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An Expat's Guide in the UK

Updated on July 25, 2016

About the UK

The United Kingdom consists of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In spite of its small size, it is influential in world affairs, being a leading nation in the European Union. The UK is also famous for its wonderful culture, art, rich history and beautiful architecture. Its national dish is fish and chips, sausage and mash are have also gained popularity. English is the main language in the UK. However, Welsh and Scottish are also spoken in some areas of the country. Accents and dialects differ all over the UK thus understanding the accent being spoken may be difficult for new expatriates. Temperatures range from 4 degrees in the winter to 28 degrees I the summer. It gets relatively cold and rainy in the northern parts of the UK, unlike the southern parts which receive a lot of sunshine and are generally warm.

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Housing in the UK

Although the high wages are commensurate with the living standards, accommodation in the UK is rather expensive. Expats should seek their employers help when looking for a house to live in. Housing in the UK is largely split into three categories: Social Rented Sector (SRS), Owner-occupied, and Private Rented Sector (PRS). The affordability of houses in the UK varies broadly on a provincial basis – house rents and prices will differ due to the market factors like the state of the regional supply, economy, and the transport links to the housing.

For the owner-occupied property, major determinants of its affordability are house income, purchase costs, interest rates, and prices. For the rented possessions, PRS rents will mainly be a reflection of the house prices and lastly SRS rents are laid down by the Local Authorities. The housing associations or same basing on what lower income class can manage to pay for. In as much as using an estate agent can save you a lot of trouble, they normally don't give you a variety of options to choose from. It is therefore recommended to check newspaper classifieds or do internet searches which will give you more information.

Healthcare in the UK

Expats living in the UK lucky enough to be covered by an Expatriates package will be able to benefit from company health insurance policy together with their family. Regardless of this, all legal residents of the UK are covered by the National Healthcare System. Your insurance covers walk-in and emergency care in the first year, after which you can look for a personal physician to take advantage of more healthcare options.

The UK was ranked the top in providing the best healthcare system overall the world in the following categories: Efficiency, Access to Care, Equity, and Quality of Care. Public transportation in the UK

Public transport in the UK is the cheapest and most reliable way of getting around the United Kingdom. Most of the transport is facilitated with rail, road, water, and air networks. There is a radial road network, many local and international airports. The UK waters also have a network of ports that receives goods all-over the world. Most cities in the UK are covered by an extensive network of rail and bus services. The underground railway network in London popularly known as the 'tube' is the most efficient way of beating traffic jams and avoiding paying a congestion fee levied on personal cars in the city since 2003.

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Driving in the UK

Living in the rural parts of the UK may necessitate owning a personal vehicle since public transportation is not reliable as it may be limited to one bus. Expats from countries which drive on the right may find driving on left quite strange and may take some time getting used to it. The legal age for driving in the UK is 17 years. Driving licenses issued by former countries are valid for up to three years for expats from the European Union whereas those from the rest of the world are valid for 12 months. At the expiry of your driving license, you have to exchange it for a British driving license or obtain a Provisional driving license and take a driving test. Drivers using foreign driving licenses have to be registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

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