Oct 21 2018

Moving to UK

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 23:50

So, you’ve had enough of your country and finally decided to leave it. If the country of your choice is UK, this blog entry might help a little, because I am going to tell you how I did it.

I’ve always been a little bit uneasy about leaving the country I was born in. It is comfortable to know that you have friends and family around in case you need them. Time passed and I slowly realized that in case of trouble, my family could do little for me. As for friends I never had that many, but the ones I had they did love me and understood that I was unhappy living in Romania and have always supported me to … take flight. It took me a while, but I did. So, let me tell you how I managed to move to another country, and adapt here smoothly.

Number one: do the research. Go visit the country/city you are interested in, stay for a week or two and just take it in, imagine yourself living there. When you get home, start reading about that country: check out the taxes – for the UK, this is the site to go to, to calculate what will be left of your salary. Also, in the UK, there is something called a council tax, which is about 1000 £, more or less, depending on the area where you live. And if you need more information related to anything official just go to: https://www.gov.uk. But, what is interesting in UK is that if you declare that you live alone on the property, this tax will drop by 25%.





Number two: prepare. Moving to another country is a big step. You will have to leave some things behind, you cannot carry everything with you. What should you prepare:

  • employment proof: When moving to another country, try to have a job before moving there and ask office management to provide you a document that proves you are employed. This will help you with rent and getting any identification document you need to be a resident in that country.
  • money: You’d better have savings. If you do not have enough savings, you might not be able to get a place,(this is obvious, dooh!) because some landlords and agencies require a deposit and one or more months of rent payed in advance. If you are coming from a country that is not financially connected to the country you are moving into, it will be very difficult to prove you are a good and responsible person. This hit me so hard when I got to Edinburgh because I knew I was a responsible person and I had a good character, but there was no way to prove it. So, having money compensated for that. Two things here: have in cash enough for a deposit and a first-month rent and get Revolut. In the UK you will not be able to do anything without a bank account. Revolut provides accounts for any currency you need with all details required for you to make payments, or for payments to be made to you. And you will want your first salary not to be late I assume. Also, exchange rates are quite ok with Revolut.
  • accomodation: before you even leave your country, months before, book a hotel/AirBnB for at least three weeks. When you land you have to go somewhere and stay there until you rent something. And it might take you a while to rent something depending on the period when you are renting. Also, look for letting agencies and sites for renting specific to that country, and try to find the place you want to rent before leaving your home country. I found the house I wanted to rent two weeks before leaving Romania, I kept track of the ad and hoped it will still be available. Sites for UK: zoopla.co.ukspareroom.co.uk and gumtree.co.uk. If you are brave enough you can try renting with somebody else, it will definitely be cheaper. I wasn’t brave enough, because I knew I liked my space and I have a cat. In UK a lot of things can be done only if you can prove you live at a certain address, so you might want to work with a letting agency that gives you a signed contract and not a private landlord. Also, if you have a pet, it will be easier to rent an unfurnished home or flat and make sure you have an additional document to the contract that includes the pet. Also, the deposit might get bigger. I had to pay 100£ extra for my cat, but I’m very content with my decision.

Number three: on-site actions.

  • After landing and dropping off luggage, the first thing to do is get a local mobile number. There are more options here. For example, I got a Skype VoIP number, that mapped to my Romanian phone number. I had it for three months and it cost me about 25£, but during that time I looked into alternatives. Also, you need internet, because you will need it to navigate the city in search of an apartment to rent. For UK, the company I recommend getting a sim from is GiffGaff. I like this company because you can pay on a monthly basis and their offers are quite acceptable as price. Also, they are quite amicable. For example, for two months I had the 25£ subscription because I needed internet to navigate the city, obviously. But after the second month, I received an email from them telling me that I might want to choose a cheaper subscription from them because I’m not using enough internet to justify a 25£ subscription. So now I’m on a 12£ subscription and probably I will go even lower at some point. So, get on the site, order the sim, and it will be delivered to you in 24h max.
  • After you have the phone and a place of your own you can apply for a NINo – national insurance number, instructions here. You have to call and make an appointment, and being a 0800 number, is free for UK numbers, but it might be expensive for others.  When you call, you will be scheduled for an interview and make sure you have your passport with you, the proof of employment and proof of residence(renting contract). In 2-4 weeks, you will receive a letter from them with your NINo. The NINo  is useful for correct taxation, without it, you will be taxed more, which will leave you with a lower salary.
  • After having a place of your own, find an internet provider. Internet in the UK is decent. I called Virgin Media, and they sent a person to install my internet one day after I moved in. Do your research and check which internet providers are active in your area and the speed they support.
  • You will receive notification to pay a TV tax of about 150£, just ignore them if you don’t have a TV and you do not intend to do BBC or ITV internet streaming.
  • The next step is to get an UK bank account with of the banks here. Opening a bank account requires proof of residence as well and the only two banks I have found to open bank accounts for expats are HSBC and Nationwide. I have a FlexDirect account with Nationwide and the advantage of this type of account is that it has a 5% AER if you use it for payments of minim of 1000£. I use this card to pay all my bills using recurring payments and direct debits.  Last time I checked, Revolut did not support direct debits for UK unfortunately.
  • After setting in, you might be interested in home insurance, Sainsbury’s have a type of home insurance that applies to all contents of your house. So in case of natural disasters, plumbing disasters and break-ins, all the shit in my house is insured for 10,000£, and I pay 162£ pear year for this service.
  • There are more than one electricity&gas provider, you can usually choose the one you want. I have Spark.
  • If you have a garden, the garden waste service costs 25£ per year and you can pay it online or at the Council Office of the neighborhood.

Number four: credit score. This is one of the caveats of UK and US I think. Basically, a credit score is a number that is assigned to you based on how much you borrow and how fast you give the money back. Basically, because some people are bad with managing money, credit cards were invented, but because some people are bad with giving the money they borrowed back, the credit score was invented. The credit score basically proves that you are good at managing money, in a way that applies to people that need to borrow money. If you are good with money and do not really need to borrow money, this does not mean you are good with money by this freaking rule, it just means that you do not have a credit score and thus, you are not reliable to pay your debts. Having a good credit score is advantageous because you might get lower rates on mortgages and personal loans. So, smart responsible people that do not need to borrow money, need to get a credit card anyway and pretend they need money. Which is what I keep trying to do at the moment, but banks keep refusing me because I haven’t been in this country long enough.

If you need a car: it’s really easy and quick to get a car in the UK, if you’re not an expat. If you are, it’s a little difficult as you have to afford to pay the full price upfront, as you cannot get a loan because you have no damn credit score. My recommendation is to get a second-hand car unless you are really rich and enjoy the risk of your car getting scratched or bumped because depending on where you rent a place, you will probably park it on the street, and streets in the UK are not so wide and your car will be quite vulnerable.

  • My recommendation for a dealer: Arnold Clark
  • You need to get your own car insurance, and if you’ve never lived and driven into the UK, initially it will be quite expensive. My recommendation: Admiral.com
  • Cars must be approved for driving annually via a MOT, the dealer will usually sell you a car with a valid MOT, so you do not need to bother, just make sure to schedule the next one. Also, to be able to drive in the UK, there is an annual tax that tends to be smaller for new non-polluting cars, and bigger for older, more polluting cars. You can check if your vehicle is taxed and has a vaid MOT here: https://vehicleenquiry.service.gov.uk/
  • And if you have an European driving license, you can drive with it for a year, but you should change it before that. If you don’t, get an UK driving license first. Don’t know what that involves, but gov.uk should help with this one too.

Bonus 1: In UK Amazon delivers everything almost the next day, so you can use Amazon to buy everything you need to make your house a living environment quickly. I got free Amazon prime for a month to buy stuff with considerable price reductions and get them delivered the next day with no delivery cost.

Bonus 2: Take notes, screenshots and get really organized, because the bureaucracy here will blow your mind. I have gotten a subscription to Evernote and I have it installed on all my devices, so I can always have access to my notes about GP, car, council stuff, banking, rent, pet, home insurance, pension plan, electricity & gas, etc.

Get a GP: If you choose UK for your new residence, you will probably need a family doctor. This site can help you find one. You can schedule an appointment and they will require proof of employment, proof of identity, proof of residence and your EHIC if you have one.

With all my needs and peculiarities, moving over here + buying a car, cost me about 10.000£. The car + insurance was 6000£. So, a normal person would need to have about 3000£ to start with.

Let me know if you think I am missing anything on this list and I will add it. I really want this to be a proper guide to people moving to the UK.

Stay safe, stay happy!

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3 Responses to “Moving to UK”

  1. Chiranjeev Gupta says:

    Hi Iuliana! Informational post, very it was. Could you also share your experiences getting a job there in UK, it might be a lot to go through, the struggle might have been terrific, we would like to hear (see ) yours. Also I needed some advice for studying there in UK itself. I had been planning to pursue my Masters, if this context is relevant enough, could you help me guide through the process of doing so ? Thanks for the share by the way, huge fan of your writings. :))

  2. Iuliana says:

    I have no information regarding studying in the UK. I have finished my MSC in 2007. I came here for a job. Started preparing in November 2017, just making sure I knew basic algorithms, basic data structures, design patterns and core elements of Java development.

    I declared myself available for hire on LinkedIn and GitHub, been interviewed a lot, failed a lot of interviews, rejected three offers and accepted this one in the end, in February 2018.

  3. Chiranjeev Gupta says:

    Aha! Sorry for the misunderstanding I had. Unfortunately, LinkedIn has not been that beneficial to me till now. Maybe I’ll have to put in some more research I’m order to get benefits from it. (Academic connections in my case)
    Thanks again :))

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