Moving to the UK
Whilst the United Kingdom may be small, it’s packed full of traditions, cultures and even languages. Made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it boasts an incredible variety of people, customs and landscapes.
Whether you’re looking for quaint countryside, bustling cities or peaceful coastal life, moving to the United Kingdom has it all. Made up of 4 countries and 100 counties, the UK is a diverse and exciting location.
The UK has a rich and long-standing history and is one of very few countries to still have an active royal family. These royal traditions are combined with a contemporary and forward-thinking ethos. It’s a country proud of its history as well as the many achievements within arts, sciences and politics.
Whilst the UK navigates leaving the EU, moving can seem complicated. If you are moving during the period of Brexit uncertainty, we’re here to help. Our Brexit services give you and your company/employer the confidence to tackle international moves during this period.
Culture in the UK
The culture varies from country to country and area to area but, on the whole, it’s community focussed and friendly throughout the UK. There is a strong emphasis on spending time with loved ones as well as enjoying hobbies. And with good public transport and road links around the country and to Europe, many UK residents enjoy weekends away.
Working days are traditionally Monday-Friday, 9am to 5 or 6pm, with weekends reserved for family and social activities. In addition to generous annual leave (usually a minimum of 20 days per year), the UK also benefits from extra days off for ‘bank holidays’ throughout the year.
Although there are many different religions co-existing within the UK, the country’s official religion is Christianity. Traditional Christian holidays such as Easter and Christmas are widely celebrated and there are many social events and activities at these times. Equally, other religion’s holidays are celebrated not just within their religious population but at schools and in communities.
There’s quite a stigma surrounding British food, but we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you arrive. Not only are some of the classics like fish & chips, sausage and mash, or fruit crumble seriously delicious, the UK has also embraced cuisine from all over the world so there’s plenty to choose from. We’re confident that no matter where you’re coming from you’ll be able to find your favourite dishes and ingredients in the UK, especially in the large cities.
The weather sometimes gets bad press as well, but the distinction of the seasons is to be enjoyed. You’ll enjoy sunny summer days, crisp autumnal walks, snug winters in front of the fire and springs filled with blossom (even if every wise Brit takes their umbrella out with them no matter the season).
Finding a new UK home
Accommodation in the UK can range from flat shares in city centres to charming detached cottages or mansion homes in the countryside. The accommodation available runs the full gamete: from ultra-luxe modern homes and apartments, to Tudor buildings boasting original beams and tiny doors! The architectural diversity across the country gives each street real character and a sense of history.
The rental market isn’t as prominent as in other European countries, with many citizens preferring to buy, especially outside of the capital. However, there is still plenty of accommodation on offer. In general, the busiest cities have the most competitive real estate markets. Estate agencies are widely used and provide the easiest means to find accommodation, although administration and reference-checking fees are the norm.
There’s no hiding the fact that the cost of living in the UK is high. And house prices reflect that – whether you’re renting or purchasing a new home. For those moving to the capital, London house searches can be timely and expensive. With 32 London boroughs to choose from, narrowing down the areas you want to live in can seem daunting. For expats moving to London, we suggest engaging with a local area expert, who can match you to areas that meet your needs. And if you’ve accepted a new job in London but hate city life, consider a move to Brighton or Essex or one of the other easily commutable suburban or seaside areas.
Looking online is the simplest and best way to discover what’s currently available on the market and to gauge average prices in your area. It’s important to look around and at a variety of home types, as prices do vary even within a given area. For many people moving to the UK, their budget will highly influence the kind of properties you can look at. Whether renting or buying, expect higher prices in London and in the south in general.
The UK education system
The vast majority of schooling is state-run and free for children to attend up to the age of 18. There are nurseries that provide childcare for those under 4, offering a variety of amenities and services. Most families enter their children into nursery around 18 months to 2 years.
Primary schools teach children from the ages of 4 to 11 and then they move onto secondary school. There are comprehensive schools which can be attended by anyone, and grammar schools which require an examination to be taken for entry. These facilities are all state funded, and all classes are taught in English. You can see their ratings using the Ofsted service which regulates schooling.
There’s also private schooling, or international schools available for a fee. The most common qualifications are A-levels, and the Higher in Scotland, but the International Baccalaureate can also be found in certain establishments.
Every school operates within a catchment area, so it is worth considering which schools fall within your area before committing to accommodation.
Working and living in the UK
All people looking to enter the UK should look into the visa requirements. Whether you are intending to work in the UK or live in the UK, there are different entry requirements. It’s important to engage with an immigration expert who can advise you of the type of visas available to you and help you with your visa application. There are also specific provisions for student visas, with UK private schools and universities being incredibly popular with foreign students.
The UK operates a nationalised healthcare system – the National Health Service (NHS). This means that UK residents have access to free healthcare, which is funded by UK taxes. That said, there are certain situations where an expat may need to get health insurance, especially if you intend on using private hospitals.
The UK, despite having been a member of the EU, does not operate the Euro currency. So, you’ll have to get used to the Pound and its denominations when moving to England. However, these days most transactions are made by card and not in cash.