12 must have apps for newbies in United Kingdom

Expat life
13 Oct 2023
13 mins read
Written by Riona lye

So, you’ve decided to up sticks and head to the land of tea, crumpets and incessant rain – the United Kingdom. You’ve managed to survive the flight, navigate immigration and find your way to your new digs. Now what? Well, it’s time to settle into your new life, and what better way to do that than with the help of a few handy apps? 

Yes, my friend, unless the mere thought of technology sends you into a cold sweat (in which case, how are you reading this?), this blog post is going to be your new best friend. So, buckle up, grab a cuppa, and prepare to have your mind blown by the 12 best apps for acclimating yourself to life in the UK. Whether you’re here to hit the books or climb the corporate ladder, these apps are about to become your lifelines.

Now, without further ado, let’s get this app party started!


Oh, isn’t public transport just a dream come true? It’s like a thrilling roller coaster ride, but instead of loops and drops, you’re faced with the sheer terror of potentially getting lost or ending up on a scenic tour of the city’s less appealing sights. But hey, being the new kid in town has its perks – like the excuse to lean heavily on technology!

And if you find yourself wandering aimlessly in one of the UK’s major cities, let me introduce you to your new best friend – Citymapper. This little app is like a digital tour guide, navigator, and financial advisor rolled into one. It’ll show you how to get around town by every possible mode of transportation you can think of – bus, taxi, scooter, bike, moped, car share, and even your own two feet. Heck, it even covers underground and overground routes!

But the real cherry on top? It calculates the cost of your journey for you. Now you can actually weigh up whether that cab ride is worth your hard-earned cash or if a brisk walk (aka free workout) might be more economical.

And get this – Citymapper isn’t just a UK thing. No, no, they’ve gone global. So, wherever you find yourself, rest assured, you’re covered. Or lost. Depends on how well you follow directions, really.

App links:
Android | iOS


No, we’re not suggesting you start a citrus-themed ritual for good luck in your new town. ‘Lime’ here isn’t the fruit, it’s actually the world’s leading provider of shared electric vehicles. Yes, we’re talking about those zippy little scooters and bikes you see whizzing around.

This app is so user-friendly it’s like taking candy from a baby – but way more legal. Spot a scooter or bike in your vicinity, stroll up to it like you own the place, scan the QR code and voila! You’re ready to roll. It’s cheaper than most other alternatives too. Who said cheap thrills were hard to find?

And if you’re still on the fence, here’s the kicker – you’re saving the environment one ride at a time. If that doesn’t make you feel like a caped crusader, I don’t know what will. Plus, with the UK’s notoriously ‘balmy’ weather, you won’t even break a sweat. Unless, of course, the mere thought of physical activity makes you perspire. In that case, we can’t help you.

App links:
Android | iOS


When in the UK, why not pop over to Europe as well? Sure, the UK might have bid adieu to the European Union – but hey, at least they left the train tracks behind!

Introducing Trainline. Yes, you heard right. It’s an app called Trainline – because who has time for creative names when there are trains to catch?

Think of Trainline as your golden ticket to exploring the vast landscapes of Europe. They’ve got details from over 270 rail and coach operators spread across 40 countries – talk about having the world (or at least Europe) at your fingertips!

With this app, you can book tickets, keep an eye on departure times, and even know which platform to dash to. All that, right in the palm of your hand.

And here’s the cherry on top: you can score discounted tickets and save up to a third of the cost with digital railcards. Because let’s face it, living in the UK can feel like a Dickens novel at times, especially when it comes to expenses. So any savings are more than welcome. Hop on board the savings train, folks!

App links:
Android | iOS


Ever felt the rent creeping up higher than your blood pressure during a horror movie marathon? It’s like every month the landlord decides to play a wicked game of “How much can I squeeze out of my tenants this time?”

Living alone is starting to feel like an extreme sport where the main challenge is figuring out how many meals you can make out of one can of beans.

But hey, who said you have to bear this burden alone? Get yourself a roommate! Yes, I know, finding the right one can be as easy as finding a unicorn in a haystack. And God forbid you end up with a dud. The process of replacing them can feel like a messy divorce – emotional, complicated, and you’re left with half the stuff.

But fear not, we live in the age of technology, and there’s an app for that – SpareRoom. It’s like Tinder but for roommates (and hopefully with less ghosting). This nifty little app lets you browse through potential roommates while you’re on the go. It’s got listings from all over the UK, so whether you’re in London or Leeds, you’re covered.

The built-in messaging system keeps your conversations organized and notifies you when someone messages – it’s like your own personal assistant. And if you’re feeling adventurous, they even host Speed Flatmating events in London and Manchester. It’s like speed dating but for roommates.

So if you fancy meeting a bunch of strangers who could potentially share your bathroom, this is your chance. Good luck, you’re going to need it!

App links:
Android | iOS


So, you’re not keen on living with a random stranger who might use your toothbrush or eat your last slice of pizza? Understandable. Maybe you’ve brought along a spouse, a couple of ankle-biters, or a pet goldfish named Bob.

If you’re loaded enough to handle the rent without breaking into cold sweats at 3 a.m., then hats off to you! You’ve already conquered half the battle. Now comes the fun part – finding that dream pad that fits your needs, and doesn’t require you to sell a kidney to afford it. Enter Zoopla, your new best friend.

Zoopla has an app and a website crammed with over a million properties for you to drool over. It’s like window shopping but for houses. And the best part? You can filter those bad boys in all sorts of fancy ways and get reliable house price estimates. No need to worry about being conned into paying more than your future home is worth.

Once you find “the one” (and I mean the house, not the landlord), it’s time to get those papers in order. Character references, payslips, bank statements – it’s like applying for a job, but the reward is your own private space. Sign that tenancy agreement, and voila! You’re ready to move into your new castle. Just don’t forget to pack Bob.

App links:
Android | iOS

JustEat & Deliveroo

The UK weather is as predictable as a lottery draw and about as warm as a polar bear’s toenail. Leaving the house? That’s about as appealing as a root canal. Cooking? That requires effort and we’re fresh out of that.

Thank heavens for food delivery apps – the superheroes of our modern age. JustEat and Deliveroo are like the Batman and Superman of food delivery, swooping in to rescue us from our hunger (and laziness).

But oh, the agony of choice! It’s like being a kid in a candy store, except the candy is burgers, pizzas, and sushi. Each app offers a smorgasbord of restaurants and cuisines that can leave you in a state of analysis paralysis. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

JustEat App links:
Android | iOS

Deliveroo App links:
Android | iOS


The pandemic has turned us into hermits and made couch potatoes of us all. Remember when strolling down the grocery aisle was a thing? Yeah, me neither. Now that we’re all out and about living our lives again, we’ve realized that takeout isn’t exactly friendly to our wallets. And eating out every day? That’s as sustainable as a chocolate teapot.

But don’t fret. We’ve got just the thing to keep your lazy streak going while not breaking the bank. Meet getir, your new best mate. This app is like your personal butler, delivering groceries to your doorstep faster than you can say “I should have bought bread.” Craving midnight snacks? Need something other than food? Getir’s got you covered.

The only real challenge here is trying to pronounce the name. It’s Turkish and it’s pronounced “Get-ir”. But hey, who cares about pronunciation when you’ve got convenience at your fingertips? So go ahead, spoil yourself. You’ve earned it.

App links:
Android | iOS

Too Good To Go

Ever heard of dumpster diving? No, it’s not the latest extreme sports sensation or a novel way to find unique home decor. It’s a lifestyle choice for the brave at heart and strong of stomach – the Freegans. These daring individuals dive headfirst into commercial waste, not for half-munched Big Macs or stale doughnuts, but for food that has just passed its ‘best before’ date.

Now, don’t imagine yourself snatching a half-eaten sandwich from a bin outside a fast-food joint. Oh no, this is all about rescuing good food that’s been cast aside just because it’s a day over its sell-by date.

And here’s the kicker, you can save a hefty sum by joining this trash-to-treasure movement. You’d be surprised at how many big-name retailers discard a veritable feast of perfectly edible, safe-to-eat food.

But hey, no need to get your hands dirty rummaging through bins, there’s an app for that – Too Good To Go. This handy little app bridges the gap between customers and stores with surplus, unsold food. You can bag some surprise goodies from local stores, help combat food waste, and save money all at the same time.

So next time you’re about to toss away that slightly overripe banana, remember: one man’s compost is another man’s potassium-rich snack!

App links:
Android | iOS


Got a sniffle in the UK? You’ve got the NHS. And what, pray tell, is the NHS? It’s only the National Health Service, the publicly funded healthcare system in England and one of the four National Health Service systems in the United Kingdom. Minor detail.

But wait, there’s more. They’ve gone all 21st century on us and created an app. That’s right, the NHS App can now live right next to your Candy Crush and TikTok icons. It’s like having a mini doctor in your pocket!

Are you an expat in the UK who’s coughed up a health surcharge? Well, then you definitely need this app. It’s like your personal healthcare assistant – maintaining records, booking appointments with your GP, and probably reminding you to eat your veggies too. So go ahead, download it. Your health (and sanity) will thank you.

App links:
Android | iOS


Ah, concerts. We all love a good head-bang or swoon-worthy ballad. But the journey to get there can feel like a dodgy alleyway filled with scalpers and counterfeit tickets. It’s enough to make you want to stay home and watch reruns of “Glee.”

But fear not, my music-loving friend, the UK has got your back. Allow me to introduce you to AXS and its mobile app, AXS Mobile ID.

This isn’t just any ticketing system, oh no. AXS Mobile ID is the digital knight in shining armour at The O2 and the OVO Arena Wembley, making paper tickets look as outdated as a cassette tape. All you need is a quick scan of your digital ticket and voila! You’re in, no shady characters or questionable tickets in sight.

Need to buy a ticket? AXS. Want to share it with friends? AXS. Need assurance that your ticket is as real as your love for the band? AXS. They’ve got a fancy barcode system that changes dynamically, making illegal copying or sharing as impossible as getting through a concert without someone spilling beer on you.

And if life throws you a curveball and you can’t make it to the gig, don’t despair. With AXS Official Resale, you can pass your ticket onto another fan and even make a tidy profit (up to 10%, because we’re not greedy).

So, take a deep breath, relax, and let AXS handle the ticket stress while you focus on important things – like perfecting your air guitar.

App links:
Android | iOS


Ever wished you could just snap your fingers and make your payments disappear? Well, Klarna isn’t magic, but it’s the next best thing. This handy app lets you buy that expensive item you’ve been eyeing and then pay for it in three easy, breezy instalments. It’s like layaway but without the waiting.

Loads of other service providers have hopped on the Klarna bandwagon, offering the ‘pay later’ option. You can use it at physical stores, to book flights and hotels, and even to buy that ridiculously overpriced latte from that hipster coffee shop.

Now, I hear you asking, “Why on earth would I need to pay in instalments?” Well, as a newcomer in town, you’re probably as creditless as a monk in a strip club. Using your own credit card from back home is going to rack up FX fees faster than a Kardashian racks up Instagram followers. But hey, life goes on, and you might need to buy some big-ticket items while your finances are still playing catch-up.

And let’s face it, if your luck takes a nosedive, you’ll need emergency funds faster than you can say “unforeseen circumstances”. That’s where Klarna shines – it lets you keep your cash handy for those “Oh crap!” moments, all at no extra cost to you. Who said adulting had to be hard?

App links:
Android | iOS

Before you go…

The joys of being an expat or studying abroad are when you finally figure out how to navigate your new city, and you’re feeling pretty chuffed with yourself. But then there’s that pesky issue of sending money back home. Banks? Sure, if you fancy paying fees that’d make a loan shark blush.

Enter Instarem. This financial app is like the superhero of money transfers.

send money with Instarem

No hidden fees, competitive exchange rates, and a user interface so simple even a technophobe could figure it out.

Worried about where your money is? Don’t be. Instarem has this snazzy transaction timeline that’ll keep you in the loop.

New transaction timeline for Instarem app

It’s like GPS for your money. Now you can sleep easy knowing your hard-earned cash isn’t off-gallivanting around the world without you.

Try Instarem for your next transfer by downloading the app or sign up here.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products or vendors mentioned.

About Instarem

Instarem stands at the forefront of international money transfer services, facilitating fast and secure transactions for both individuals and businesses. Our platform offers competitive exchange rates for popular currency pairs like USD to INR, SGD to INR, and AUD to INR. If you're looking to send money to India or transfer funds to any of 60+ global destinations, Instarem makes it easy for you. We are dedicated to simplifying cross-border payments, providing cutting-edge technology that support individuals and businesses alike in overcoming traditional fiscal barriers normally associated with banks. As a trusted and regulated brand under the umbrella of the Fintech Unicorn Nium Pte. Ltd., and its international subsidiaries, Instarem is your go-to for reliable global financial exchanges. Learn more about Instarem.