Finding a place to actually live
Right, so if you’ve decided you want to move into the UK you’re going to need to find a place to live. First, you should know where you’re going to move to. Then, what you ALWAYS need to do is get a contract. Without a rental or letting contract you have no proof of address.
Considerations on the place to choose
Keep some points in mind when choosing the place you want to move to:
Think about the jobs!
As a veterinary surgeon there are different roles available, but some will be harder to find in some areas. Do some research to find out places that have plenty of offers that attract you. For instance, there are a lot more equine positions in Kent than in Scotland!
Also bear in mind that remote places might have a lot less applicants than large cities, so getting one of those jobs might very well be the best way to go, especially considering that if they are in a remote location they might even offer accommodation!
Big cities=big money
Generally speaking, large cities have more jobs available, generally well paid, but the cost of living is also much more expensive. I know of people living in London that pay huuuuge amounts of money in rent and public transportation, like, something I would struggle to pay if I was earning the same money than I am right now! Fair enough if you like the buzz of the big cities, if not look for other places in the periphery of those cities. Jobs are more scarce (which might also mean less applicants!) and probably not as well paid, but hey, you save a lot of money in rent!
You need to go to where you work
Chances are you won’t be working where you live (and honestly, you don’t really wanna do that, do you?), so you will need to be able to travel there. Be aware that many positions will require you to have a driving licence and oftentimes even a car, which is the answer to this question. If you, however, are lucky enough to nail a job in a one branch practice with no OOHs, you likely don’t need to travel by car, leaving you the options of walking, cycling or using public transportation. Investigate the local (is it safe?) and how good the public transportation is – are there trains, buses or underground? How much would it cost to travel? The price of public transportation can be quite expensive in the UK.
You also want to go back home!
If you’re a foreigner, surely you’ll want to go back home sometimes! So try to see if you’re close enough to an airport or transport links to one… you don’t want to travel for 5 hours to take a plane back home if you can get the same job 2 hours away from an airport that has a direct flight home! This is not a priority for many people, but it depends on how easy it is to fly home and how many times you’re planning on doing it yearly.
When it comes to finding a place, you can either look for a flat or house to rent or a room to rent. Tenancy contracts (renting) can be short-term (generally less than 6 months) or long-term (more than 6 months). The cheapest option is often – but not always! – finding a room to rent short term that has good localisation until you find a job, then you can afford to move closer to your job and to a place of your own – if your job doesn’t come with accommodation as part of the package! Other people prefer to find a flat to rent instead of sharing, and this can often be only slightly more expensive than renting a room, especially in big cities.
Where to look for places
Start by doing online searches. You have three options – facebook searches, advertisement websites and real estate and property portals and websites.
Searching for places on facebook normally involves you looking for groups and joining them. There is no control on what is posted, there can be different groups with different traffic and possibly unreliable posts. Also there’s always the possibility of being scammed. You will likely need to search for groups in the specific area you want to move to (like “flats to rent in London”) and you might not find any. Facebook searches can be very useful to investigate the market but be very very careful if you actually want to go ahead with a view – and always get a contract that you read thoroughly before signing!
Out of all of these, gumtree is the most famous and was the number one resource for finding a room to rent for those wanting to move to the UK a couple of years ago (I would think facebook is becoming more popular now). gumtree is a classified ads website that has a bit of everything, including rooms and accommodation to rent. Many people found a place to rent very quickly, but again, always be very careful as, like with facebook, you can get scammed quite easily. Always get a contract! And be careful when you schedule a view!
Real estate portals and property websites
These websites normally don’t advertise private property, they are instead a portal for estate and property agencies to find tenants. This means the fees are normally a bit more expensive and you might have trouble getting a contract if they request a lot of extra information, such as references from previous landlords (can’t have them if it’s your first property…) or an extra revenue source (and they might refuse to have a contract with you if you are unemployed and have no one else to pay for your rent in case you can’t). They will, however, be very good with contracts and are a good way to investigate what’s in the market in the area you want to move to. There are three of them: