Moving to the UK | A Go-To Guide for Your Move

Last updated: September 26, 2019

If you have already decided that moving to the UK is next on your life’s agenda, great then half your job is done. However, they also need to decide whether or not they want you. Australians may share many similarities in culture and humour with those from the UK, and speak the same language, but at the end of the day it is a different place. We have put a checklist of sorts together for you below, outlining some important things to help you move from Australia to the UK 

What do you need to do before moving to the UK? 

Before you jump excitedly onto that plane and leave Australia, there are a few essential things you need to consider before moving from Australia to the UK.  

Do you need a visa? 

Assuming you are moving to the UK and plan on making some money, you will need a visa. However, it is worth noting that Australians can live in the UK visa free for up to 6 months if they are going as a tourist. You can see Big Ben, surrounding countryside’s beautiful scenery and eat a ton of delicious fish and chips, but the moment you get yourself a job, you need to back it up with a visa.  

Do you have a right of abode? 

What does right of abode actually mean?  

Right of abode means that you can live within the UK without having to deal with any kind of immigration restrictions. There are three conditions that you need to meet in order of having the right of abode: 

  1. One of your parents was born in the UK (and was still a citizen when you were born) 
  2. You were born before 1st January 1983 into a Commonwealth country 
  3. You have never ceased to be a Commonwealth citizen since December 31st, 1982. 

If you don’t qualify for any of these conditions, maybe because you were born more recently, or you’re a true-blue Aussie then read on. You have a bit more work ahead of you. 

Working visas in the UK

Visas in the UK are divided into five tiers and each tier requires the applicant to score a certain number of points before he/she can be eligible. Points are predominantly scored on English language proficiency, age, previous experiences, future employment and savings. However, the determinants may differ with each visa you apply for. One great thing to note for Australians is that, we automatically get 10 points before the process even starts, thanks to speaking English on a native level.  

How to apply for a UK visa 

To choose which visa is relevant to you, check what requirements it has, register for it, fill out the forms and pay all necessary fees, head to the website for UK Visas and Immigration. You can apply for your visa all from the comfort of your couch, isn’t the internet wonderful? However, at some point you will have to leave that comfortable spot.  

All visa applications for more than 6 months require you to get a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). To get one of these permits, you will need to visit one of the UK Visa Application Centres. You can find their offices in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra. Before you head there, especially if you have a long drive ahead of you, make sure you take along the necessary documentation, such as your educational and financial evidence. Once you arrive at the Application Centre, they will scan all ten of your fingers and take your picture. This biometric information is an essential part of your visa application. For further information on your visa application and these steps, head to the VFS Global website 

Choosing the right moving company 

Packing up your life and starting a new one is an amazing opportunity. It comes with many challenges and costs that are important to consider before actually locking up the house and waving that final goodbye (or even throwing away the keys). First on your list, is to understand the numerous costs associated with moving overseas. Check out our full overview of moving costs when leaving Australia.  

Next on your list is to get in contact with moving companies. But how do you choose which one to handle your belongings? We have put together a nifty list of the top 10 Australian international moving companies to help you choose.  

Sorting out your money  

Moving to the UK means getting yourself some British Pounds. Of course, you will take some cash with you, but what to do with the rest of your hard-earned money?  

There are many ways to transfer your money overseas. You can get yourself a travel card and transfer your money overseas through your bank. You can also look into services like TorFXTransferWise, OFX, SendFX or Global Reach just to name a few.  

Transferring your money overseas via your bank may seem simple, but you will be charged local and foreign transaction fees, as well as currency exchange rates. Services like the ones mentioned above, charge no margin on the exchange rate and are free to open. 

Do your research and in the end choose the option that suits you best.  

Moving to the UK

When moving to the UK from Australia, it is important to know the essentials. In addition to information listed below, it is important to remember (and impress your new friends with knowing) that the UK is made up of four separate countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

Category Information 
Capital cities London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast 
Currency £ GBP 
Drives on Left hand side (yay) 
Time zone UTC+1 
International dialing code +44 
Emergency numbers 999 
Electricity 230 
Internet TLD .co.uk 
Fun Fact In the UK they use a mix of both the imperial and metric measurement systems 

Getting a National Insurance Number 

A National Insurance Number (NI) is a government issued identity number and you can only apply for it within the UK. You need this number to work and pay tax (similar to a Tax File Number in Australia), and most employers want you to have this even before they interview you. Essentially it is a must if you want to work in the UK! 

Best cities in the UK to find a job 

The decision to move from Australia to the UK is not only extremely exciting, but it will forever be a great step for your career. Working in another country, gaining experience in another culture and sharing those quirky Australian idiosyncrasies will make you a great candidate for future employers. If you haven’t already decided on where you would like to move to in the UK, we have summarised below what it’s like to work in four major cities. 

London 

London is by far one of the most popular destination cities for Australian expats to move to in the UK. If you are thinking of moving to England and London specifically, there are numerous industries for you to choose from. It is a hub for financial and commercial job opportunities, as well as anything from healthcare to the creative arts. Essentially, if you want to live in London and work, you can.  

Birmingham 

The city of Birmingham is the UK’s second largest economy after London and is ideally position at the crossroad of the UK’s motorways. If you are within the banking sector, then Birmingham may be your future home. Birmingham is home to the Bank of England and will soon be home to the new headquarters for HSBC and expansions of Deutsche Bank. Business is growing in the city and bringing with it many new job opportunities. 

Manchester 

Manchester is with a fun-loving atmosphere and plenty of great night life. The city is home to many financial organisations and is named the ‘Northern powerhouse’ given its proximity to Northern cities. If you work in TV, radio and or journalism, Manchester is your city. The BBC is based in the town of Salford nearby and hosts many excellent opportunities for internationals.  

Edinburgh 

The Scottish capital may be smaller than cities like London, but it has a booming tech industry with many expats. In addition, the city hosts yearly festivals and events, including the infamous Fringe Festival in August, bringing with it millions of tourists and job opportunities.  

Moving to the UK from Australia

Get a job in the UK 

Looking for a job anywhere in the world takes time, so it’s best to get started early and begin looking for a job whilst your still in Australia. To introduce yourself to the UK job market, set up accounts on Linkedin, Monster, Indeed, Reed and Fish4Jobs and begin applying for positions in your preferred city and or occupation. Specifically, if you are a student or recent graduate and looking for work in the UK then you can check out Prospects 

Setting up a home 

Deciding on whether to buy or rent when first moving to the UK from Australia is a pretty big decision. Websites like Rightmove, Zoopla and Home are great places to start looking. We also recommend contacting a real estate agent if you are looking to buy a house, to help you with the essential paperwork and navigating the local requirements. 

It is very important to keep in mind that, if you are wanting to rent when you arrive in the UK, none of your rental, employment or credit history outside of the UK is considered when applying for a home. You start out as a ghost with no history unfortunately, unless you have a UK guarantor vouch for you or pay to get a reference.

Taxes for Aussies in the UK 

You will be glad to hear that taxes within the UK are not that dissimilar to within Australia. The most common taxes are on your income and the things you purchase. Income tax is a flat tax which is taken out of your salary. Sales tax (VAT) is a 17.5% tax automatically calculated into the cost of most goods, except for children’s clothing.  

If you eventually own property within the UK, you are required to pay council tax. This tax is calculated by your property’s value and the number of occupants living there, and it is payable in monthly instalments. There are also several separate taxes, based on; inheritance, capital gains, and other similar taxes. With that in mind, it would be a great idea to check out further information on tax within the UK from their government website 

It is important to note that, if to begin with you are unsure how long you will be moving to the UK for, and as such may remain an Australian resident. You may be required to pay tax on your worldwide income, which is not an ideal situation to be in. Check out our article on moving overseas for a bit more information on how moving to the UK affects you regarding tax.  

Education & schooling  

Within the UK, they have public and private schools, which are also called state and independent schools. Instead of listing the differences in lengthy paragraphs here, we would like to refer you to gov.uk for all your educational needs, from; curriculum requirements, school holiday dates, after school care and your financial obligations. 

Universities 

Within the UK, there are hundreds of universities for you or your children to choose from. In fact, there is a university ranking guide you should definitely check out. Each university is ranked by its entry standards, the courses they offer, students’ satisfaction and how the quality of their research. At the end of the day, it is for you to determine what you want to do and then choose the school that suits you best. For an overview of all the universities within the UK 

Healthcare 

In the UK, there is a National Health Service (NHS). It is very similar to Australia’s Medicare system. If you find yourself in the accident & emergency department at an NHS hospital, you will receive free emergency treatment. Like in Australia, it is not mandatory or essential to take out private health insurance within the UK.  

Once you arrive in the UK, you’ll need to apply for a National Insurance number. For information on how to apply for a National Insurance number, visit gov.uk 

Getting around in the UK 

Moving from Australia to the UK

Emigrating from Australia to the UK is a big and sometimes overwhelming thing, but you can rest easy when it comes to the thought of driving. In the UK they also drive on the left. That’s right, they drive on the left-hand side of the road and the driver’s seat is on the right side of the car, just like in Australia. 

If you have a valid driver’s licence already, you are then allowed to drive in the UK for up to 12 months. Before the 12 months are up, you must exchange your licence for a British one.  

UK cultural customs 

Every country has its unique cultural differences and customs. And even though there are many similarities between us Aussies and our ancestors, there are few interesting cultural customs that we thought would be fun to note, for those of you moving to the UK from Australia.  

Measurements are a little confusing 

As noted above, there is a slightly confusing mix of imperial and metric measurements used within the UK. Just to keep you on your toes you should know that, distances on the roads are in miles, someone’s height is usually measured in feet and inches, and people are weighed in stones and pounds.  

Objects, on the other hand, are weighed in grams and kilos and measured in centimetres and metres. Except when they’re measured in inches and feet, usually by the older generation. It is certainly a great way to confuse any new people isn’t it?! 

Do people in the UK tip?

If you eat out at a restaurant in the UK, you are expected to leave a tip. A tip can be anything from 10%, which is seen as the standard amount, unless the service was terrible of course. Wait staff are generally paid a minimum wage, however much of their income comes from receiving tips. You may find that some restaurants include a service charge on your bill, especially when you are dinning in a large group. In this case, leaving an additional tip is unnecessary.

Food and drink

All of those English dishes you love back home can continue to be eaten once you move to the UK. Think cups of tea, Sunday roasts, pies and mashed potatoes. Baked beans on toast, fish and chips smothered in vinegar (minus the chicken salt), lots of beer and Cadbury chocolate. It doesn’t promote much of a healthy lifestyle, but with cold winters and slightly greyer skies than your used to, a few extra carbs never hurt.

What’s Next?

After reading this far you must be interested in moving to the UK! Hopefully we’ve made moving to the UK a little easier to navigate with any stage of the moving process you are at. There is a long list of factors and considerations but nothing that Sirelo can’t help you with. Bets of luck with your move to the UK!