Now that we’ve been here for about a month, we have a better idea of how to advise anyone planning a move to the UK. Here are some things I wish we had known about what to do after arriving in our new country.
1. Get a bank account
You can apply for a current account at Lloyds with just a passport. It was so simple, I wish we had known sooner that it was possible to do this. Instead, we waited until we had an apartment to apply because we thought that was the only way to get an account. It turns out, for most other banks in the UK, you must not only have a current address in the UK, but you must also have lived here for 3+ years. So after being turned down by our first choice, we asked what bank would accept us and we were told that Lloyd’s is the only one willing to open an account for non-residents.
2. Find a place to live
Finding a place to live is relatively simple with RightMove. The difficult part is passing a credit check. If you’ve never lived here before, you will have no credit history. We actually failed our UK credit check, but after talking to the landlord, we sorted everything out. Even if you do fail the credit check, you should be able to come to some kind of agreement with the landlord, although that could mean a larger deposit. In addition, we were not able to move in to our apartment for 7 days to allow for “processing time” so take that into account before you cancel your hotel and rental car. Once you have a bank account and a UK address, the rest is easy.
3. Decide on a broadband provider
Talk to your real estate agent, people who live nearby, or the people who run your apartment complex and they should be able to tell you which broadband provider is best for your area. Broadband is very inexpensive in the UK, but the silly part is paying for “line rental” which is about £15 a month. Basically, you will be given a landline phone, even if you don’t want one and you have to pay for it, because that’s the way it is.
4. Get a mobile phone (or UK sim)
Getting a new mobile phone is quick and painless as long as you have a UK debit card to go along with your new bank account. O2 has the best international plan if you plan on calling your home country often. Otherwise, a regular phone plan with an international calling card would suffice.
5. Buy a car (if you need one)
Buying a car in the UK can be kind of nerve wracking. It’s a lot of money to spend right away, and depending on how long you plan to stay, you may not have it for very long. We decided not to take our chances with private sellers and only looked at cars being sold by dealerships. Autotrader is the website to use when looking for a car. But again, you cannot buy a car (at least from a dealer) if you do not have an address in the UK. When deciding what type of car to buy, factor in the yearly road tax due on the vehicle. This is based on emissions and ranges from £0 for electric cars to over £300 for SUV and luxury cars.
All of these things are usually obvious and unavoidable when moving abroad, but without planning can take way longer than they need to. However, the most important thing to do when moving to a different country is just to have fun! Explore, meet new people and enjoy it for the adventure it is.