Author Topic: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget  (Read 2467 times)

melanie2008

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Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« on: June 10, 2018, 09:50:43 AM »
Hello. I am hoping to move to the UK from the US in January. I think I have overestimated some things but would rather do that than be surprised later. Am I missing anything?

Housing   850 (this is a little high, but I may not have lots of options since I have pets and I don't know what will be available)
council tax   150
mobile phones   20 (GiffGaff)
internet   40 (who do you use?)
gas   60 (I am super worried about gas and electric because of heating in the winter, my last place was always cold in the winter even when the utilities were high (£150) and a future coworker said her heating was £200 for one month, which I can believe based on my experience. What do you do to avoid this? Rent a newer place?)
electric   60
water   35
food   200
car insurance   65 (I don't have a UK license and it could be higher, Bad Melanie)
petrol   100 (This may be high? I like to travel and expect to drive on the weekends)
vet, pet stuff   100
personal/clothes/home   100
Dental insurance   15
Gym   25 (I have to go to a gym, the Leisure center)
   
TOTAL   1815
« Last Edit: July 07, 2018, 06:11:10 PM by AV2008 »

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Re: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2018, 10:20:59 AM »
Hi melaniesuzanne. Exciting! I hope all the admin sorts itself out.

We may need a little more info here for people to help. Are you moving to the North or South of the UK and are you living in a city or a town or somewhere rural? Will you be able to use public transport? What type of accommodation will you be staying in I.e. size wise. Is this budget just for yourself or for a couple or family?

Your list looks fairly comprehensive to me, just a little difficult to judge amounts without knowing some of the details above. I don't know if you would need a tv license or not (approx £12 a month). Gyms can vary massively in cost. Hopefully there will be one of good value near to where you are living.

katekat

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Re: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2018, 10:49:40 AM »
Hi melanie, good luck with all the visa awfulness!

As ngu says, it's pretty difficult to judge housing without a general area. 850 would give you a ton of options where I am (the North) and far fewer down South. I've rented with pets for the last 5 years and I've always managed to find something, but you have to be VERY firm and explicit with lettings agents (who sometimes seem like they don't listen to a word you say) and you will find that it will likely lock you out of 99% of house shares and a large amount of furnished flats -- so you should be prepared to rent a whole place, rather than sharing, if possible, and should also probably budget for basic furniture.

Is this just for you? I ask because you have 'mobile phones', plural.

Gas and electric looks like plenty based on everywhere I've rented, depending on size of home and how insulated it is, but as you've found out, some places are a nightmare. Be on the lookout for damp & draughts when you view anywhere. Are you planning on a house or a flat?

Apart from car insurance & petrol, I don't see anything on the list for car -- cost of vehicle, repairs, road tax, MOT. You should also know if you don't already that if your license is from the US, you can only drive on it for the first 12 months you are resident, so you will have to budget for uk driving license (theory & practical exams) if you want to keep driving after that. Have you looked at car insurance quotes yet and are your numbers based on real quotes?

Dental insurance is an interesting one. Is that something you're getting from your employer and is it something you're interested in because you expect to have costly procedures? NHS pricing (as long as you can find an NHS dentist accepting patients -- this varies a lot by area) is pretty reasonable & something that everyone I know pays for out of pocket. For my last checkup & cleaning I paid ~£20 and for my last filling I paid ~£35. So £15/mo seems high to me unless you think you will need a lot done or really feel like you need private treatment.

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Re: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2018, 11:31:19 AM »
Ok so a single person qualifies for a 25% discount on council tax so that should help out for the first year. A walkable town where you are near shops, work and the leisure centre will certainly help minimise public transport and car costs.

Other than the car servicing, MOT and tax that katekat rightly points out I think you seem to have everything covered. Iím not sure about rent in that part of the UK but if you can avoid paying too much here, and keep car use down to perhaps weekend trips, I think the overall budget is fine. Iím sure there will be some ups and downs in individual categories but overall, nothing too much to worry about I donít think.

I hope all your planning goes well and all the visa/licence stuff goes as smoothly as possible.

Kwill

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Re: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2018, 12:02:04 PM »
Good luck with the move and with the visa! I moved from the US to UK a couple years ago, and it's been a good experience overall.

Is this a temporary or a permanent move? Will you be bringing over your household goods?

katekat

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Re: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2018, 12:26:06 PM »
On rightmove the houses are £695 to $1250. They do actually have some that don't say no pets, which is amazing since in Devon they all say that though the letting agents knew which landlords would be fine with pets. It just limits the options a bit and there are only 16 posted for the town on rightmove! I am not too worried about that. Any suggestions on how to recognize damp? I completely missed it when we got our place in Devon. About what should I be very firm and explicit with the letting agents? Since I have a dog and crazy cats who like to go outside, I will get a house.

When I say 'firm and explicit', what I mean is, no matter how many times I say 'I am looking for somewhere that accepts pets', it never seems to be quite enough times.

So for example, these are all experiences I have had ...

I write a personalised email to a letting agency saying something like "I am looking to rent with cats, I notice you don't specify on your website which properties allow cats, so I was hoping you could let me know if there are any on your books where the landlord accepts cats". I include an area and price range. They send me back a list of flats in the area and price range that looks copy-pasted, so I reply "can you confirm that these properties all accept cats?" and they respond "sorry none of the properties accept cats" (this has happened more times than I can count!!!)

Or, I make sure to double check that the landlord allows cats both before the viewing, at the viewing, and putting down a deposit. Then on the day I turn up to sign the contract and get the keys, a few days before my lease expires, I arrive and read my contract and it has a big "no pets" clause included. This has happened to me twice out of four contracts I have signed with pets. In both cases the landlord has been okay with cats, but the lettings agent has printed off their 'default' contract anyway (I guess they thought "does the property allow pets?" the 16 or so times I asked it was merely hypothetical!) and had to amend it day-of. One of those times it meant additional pet charges that I hadn't yet known about.

So 'be explicit and firm' really means just assuming at every stage in the process that none of your questions about pets have been passed along from the previous stage in the process. Assume nobody knows you have previously mentioned pets, and mention it again. Perhaps I have encountered particularly bad lettings agents.

As far as recognising damp goes, I'm no expert and fell into the trap of not noticing at the last place I lived, but I'll list some things that retrospectively I should have seen as warning signs: musty smell, cracks or patchy stains on walls, condensation on windows. We overlooked a wooden 'window seat' structure that in retrospect probably was there to hide damp damage, so mild suspicion of odd and cheap looking fittings is probably also worth having. Obviously, it's possible that damp might be actually visible on the walls when you're viewing. In January, you might have better luck noticing these things, it's when you move in the Summer and only notice the awfulness in a few months that it's the worst!

cerat0n1a

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Re: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2018, 01:57:31 PM »
gas   60 (I am super worried about gas and electric because of heating in the winter, my last place was always cold in the winter even when the utilities were high (£150) and a future coworker said her heating was £200 for one month, which I can believe based on my experience. What do you do to avoid this? Rent a newer place?)

Buy more warm clothes. Wear them indoors ;-)

(Lived in a house with no heating at all until I was about 7 and I often remember sitting round in a blanket when I was a kid)

I will be up north in a smaller town between Leeds and York.

Suspect you'll find buses a good bit cheaper than Devon (distances are less) and housing costs lower too. York is one of the more expensive cities in the North of England, but prices drop fairly quickly out of the city and even York is pretty reasonable compared to the south. Water bill will be cheaper in Yorkshire than Devon too.

cobson

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Re: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2018, 09:25:01 AM »
I will be up north in a smaller town between Leeds and York.

Something to be aware of is that this area is known as Yorkshire's 'golden triangle' because of the higher housing costs than surrounding areas:

Yorkshire Golden Triangle
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 02:08:21 AM by cobson »

PhilB

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Re: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2018, 09:45:09 AM »

Ha! I have a very warm onesie that I wore in Devon. I haven't worn it since and was thinking of giving it to my niece when I visit them in July. I will have to remove it from the suitcase now! I was hoping that I wouldn't have to wear it again. Even in the US though I tend to have a blanket.


The onesie may be great for sitting around indoors, but what you really need is thermal underwear ;o)  This is the prime time of year to find it marked down in price!

Kwill

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Re: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2018, 12:34:16 PM »
Kwill! I am going to have to message you! I am pretty confused about investing in the UK tax implications. Trying to figure it out. Anyways, I am hoping the move will be permanent. Oh, and regarding shipping stuff over, it is an ongoing debate I am having with myself now. I don't get a lot of £ to move with so will be paying for a good chunk of the move myself. When we moved previously, we moved stuff on a pallet from upakweship. That was great, very cheap and we only had crap furniture anyways. Now we have stuff that is a bit nice though still from craigslist etc, but I am happy with it. At first I was thinking we would just do a crate, but thinking of the work to sell stuff and buy new stuff was really stressing me out so then I was thinking maybe a 20 foot container, which will be $4500 door to door. It will take longer for it to get to me, but I really don't like shopping and honestly, I had a hard time finding stuff in the charity shops and on-line (gumtree, ebay). Thinking about it still stresses me a bit. I think I would be fine if I never had moved that far before (and back!). If I don't do a container, I will do a crate. I should get a quote for those door to door since I know it will be more than $1300 or $2200 (1 or 2 crates) since I am not moving from Raleigh to London. I am probably not being very smart about this. Realistically, 1 crate is fine and I think that is the volume we used coming back from England. I would do 2 crates if I decided to bring more stuff, but all this deciding is a bit stressful. Ugh... How did you move your stuff? What stuff did you move? Anything you would have done differently?

I don't know about containers and crates. Work had me get 3 quotes from removal companies, which turned into 2 quotes because the third company still hadn't gotten back to me when it got to be almost too late to book something.

In my case, I had been renting a room and a half in a shared apartment in the States, but I still had some furniture in the common areas, as well as in my room. I also had a lot of books and papers and dishes and random stuff.

About a week into December, I found a woman who was willing to take over my spot in the lease, allowing me to get back my deposit, but the catch was that she wanted to move in 1 January when I wasn't due to start my post in the UK until 1 February. I couldn't have the removal company come in December when I was still working on my visa application, and I didn't want to miss Christmas with my parents and siblings in another State. I had to take care of everything in about two weeks without movers and without a place to move to. So I rented a storage unit nearby starting a month before I thought I would actually have movers come. The first month was free, so I only paid an application fee plus about a week prorated. Everything that wouldn't fit in my car went either to my housemates or to Craigslist, so most of the furniture I kept all either folded or disassembled. I ordered a shredder off Walmart.com, and I went through as many of my papers as I had time for, filing or shredding or tossing. I made many trips back and forth between the apartment and the storage unit, and my housemates made some trips, too, when I ran out of time on the last day. The storage unit was a mess by the end when I was just throwing things in the car and then just stacking them anywhere I could.

Anyway, I made it home very early in the morning on 24 December, and I drove back to the town where I'd been living in mid-January and stayed with relatives while I got the movers sorted out. That gave me a little more time to sort out the stuff in the storage unit and add things that I had been keeping at my parents' house. This was probably more stressful than it needed to be, but the storage unit had easy parking and trolleys to move things back and forth. For the movers, it was pretty easy to come with their truck to the loading bay, pack up my things in boxes, and roll them out of the storage facility.

When I got to the UK, I rented a dorm room at the university for 5 months, and then when I finally got my own flat, I bought the previous tenant's furniture, which he was offering for £300 total. He had almost the same Ikea armchair I'd sold on Craigslist 6 months previously, but it was in much better condition than mine had been. It was like magic. Later I bought or picked up free a few other things from outgoing tenants in my building, and I ordered a microwave off Craigslist. For me it worked out well. I find the dishes and linens and pictures and papers and books and baskets -- all those little things that fit in my car -- give a sense of home to the generic Ikea and Argos furniture I got from the other tenant.

Things I'd do differently: rent the storage unit sooner, ask for help sooner with the move, don't overestimate how carefully you can go through years of papers when the overall time available is short, and don't bring things to the UK that need US power if they are easily replaceable.

But note, most desktop PCs can be switched from US to UK power and vice versa with a red switch on the back. They don't switch automatically, so be careful. https://www.lifewire.com/power-supply-voltage-switch-2625973

Also, it turned out my alarm clock and my PC monitor and my laptop and my cell phones all were able to use UK power. I use a transformer for my rice cooker and bread machine. I wish I'd left my old inkjet printer / scanner at home, and the floor lamps also could have stayed back in the States since the light bulbs are different.

Rightflyer

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Re: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2018, 08:11:21 AM »
Hi melaniesuzanne,

We moved to the UK from Canada last year so FWIW here are some of our experiences...

1) Rentals with pets.
We've had no problem renting with a) no rental history, b) no credit history and c) with a large dog.

The secret for us has been to offer 6 months rent up front on a 6 month lease.
We never mentioned a dog until we arrived, with dog in tow, to the viewing.
It has worked every time.

2) Damp.
In all 3 places we have been in there is the damp, musty smell with mould in the windows etc. It is a byproduct of old stone cottages it seems.
The answer has been a dehumidifier + a wood stove going in the winter.
Problem solved.

3) Moving stuff.
(I know you had thoughts on this... just giving our take on it.)
Unless you have some very valuable things don't bother.
You can outfit a whole house very cheaply here.
Use the thrift shops mercilessly. They are actually fun, and I am NOT a shopper by nature.
Anything else can be had cheaply at IKEA/Argos etc. 

4) Electrical equipment.
For kitchen type gear see (3) above.
For power tools... bring them! You can get a transformer.
For computers I think someone up-thread covered that already.

 5) Car Licence
Our Ontario driving licences were just a straight exchange (with the fee of course).
I'm assuming US licences will be similar.

6) Budget
Below is how I did our pre-move budget... hope it helps.

a) Use Rightmove to find a representative property in your desired area.
b) Find the Postcode
c) Find the Council tax band on the appropriate council's website
d) Use https://www.moneysupermarket.com/ to find the cost of gas/electric/internet/phone/car insurance
e) Punch your current shopping list into https://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/ to find out your food costs.
f) AA has details on the cost of car ownership on their site (also worth getting a membership for breakdown cover) Also note the MOT rules have just changed...

If there's anything else... just let me know your questions.

Happy to help.



Kwill

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Re: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2018, 12:50:54 PM »
We moved to the UK from Canada last year so FWIW here are some of our experiences...

5) Car Licence
Our Ontario driving licences were just a straight exchange (with the fee of course).
I'm assuming US licences will be similar.

Sadly this is one thing that's not similar. You can't exchange a US license. You have to get a provisional licence, which requires sending away your biometric residence permit for up to a month. Then you have to pass a theory test and a practical test, just as if you'd never had a licence before. I haven't done it yet. I started looking into it in earnest this January, but since I was travelling and also trying to buy a flat, I didn't want to send away my residence permit, which I need to re-enter the country.

If I had it to do over, I would apply for the provisional driving licence as soon as possible after arriving to give myself as much time as possible to pass the tests before I lost the right to drive on my US license. Here is the link: https://www.gov.uk/apply-first-provisional-driving-licence

Rightflyer

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Re: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2018, 01:07:01 PM »
We moved to the UK from Canada last year so FWIW here are some of our experiences...

5) Car Licence
Our Ontario driving licences were just a straight exchange (with the fee of course).
I'm assuming US licences will be similar.

Sadly this is one thing that's not similar. You can't exchange a US license. You have to get a provisional licence, which requires sending away your biometric residence permit for up to a month. Then you have to pass a theory test and a practical test, just as if you'd never had a licence before. I haven't done it yet. I started looking into it in earnest this January, but since I was travelling and also trying to buy a flat, I didn't want to send away my residence permit, which I need to re-enter the country.

If I had it to do over, I would apply for the provisional driving licence as soon as possible after arriving to give myself as much time as possible to pass the tests before I lost the right to drive on my US license. Here is the link: https://www.gov.uk/apply-first-provisional-driving-licence

Wow. That sucks.

And here I was, upset that I can only drive an automatic transmission because of my Ontario licence exchange.

I stand corrected.
 

PhilB

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Re: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2018, 02:31:39 AM »

Ha! I have a very warm onesie that I wore in Devon. I haven't worn it since and was thinking of giving it to my niece when I visit them in July. I will have to remove it from the suitcase now! I was hoping that I wouldn't have to wear it again. Even in the US though I tend to have a blanket.


The onesie may be great for sitting around indoors, but what you really need is thermal underwear ;o)  This is the prime time of year to find it marked down in price!

To wear outside? Or just everyday? I have some for hiking, but honestly never wear them.
Every day.  I mainly work from home and wearing thermals means I'm warm and comfortable with the house at a much lower temperature than I would otherwise need it.  That has the knock on benefit that I'm much more inclined to go play in the garden as it's less of a temperature difference so less faff adding layers to go out - indeed the number of layers for sitting still at a desk indoors is often the same as for being active outdoors.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Moving to the UK from the US, my budget
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2018, 06:22:01 AM »
Some brief recommendations:

I switched my phone to SMARTY and pay ~£6.50/month for their small plan. Great service, very simple. PM me if you want a referral and we can both get a free month.

My internet and landline are £18.99/month with Plusnet.

I found both of these through Uswitch. Make sure you use them or something like GoCompare for all utilities/insurance.

Check out www.moneysavingexpert.com. It's quite consumerist but has excellent explanations of things like how to find cheap train tickets.