Asians in the UK
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Asians in the UK

Moving to the UK: Go or No Go

Tips on deciding whether to move or not

London by Expat in UK

Relocation is a big decision. Especially if you are moving to a place that you don’t have any friends or family. When I moved to the UK, my decision was entirely motivated by a personal reason and I already had a job offer with a relocation package. Although I have literally taken the decision to move before any consideration, I did some research afterwards to back up my decision. If you are in the process of thinking about whether you should relocate to the UK (or any other country) or not, I hope this will help you in identifying what are the areas that you should consider. This will include the things I did check before moving and things I didn’t check but ended up thinking I should have done that.

Living cost, salaries and taxes

If you are thinking of moving, you should definitely consider the living cost of the country that you want to move to and the average salary for the jobs you are looking for. Make sure when you compare the living cost with your salary, deduct the taxes and get your correct take-home pay.

So let’s first talk about the living cost. From the rent of your house to the Netflix subscription, you have to include all your expenses. One thing to note is, depends on the city that you live in your living expenses as well as salary would vary. For example, living in London is far more expensive than living in Manchester.

How to calculate the living cost?

Numbeo has a very good breakdown of the average living cost as well as how it changes from city to city. The numbers seem fairly correct for where I live in so I assume it would be correct in other places too.

If it helps, here is my monthly budget for two people household. Since COVID both of us are working from home so we no longer pay for our bus passes and gym.

Real Monthly Living Cost

Here is an example of our random weekly grocery list in February 2021. For things like Rice, Pasta, Soap, Laundry and Cleaning products we buy them in bulk so the expenses are spread across weeks.

Once you have an idea of how much living cost you would incur, have a look at the salaries of your profession. For that Glassdoor and levels.fyi can help you.

https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/index.htm

Once you have an idea about the average salary you would earn, have a look at the tax bands and calculate how much your take-home pay is.

There are many online calculators which will do this for you.

Match up your monthly take-home salary and the estimated living cost to see whether you can live your expected lifestyle and have enough savings.

Transportation

When we first moved, public transport was our main method of transportation and it still is for going to work.

Check the public transport costs and the availability of bus passes, day tickets, etc. Fortunately in the UK most of the public transport tickets and passes can be bought online. So checking the prices from point A to B is really easy.

If you are not a fan of public transportation, check the prices of the cars. There are car clubs where you can share vehicles with other club members which is a good alternative until you build your credit score and ability to lease a car if you are running short on cash. The second-hand cars are really cheap in the UK as well. So if you are just okay with a car a few years old, you can probably buy one for a really cheap price by paying cash. In that case search for used car prices in the area, you are hoping to move into.

Health Care

UK has a GP system. It’s very different from what I grew up with where private medical practices are everywhere for a really cheap price and you can always get walk-in appointments. Instead in the UK, you have to book an appointment one or two days before. However, since it's the free health care you don’t have to pay anything for the consultation or medicine after or any repeat prescriptions.

For any emergencies, you can get an ambulance from 999 and the last time that happened in my household, the emergency crew came within 4-6 minutes.

Visa Options

The easiest way of relocating is that you find a job with a good relocation package and visa sponsorship. However, it’s not always that easy. Instead, you can always apply for a global talent visa or take the student visa route.

  • Global Talent Visa - This is a Tier one visa which means if you have this your visa is not tied to your sponsor, unlike the Tier 2 General work visa. However, it’s also a little bit harder to get. If you have a lot of community work under your belt, this is a really promising option.
  • Skilled Worker Visa - This was previously known as Tier 2 General Work Visa. For this, you need an employer in the UK to sponsor you and it makes your visa tied to your employment. However, if you are relocating as a family your spouse can choose to work anywhere.
  • Student Visa - If you have been accepted to an approved university program, you can apply for a student visa. If you are hoping to relocate as a couple, one person can opt into a university program like a masters or a PhD and the partner can work. Financially this will cost more than the above two as you have to show that you have enough money to pay for the course and support yourself.

If you are thinking about relocation, explore all the visa options and the UK government site is the best place for your research. Don’t consider what I have given as Visa advice, always do your own research. If you think I have missed anything please mention it in the comments below.

Living Alone

If you are moving to a country where no friends and family present, you are basically saying goodbye to your social life. No Saturday night board games with your friends, no visiting your parents when you feel like it, no visiting your neighbours just to have a chat, no road trips with friends, no dinner parties, etc. You can always make new friends. But that depends on whether you are willing to go out and make that happen. Work friends are not typically a thing here. I have worked in teams where the relationships basically end when you leave the office in the evening and teams where you always hang out after office hours and at weekends.

And you know what’s worse, the takeaways don’t taste like eating out at home. If you are used to rich spice flavours, UK takeaway food might not be for you.

Final Thoughts

Yes, relocation is hard, but think about all the new experiences you are going to get. Moreover, you don’t have to live in a country if you don't want to. You can always choose to go back home or find a different country to live in.

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Asians writing about their experience on living in the UK

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Expat in UK

Expat in UK

Sri Lankan expat living in the UK

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