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Thursday, May 12, 2022

[OFF] Settling down in the UK (England) from India

It was quite a whirlwind ride for me to get settled finally in the UK after being offered to do so around in late November 2021. My employer, Apple, helped me a lot and frankly it has been so smooth for me so far since the 4 months that I landed here. The VISA process took around 1 month and after coming here I was able to get a rented apartment, bought a car on finance, got a credit card, setup my apartment and got my booster COVID-19 shot!

Some of the absolute essentials that folks who have moved to the UK with a job must have and are different from how it works in India -

1. Renting an apartment. The process of renting here is very transparent and the deposit is held with a Deposit Protection Service, so it's never a unilateral decision of not paying back the deposit held. I'm looking at you Bangalore land-lords!

2. SIM card - Of course, one of the first things you need to survive in the UK is phone number. You can get one from the airport, unlike in India, you don't need to provide your Adhaar or Voter ID card for this (or any form of ID, you can get it in a vending machine)! Any provider is fine, do check if they have 5G.

3. Apartment utilities - Things like Council tax (tax on the apartment paid out to the government), the power bill, water bill and the gas bill (gas is needed for heating and for cooking which arrives in pipes) are always set to the name of the tenant. In India, it's never the case and you're stuck not having any identity proof as a tenant. These are paid monthly and it's up-to you, the tenant, to register with these services.

4. Credit card - Once you've arrived in the UK you will have ZERO credit! Your credit score in India does not matter. This means you won't be eligible for any credit cards. American Express however, has a wonderful programme which allows your card to be ported over to the UK. Thus, I was able to start building my credit within 14 days of my arrival in London.

5. Bank account - Opening a bank account is tricky since they mostly require proof of residence, which in turn needs a bank account to pay your deposit from. However, I was able to open a Monzo account pretty quickly and thanks to my employer, HSBC UK was pretty prompt in opening a Checking account for me within a month. Oh and Monzo delivered the debit card to me in like 3 days at my temporary accommodation.

6. Buying a car on finance - This is again one of the things that require a credit score. However, my employer helped me out here. They got me in touch with a Finance Company that provides finance to folks like me who have no credit in the UK. The company that helped me procure my car was Oracle Finance in association with Palmdale Motors who helped me with the car search.

7. NHS - getting registered with the NHS or the national health services, is pretty important since healthcare in the UK is free for all residents. This usually requires your tax id, i.e., the National Insurance number to get registered. The NI number can be found on the back of your BRP or biometric residence permit. This can be done entirely online. If you do try to reach them on phone, please be patient. The waits might be long, but they do work for those who are patient.

8. HMRC - HM Revenue and Customs are the next important place to get registered with online. If your Tax code needs changing, this can be done online or via a phone call. They will usually get in touch with you via post using the address provided by your employer. My employer provided them with an Address which wasn't even the office I was supposed to be going to, so I had to change it. It's a simple process and can be done online as well.

9. Register to vote - India is part of the commonwealth and this all Indians are eligible to vote if they are a resident of the UK. I've heard that this also affects your credit score positively, so this is something you should register online as soon as you can.

10. TV & Internet - Unlike India, TV and Internet connection installation can take between 4-6 weeks here in the UK. So where-ever you're planning to move, register with the provider well in advance. There's a 14-day money back guarantee for all services, keep that in mind. Check a comparison website to find out what speeds you can expect in the area where you move. A quicker option might be a 5G dongle like this - https://www.three.co.uk/store/broadband/home-broadband

It's remarkable that most citizen services can be accessed online and they all work! Coming from India this is a welcome surprise. One might think that India is the tech capital of the world but it's also pretty corrupt when it comes to citizen services. I was able to do everything online along with a couple of hour long phone calls.

I've been meaning to write down my experiences after coming to the UK for quite some time but I wasn't sure if I was settled yet. I mean, there was so much I didn't know.

At Stonehenge

Let me know what other information might be helpful to share and I will surely try my best.

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