Moving to the UK

Last updated: Dec 2, 2019

Whether it’s the bustling cities or the laidback countryside you’re after, then moving to the UK may be for you! Read on to find out about visas, work and what you need in order to make moving to the UK easy and stress-free! If you need help on choosing a removal company to help you, take a look at our advice page.

First Steps

First things first, visas are very important as well as making sure you have enough money to actually move abroad. This section explains what your options are and what you should be saving up if you’re planning on bringing all of your belongings with you. If you need a removal company to help you, take a look at our top 10 International Movers list.

Visas for the UK

Whether you’re moving to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, once you’re in, you can move freely throughout these countries as they all make up the United Kingdom. However, you’ll need a visa if you’re planning on visiting or moving to the UK from South Africa.

There are a range of different visas that you can apply for:

  • Standard Visitor Visa: you should apply for this visa if you’re planning on staying for less than six months.
  • Work Visa: Either a Temporary or skilled workers visa will be required depending on the reason of your visit and how long you plan to remain in the UK for. You may need to be sponsored by an employer in order to receive the work visa.

The best way to check what visa you need is to look at the UK government website and fill out their questionnaire. For more information on visas, Move Up offer many solutions for visas for the UK.

Cost of Moving to the UK

Size of HouseholdTime to MoveCost of Move
1 bed flat6-10 weeks36,000R-63,000R
2 bed house4-7 weeks48,600R-82,800R
3 bed house4-7 weeks86,400R-143,900R

Above you can find the estimated moving costs from Cape Town to London. The major factors that influence the cost of moving are distance and volume of your move. Look at our container shipping prices article or international moving costs page for more information.

Moving to the UK

Living in the UK

You may already have an idea on what the UK is like as a country, however, living in the UK is something else. This section covers what you may not know about what it’s like to actual live in the UK, including housing, work and living costs.

Working in the UK

The UK is a great place for expats to find work. As we said before, to work in the UK your employer will have to sponsor your work visa, which is why it’s important to get a job as soon as possible.

You can try and find a job when you are already living in the UK on a visitor visa, but you can also try and find a job before moving there. There are several ways that you can find work in the UK:

Living costs in the UK

ItemCost in Cape TownCost in LondonCost in Birmingham
Average Rent per month for one bedroom apartment in the centre10,736.49R30,296.32R13,363.87R
Average Monthly Net Salary (after tax)16,315.15R45,379.20R28,523.09R
One litre of Milk12.94R16.39R16.33R
Inexpensive meal out120.00R265.42R212.34R
Cappuccino25.00R48.13R46.26R

Above you can find a comparison of the living costs in different locations within the UK compared to Cape Town. Depending on where you decide to live in the UK will determine how much your living costs will be. Bigger cities will be much more expensive than little towns and villages, especially London! However, as you can see from the table above, despite higher living costs, you can rest assured that your salary will be high enough to help you cover these costs.

The NHS in the UK

When moving to the UK from South Africa, one of the big benefits is the NHS. This stands for the National Health Insurance and covers a large range of medical services including:

  • Accident and Emergency Services
  • Family Planning Services
  • Treatment for infectious diseases
  • Treatment for a physical or mental condition

Also, most medications are free or largely subsidised by the government and depending on your circumstances you can get medication for free e.g children under the age of 16, if you’re pregnant, have certain medical conditions etc. Once you’ve moved in and settled down, you will need to register with a local General Practitioner (GP). Your GP will be your first point of call as they can direct you to other services if you require them.

In order to be covered through eh NHS as a South African, you will have to pay the immigration health surcharge if you’re planning on living in the UK for more than six months. For less than six months, you will need to get personal health insurance to be covered otherwise you may be charged 150% of the standard NHS rate!

Moving to the UK

The Education System in the UK

Maybe you’re planning on moving to the UK with your family? If you are then you may be interested in what the education system in the UK is like. There are state-run schools and independent schools, also called private schools. To find out more about the UK’s education curriculum, visit the government website for more information.

If you’re moving to the UK from South Africa to study at university, then you’ll be glad to hear that there are hundreds of universities. The University Ranking Guide shows the ratings of all of the universities within the United Kingdom.

Housing in the UK

Whether you’re looking to rent or buy a house, expect it to be a difficult process. But don’t worry, that’s why we’re here to help! Most people living in the UK buy a house rather than rent, but that doesn’t mean that renting a house is impossible. Websites like RightMove are the perfect place to start your search, whether it’s for rental or buying.

Culture in the UK

There are several things that you probably won’t be expecting when you move abroad, especially when you’re moving to the UK. This section will be able to help you prepare for the little cultural things that you may have not thought about!

England vs Scotland vs Wales vs Northern Ireland

If you’re moving to the UK, then you must know the difference between these countries, especially if you don’t want to offend anyone! All of these are countries that make up the UK and most people are very proud of which country they come from. So, if you refer to the UK as England, expect a lot of unhappy Scots and Welshmen.

British Slang

British slang is a very confusing thing, especially for expats new to the country. Whether they’re greeting each other or if they’re simply talking about food, the Brits have some form of slang for almost anything. It’s also wise to know that slang will also vary depending on what region you live in. For example, in Scotland, a common way of saying Yes is Aye. Also, if you haven’t heard of cockney rhyming slang, then you’re in for a world of fun! Here is a list of some common rhyming slang to help you out.

What Next?

Moving overseas to the UK is a big step and it can take a while to adjust. But don’t worry! The South African has made a list of 37 British things that most South Africans don’t understand. Overall, we hope that this page has helped you become better informed about moving to the UK.  You may find these pages to also be of interest to you: