8 Essential Apps for Immigrants Living in the UK

Last updated on September 7th, 2023 at 05:59 pm

Once upon a time, settling into a new country would have meant investing in maps, reading through guidebooks, and generally taking a lot of time to get a feel for local amenities and services. These days, mobile apps make life a lot easier for immigrants, so let’s take a look at eight of the best for newcomers to the UK.

App name: Citymapper

Why?: Takes the hassle out of navigating your new city

One of the most challenging things about moving to a new place is figuring out how to get around. The Citymapper app removes the need to gaze endlessly at maps and public transport timetables. Instead, you just enter where you are and where you’re going, and the app can promptly tell you how to get there.

The disclaimer here is that Citymapper is only available for a select group of major cities in the UK: London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, Cardiff, Bristol, and Newcastle. Not only does the app map out a route for your journey, but it also lets you toggle between transportation options, such as bus, bicycle, or taxi, and provides real-time updates which factor in delays, traffic, and the so on. This means you’ll always be in the know, whether you’re planning a trip while still at home, or standing at the bus stop wondering when the next bus is due.

App name: Babylon

Why?: A one-stop healthcare tool that can connect you with doctors 

Many people relocating to the UK have to pay a special surcharge which will provide access to the country’s much-loved National Health Service. The Babylon app gives you even more control over your healthcare, however. Downloading it to your device, you’ll be able to make use of a range of free tools and services. There’s a mood tracker, a weight tracker, and a user-friendly symptom checker which employs cutting edge artificial intelligence to identify potential illnesses.

On top of this, you can use the app to make phone and video call appointments with doctors, physiotherapists, and even specialists in particular fields of medicine. These appointments will have to be paid for, either through an annual subscription or on a pay-as-you-go basis, but what you get is round-the-clock access to medical professionals. It’s highly convenient if you work irregular hours or simply want the comfort of being able to speak to doctors whenever you need to.

App name: Remitly

Why?: Makes it easy to send money to loved ones back home

Whether you’re providing ongoing, essential financial support to loved ones in your home country, or just want to send money as an occasional gift, you’ll want a remittance service that’s quick, convenient, and cost-effective. Remitly ticks all three boxes – just download it to your device, provide some personal details, choose a payment method, and you’ll be all set to support the people you care about back home.

Remitly has multiple layers of security and 24/7 fraud monitoring in place, and transfers can come with regular updates so you and your recipient know things are going smoothly. What’s more, with Remitly more money makes it home thanks to our great rates, special offers, and no hidden fees. Depending on the country you are sending money to, you may be able to send money straight to your recipient’s bank account or mobile money wallet, have the cash picked up in person, or even delivered right to your friend or family member’s door.

send money with Remitly

App name: SpareRoom

Why?: Ideal way to find a place to live, or people to live with

Many immigrants in the UK will be looking to share a house or apartment with fellow students or professionals. SpareRoom takes the sting out of the search, and has so far helped over 10 million people find flatmates and flatshares. One of the strengths of the app is the range of search filters it offers. For example, if you’re looking for a place to live, you can seek out specific areas within cities and towns, minimum and maximum rent ranges, minimum and maximum lengths of stay, and so on.

You can also put your own advert up, complete with smiling selfies and a charming personal description, if you’re hoping to find a shared household to move in with. All in all, this is a simple, intuitive app that makes the process of finding somewhere to live far less stressful.

App name: Monzo

Why?: Puts user-friendly banking in the palm of your hand

Monzo is one of the new generation of ‘challenger banks’ which have emerged online to provide an alternative to traditional banks.s. Fully accredited by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, Monzo prides itself on offering a simple, fuss-free service. All you have to do is download the app and you can open an account straight from your phone.

The app itself is as well-designed as you’d expect from an online bank. You can set budgets for things like food shopping and socialising, and create your own bespoke ‘Pots’ to save money for any reason you like. As with any traditional bank, you can also take out loans through Monzo, gain interest on savings, and opt for Premium and Business accounts. It’s banking on the go, fit for our fast-paced times.

App name: Uber

Why?: Because sometimes you just need a quick ride

One of the advantages of living in the UK is the sophisticated public transport network. In pretty much any town and city, you’ll be able to get around fairly easily by bus, while some areas are also serviced by metro trains and trams. That said, the ability to call for a driver to pick you up in a car can often be very useful – whether you’re stuck somewhere in the rain, need to get somewhere very quickly, or simply don’t feel like public transport.

Uber is a well-known name when it comes to ride share apps, and it certainly works well. The geolocation technology of the app means you just have to fire it up, request a ride and wait for it to turn up, whether you’re at home or on a street corner. Depending on where exactly you are, you may well have an Uber driver pulling up in a matter of minutes, and the fact that payment is automatically taken through the app certainly makes a nice change from fumbling about with cash or cards.

App name: Trainline

Why?: Makes you an instant master of the UK’s train networks

When it comes to getting between cities and regions in the UK, you have options. You can drive, you can jump on the coach, you can even fly in some cases. Many people like to take the train, and – while grumbling about the late running of services is a national pastime – British trains offer a comfortable and generally reliable way to get around the country.

The Trainline app is highly recommended whether you expect to use trains a lot, or only occasionally. You can quickly plan your journey, keep track of live train times, and compare the ticket types and prices available. You can also purchase e-tickets through the app, and even get alerts on how crowded different services are. It really does streamline the whole process of travelling by train in the UK.

App name: Getir

Why?: Lets you shop for groceries without leaving the sofa

While UK supermarkets like Tesco and Waitrose let you shop online and have your weekly or monthly groceries delivered to your door, there may be more casual items you need now and then. Perhaps some friends have turned up and you’d like some snacks, or it’s a Sunday morning and you want to treat yourself to a sumptuous breakfast.

This is where Getir comes in. This is food delivery without the formality. You don’t need to book a delivery slot days in advance – instead, the groceries are brought to you within minutes of making the order. Plus, Getir uses a real-time inventory that’s constantly updated, so you’ll always get what you asked for, rather than any frustrating substitutions.