The UK at a Glance
Life in the UKiStockphoto
Life in the UK includes bustling London as well as the peaceful countryside.
Let´s begin by refuting a common stereotype about life in the UK: The weather isn´t all that bad. Depending on the area you’ve chosen for life in the UK, you might suffer from more than average rainfall. In general, though, the climate is moderate. England’s south gets a lot of sunshine in summer, and temperatures can easily reach 27 °C. When living in the UK’s northern parts, however, you’ll have to put up with more rain and much lower temperatures.
The high humidity has its good side: It makes for a lush countryside with green meadows, rolling hills and woods. The UK has plenty of National Parks, and people living in the UK know how to make use of them. Life in the UK includes a wide array of outdoor sports and leisure activities, e.g. hiking, cycling, rock-climbing, or kayaking. You can even go on a beach holiday during your life in the UK. The British love their beach huts, and there are some stunningly beautiful beaches on the south coast, particularly in the south west.
Life in the UK: Accommodation
If you consider life in the UK for an expat assignment, you will probably be looking to rent a studio apartment, a flat or a small house. You might get help from your employer while living in the UK. However, if you´re sorting out your own accommodation, here are a few house hunting tips to get you started for life in the UK:
While going through an estate agent can save you a lot of hassle, it doesn´t always ensure you get the best deal as they tend to charge various administration fees. Another way of finding accommodation when living in the UK is via Loot, a classified ads newspaper, which also has its own website and is regularly used to advertise property. The Internet in general is a good source, with websites like Gumtree catering to all tastes and budgets. If you are planning to live in London, Moveflat is highly recommended, especially for younger people happy to stay in shared accommodation during their life in the UK.
Unless you stay in up-market accommodation while living in the UK, you might find some buildings lacking in modern comforts compared to the standards you may be used to. A lot of British houses date back to the Victorian period. While they are beautiful to look at, they are not always the most comfortable places to live. If your flat has any gas appliances, ask your landlord or estate agent for proof of a recent safety check.
Living in the UK: Getting Around
Every aspect of life in the UK contains at least one element of surprise, something that´s a little different from what you are used to. Driving a car is one of these things. While in most other countries, people drive on the right-hand side of the road, people living in the UK do it differently. You drive on the left side, and the steering wheel of British cars is on the right. You might want to take this into account if you consider bringing along your own car for your life in the UK.
Other than that, there are no obstacles to driving in the UK as long as you are over 17 years of age and have a valid driving licence. While living in the UK, a driving licence issued in your former country of residence only remains valid for up to three years (EU/EEA countries) or 12 months (other countries). At the end of this period, you´ll need to exchange it for a British licence (EU/EEA countries) or get a provisional licence and pass a driving test (other countries). While driving on a foreign licence, you must be registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency for your time living in the UK. If you are unsure about using your driving licence while living in the UK, use the driving in GB interactive tool.