Moving to the UK
Relocating from one country to another can be a very tough decision to make. Upon taking this step, it is essential to gain some knowledge about the way things work in the country or city you are considering moving to. It is perfectly normal to feel a bit anxious, after all you will have to reorganise your life and learn virtually everything anew. Moving oversees, even for a short period of time, is a fantastic life-changing opportunity, and here’s a short guide on how to go about moving to the UK – reduce your stress by some pre-departure research!
As long as the UK remains one of the member states, you don’t need a visa coming from another EU country. If you are not sure whether you need one, visit UK immigration portal.
You can apply for a UK visa to travel, work, study or join a family member or partner in the UK. Before applying for a visa, it is essential to check what documents you would require in order to do so. You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you are due to start work in the UK. This date is listed on your certificate of sponsorship. You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK. If you are coming to study, your university international office should provide you with all the essential information.
NATIONAL INSURANCE NUMBER
If you are moving to the UK, you will most probably need to apply for a National Insurance number (NI). It’s compulsory in order to work in the UK, and serves as an identification, tax and insurance proof. Even if you are only interested in a part-time job, you will still need it. You can only apply for it once you are in the UK, and you must have the right to work or study in the UK to get a National Insurance number. Don’t worry though, you can start work before your National Insurance number arrives. You should tell your employer that you have applied for one, and give it to them when you have it. Find out how to apply for NI number on the governmental website.
Air: there are over 40 domestic and international airports around the UK.
Coach: the largest British coach operator is National Express with a nationwide network of more than 1,200 destinations. The company offers a number of discounts, such as their £5 Funfares (+50p booking fee), which are available online, to over 50 destinations. Other operators in the UK include Megabus, EasyBus and Scottish Citylink . You can use comparison sites like CheckMyBus in order to shop around for great deals. Please remember that you need to buy coach tickets in advance, as they can’t be purchased directly when boarding.
Public transport: the public transportation options in the United Kingdom varies from city to city. Citymapper is a great mobile app helping to navigate the public transport in various cities.
Don’t forget to investigate a travel-card/ monthly-card option, which gives you the freedom to travel as much as you like on bus, tube, tram, etc for the fixed amount of time.
YOUR STUFF – HOW ABOUT SHIPPING A PARCEL?
A lot of things to bring with you? Here’s our moving abroad tip: a smart alternative to taking 5 pieces of luggage on the plane with you might be shipping a parcel. There are many companies providing shipping services; it is usually much cheaper to send one or two 40kg boxes, than struggling to pack everything into 20-30kg suitcases, which you then have to drag around with you. Shipping a parcel using a door-to-door service is a sound way of reducing both stress and costs of moving overseas.
It is usually best to use shipping platforms – they work a bit like search engines for best prices, and collaborate with different couriers, as well as some of them also have their own transportation. You can pick the collection date while placing your order, and later on can track your parcel online. There are also different insurance options.
The cheapest way is to find a company based in the country you are shipping your belongings from or to. For UK you can try:
Alternatively, look for other options in your country.
In the UK, it is quite a popular system to pay your bills or at least part of them yourself, even if you are only renting a room in a flatshare and not the entire house. On top of your water, gas, electricity and internet bills, your landlord will also require a council tax payment, and sometimes a TV license fee. It is fairly common that the landlord together with your rent collects water and council tax payment, whereas the rest of it is for the tenants to take care of. Before signing a contract, make sure you understand which parts are covered by your rent, and how much more you will need to spend monthly in addition to it. In order to sign a lease agreement apart from your ID or passport, you might need a previous UK address. Typically, as a first instalment you will need to pay 1-month rent plus a deposit, which equals 1 or 2 monthly rents, and sometimes a very small fee to insure your deposit, which is a safe option to secure your money. You can always ask your landlord to do so, if they don’t offer it themselves.
You can also use services of one of the estate & letting agencies in town, though this would require a bigger budget, plus it is not very common unless you are thinking of buying a property or a long-term rental of an entire building.
Living in big cities can be quite pricey, and there is an interesting alternative, allowing you to find an affordable accommodation – if you are adventurous and don’t mind short-term solutions, why not become a property guardian? Across the UK there is a lot of vacant properties, including flats, houses, churches, libraries and offices. Many are in places where it’s usually very expensive to live, such as town centres and picturesque countryside. They may be empty for many reasons – waiting to be sold, or for planning permission, or while the owners are overseas. There are agencies putting these buildings back into use, helping both the property owner and people looking for low cost accommodation. You get a great place to live and the local community benefit from it because a building that would be vacant is now alive and cared for. It is important to know your though, so consult the governmental fact sheet on property guardians.
Need to sort out your part-time job, or entering a full-time paid internship? Stay on top of your finances! You will most probably need a UK bank account, and there are many big and small banks offering all kinds of financial services, some of them are more popular than others, like HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, NatWest or Nationwide. This does not mean, of course, that one of these is necessarily the best choice for you.
To open a bank account in the UK, you need a proof of identity and a proof of address. The latter is quite difficult to show for newly arrived expats. However, there are several documents that count as proof of address, like a recent utility bill or a tenancy agreement. NI confirmation letter or the confirmation letter from your employer might be a valid alternative too.
Taxes in the UK are the responsibility Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). You should contact them for official answers to tax-related questions. Normally, when taking up employment in the UK, your tax is directly deducted from your salary on a pay-as-you-earn basis. If this is your only source of income, you don’t even need to file a tax return. You can use Gov.uk service to estimate how much Income Tax and National Insurance you should pay for the current tax year. It tells you your take-home pay if you don’t have any other deductions, such as pension contributions or student loans.
UK has a publicly funded health care system (NHS).
General Practitioner (GP) and nurse consultations in primary care, treatment provided by a GP and other primary care services are free of charge to all, whether registering as an NHS patient, or as a temporary patient, which is when the patient is in the area for more than 24 hours and less than 3 months. For secondary care services, the UK’s healthcare system is a residence-based one, which means entitlement to free healthcare is based on living lawfully in the UK on a properly settled basis for the time being. For more information regarding the publicly funded health care system, please visit the NHS migrant guide.
The main shopping street in most towns known as the ”High Street" and it's conventionally been the place to buy everything from food to furniture, with a mixture of chain stores, independent shops and often a street market. Nowadays, a number of retailers have moved out of the high streets and have set up shop in purpose-built shopping centres and business parks on the outskirts of town. For more details see shopping in the UK.
Two fantastic platforms, which you might not have heard of:
- Shpock is a boot sale app for things nearby, so if you don’t have a car and/or your budget is tight, it’s a brilliant way of second-hand shopping in your neighbourhood
- What about borrowing stuff instead of buying everything in a rush on the first day after you have moved? Fat Lama is the platform that lets you rent out your belongings to others nearby – renting items also benefits the environment.
Charity shops – explore your local charity shops, you can find a lot of interesting furniture and decorations as well as vintage clothes there – you can find some real gems there; it is affordable and good for the community!
CULTURE & LEISURE
Historically, England was a very standardised country and developed coherent traditions, especially as the British Empire expanded and the country absorbed people from throughout the globe, English culture has been accented with diverse contributions from Afro-Caribbeans, Asians, Muslims, and other immigrant groups. Other parts of the United Kingdom have experienced the same social and cultural diversification, with the result that England is not always distinguishable from Wales and Scotland or even Northern Ireland. The former insularity of English life has been replaced by a cosmopolitan familiarity with all things exotic: fish and chips have given way to Indian, Chinese, and Italian cuisine, guitar-based rock blends with South Asian rap and Afro-Caribbean salsa, and the English language itself abounds in neologisms drawn from nearly every one of the world’s tongues. Even as England has become ever more diverse culturally, it continues to exert a strong cultural influence on the rest of the world. English music, film, and literature enjoy wide audiences overseas, and the English language has gained ever-increasing currency as the preferred international medium of cultural and economic exchange.
For more details visit England - cultural life on Britannica
FITNESS & WELLBEING
Being active is great for your physical health and fitness, and evidence shows that it can also improve your mental wellbeing. Studies show that mental alertness is directly linked to physical activity and can lead to improved concentration, sharper memory, faster learning, enhanced creativity and lower stress levels.
There are many facilities and support mechanisms in the UK that aid in maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. A lot of sport facilities are run by city councils and have a very affordable offer or classes for free, and you can also have a look at NHS Free fitness ideas.
UK is a part of the EU no-roaming-charges zone (yay!), so coming from another EU country there is no rush getting yourself a local simcard, which means there is a lot of time to consider different options.
More information regarding Mobile phone services and networks:
- 999: the main emergency number for police, ambulance, fire brigade, coastguard, mountain rescue, cave rescue, etc. Calls are free, and 999 can be dialled from a locked mobile phone.
- 112: this operates exactly the same as 999 and directs you to exactly the same emergency call centre. The important thing about 112 is that it will work on a mobile phone anywhere in the world.
- 111: the non-emergency number for the police. Use 101 when you want to contact the police, but it’s not an emergency – i.e. an immediate response is not necessary and/or will not be serve any purpose
- 101: the non-emergency medical number. This is available nationwide and replaced and expanded on the former NHS Direct service. Use this for illnesses and minor injuries where life isn’t threatened, but you would like some advice on what to do next. Calls are free.
Amongst other delights of living in Great Britain, you will also discover left-hand side traffic, double taps, carpets everywhere, turning on the light by pulling a string, double-decker buses, tea with milk, the world of British small talks and so much more!
Visit Eurodesk UK website for more information on a range of topics as well as news, opportunities and events relevant for the UK. You can also get tailored advice by asking a question and a Eurodesk officer will get back to you within 3 working days. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to be up-to-date with the latest news about youth policies and opportunities for young people.