Moving to the UK can be both exciting and extremely scary all at the same time. When you move to a new place, especially a new country, it often seems like you’re going in blind. During our move to Scotland, we found eleven things that we think everyone should know when moving to the UK. Whether you’re moving to the UK for a short while or long term, we hope these 11 tips make your move a bit smoother!
1.) Get a Zero Transaction Fee Credit Card
- Before moving the UK, definitely look into getting a new credit card. We got the Chase Sapphire Card and love it! We have heard great things about Capitol One Venture as well, but we liked the perks of the Chase Sapphire more. Regardless of what card you choose, be sure to get one that has no abroad transaction fees. If you buy it before you buy your plane tickets and everything then you can use it to rack up loads of points in the beginning, where in most cases, you will receive extra rewards for those points!
2.) Bring A Background Check
- If you’re planning on working in the UK, be sure to get a background check from your home country first! Not all jobs require this, but many do, and it’s a hassle to try and get done when you’re already abroad. Some jobs, like teaching, require a federal background check. This means you’ll need fingerprinting done and have to go through a mess of paperwork, which is basically impossible to do abroad, before obtaining this check. So we would recommend getting a federal background check done if you’re interested in working with people.
3.) Apply for National Insurance Number
- If you want to work in the UK, you will need to apply for a National Insurance Number. Your job prospects will ask you for this, so it’s best to jump on this right away. You can learn more here.
4.) Council Tax
- This is a monthly housing fee, billed to you by the city council. It can be up to £100+ extra per month when renting, so do take this into consideration when budgeting a flat or house price. There are cases where you can be exempt from Council Tax. Want to know if you’re exempt? Check here! If you’re a student or a non-British spouse of a student than you’re 100% exempt from this tax!!
5.) Bring Things That Remind You of Home
- Leaving home and setting out on your own adventure is extremely exciting! You’re moving to the UK, going out on your own to be independent, and you don’t want anything to remind you of home… WRONG!! After a couple months, you’re going to want something small to remind you of your loved ones back home. We brought pictures and a homemade calendar our grandma painted, both lightweight and didn’t take up much space in our luggage.
6.) Check Out AirBnB and CouchSurfing
- You’re going to need somewhere to stay for a bit before finding a flat or place to rent. AirBnB and CouchSurfing both offer great ways to get to know some locals, get the inside scoop on the area, and learn about the culture. Both are online sites where you find someone in a particular area offering their spare room, couch, or even apartment for you to stay. Couchsurfing is free and much more community based. Participating in couch surfing requires a desire to really spend time with your host, as well as creating a profile that tells others a bit about yourself. Please don’t use this for just a free place to stay. Only use it if you’re really into meeting some locals! AirBnB is a paid for option, but cheaper than most hotels and you usually meet pretty rad people too! If you’re new to AirBnB use this link to get a hefty discount on your first stay!
7.) Pull Out Money for Rent/Deposit
- When you do score that lovely flat on a cobblestone street you’ve been dreaming of, you’re going to have to pay first month’s rent and a hefty deposit up front. Banks usually put a cap on the amount of money one can pull out of an ATM in one day, so be sure to plan accordingly, and start pulling out money before your move in day. (As a side note, deposit is typically the same amount as first month’s rent.)
8.) Shop at Charity Shops
- Alright folks… You don’t have to bring every little thing you want from back home. Yes, there are things you should bring when moving to the UK (see tip five), however, charity shops are everywhere! These are second hand shops, like a Goodwill or Salvation Army, that sell everything under the sun for really cheap! And in most cases, the proceeds from purchases at these places go to charity. What a great way to shop!!
- Don’t bring over your favorite curling iron, electric razor, coffee grinder… basically, don’t bring over any electronics that don’t meet UK plugs/voltage requirements! Not only will they not fit into the sockets, the voltage difference is too high that you will fry the appliance and break your converter in the mean time! UK voltage is 230V… All in all.. just buy it all here!
10.) Give Yourself More Time to Move Than You Think
- The process of renting a flat in the UK can make you feel like a chicken running around with their head cut off. Organizing viewings can take weeks, (especially if moving before the start of a school year). Proof of address is required to set up things like a bank account and doctor, and you’ll need a bank account to arrange a phone plan. So after signing your lease, you’ll need a good couple of days to arrange those things. We recommend giving yourself two weeks to arrange everything and start settling in!
- A little secret here… you can get a pay as you go SIM card right when you arrive in the UK. Once you find a flat and arrange a bank, you can then get some kind of phone plan which is a much cheaper option than pay as you go.
11.) Renting… Check Out These Websites
- You can rent in the UK through agencies or through private parties. We have heard of both good and bad experiences with both. You can find rentals on Gumtree (UK’s version of Craigslist) or on this great rental website that compiles all rental properties no matter the agency.
- Fair Warning.. We typically try to not directly put down any company/person/business, however, with our horrific experience with our rental agency, we are going to warn you to NOT rent through them. Stay away from Contempo Lettings and Property as your letting agent. We won’t go into too much detail, but no letting agency should treat their tenants how we were treating. Trust us here. Just don’t use them.
Remember that when you’re moving to the UK you’re changing your life! Give yourself time to adjust to your new beginning. It’s going to be a rollercoaster of emotions, but we totally encourage you to jump on for the ride of your life! Enjoy the lovely people, and don’t use the word “pants” to describe someone’s “trousers”… you’ll be describing their underwear instead 😉 If you have any more questions or have your own experiences and tips, comment below to share with other readers!! Enjoy your new journey!!