14 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to the UK
Before you cross the seas to Blighty thinking a shared language and the same Queen will make for an easy settling in period, make sure you check out a few essential expat pearls of wisdom about life in the UK:
1. Brexit is a big deal right now
In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union. The full consequences of this historic referendum result are very much up in the air still. Negotiations are underway but the details of any deal with Europe going forwards have yet to be decided. So naturally everyone’s pretty keen to see how Brexit will progress and its effect on the economy, immigration and the UK’s place in the world.
2. It’s all about the comfort food
Cups of tea, hearty roast dinners, pie and mash, battered fish and vinegary chips – the Brits sure know how to keep their spirits up during those long, grey winters. If you’re a clean eating fan, you might want to start embracing your carbs.
3. Healthcare is fully state-funded
The UK’s famous National Health Service, or NHS, provides free healthcare for all UK citizens and permanent residents. If you are under immigration control, then you will probably have to pay a £200 health surcharge every year instead. So not quite free, but still not bad!
4. The weather is a universal ice breaker
It’s a cliché but it’s true – Brits love to talk about the weather. That’s probably because it’s constantly changing – although all within a slim range, there are few extremes of weather here. Even in summer, sunshine can be rapidly followed by rain, wind and even hail. Expect huge excitement, impromptu barbeques and questionable sun safety on hot summer days and plenty of happy grumbling on rainy days.
Select the size of your move to get free quotes
5. The UK is tiny
Compared with the vast scale of Australia, the UK crams a lot into an unbelievably small area. Australia is over 30 times the size of the UK, but has more than double the population. And that’s a brilliant thing when it comes to exploring your new country with ease. You can travel all the way from London in the south of England to Inverness in the north of Scotland in around the same time as you could pop from Sydney to Melbourne.
6. You’ll need to embrace some national quirks
While the people of the UK and Australia share much in the way of culture and humour, there’s certain British eccentricities that can take some getting used to. Fastidious queuing etiquette, constant apologising, never saying what you mean and never, ever making eye contact on the London Underground are all part of the cultural charm.
7. British history goes way back
This beautiful island is packed with historic treasures from ancient castles to spectacular cathedrals. If you love your history, there’s endless fascinating sights to see. Highlights include prehistoric stone circle Stonehenge, the Tower of London, Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, Caernarfon Castle in Wales, ancient Roman site Hadrian’s Wall, Belfast Castle and Urquhart Castle at Loch Ness. We could go on…
8. It pays to know your stuff about the whole of the UK
Anybody born outside of London will appreciate any effort on your part to learn about the geography and culture of the country outside of the capital. There can be quite a divide between London and the rest of the country, clearly demonstrated by Scotland’s recent bid for independence. Don’t forget, the UK is made up of four separate countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern island. And you could almost add in the north of England as an unofficial fifth. Your new regional friends will thank you for remembering it!
9. Shopping tax is already added
A huge perk to life in the UK is the fact that shopping tax has already been calculated and included in the price of goods. That means you can stop calculating your Goods and Service Tax in your head, phew!
10. The nation’s favourite sport is footy
But it’s a different game to Australian footy. Football in the UK is what Aussies refer to as soccer. Rugby, cricket, cycling, golf, tennis and athletics are also popular sports, although you may find spectating is more common than participating.
11. The TV is brilliant
From soaps like EastEnders and Coronation Street to the beloved annual Great British Bake Off, television is pretty great in the UK. Maybe it’s the cold winters but TV is important in Britain. Whether you love comedy, BBC documentaries, the best US dramas and brilliantly quirky daytime offerings – you’re in for a treat.
12. The scenery is incredible
The UK is home to some of the most stunning countryside in the world. Whatever you do, make sure you get out of the cities and take in those spectacular views. The wild Highlands of Scotland have a rugged beauty all their own. The dramatic mountains of the Lake District have to be seen to be believed. The golden sandy beaches and pretty seaside towns of Cornwall and Devon are a surfer’s dream. And the lush rolling hills and gentle rivers of the Home Counties offer up hundreds of unforgettable walks, usually with a cosy pub at the end of them.
13. They haven’t quite fully converted to the metric system
You’ll find a baffling mix of imperial and metric measurements are used in the UK. Just to keep you on your toes! Distances on the roads are calculated in miles, height is usually measured in feet and inches, and people are weighed in stones and pounds. Objects, on the other hand, are weighed in grams and kilos and measured in centimetres and metres. Except when they’re measured in inches and feet, usually by the older generation. Confused? So are most people in the UK, but you’ll get used to it.
14. You might find some new hobbies
For all their stiff upper lip, the Brits are generally a fun-loving bunch. From their love of the pub to their eccentric festivals, there’s no end of ways to have a good time. Cheese rolling, Morris dancing, gurning (that’s pulling strange faces to you and me), worm charming, bog snorkelling, mud racing, toe wrestling and stinging nettle eating are among some of the weirdest pastimes with festivals dedicated to them.