Advice for moving to the UK

by - 8:30 PM

Hello hello there!

First things first, I am already back in the UK! And to be honest, I feel like I have learned quite a lot since I first moved here one year ago. I have had so many incredible experiences and realized some things even go against common beliefs. I have thus decided that I wanted to share with you the most practical aspects of living in the UK, some tips and tricks and some misconceptions. *

1. Everything is super expensive 

The first wrong belief. People have this idea because touristy attractions, just as in every country, are super overpriced. Obviously, costs will depend on the area you're living in, but generally speaking, the only big expense is accommodation. Everything else is either the same price or cheaper. Yes, even food. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Where to buy your food

As far as supermarkets go, there are loads of options. And regardless of which one you opt for, it will be much cheaper compared to eating out. 

Waitrose is the most expensive supermarket. Nevertheless, the quality of their products such as meat and fish is excellent.

Tesco, Asda, Sainburry's and Morrisons are mid range, both in terms of price and product quality.

As a student, I definitely recommend either Aldi or Lidl as, despite offering a smaller range of products, being the cheapest options. The same price will get you double the things in Aldi, compared to Tesco.

Other than this, you also have Iceland, for frozen food, and Poundland, where you can get insane deals and purchase loads of diverse items for, yes, one pound.

3. British people are unfriendly

Another misconception. Since the very beginning, people have been super nice. From small talk at the supermarket or asking me where I am from or just a simple 'goodmorning' followed by a smile. One thing I'll have to admit though is that younger people are awful: you quite frequently see kids proudly smoking and being rude to others.

4. Bank accounts

The most well-known banks in the UK are: Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander.  I chose Lloyds as it was the most convenient option but I have zero complaints. The setting up process was super straighforward and their classic account is all I really need.

5. You will never see the sunlight again

As far as temperatures are concerned, hell ya, it can get really really cold. Nevertheless, in terms of raining, that is a totally different story: at least in my area, it rarely rains.

One thing I want to highlight, however, is that temperatures in/out vary quite insanely. What I mean by this is that while outside it might be freezing cold, inside it is the actual opposite. I remember last year wearing a top at home while watching the snow fall, even with the radiators turned off.

6. NIN and working

NIN stands for National Insurance Number, which is required for tax purposes. You therefore need to apply for one if you're planning on getting a job. You can, however, start working before you get your number: just let your employer know that you're in the process of applying!

In order to apply, you just have to make a simple call to arrange an interview. Do keep in mind that you can only apply once you arrive in the UK. As far as the interview goes, they are only going to ask you some basic questions so there is no need to panic! In addition, the entire application process is free.

My university actually arranged some interviews on campus and I was lucky enough to be able to do mine then.

7. Phone

There are soooooo many options when it comes to phone carriers: Orange, Three, Vodafone, Giff Gaff, O2, EE, T-Mobile...

You can check which one has the best deal at the time but it most likely will be Giff Gaff. You can choose the plan that best suits your needs but you won't be restrained by that choice as there is no contract and you can alter the goodybag every month.

Use this link to get your FREE SIM-card and £5 credit today!

8. Transfering money

Because we use pounds here in the UK, the process of transfering money can be quite tricky. If you make your transfer through your bank, you will pay insanely high fees. I was, nevertheless, recommended Transferwise, a safe website in which you only pay a small fee for your money to get transfered within seconds!

If you use this link, you can get a FREE international transfer of up to £500!

9. Health

There are two numbers you can call if you encounter an emergency: 999 for those that are life threatening and 111 for those that are not (basically, if you're panicking and need help).

If you are from the EU, I truly advise that you get an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card): they are free and they give you access to free or reduced cost medical treatments.

Once you have a permanent address, you should register with the NHS (National Health Service) in order to be assigned a GP (doctor). If you don't do so and require any assistance or treatments, worry not, as you will receive emergency treatment for 14 days. After this period, you will have to register, even if only as a temporary resident.
My uni actually registered me: they sent me a letter with the date for my first appointment. Then, they simply wanted info concerning vaccinnes, measurements... I was even vaccinated against meningitis, as they were requiring students to do so.

Last thoughts:

I hope this post was helpful whether you're moving to the UK or simply want to know a bit more about what it like to live here! If you have any more questions just comment bellow or privatly message me. I am always happy to help!

See you next week,
Irene xx

Do keep in mind that I am sharing my thoughts and experience moving from a EU country and comparisons will be based on life in my home-country, Portugal.

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