So you’ve been inspired to go and live in the land of tea, double decker buses, great humour, lousy weather and a pub obsession. Luckily, you’ll find all the British stereotypes in abundance, but if you’re moving there you’ll also discover there’s lots to consider before you get to sup that first pint of lukewarm beer.
Visas and work permits
Until recently, those from the EU, the EEA and Switzerland could travel to the UK freely, but in 2016 Britain chose to leave the EU, which has made things somewhat more complex. There are government schemes that allow you to live in the UK, particularly if you have skills the country requires, but expect to pay anything from around £700 for a visa. In terms of a work permit, this will also depend on which country you come from, so checking the UK Government website is the best thing to do here.
Finding a job
If you haven’t already secured work then you’ll be pleased to hear that the UK has a very vibrant job market, but one that’s also competitive and London-centric. The big cities will generally provide plenty of options, though in rural areas jobs can be few and far between. Take a look at sites like Indeed, Gumtree and LinkedIn to see what’s on offer. You might find that having more than one language puts you in pole position for a number of jobs.
Finding a place to live
If you’ve been job hunting you’ll notice London tends to offer the highest wages. That’sbecause the cost of living is so much higher there. The average rent is nearly double that of the rest of the country. It might be easier to set yourself up in one of the country’s other big cities – Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, for instance, where there’ll still be plenty of work, but without the exorbitant living costs. It’s worth noting that utilities are generally more expensive in the UK than in the rest of Western Europe.
The UK has a national health service that’s free to UK nationals. But if your status will be up in the air for a little while it might be worth getting health insurance at first.
Make sure you set up a bank account quickly and understand you have commitments both in the UK and the country you’ve just come from. Once you’ve familiarised yourself with this, you won’t be in for any unexpected financial shocks.
A lot of this might seem daunting, and much of it involves navigating your way through red tape. The best option to reduce the stress levels, and not get caught out, might be to get help from solicitors specializing in immigration law, who can tell you exactly what to expect and can guide you through it.