A Guide to Living in the UK

A Guide to Living in the UK

8th January, 2015

The United Kingdom attracts expats from all over the world. There are many reasons why this is the case, yet the weather is certainly not one of them. A lot of people view the UK as a place of opportunity. Whether it is to benefit from a better standard of living, capitalise on job opportunities or study at one of the many high quality universities, there are many expatriates that move here to better themselves. Nonetheless, there are plenty of reasons why you may wish to move to the UK. Do you have family in the country? Perhaps your partner lives there? Maybe you have always been fascinated by London? Whatever your scenario may be, read on for some quality advice on living in the UK.

Before Your Move

One of the biggest reasons why expats give up on their dream is because they did not prepare enough in the first place. You should have a clear focus in mind if you want to move to the country. Research the job market. Consider where you are going to relocate to with this in mind. If you don’t know basic English you really will struggle to get by, which is why you should take classes beforehand. Remember, you don’t have to live in London. Whilst London is a great city, with plenty of opportunities and a fast paced lifestyle, it is also a city that can be really, really expensive. Moreover, a lot of people dislike the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the capital. Living in the outskirt is a good ideas as there are plenty of nice places in the likes of Kent and Hertfordshire which are good options for those who want to work in London yet want to avoid the extortionate rental costs and such like.

How to Find Accommodation in the UK

Essentially you will have two options at your disposal when it comes to finding accommodation in the UK. You can search on the Internet and liaise with a private landlord directly. A lot of people do this, as it is cheaper. However, if you are moving to the United Kingdom from overseas, this is a risky approach to take. If you cannot view the property beforehand or meet up with the landlord, there is always the chance that you will fall victim to someone who is not genuine. Instead, the safest approach is to use the services of a real estate agency. However, you need to tick a few boxes if you are to go down this route. You will need to prove that you have a job in the UK. If you are in the process of job hunting you will really struggle to find an estate agency that will find you a place to rent. They have no assurance that you are a credible lender. If this applies for you, you may want to consider looking for a house share online via the likes of Gumtree. Aside from this, it’s a good idea to open an British bank account and letters of reference from previous landlords can always help. Proof of former residence is vital as well.

As mentioned earlier, you need to consider where in the UK you are going to relocate. Prices in central London are expensive and they do not tend to include expenses as well. Thus, when you look at monthly rental prices you also need to factor in the cost of a TV license, Internet, water, electricity and council tax, all of which are typically charged on a monthly basis. If you are moving to the UK by yourself and do not opt for a room share, once you receive your council tax bill make sure you call up to inform them that you are living alone. You will benefit from a single occupier’s discount, which is typically 25 per cent off your monthly bill. A TV license can cost around £15-25 per month. It is imperative to acquire one of these if you are going to watch television, even if you do so on the Internet. If you are caught out you could end up facing an astronomical fine.

Healthcare in the UK

There are both public and private options at your disposal when it comes to healthcare in the UK. The NHS is the state system. Generally, emergency treatment is free for anyone that is based in the UK, even if they are visiting. However, if you are moving to the country you will need to apply for an NHS number if you are to make an appointment with a GP or a dentist. To do this, you must make an appointment, fill out paperwork and undertake an interview. Public health care is of a high quality in the UK, however it has come under a lot of scrutiny over the past few years. This is because the NHS is massively understaffed. Demand is exceeding supply by huge amounts. As a consequence, waiting lists are huge. It is certainly advisable to acquire expat health insurance prior to your move. By doing this, you can be sure you will have access to the best hospitals, facilities and professionals in the country. You won’t suffer at the hands of waiting times and such like either. Acquire global medical insurance prior to your move. Don’t make the mistake a lot of people do by putting it off, as you could find yourself facing a huge medical bill if you are not covered.

Finding a Job

The UK was certainly badly hit during the worldwide recession several years ago. However, it has made a lot of steps forwards in terms of recovery. There are plenty of opportunities in the country. However, you need to know your skills, know where demand lies and know whereabouts in the country you will find a job. To bag a job in the country you need to be computer literate, having a good knowledge of both Word and Excel comes highly advised. You should also perfect your CV. In the UK resumés are assessed with a scrutinising eye so it is always a good idea to get help from a native speaker when putting your CV together. There are plenty of job centres and recruitment agencies in the country as well. Take advantage of these and visit in person as well. You will have a better chance of scheduling an interview. You will appear confident and you will show that you have a positive attitude, which is of course really important. If you are moving to the UK to study, or want some money to tide you over during your job hunt, then it’s always a good idea to look are a non-specialised job to begin with. Why not look for a job as a waiter or waitress? The tips can certainly be a big bonus. An au pair is a great option to consider as well. This can help you to integrate better, as you will be living with locals. The free food and accommodation can be a big plus as well.

Don’t Forget… You’ll need the Following…

  • An English bank account
  • A National Insurance (NI) Number – You need this to get a job!
  • Oyster Card – Using transport in London? An Oyster Card is a necessity, not merely a luxury. You can’t get on some buses without them!

Alison Massey

Group Marketing Director

Now Health International

Alison Massey is a 15-year digital marketing veteran, who has spent the last seven years using social media to help expats and soon to be expats find out what to expect from a life overseas. An expat living in Hong Kong herself, Alison is the Group Marketing Director of Now Health, the award-winning international health insurance provider.

Contact Alison Massey

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