The United Kingdom is a developed country, which means it has a highly developed economy and an advanced technological infrastructure. The country has the world’s sixth-largest economy and it’s categorised amongst the first 14th countries in the world on the Human Development Index. As the first industrialised country in the world, the UK has managed to become a great influence globally in terms of economy, culture, military, science and politics.
If you are considering of relocating, the UK could be a great place to live and kick start your career! Let’s take a look at the following information that will be of use once you have made the decision:
Working in the UK
The UK National Minimum Wage is the minimum amount per hour that UK workers are entitled to be paid. Only workers who are permitted to work in the country get this allowance which differs according to their age and the type of work they are doing. Since October 2014, the national minimum wage is distributed as follows:
Aged 21 and over
£6.50 per hour
£5.13 per hour
£3.69 per hour
Note that if you don’t have a contract of employment or you are self-employed, volunteer or are on work experience you may not be entitled to receive the minimum wage.
All full-time employees working the standard 5 day week are entitled to 5.6 weeks paid leave excluding weekends and national holidays. In case you don’t avail your holiday you get paid for the days you have worked. At this point, it is important to state that you should be aware of payment deductions including national insurance and income tax so that you avoid confusion on your agreed wage with an employer.
Although some variations in hours exist, most full-time workers can expect a 35 to 40 hour working week. The maximum working hours are 48 hours a week even though workers can choose to work more.
In order to be able to relocate to the UK for employment purposes, you may need to apply for permission under the UK’s 5-tier points system. If you are an EEA or Swiss national, you are free to reside and work in the UK without a work permit. Otherwise, you’ll need to obtain a work visa. The type of visa you will need depends on the country of your origin as well as your skills. Check the following visa instructions to help you out:
Tier 1 – apply if you are a highly skilled worker, entrepreneur investor, or post-study worker without a job offer.
Tier 2 – apply if you have been offered a job as a skilled worker.
Tier 3 - curently does not apply.
Tier 4 – apply for child students aged 4 to 17 in order to be able to study in the UK.
Tier 5 – apply if you are a temporary worker.
Also, bear in mind that in order to be able to work in the UK, every applicant should apply for a National Insurance Number.
The UK government offers a wide range of benefits to non-UK nationals. These include pension credits, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefit, disability living allowance, attendance allowance, carers allowance, income-related employment and support allowance and tax credits. Eligibility for these benefits will depend on your immigration status and if you are actively looking for employment..
The retail industry employs the most people in the UK constituting the 15.2% of the workforce with some of the biggest UK retailers being Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Boots. After retail, the second largest industry in the UK is Human Health and social work with 12.5% of the UK workforce while the NHS is the biggest employer in the country.
In the UK, there is a strong demand for permanent staff in various sectors such as engineering, construction, IT and computing. Also, the UK workforce needs workers to fill positions in the following categories: accountancy, audit, banking, finance and tax, business analysts, project management, software development, solution architecture, nursing and care.
Accommodation in the UK is relatively expensive, especially in London, a fact that makes it difficult to find a reasonably priced property to live in. Therefore, it is advisable that you first determine where you will be living prior to travelling to the country. To help you, there are several short-term types of accommodation you can choose from including Youth Hostels, YMCA, Bed and Breakfasts and Hotels.
Other longer term accommodation includes rented furnished or unfurnished homes/apartments from private landlords and housing associations. Be prepared to pay an advance of one months rent and pay an additional fee if you use an agency.
In general there are two kinds of new lettings of rented accommodation:
- Assured tenancies with long-term security of tenure.
- Assured shorthold tenancies for a fixed period of at least six months.
Cost of Living
Since the costs of living in UK is relatively high, choosing shared housing and using public transportation are two ways to reduce expenses. Prior to choosing your accommodation, you should check how much you are expected to pay for the basic utilities (electricity, heating, water and garbage). For example, for an 85m2 apartment you may be paying around £150 per month for utilities.
In terms of renting a house – which is more feasible than buying one, a 1 bedroom apartment in London city centre may cost you between £500 - 800 per month whereas 1 bedroom apartment outside of centre will be between £400-750.
While many people prefer to move across the UK via public transportation, the majority still favor driving their own cars. If you are in the latter category you should know that people in the UK drive on the left side instead of the right-hand side of the road, unlike most European countries.
Also, a driving license that’s issued in your home country is only valid up to 3 years for European countries and up to 12 months for other countries. When it expires, you will need to exchange it for a British language or get a provisional license and pass a driving test (other countries).
Public transportation in the UK is relatively good as the entire country is covered by a network of rail and coach services. However, the travel tickets are not cheap. If you expect to travel within the country a lot, it might be a good idea to buy a national railcard that gives you a discount every time you travel, saving you at least 1/3 on most rail fares.
Healthcare in UK is provided by the National Health Service (NHS) which is a residence-based healthcare system. If you are planning to live and work in the UK, you will have to register with a general practitioner (GP). GPs are the first point of contact for NHS patients. As an overseas visitor, you may be charged for healthcare depending on how urgent it is as well as for dental, hospital treatments and prescription costs. Be aware that paying for a hospital treatment may have an effect on your immigration status. For EEA nationals who have a valid European Health Insurance Card, healthcare is provided free or at a reduced cost.
The UK offers a variety of schooling options including community schools, foundation schools, academies run by a governing body, grammar schools, faith and free schools, private schools, city technology colleges and state boarding schools. The admission criteria and the fees each school charges – private and state boarding schools, may vary so make sure you check with the school in advance.
The United Kingdom is a member of the European Union and comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The unit of currency is the pound sterling (£) and the official language is English, although in some parts the UK, Welsh (Wales) and Gaelic (Scottish Highlands and Islands, Northern Ireland) may be spoken.
See also: Living and Working in Japan
Living and working in the UK is ideal if you want to advance your career as it offers great opportunities for professional development! Learn how to balance your expenditures from the information provided above and make the most of your stay in the country!
Have you ever lived or worked in the UK? Let us know your experience in the comment section below!