutes until the next bus is due, and how much each means of transport will cost you. It will even show you the best exit to use at the station - a lifesaver for busy stations with multiple exits.
I think the most useful thing is the option to set an ‘arrive by’ time. This way I don’t need to panic about when I should leave, and can relax until the very moment I walk out the door.
Plus, it doesn’t just cover London! If you take a trip to Oxford, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh or a number of other cities inside or outside of the UK (like Europe, the US, or Asia), Citymapper can help you there too.
It’s definitely among the most used apps on my phone and like me, you’ll soon become reliant on Citymapper to get around.
2, TFL Oyster App
Citymapper will help you figure out how to get there, but the TfL Oyster app helps you to actually travel there.
While the TfL Oyster Card has become less popular with the rise of contactless, it’s still useful for students who can link it to their student railcard to cash in on the discounts. It’s also useful for those who just want to keep an eye out on their travel spending.
Once you’ve set up an account and connected your Oyster Card, the app lets you top-up and review your balance from anywhere. You can even top-up through the app and the funds will be on your card within half an hour.
On the app you can see your journey history for the past 8 weeks and you’ll get a handy notification when your balance needs topping up - which is handy because it’s always nice to not be the person holding everyone up at the ticket barrier.
However, while it is useful, you can always just find ticket machine at your nearest train station and top-up there or at thousands of participating newsagents and convenience stores around London. Just look out for the Oyster Card logo in shop window.
The downsides of this app are photocards aren’t accepted and you can’t connect your Oyster Card account to your Apple Wallet. A big boo.
This is the app you’ve always needed, but never knew existed.
Splitwise makes it easier to split expenses like household bills, bar tabs and the cost of group presents. Basically, it means you can live a life of financial equality (among pals) and be rest assured that everyone has paid or has been paid the right dues.
First, set up an account, create a group and invite your pals to join. Then start adding expenses and charging them to the group.
The camera lets you add ‘evidence’ of the expense, so you’ll never be left wondering why you owe someone £50 for a night of drinking you don’t even remember the next morning…
You can customise who is owed the money and how you want the ‘debt’ to be split between members of the group. If it’s an equal split, the app can save you some time and brain power by working it out automatically.
If it’s a recurring expense, like rent, you can add it to the calendar and set it to repeat at whatever interval you like.
Once the expense has been added, the app notifies group members to remind them what they owe and continues to keep track for you. When they eventually cough up (even if it is after a few nudges) the ‘creditor’ confirms the debt has been paid and everything is ‘settled up’.
It’s a real weight off yout shoulders, especially for things like shared flats and group outings. Plus, no more awkward ‘Hey guys, sorry to be that person but do people mind transferring me the £3 they owe me for lunch three weeks ago, Thanks!
Yolt is a free, easy to use, secure, and accessible budgeting app which lets you track your income and expenses from your phone. Did I mention it was FREE!
It’s different to your banking app in that it lets you set spending ‘limits’, categorise income and expenditure, and provides you with a simple report of your habits at the end of each month.
You can add multiple bank accounts to the app, meaning all the funds you have to your name can be tracked from one place.
You can’t pay for anything through the app and you can’t manage your accounts directly, it’s purely data-driven to help you keep an eye on what’s coming in and what’s going out.
I think the best feature on Yolt is the ‘nudges’ you get when you’re nearing the limit you’ve set on a category of spending. I don’t like being reminded when I’ve bought one caramel latte too many, but as a student I feel like it’s probably a good thing to know…
5, Food Delivery Apps
Food delivery apps have enjoyed a massive boom recently, especially over the pandemic. As a result, there’s huge competition between companies for your attention and your pounds.
This competition means it’s worth keeping an eye on a few apps, because some do exclusive deals with restaurants or have promotions which could slash the amount you pay on delivery and admin fees.
The most popular is JustEat. With more than 30,000 restaurants on the app, whatever your stomach desires can be delivered to your door with just a tap on the app.
Deliveroo is another hugely popular food delivery service, you’ve probably seen the iconic neon blue cyclists zipping about the streets. The app lets you filter by categories like ‘healthy’, ‘dessert’, and ‘breakfast.
When you sign up for the first time, you can cash in on the current offer of two week’s free delivery for newcomers, and Deliveroo has also recently jumped on the bandwagon and added grocery store delivery to its repertoire.
Also, if you use the service enough, it’s probably worth upgrading to Deliveroo plus and signing up to one of the two plans currently available. Gold, gives you free delivery on orders £10 or over and Silver gives you free delivery on orders £25 or over. The plans cost £7.99 and £3.49 respectively which theoretically can be easily made back after a few orders.
Then there’s UberEats. There’s no minimum order with this one, but there are slightly less choices when it comes to restaurants. That being said, you do get plenty of choice when it comes to delivery options at the checkout.
Priority delivery means your food gets delivered directly to you for an extra cost of £1.49. Standard delivery is the normal delivery service but it means drivers might stop off to deliver other people’s food along the way. The No Rush option means you will have a bit of a wait but you do get to save an extra 49p – which could mean a lot for a student! You can also schedule delivery for up to a week in advance.
Getir is another food delivery app that focusses on groceries and convenience for when you just can’t be bothered to pop to the shop. It uses a network of ‘dark stores’ to deliver your shopping list to your door (as long as it’s in London’s zones 1 and 2) within 10 minutes. You read that right,10 minutes.
There are many other grocery delivery app options that are similar to Getir, such as Weezy, Gorillas and Dija. Whichever one you use should be based on personal preference, location and best value for money. So, if you are able to, try a few out until you find the ones that work best for you.
Side note: Delivery services are fantastic but don’t neglect your local independents! These apps are both a blessing and a curse for small businesses so, if your favourite poke place has its own delivery service or a click and collect option give it a go.
6, Google Maps
Google Maps is so much better than the iPhone’s map app in my opinion and just generally more user friendly. I find the GPS is more responsive, and the directions are far clearer.
The app lets you mark places as ‘favourite’ or ‘want to go’ and you can make your own lists, meaning you can create a sort of London bucket list of places to visit, explore or eat at around the city.
7, Santander Cycles
The infamous ‘Boris Bikes’ can be a lifesaver when it comes to getting around London.
Not the smoothest of rides, but faster than walking and much more environmentally friendly - not to mention cheaper - than public transport.
Download the Santander Cycles app to see the location of the nearest available bikes, hire a bike without faffng with the terminal, track your recent activity and find the nearest docking station.
Hiring a Santander Cycle costs £2 per day for unlimited half-hour journeys (enough to get you to most places within the city). If you’re pedaling a journey longer than 30 mins, you pay £2 more pounds for every extra 30 minutes.
There are plenty of docking stations around the city, but it can be a little annoying to find one if you’re in a rush. Plus, make sure to return your bike or risk a £300 fine!
Perhaps a little controversial, but many Londoners swear by it.
Uber is a ride-hailing app which connects users and drivers via an online platform. You submit a request via the app, then a nearby driver picks you up and takes you to that destination.
You pay via the app and have the opportunity to ‘rate’ your driver from one to five stars, alerting other users to the quality of that ride.
Recently, updates have been added which let users split fares, share your trip status with ‘trusted contacts’ and a PIN to ensure you get into the right car.
9, Beer Buddy - Drink with me!
A less ‘practical’ one, but still pretty useful for finding your mates in such a vast city
In short, Beer Buddy notifies your friends when you’re drinking.
Invite your friends via Snapchat, WhatsApp or by creating a username through the app. Choose a drink, check into a location and let your pals know you’re cracking open a cold one with the boys.
Granted, it’s a bit of a gimmick but it’s fun and it might come in handy when you fancy a pint (or a soft drink if you prefer) with your mates.
10, VoiceMap London
VoiceMap lets you explore London with self-guided audio tours, learning about statues, buildings, and hidden gems most people walk past without a second thought.
The app uses GPS to track your location and point out landmarks and details at exactly the right time, and you can download audio tours so you don’t have to use your data while out and about.
The app offers a range of tours, some free but most paid, featuring stories from professional tour guides, journalists, filmmakers and authors about artwork, architecture, and myths. There’s even one which takes you around London’s theatres by the legendary Sir Ian McKellan!
It’s a great way to spend an afternoon, get some fresh air and learn more about the city you now call home!