Author Topic: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?  (Read 880 times)

lukebowles

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Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« on: April 18, 2021, 10:42:33 PM »
Hi everyone.

Having lived and worked abroad for a number of years, I am planning to move back to my country of citizenship (UK) at some point in the next 6 months. While the default option would be to move to London where the work is and continue my career as normal, I am assessing how realistic it may be to skip all that and simply FIRE.

Some brief details on me:

 - Age 35, married with one child aged 2 (possible another coming in a year or two)
 - Assume liquid net worth 700k-900k GBP (actually quite variable, depending on a number of factors that are TBC including payouts from my current employer, material tax rebates from country I'm leaving etc).
 - Currently no property or mortgage
 - London based salary would be circa 70-90k GBP annually, though unsure whether I would be able to get a job in non London locations
 - Wife currently does not work but could probably get a salary of 20-40k GBP should she restart in the next few years

My broad question is - is there anywhere in the UK where it may possible to FIRE for a family of three on roughly the level of assets I describe above? Our exact budget is TBC but we are comfortable living what most would consider a modest life (ie, no need for huge house, don't buy many consumer products, don't spend much on entertainment/drinking etc).

I think it may be challenging in London due to rent/mortgage expenses, but are there any locations which would be enjoyable to live in (access to nature, decent schools, welcoming community etc) where it may be feasible? I could of course go halfway and work contract for 4-6 months of the year to supplement my income while still freeing up my time significantly, though unfortunately these options would be in far greater supply in London than in the rest of the UK so unsure whether realistic. I have lived either abroad and in London my whole life and I really haven't experienced most of the UK, which is making searching for suitable locations to investigate the feasibility of FIRE more challenging.

Appreciate that is a very broad query. Would be very thankful for any tips or ideas on places to start researching UK specific retirement ideas, especially the most suitable locations for this sort of lifestyle (most of what I read here and elsewhere is very US focused).

Thanks!

PDXTabs

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Re: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2021, 12:36:49 AM »
My broad question is - is there anywhere in the UK where it may possible to FIRE for a family of three on roughly the level of assets I describe above? Our exact budget is TBC but we are comfortable living what most would consider a modest life (ie, no need for huge house, don't buy many consumer products, don't spend much on entertainment/drinking etc).

So, I'm a UK citizen but I've never lived in Britain. It's kind of a long story.

Anyway, every time I look Aberdeen Scotland looks very affordable.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2021, 01:30:48 AM »
It sounds a bit low to me, but I have no idea how much you would spend per year. But think at the work from home that has been implemented last year. You don't need to live in London to work at a company that is in London. See if you can move somewhere cheap and find (part time) remote work.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2021, 01:45:28 AM »
Hi there,

You'll get more input from UK folk posting on the UK Tax Board (it's not just for tax!).

People absolutely can and do FIRE in the UK on less than what you have, the question is whether it would work for you and your family. Check out this thread on UK FIRE amounts for some thoughts on what others are planning.

What have you liked/disliked about the other places you've lived? Northern England and rural Wales can be very affordable for property. The beautiful bits aren't typically the most affordable areas. What are your thoughts on weather? Although we are a tiny island, there is enough variation in weather to make it a factor in where to live for most people.

If it is true that you could only find work in London (although it may well not be), how much of a commute could you stomach? Many, many companies are talking about a permanent shift to a mix of work from home and work in office. Is your work something that lends itself to remote work and would that interest you? I'd caution against relying on any of the planned high speed rail lines to make your commute manageable: they won't open as soon as you expect.

Is your wife also a UK citizen? I think you'd need to be earning until her citizenship (or possibly indefinite leave to remain) is sorted out if she isn't.

Could you plan a holiday to the UK (once travel is permitted) and see the sorts of areas outside of London to see if any are likely to fit you?

lukebowles

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Re: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2021, 02:23:39 AM »
It sounds a bit low to me, but I have no idea how much you would spend per year. But think at the work from home that has been implemented last year. You don't need to live in London to work at a company that is in London. See if you can move somewhere cheap and find (part time) remote work.

Thank you for the reply. I agree it is probably tight, budget wise. I think realistically, excluding rent/mortgage (which is highly dependent on location), we as a family could live on 20k per annum. 30k would be pretty comfortable given our lifestyle. If my wife decides to go back to work, which is likely at some point in the next few years, it would therefore seem quite likely that we have enough money assuming we live somewhere that doesn't kill us on the rent/mortgage front.

I am hopeful that your point regarding remote working is likely to be realistic. Certainly it appears that way currently and I hope there is no reversion to office culture once Covid related restrictions are eased. I also think I could stomach a long commute to London if it were only 2 days per week or for full time for contracts of 3-4 months. That would open up being based places like Margate in Kent or Southampton in Hampshire which have much cheaper property prices (plus lots of green spaces). My brother recently moved to Margate and bought a 2 bed flat for his family for 170k cash - if I did similar that would still leave a reasonable amount of capital to generate yield from (I'm currently getting 8%, though would work with an assumption closer to 3% or 4% to be more sustainable/reliable over the long term).


lukebowles

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Re: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2021, 02:31:16 AM »
Hi there,

You'll get more input from UK folk posting on the UK Tax Board (it's not just for tax!).

People absolutely can and do FIRE in the UK on less than what you have, the question is whether it would work for you and your family. Check out this thread on UK FIRE amounts for some thoughts on what others are planning.

What have you liked/disliked about the other places you've lived? Northern England and rural Wales can be very affordable for property. The beautiful bits aren't typically the most affordable areas. What are your thoughts on weather? Although we are a tiny island, there is enough variation in weather to make it a factor in where to live for most people.

If it is true that you could only find work in London (although it may well not be), how much of a commute could you stomach? Many, many companies are talking about a permanent shift to a mix of work from home and work in office. Is your work something that lends itself to remote work and would that interest you? I'd caution against relying on any of the planned high speed rail lines to make your commute manageable: they won't open as soon as you expect.

Is your wife also a UK citizen? I think you'd need to be earning until her citizenship (or possibly indefinite leave to remain) is sorted out if she isn't.

Could you plan a holiday to the UK (once travel is permitted) and see the sorts of areas outside of London to see if any are likely to fit you?

Thanks for the UK Tax Board tip! That sounds excellent, I will be sure to check it out.

Ultimately, what has made my wife and I happiest is access to nature and community. We currently ostensibly live in a thriving metropolis but have conciously based ourself on a small island on the outskirts, which gives us the quiet life but still with access to the city quite easily when needed. We have both lived in London for many years in the past and the idea of returning to the packed commuter trains, office culture, ridiculous housing expenses is filling me with a sense of foreboding.

That said, your suggestions of Wales and Northern England do sound appealing! Any particular areas/towns you know of that would be nice to check out? The biggest drawback I can think of so far for areas like that is that both of us have a lot of family in and around London, and with our child starting to grow up this connection is actually (one of) the reasons we are thinking of returning to UK. It's a tricky one. That's why places like Kent/Hampshire do appeal, though of course these are still more costly than the North.

I think most likely approach is to stay with family for a few months when we get back and take trips to various towns/areas of the UK and see if there is anywhere we think could work for us in the long term. Trying to draw up a list of 'possibles' now!

Thanks again!

lukebowles

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Re: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2021, 02:35:16 AM »
Oh and yes, my wife has a British passport and I'm 100% looking into remote working. Basically moving somewhere more livable than London and being able to work 3-6 months remotely to make our income more reliable/comfortable would be ideal. I'm hoping in 2021 that's doable!

For context, I am an accountant working in a field that typically is only found in large multinational type companies, which is why London is by a distance the most likely location for finding employment. There are certainly opportunities in cities around the UK but a lot more hit and miss in terms of being able to find something.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2021, 04:26:56 AM »
All 3 of the last large companies I've worked at have had projects to develop a second base outside of London in a cheaper (but still excellent) city such as Birmingham or Manchester. Your role might be one of the ones that would have been offered at the secondary location or might be one of the ones that stay in London. Sounds like you want to be relatively close to London to be near family anyway. I found areas north of London cheaper than south of London for the same distance, but it depends on where you are aiming for in London and your willingness to travel by road/train/tube. Check out this older thread, if you bump it you'll probably get more thoughts. One story and another about possible locations. There was an online calculator that I saw a while ago that let you compare commutable locations but I can't find it right now.

Even staying within two hours door to door travel time on a weekend, I'd be confident you'll find somewhere you could FIRE if that was your highest priority. It just comes down to what else you want.

LightTripper

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Re: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2021, 09:39:36 AM »
Depending on the job, a lot of big companies are in (or moving out to) locations like Slough, Watford, and other towns just out of London. You'd probably have more luck finding good commutable property if you worked somewhere like that. Many government institutions also increasingly offer locations out of London. So definitely worth a look! My BIL and family are near Liphook which is nice with good schools. A long commute to London but doable if it wasn't every day, and much better value than places like Guildford closer in, high are barely cheaper than London.

I really hope that there will be a big shift to more remote working now for those who want to (my impression is a lot of our younger folk are keen to come in pretty regularly again, but people with families much less so!)

bill1827

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Re: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2021, 10:46:20 AM »
it is certainly possible to find affordable accommodation. We bought a 2 bedroom flat in Hayling Island on the south coast just over a year ago for less than 160,000. 5 minute walk to the beach; 4 miles of beach in one direction, a SSSI in the other. Quite a mixed area with some expensive properties near caravan parks. However, not a very good commute as there's only one road off the island which gets clagged up in the rush hour and you'ld need to drive to Portsmouth or similar to get a train to London.

In terms of where to look, you need to look at unfashionable out of the way small towns. We recently (sort of) downsized and spent a long time looking in Shropshire and ended up in Market Drayton. Property there is quite cheap by English standards, because it's not fashionable and it's a long way from big employment centres with no public transport to speak of.

Although I have friends and relatives who live in Wales and it's very attractive (in parts), I wouldn't chose to live there. The only part of Wales with good communications to London is the south coast. The north coastal strip has good communications to the north west, but it's full of Liverpudlians! The attractive rural parts in the middle or far west take a very long time to get to.

In short, anywhere with good access to London is likely to be expensive, particularly in these lockdown time when the middle classes are looking for rural properties so they can work from home in a rural idyll.

ExitViaTheCashRamp

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Re: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2021, 12:26:57 PM »
Easily done with those assets, I am planning on FIREing on less.

 Whilst your budget is TBC - can you make a rough guess to the nearest 10,000 ? With regards your aims, I must point out :  "Ultimately, what has made my wife and I happiest is access to nature and community."   remember the size of the UK, most desires are a short drive away, I live in the middle of the midlands:

London is 1hr away by train
By car
Several beaches are 2hrs away
The peak district is 90 mins away
Many good sized woods are less than 1hr by car
Several cities are 1 hr by car

 and so on.. What do you want to be on your doorstep and what is fine if it was a short drive away ? Norfolk has a lot to be said for it in terms of nature, several 'Areas of outstanding natural beauty".  Say try looking at 'Thetford', first by google maps and you can find everything you want to know about the local housing prices via www.rightmove.co.uk.

lukebowles

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Re: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2021, 08:47:48 PM »
All 3 of the last large companies I've worked at have had projects to develop a second base outside of London in a cheaper (but still excellent) city such as Birmingham or Manchester. Your role might be one of the ones that would have been offered at the secondary location or might be one of the ones that stay in London. Sounds like you want to be relatively close to London to be near family anyway. I found areas north of London cheaper than south of London for the same distance, but it depends on where you are aiming for in London and your willingness to travel by road/train/tube. Check out this older thread, if you bump it you'll probably get more thoughts. One story and another about possible locations. There was an online calculator that I saw a while ago that let you compare commutable locations but I can't find it right now.

Thanks a lot for those thoughts and all the threads, really interesting.

You're right, I would ideally like to be closish to London so my daughter is able to spend time with family. However, if we found the right option further afield that meant we could FIRE comfortably, I would certainly also consider that. Not being tied to a corporate schedule would mean we could still then easily go down to London to visit family for periods of weeks at a time.

Much to think about!

Even staying within two hours door to door travel time on a weekend, I'd be confident you'll find somewhere you could FIRE if that was your highest priority. It just comes down to what else you want.

lukebowles

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Re: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2021, 08:56:38 PM »
Easily done with those assets, I am planning on FIREing on less.

 Whilst your budget is TBC - can you make a rough guess to the nearest 10,000 ? With regards your aims, I must point out :  "Ultimately, what has made my wife and I happiest is access to nature and community."   remember the size of the UK, most desires are a short drive away, I live in the middle of the midlands:

London is 1hr away by train
By car
Several beaches are 2hrs away
The peak district is 90 mins away
Many good sized woods are less than 1hr by car
Several cities are 1 hr by car

 and so on.. What do you want to be on your doorstep and what is fine if it was a short drive away ? Norfolk has a lot to be said for it in terms of nature, several 'Areas of outstanding natural beauty".  Say try looking at 'Thetford', first by google maps and you can find everything you want to know about the local housing prices via www.rightmove.co.uk.

Very rough estimate but I reckon we could live comfortably on around 15k per annum, plus housing expenses (which I exclude as obviously differs greatly by location). A bit more to spend would be preferable but not 100% necessary. I currently live in possibly the most expensive city in the world and pay around GBP 36k-40k annually for everything (including housing).

Hadn't really considered either the Midlands or East Anglia - I will be sure to check out Thetford and similar in EA. If pressed, where would you suggest looking into in the Midlands? This is great stuff, really why I created the thread for these sorts of ideas! In terms of what would ideally be on the doorstep, I would say affordable housing, nature and half decent schools (not sure if that combo is possible anywhere) would be highest on the list.

lukebowles

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Re: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2021, 08:58:06 PM »
Depending on the job, a lot of big companies are in (or moving out to) locations like Slough, Watford, and other towns just out of London. You'd probably have more luck finding good commutable property if you worked somewhere like that. Many government institutions also increasingly offer locations out of London. So definitely worth a look! My BIL and family are near Liphook which is nice with good schools. A long commute to London but doable if it wasn't every day, and much better value than places like Guildford closer in, high are barely cheaper than London.

I really hope that there will be a big shift to more remote working now for those who want to (my impression is a lot of our younger folk are keen to come in pretty regularly again, but people with families much less so!)

Certainly I'm working on the assumption that if I was working I wouldn't be heading into London everyday. That really opens up the range of possibilities. Will look into Liphook!

lukebowles

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Re: Moving to UK - FIRE realistic?
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2021, 09:00:34 PM »
it is certainly possible to find affordable accommodation. We bought a 2 bedroom flat in Hayling Island on the south coast just over a year ago for less than 160,000. 5 minute walk to the beach; 4 miles of beach in one direction, a SSSI in the other. Quite a mixed area with some expensive properties near caravan parks. However, not a very good commute as there's only one road off the island which gets clagged up in the rush hour and you'ld need to drive to Portsmouth or similar to get a train to London.

In terms of where to look, you need to look at unfashionable out of the way small towns. We recently (sort of) downsized and spent a long time looking in Shropshire and ended up in Market Drayton. Property there is quite cheap by English standards, because it's not fashionable and it's a long way from big employment centres with no public transport to speak of.

Although I have friends and relatives who live in Wales and it's very attractive (in parts), I wouldn't chose to live there. The only part of Wales with good communications to London is the south coast. The north coastal strip has good communications to the north west, but it's full of Liverpudlians! The attractive rural parts in the middle or far west take a very long time to get to.

In short, anywhere with good access to London is likely to be expensive, particularly in these lockdown time when the middle classes are looking for rural properties so they can work from home in a rural idyll.

Hayling Island is going onto the list for research, thank you!