The 5 Minute Guide On How To Emigrate To UK

Published: 3 Oct at 9 PM
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Filed: Emigrating,England
Read this handy guide summarising key information you need to know for immigrating and settling in the UK.


People wishing to emigrate to the UK have several avenues to choose from depending on their individual circumstances. Current residents of the EU’s European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland can apply easily for visa-free residency and job opportunities in the UK. Those from other countries will have to go through the main immigration channels and apply online via the government’s Visa4UK website.

The UK government uses a two-tier points system to assess permanent resident visa applicants. At present, the main route to living in the UK is via a skilled worker visa. Applicants who meet the requirements stated on the government’s immigration website for Tier 1 or 2 can stay and work for six years if they have a job offer and are approved. Tier 1 emigrants who are highly-skilled, have money to invest or are entrepreneurs may also apply for a visa, but do not need an existing job offer. Check the main government website to see which type of visa you quality for.

The majority of visa applications are handled online through the Visa4UK website. The first step is to complete the proper visa application, which is only available in English. Tier 2 applicants must have a Certificate of Sponsorship from their employer before they can apply. Tier 1 applicants do not need this document. An email will confirm your application is pending and you will them set up an interview appointment at your nearest UK Visa Application Office. You must show all the required documents at the interview. Once your application has been reviewed you will pay the visa fee and can enter the UK up to 14 days prior to the start of your job. It takes an average of 9 weeks for the entire process, from receipt of application to final approval.

Money and Costs

The cost of living in the UK will depend largely on where you settle down. London is one of the world’s most expensive cities, but other places in the UK are not nearly as pricey. Within London, North and West London are the most expensive districts, while East and South London can be fairly affordable. In the capital, flat rentals start at around £800. Rural towns and smaller cities like Newcastle have much more affordable rental properties available.

The utility bills for your rental unit will consume a sizeable portion of your monthly budget. Gas and electricity rates in the UK are higher than most other parts of Europe and the world. Council tax, which is a local administration charge, varies from borough to borough but is another monthly fee to deal with. Food prices in the UK are among the highest in the world, even with a plethora of supermarket chains like Tesco and Aldi. Petrol is also quite expensive in the UK for those who drive. Public buses are quite reasonable in cities, and trains are a good way to travel between cities.

In general, an annual income of around £15,000 is required for a single person while couples with two children will need £38,000 or more to live comfortably in the UK. All newly-arriving emigrants should set aside several thousands pounds Sterling to spend setting up their home.


The actual move is often the most daunting step in the process of emigrating to a new country. International shipping companies do plenty of business with the UK, so it’s easy to find one that can arrange to have all your household goods packed, shipped and delivered to your new home in the UK. Best of all, these professionals take care of all the UK customs paperwork and inspections and can advise you on what to ship and what will require import tariffs. While certainly not cheap, a professional moving firm is excellent value considering the potential headaches and energy consumed trying to do it yourself. Quotes are possible from any of the firms like Westward.


While the overall economy is not exactly in high gear, there are still plenty of jobs for emigrants trained, skilled or experienced in certain in-demand fields. It’s likely that your Tier 2 visa will only be approved because you have these needed skills and have already secured a job offer from a UK company. Workers in the construction trade will need to join a local guild, while nurses and doctors need to pass UK certification tests. Nearly every job in the UK requires an excellent command of English, a Bachelor’s degree or higher and some level of previous experience. Work in the IT sector, healthcare arena and the offshore oil and gas industry are among the best fields to find work at this time. Check the official immigration site for specifics on Tier 2 visas.


The UK has a lively business environment, allowing many emigrants to create their own jobs once they’ve arrived. The government gives out certain Tier 1 applicants to entrepreneurs with a solid business plan and sufficient capital to get their operations off the ground. Investors are also welcome in the UK, and can usually get a Tier 1 visa approved with enough cash to invest in the nation. Many people find it easier to simply purchase an existing business since it is already up and running. There is a fair amount of government red tape involved when starting a new business from scratch that can eat up valuable time and energy. Business brokers are commonly used in the UK to help buyers find the right independent business or franchise to suit their needs. Tier 1 visas are explained on the UK immigration site.


The UK is a multicultural nation, especially in its larger cities. The capital London has large established expat communities that live in very defined districts of the city. From Indians to Caribbean emigrants, there are little pockets of ethnicity representing the entire globe in London. This is also true in the UK’s other large cities like Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool. Many emigrants gravitate to cities that represent their culture, and the support provided can be invaluable to newcomers. Useful websites such as Immigration Matters help newcomers adjust.

Bank accounts can only be opened within the UK. But with your visa, passport and proof of a physical address it’s a straight forward affair. The same is true of services like internet and mobile phone plans. There is plenty of competition to choose from, with sites like helping to put the options in perspective.

The National Health Service provides free medical care for all UK residents, and public schooling is both free and compulsory. The climate in the UK is more or less the same throughout the country. Along the southern coast it’s balmier than near the Scottish border, but in general you can expect plenty of rain throughout the year. Summers are brief but lovely and winters tend to be painfully damp and grey. Local life typically revolves the local pubs, which are ideal places to get to know your new neighbours and put yourself out and about into the community.


Most people rent their house or flat in the UK. It’s fairly easy to find a rental property, and there are even agents who facilitate this process for a small fee. To move into any rental property you can expect to pay at least two month’s rent in advance along with the current month’s rent and perhaps even a security deposit against damages. British law protects renters against eviction so you can rest assured of being allowed to stay until the end of your lease, which is typically one year at a time. Sites like this property listing webpage give you can idea of rental rates across Britain.

Buying property is much more involved, both in terms of paperwork and cash. If you plan to buy a home or flat, it is essential to enlist the help of a real estate solicitor. For a fee they will show you properties and negotiate the transfer of title. There are several government taxes involved with property transfers, so it’s best to get expert advice before considering this serious move.


Free healthcare is provided to all UK residents under the government’s National Health Service (NHS). With your visa and ID card you can use the General Practitioner (GP) system in your town to see a doctor without charge. If the medical condition is serious the GP will assign your case to a hospital specialist. Dental care is rare under the NHS plan, and everyone pays for prescription drugs albeit at a subsidised price. Long wait periods is a frequent problem with the free healthcare in Britain, so many people opt to buy private medical insurance that lets them take advantage of the UK’s private hospitals with reasonable payments when medical care is required. Learn more about UK healthcare on the government’s website.


The UK government provides basic public education for all residents from the age of five through the age of 18 at the secondary level. Free nursery school is also available in some areas for ages three to five. The alternative is to pay for an independent day school, where annual tuitions start at around £11,000 a year. Boarding schools cost more than twice as much, at around ?25,000 per year. Higher education is provided by vocational colleges that specialise in specific skills training, and traditional universities. Annual tuition rates at UK colleges average £9,000.


While London is certainly a centre for culture in the UK, there are many shades of British lifestyle in the rural towns and smaller cities. The land of British rock, modern artists and football has a lot to offer. The key component to local society is always the pub, a cosy bar where people come to talk and relax as much as have a drink after work. While the cities are as busy as any on the planet, Britain’s smaller towns have a noticeably relaxed pace of life.

British cuisine is notorious for being uninspiring, but even its classics like fish and chips or meat pies are really quite tasty. Thankfully, the emigrant community provides plenty of diverse dining in most towns and cities. Football is easily the most popular sport in the UK, though many prefer simple walks in the countryside or afternoons at the park.


English is the language of government, business, entertainment and local life in the UK. You will absolutely need to have at least basic English skills to integrate into British society as few Brits speak any other language. British accents can be difficult to understand at first, and dialects vary in every region. In the biggest cities like London it’s not uncommon to hear other languages being spoken in the streets in certain ethnic neighbourhoods. Most major cities like London and Manchester have English language schools to help emigrants and students improve their skills. Sites like provide lots of school information.

Travel & Leisure

The Brits like their bank holidays and other opportunities to make a quick getaway. A plethora of low-cost flights have opened up Europe to weekend jaunts on a budget, though most simply stay in the UK and enjoy a few days at the beach, in the countryside or in a big city like London. British roads are in excellent condition and most Brits have a car. Travelling by train is another excellent way to get around the country, while long-distance buses reach even more destinations. Since the cost of petrol is quite expensive in the UK, the bus is often the best choice for travellers on a budget.

Leisure time depends entirely on the individual and where they live. Rural dwellers love their gardens and pleasure in long walks on England’s excellent system of paths. Football is a part of seemingly every Brit’s life no matter where they live. It’s the number one sport both to play and watch, with a multi-tiered professional football league and countless local leagues for amateurs. Cricket is another distinctly genteel British sport, and rugby is the more physical sporting option. With dozens of national parks, miles of beautiful coast and beaches, and plenty of historic sites there is always something to do or see when leisure time comes your way. Plan your holiday at this excellent government tourism site.
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Comments » There are 2 comments

Geoffrey Robinson wrote 9 years ago:

Hi Folks, I have a close friend from S.Africa who is looking to move to the N.Ireland along with his wife. He has no intention of working in N.I as he is a medic currently working in Iraq and will be spending more than half the year out of the country. How would his visa application be favored? Would it be any different seeing as he will not be working in the UK?

Pamela wrote 9 years ago:

I love this! My husband and I travelled to England in 2006/7 and we loved it there. We have 2 children now and want to immigrate. Since there's not much of a future for our kids, grandkids, great grandkids and so on and so on in South Africa, we would rather go to England where we know they will have a good future and we can go to SA for holidays. I love the way you describe everything, just the way I remember it! :)

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