Living in the UK

I love living in the UK.  The scenery is breathtaking, people are lovely and my days of driving through blinding snow in -47 degrees are over.

Devon countryside
             Lower Dean, Devon


As you would imagine living in the UK is different than living in Canada.  I did as much research as I could before actually moving here but nothing prepared us for the reality of actually living here.

The houses, the food, the accents – everything was different to what we were used to. We did a lot of smiling and nodding when we first arrived – most times I had no idea what anyone was saying.

In Devon, it’s common for them to say ‘alright?’ (pronounced awreet?) instead of how are you.  I remember walking around thinking I must look sick, everyone keeps asking me if I’m alright!

Where in the UK do you want to live?

Presumably you have made your mind up where in the UK you want to live or, it might depend on work, family or school.

London and anything within commuting distance of the city will be expensive. You can get more for your money in the north but you may not find the job opportunities like you would in London or any of the other major centers.

I live on the outskirts of small town in Devon but can get on a train at 7:30 AM and be in London for 10:00 AM. The houses here can be pricey and the wages lower compared to a larger center but the quality of life here is amazing.

Mobile phones

When I first arrived here I got myself a cheap pay-as-you-go phone. Since I had no UK credit history, no job and no permanent address they wouldn’t let me have a contract. You could also pay for the phone in full.

After a year of living in the UK and steady employment you should be able to get yourself on a plan and get a better phone.


      Our first rental in            Plymouth, Devon

While living in the UK I have only rented so I can’t really comment on purchasing a home. The bank told me that to buy a home I would need a 10 percent deposit and 2 years credit and employment history.

The majority of rental properties in the UK are listed with Estate Agencies who will manage the initial tenancy on behalf of the landlord.

Rents vary depending on the type of property and where is it.  I pay on average between £800 and £900 per month for a 3 bedroom house with a garden that allows pets.

Income Requirements

You will need proof that your total income is equal to or more than 30 times the monthly rent of the property. You can also use a Guarantor. Their income needs to be at least 36 times the monthly rent (or share of rent) that you pay.

To rent a property you will need to:

  • pay a non-refundable admin fee per applicant (these vary depending on the Estate Agency)
  • undergo a credit and reference check
  • pay a security deposit (usually the monthly rent + £100.00 – more if you have pets)

I didn’t have a job or a guarantor so I had to pay 6 months rent up front.  I would strongly suggest if you don’t have a job already in place make sure you have enough money to sustain yourself for at least 6 months.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy

Initially you will be offered a 6 month Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST).  After 6 months and a successful home inspection, you and the landlord can decide if you want to extend to a 12 month lease.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Your deposit is held in the Tenancy Deposit Scheme which protects you from the deposit being lost or unfairly withheld from you.

Additional Monthly Expenses

Other monthly bills you need to consider are:

  • Council Tax  (similar to property tax and you pay this regardless of whether you rent or own)
  • water and sewage charges (for water coming in and going out)
  • parking (if there is restricted parking in your area)
  • heat and electric

Before you commit to a heat/electricity supplier it’s a good idea to go to one of the comparison sites to get the best deal. The competition is fierce out there so you can afford to shop around.

TV Licence

Let’s not forget the  TV licence.  Yes you really do have to have a licence if you have a television or watch live streaming television on any device in your home.

There is a £1,000 fine if you are found to have a TV without a licence.  If you don’t pay they will hound you either by post or they show up on your door step and demand entry.

You can either get Freeview  which is the basic channel or you can purchase specialty channels. Bundling TV channels with phone and broadband will usually get you a better deal. It’s a good idea to check the comparison sites to see what’s out there.

Helpful links

Mortgage Information for First Time Buyers
Spare Room
Right Move
Mobile phones 

“Leaving what feels secure behind and following the beckoning of our hearts doesn’t always end as we expect or hope. We may even fail. But here’s the payoff: it can also be amazing and wonderful and immensely satisfying.” ― Steve Goodier