Travelling to a new country is easier in this day and age than ever before, and more and more people are starting to live a “nomadic life” with the ability of working remotely with nothing but a laptop and a wireless internet connection.
Yet, others travel to develop their career and the UK is still a highly attractive country for foreign veterinary surgeons for a few reasons:
- The language is easy to learn and most technical resources are written in English anyway
- The UK is easily accessible from any European country
- The UK is perceived as a country where veterinary care is taken to a high level of standard and presents the possibility of career evolution
- The cost of living is perceived to be higher, but so is the amount you earn
Moving to a new country in order to evolve your career, especially when you belong to a qualified and “learned” profession (that is – only those with specific training can have this profession), could be your next step. If this is the case, whether your move to the UK is temporary or more permanent, you may be wondering how to prepare yourself financially to cope with it.
This article is dedicated to give you insights on the costs you should account for when you are planning on moving to the UK (either temporarily or “permanently”).
This is, of course, the first cost you need to deal with. You need to consider how you are going to travel to the UK, so here are a few ways to consider:
- Using your own car – this can be an affordable way, depending on how many miles (or kilometers!) you need to travel. When you are travelling by car, you need to consider the costs of petrol as well as tolls, but also overnight stays (unless you are planning on sleeping in the car!) and meals. Google Maps and other apps can now help you calculate the costs of tolls, but you will need to do a bit of research for accommodation.
- Trains and ferries – depending on where you live, this might be an option for you and the costs of the journeys are easily found through a google search. If you want to enter the UK “by land”, then you probably need to check out the Eurotunnel both for cars and for the train.
- Flying in – with London being one of the business centres in the world, flying into the UK is probably one of the easiest options you might have, as well as an affordable with, with several low-cost companies providing journeys to UK-based airports, including the well-known Easyjet and Ryanair companies.
Travelling within the UK
Another thing for you to consider is how you are going to be travelling when you are in the UK. This is highly dependent on where you are going to. In many cases, buses and trains are available. The subway (often mentioned as “tube”) also exists in many main cities. However, public transport is not as easily available for more remote locations, or it may not be practical (for instance, takes you too long to travel). Travelling by car is extremely frequent and you may be surprised to learn this, but depending on where you are located, renting a car for a few days might turn out to be a cheaper option. This is particularly the case when you need to travel a lot of miles/visit several places or when public transportation costs are high (for instance, a train return ticket may cost £15 and the bus ticket £6, but you may be able to rent a car for £25 per day).
Here are resources for you to search for train and bus tickets, as well as simulating car rentals:
- Train and Bus (always visit the website for the train/bus company to buy the tickets)
- Long-distance trains (this is the official website)
- Car rental
Suggested budget – for a one-way journey to enter the UK, consider having £350 available for using a low-cost airline+traveling to the place you are going to stay at. If you need to use a main airline, that value may only cover the cost of the flight itself, so you should try to get another £100 for travelling within the UK depending on where you need to travel to.
Surely you don’t want to sleep on the streets! The cheapest option you have is staying with someone you know, even if you need to pay them a little something for the bills.
However, if that’s not an option, then you should account for some temporary accommodation – if you are not prepared to rent straight away, you need to be thinking about:
- Hotel stays (usually the most expensive)
- Hostel stays (often more affordable, but still usually just for a few days)
- Temporary accommodation, such as Airbnb – this is often a viable choice until you find a place to rent more permanently
When it comes to renting, you need to save enough money every month for:
- The rent – you can rent a bedroom, which is more affordable than an entire flat or house
- The council tax – if you are not sharing accommodation, you will likely need to pay council tax. This tax depends on the type of building you live in (the council tax “band”) and also the council itself (London prices are not the same as Liverpool’s). Council tax usually covers the costs of sewage, water (there are no water bills) and waste disposal.
- Your bills – usually gas, electricity, and then internet/phone/TV. Gas and electricity you can’t really escape from, although some houses run entirely on electricity and you don’t need gas. You then want internet fairly soon, but consider getting broadband-only deal or a broadband/mobile deal. If you want TV, you will need to purchase a TV licence, which is usually an unnecessary cost until you settle in. Bills may be shared or included in rent if you are renting a room.
Suggested budget: £600-£1000/month for renting a house in large cities, £200-£500 for renting a room instead. £200/month for bills (this can be much reduced by shopping around a bit).
Once you have a roof over your head, you also need food in your stomach. Eating out can be very expensive, so to save some money you can try to buy groceries and cook yourself (which is what most people do!). There are also some tricks to save money with grocery shopping, such as visiting the cheapest supermarkets and buying certain types of food. Fresh meat and fish are the most expensive, but there are several affordable alternatives. It is also easy to find vegetarian and vegan food. If you think carefully, you can save a lot of money with your meals.
Often the most affordable supermarkets are Lidl and Aldi stores, as they have few branded items (many of them are “white label”). However, buying foods such as pasta and spaghetti, potatoes, vegetables and tinned products like tuna, mackerel and sausages can make it very affordable to cook simple meals. You may be spending as little as £25 in grocery every week for one person.
However, if you want a healthier budget, aim for £200 for groceries per month.
Overall and in general (though highly dependent on the location you are choosing), having an income of £1000 per month will allow you to stay in the UK and cover your basic costs, but of course you can still make it work with a lot less money!
I just wanted to do a short detour on the main subject to talk about currency conversions. The UK is the only country in Europe that uses sterling pound as a currency. Initially, you won’t have any pounds, just your own country currency, and buying pounds can be incredibly expensive. Therefore, for those interested in travelling to the UK – or those that travel a lot to different countries – I strongly suggest you check out Transferwise with their borderless account and debit card. This is an affiliate link but I have no problems at all recommending them – I use Transferwise and must say they were life-changing for me! There are similar options, like Revolut which you can also check out, but I have never used them and they may have monthly fees.
Transferwise allows you to do something simple – hold different bank accounts and currencies, and then use their debit card, which automatically selects the right currency to pay and, if not available, will convert your money into the right currency. Their currency fees are incredibly low and allow you to save a lot of money!
In simple terms, what you do is: register for a borderless account (you need to send in ID documents), then create accounts in different currencies, then transfer money into those accounts. So you can send in say 300€ and you can either send it to your Transferwise Euro account, or send it to your Transferwise Pound account and pay a small fee for the conversion (if you use our link you don’t pay the fee). Then you want to order your free debit card, which is actually a MasterCard, so it’s accepted pretty much everywhere (but even if it’s not, you can withdraw money from ATM machines).
Free Money Guide
If you want even more information about how to save money when you are moving in to the UK and settling in, check out our free downloadable money guide!