New in UK

 

Preparation

Before flying to UK check few things.

 

1) In UK all important drugs like antibiotics or life saving drugs are sold on prescription only. Except emergency you may need some time to get registered with GP (see NHS section below) and obtain a prescription for your required drugs. So please keep two weeks worth of medicines with you in case you need them without question.
2) Keep your medical report and X-Ray report or plate in hand baggage. You may be asked to produce them at custom section upon arrival.

3) Specs are a bit costly. Buy an extra in advance if you need them.

4) Though not mandatory bringing a pressure cooker will be a good idea.

5) Heathrow airport often experiences severe weather especially during winter (Nov-Feb). Be prepared.

 

Arrival at Heathrow Airport

London Heathrow Airport or Heathrow (IATA: LHR, ICAO: EGLL) is a major airport serving London, England. Located in the London Borough of Hillingdon, in West London, Heathrow is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom and the third busiest airport in the world (as of 2011).

1) Fast, convenient transfers are available between Heathrow Airport's four terminals. Terminals 1 and 3 are a short walk from each other. Terminals 4 and 5 are served by free trains and buses.

2) Central Bus Terminus is located at Terminal 5 and from any terminal, following the posted direction you can reach there by walking or using passenger conveyor.

3) If you are alone Bus will be cheaper option for you. It can carry your luggage too at no extra cost.

4) If you want to avail cabs you can get them just outside the terminal building or call them by phone. Reasonable rate is 2 GBP per mile. There are so many cab companies that it is impossible to make a reasonable list. Go by contract if possible.

 

References

http://www.heathrowairport.com
 

Bread and Breakfast

A bed and breakfast (or B&B) is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and breakfast, but usually does not offer other meals. Since the 1980s, the meaning of the term has also extended to include accommodations that are also known as "self-catering" establishments. Typically, bed and breakfasts are private homes with fewer than 10 bedrooms available for commercial use.

 

Initial few days before moving into a permanent accommodation you need to stay in a stay in some Bread and Breakfast facility that is different sizes of rooms of a house rented out nightly basis. You do not need to sign long agreements or prepare legal documents that is required for your long stay rented apartment. Any friend of you in UK can book it in advance for you. They need some kind of booking security and so some debit or credit card number. So if you fail to turn up in time do not forget to cancel or shift the booking to some other day well in advance.

 

In Bread and Breakfast you will expect no attach bat or spacious room. Breakfast will be served in the morning (7-9 am) in dining area but there will be no cooking facility in your room. You can use shared kitchen and laundry (washing machine) if you stay more than a week based on agreement. Staying in this kind of accommodation is sheer wastage of money (they charge for a single room almost equal to the two bedroom flat) and move out from here asap.

 

Some Bread and Breakfast information is given below but a major B&B facilities cannot be found easily in these sites. For example I stayed at Stoke House, 113 Stoke Road, Guildford (http://www.stokehouse.net) when I first came to UK. This is at a convenient location for my daily office going but you may not find it at first chance in the web directories.


B&B Directories

http://www.bedandbreakfast-directory.co.uk

http://www.bedandbreakfasts.co.uk

http://www.bedandbreakfasts-uk.co.uk
http://www.bnbselect.com

 

Opening a Bank Account

This is the next important thing you need to do just after getting yourself lodged somewhere. You need to deposit your travelers checks and pay B&B facility or agent of your future rented home from this bank. You also need to set up regular payment to your future landlord by arranging standing instruction with your bank.


HSBC UK having the head office in UK has maximum number of branches and greatly suits our requirement. If you can open a premier account in your country with HSBC they will give you a letter which will help you to open a zero balance premier account in UK with all important facilities like debit card, check books. Otherwise you can still open a zero balance account but there will be clauses like 1000 GBP deposit every month etc. So get in touch with local HSBC and show the your visa. If they offer you a premier account from there you are good.


You can visit any local branch with proof of address (currently your B&B) and employer's letter and open an account instantly.


HSBC UK
http://www.hsbc.co.uk

http://www.hsbc.co.uk/1/2/current-accounts

 

State Bank of India in UK is another option but before opening an account here you need to show another bank account in UK. So you can open an account with SBI when you really do not need it, but the good thing is with 500 GBP deposit you can open a good savings account (with debit card) with no other monthly deposit requirement like HSBC. So you can create one to keep it open for ever for future use.


SBI UK
London Main Branch

15, King Street, London EC2V 8EA.
Business Hours: Monday to Friday: 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.
Sort Code: 600159
Contact numbers: 0800 532 532 (Customer Services)
http://www.sbiuk.com

 

Other banks are also there as given below:

Bank Headquarters Market value (£bn)
As of 24 February 2011
Assets (£bn)
As of 31 December 2008
HSBC Canary Wharf 122.4 1,736
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Edinburgh 49.9 2,508
Lloyds Banking Group City of London 44.3 1,195
Barclays Canary Wharf 38.3 2,320
Standard Chartered City of London 37.1 299

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_banks_in_the_United_Kingdom)

 

Finding Accommodation

As I said move out of Bread and Breakfast - sooner the better - your next step is to rent a long term (minimum six months) accommodation on rent. You can go for shorter term but the price will be exponentially high.

 

Remember in UK every individual house is uniquely identified by the post code (like GU21 5BL is the post code of the house where I stay in a flat).


1) Research a bit about the location and price of apartments to get an idea how much to offer. You can bargain with agent and can reduce the rent up to 100-150 GBP. Here are some mostly used web sites to research. Most of the advertised houses are either out dated or not available anymore, They are there mostly to attract you. But it is fair enough to get an idea of the prices and if you are lucky you can hit one of them for long term stay.


http://www.findaproperty.com

http://www.rightmove.co.uk
http://www.primelocation.com/uk-property-to-rent

http://www.zoopla.co.uk

 

If you are interested in room sharing (a concept where a part of house will be shared by multiple people) you can check:

http://www.gumtree.com/roomshare

http://www.spareroom.co.uk

http://www.houseshare.com

http://www.roombuddies.com

http://www.housepals.co.uk

 

2) Once you get good idea of the available apartments you need to contact an agent (if you are not contacting the landlord directly - which is very rare) to show you some apartments. The agent offices remain open on Saturday. So on one Saturday visit as many agents office as you can (4-5-6) and register yourself quoting your budget and requirement. They will give you some time on weekdays or weekends to show you some prospective apartments. Generally if you take staggered timing (start from 9 am ending 2 pm) next Saturday great chance is you can select a good apartment very soon.

 

Some reputed agents are listed below:

County Property Management (http://www.countyp.com)

Leaders (http://www.leaders.co.uk)

Foxtons (http://www.foxtons.co.uk)
Chancellors
(http://www.chancellors.co.uk)
Seymours
(
http://www.seymours-estates.co.uk)
MANN Countrywide
(
http://www.manncountrywide.co.uk)
and many more...



While choosing the apartment keep in mind few things.

1) Take apartment nearer to railway station. A 5-10 min station approach will be good. Most probably you will not buy a car in first six months (or ever).

2) Keep in mind about the location of school for your kids. You need to take your kids to school everyday and that is equally important as you go everyday to office.

3) Avoid carper in the bathroom. Otherwise when you leave the apartment you need to pay hefty amount to repair the damage (soiled carpet).

4) Prefer new types of building (newly constructed). Old Victorian houses may have poor insulation and ventilation.

5) Take apartment with designated parking even if you do not have plan to buy a car immediately. Parking space is a big problem in whole UK.
 

Get registered with NHS

The National Health Service (NHS) is a publicly funded healthcare systems in the United Kingdom. They provide a comprehensive range of health services, the vast majority of which are free at the point of use to residents of the United Kingdom. NHS operates independently, and is politically accountable to the relevant government..

A general practitioner (GP) is a medical practitioner who treats acute and chronic illnesses and provides preventive care and health education for all ages and both sexes. They have particular skills in treating people with multiple health issues. The good GP will treat patients both as people and as a population.

 

Once you are settled with your nice apartment it is time to get yourself registered with NHS GP. They will be your primary (and practically only) point of contact to get any kind of treatment free of cost. You need to provide with your passport and proof of address. In a week you will get your NHS numbers.

 

Reference

http://www.nhs.uk/Pages/HomePage.aspx

http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/doctors/Pages/NHSGPs.aspx

 

Apply for National Insurance Number

Your National Insurance number is your own personal account number. The number makes sure that the National Insurance contributions and tax you pay are properly recorded on your account. It also acts as a reference number for the whole social security system. Every National Insurance number is different. It's made up of letters and numbers like this: QQ 12 34 56 A.
 

Once you are in UK apply for National Insurance Number for yourself and for your spouse if she is also employed or wants to be employed. You need to show proof of employment or proof that you are actively seeking for employment (for your spouse).

Your current employer will help you getting the NIN for yourself. For your spouse you need to call local Jobcentre Plus and ask to send you the required forms. You will get the NIN in few weeks if all the papers are in order..


This number will be required for all your future financial matters like opening bank account, taking loan etc.
 

Reference

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/Taxes/BeginnersGuideToTax/NationalInsurance/IntroductiontoNationalInsurance/DG_190048

 

Find a School for your Kid

Education in England is overseen by the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Local authorities take responsibility for implementing policy for public education and state schools at a regional level. The education system is divided into nursery (ages 3–4), primary education (ages 4–11), secondary education (ages 11–18) and tertiary education (ages 18+). Full-time education is compulsory for all children aged between 5 and 16, with a child beginning primary education during the school year he or she turns 5.
 

So you must send your kid to school if he or she is 5.

There is no school bus concept in UK. You are responsible to bring your pupil to school and back home. In general in UK both the parents work and schools sometimes serve as a crèche to their kids when they are busy at office. Sometimes it becomes mandatory to buy a car and driving lesson for wives only to make the school going smooth and continuous. So people also prefer to take home nearer to a reputed school in walking distance.

 

How will you find the reputation of the schools in your locality? Feedback from other parents are generally fine but there is an official way to do that. That is call Ofsted rating of schools. But do not put too much importance on this rating alone because they change very fast and the school with high Ofsted this year can be degraded to low Ofsted next year. So give more importance on proximity and local parents feedback.

 

You will need to follow the below steps for choosing the school for your kid(s).

 

1) Find the local school names and their Ofsted rating and feedback from other parents

2) Send mail to the below address for forms and prospectus

3) Send the filled up form giving preferences of three schools near your house

4) You will get the confirmation back on a particular school based on availability of seat

5) Call that school and make appointment to meet the principal

6) Go to that school with your kid and meet school authority who will show you the school and facility happily

7) Start sending you kid to school

 

Ofsted
http://www.ofsted.gov.uk

http://www.findaproperty.com/schoolfacts.aspx?edid=00&salerent=0&areaid=0113 (Example for Woking)


School Finder
http://www.schoolmap.org.uk
http://data.gov.uk/apps/school-finder
 

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom