Introduction to the UK
For such a tiny nation, many features of the UK are renowned around the world. The National Health Service (NHS); the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge; London’s Financial District; Led Zeppelin; the royal family; William Shakespeare – the United Kingdom has plenty of claims to fame.
The nation was also the home of the person who invented the side-by-side tandem bicycle. Not heard of it? Us neither.
So, with opportunities to gain education or employment in universally recognised establishments, all while immersing yourself in more culture than you could shake a Jane Austen at, it’s no wonder the UK is a popular destination to emigrate to.
In 2015 the UK was the 5th most popular country for immigration, with over an 8th of the population having been born overseas. The UK has a population of around 65 million, with around 8.5 million of those being foreign nationals.
Moving to the UK has many obvious advantages. For starters, it’s likely that you already know the language; English is the most popular spoken language in the world, with 375 million native speakers and 1.5 billion speakers worldwide.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll ‘know your onions’ (know your stuff) when it comes to speaking to the natives; having a chinwag (conversation) with a Brit can see them using a lot of phrases that could leave you feeling like a right numpty (fool).
The NHS is revered around the world as an example of state provided healthcare at its best. Taxes fund the service, meaning that everything from doctors appointments to extensive surgeries are provided free of charge. Considering that something like a broken leg can cost thousands overseas, expats are often amazed to come out of the emergency room (called Accident and Emergency, or simply A&E in the UK) without having to spend more than a few Pounds on parking (no parking fees are applicable if you arrive in an ambulance; that would be a bit mean).
Prescriptions, meanwhile, are heavily subsidised, requiring only a flat fee per item, regardless of the type or cost of medication provided.
Being made up of four nations – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – means that there are just as many capital cities, each well developed and cultured, to choose from. London is Europe’s financial hub and a very multi-cultural place, while Cardiff, Edinburgh and Dublin all offer heritage, opportunity and charm galore.
Then there’s the climate. The UK has a reputation for having a miserable climate – and its denizens a reputation for complaining about it – but is it really that bad? Most of England averages around 600-800mm of rain per year, while the more mountainous areas of Scotland and Wales can get around 1,000-2,000mm of rain per year. To put this in perspective, overall the UK averages about the same amount of rain as New Zealand gets, albeit spread out a bit more over the year.
On the extreme end of the scale, the highest areas of Scotland, Snowdonia and the Lake District can all receive over four metres of rainfall per year. Thankfully that’s not all at once.
Things to consider
Moving to the UK is a significant endeavour, requiring a lot of forward planning and adaptation. The sooner you begin planning your move, the smoother the whole process will run.
Relocating to a new country is a big step. There are so many things that need to be arranged you may not even be aware of all of them yet. Things can get complicated if you aren’t prepared. To help you avoid any future headaches, this guide is going to take you through some of the most important things you need to prepare ahead of your move.
Here’s an overview of the issues we’ll be covering.
International Currency Transfers
Your money will need to move to the UK along with you. Securing the best exchange rate, to ensure you get the most Pound Sterling for your funds, is an important step. Choosing the right provider can make a significant difference.
Additionally, you’ll need a UK bank account. We’ll highlight a few key financial issues you’ll need to address.
A visa may be required depending upon your current nation of birth and your intentions while staying in the United Kingdom. It’s also worth looking at how the ongoing Brexit situation could affect the criteria used to assess your eligibility for residency.
Even if you choose to sell most of your current possessions, there is likely to be more that you want to take with you to the UK than can fit in a suitcase. The size of carry-on bags is getting smaller and smaller, after all. We’ve got some tips for getting your stuff to your new overseas home.
You may already have a home lined up, but if not, we’ll be looking at the UK property market and how it works. As well as the way house purchases are conducted, there will be a look at how property prices compare in different regions.
Schools and Jobs
Getting settled in the UK often involves finding schools if you have children, a job if you are planning to work, or both if you are a qualified teacher. This section will take a look at education and employment opportunities in the UK and how to find them.
(TorFX has been providing bank-beating foreign exchange and international payments for over ten years)
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