How shocking is the weather in UK England for foreigners?

I was born in Romania and came to UK from Marseille France and the weather was a complete shock for us here. Even though we were warned by our friend who lives here, and despite the fact that we came to visit ahead of relocation to scout the place, we were still hit hard by it. Remarkably during our visit here, it didn’t rain once, so whoever was working on the sales pitch up there, did a very good job.

So basically this is winter in UK:

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What are the most shocking facts about UK?

I have been living here in UK for more than 2 years now. Here is what I found out to be shocking in UK for me as a foreigner (came from France and born in Romania):

  • UK is one of the few countries in the world where the local property taxes are paid by the tenant and not by the owner of the property. If you are tenant in UK you will pay an additional 130 pounds per month (or more) in property tax to the local authorities for a property that is not yours (aka council tax). If you are renting and not pay the property tax, you can be prosecuted and thrown in jail for this! Before you say it’s not a property tax, let’s look at the facts:  it’s based on the value of the property, and if the house is vacant, it is paid by the owner. No matter how much you try to sugarcoat it, it is still a property tax that supports local services for the permanent residents of the city, not for the temporary occupiers of the property. I as a tenant am not using 90% of the services I am paying for (parks, schools, public transports, libraries, community centers, long term projects for improving the city), but my landlord and his kids who live in town are using them and will continue to use them after I leave the city, hardly fair no? In France I was paying 10 Eur per month for bin collection and that was it, the rest of the services are funded from taxes (impot local) paid by the owners of the properties, it’s like this all over the world. I am using Emergency services yes, but they are charged separately in the bill (roughly 21% of the bill), I have no problem in paying those, the rest of 80% that goes exclusively to the council I have a problem with.
UK Council Tax
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UK Points-Based Immigration System – 2021 How does it work?

As you know, on first of January 2021, Brexit finally materializes, the UK leaves the European Union (more like crashes out without a trade deal it seems) and the UK point-based immigration system comes in to immediate effect. The right to free movement, work and live in UK of Romanians and all other EU nationals who are not already established in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland) will cease immediately. That is, those who do not already have a Settled or Pre Settled Status residence permit, and want to come to the UK will have to follow the UK point-based immigration procedure.

This procedure is very similar to the immigration procedure in Canada, Australia or New Zealand and unfortunately it is just as rigorous as it is in those countries. The system does not apply to those who are already established in the UK by the 31st December 2020. But in order to be established you must already have a NINO and proof of residence, which unfortunately at the present time is impossible to get. It is currently only issued in exceptional circumstances. (e.g. for medical staff or those who come to work in care homes).

On the British government website we can see the official procedure: from the start we see the clear message: Only sponsored skilled workers who have a job offer and know English will be able to immigrate and permanently relocate to the UK! Without these requirements, it is IMPOSSIBLE to get the minimum 70 points required by the UK point-based immigration system. That basically means that the good old days, when anyone from Europe just came to the UK with just a backpack, looked for a room to rent on fb market, and got work anywhere they could, all that is now over!

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Memories from my first voyage on the School Ship Albatros

It was the Autumn of 2008, I was in my third year of studies at the Romanian Naval Academy. Those wishing to go on the Albatros school ship (the only school ship of higher maritime education system in Romania) had registered long before and now were waiting for their turn to embark. The School Ship “Albatros”, was an ancient relic of the once great Romanian merchant fleet. It now sailed at the edge of legality only through “friendly” ports. No one risked entering a port in the West due to it’s many problems related to the technical condition and the certificates status. It was however understandable. This was a cargo ship built in 1977 under the name of “Dej”, already over 30 years old age.

Although it was technologically obsolete, and what you were doing there had little to do with what you do on a modern ship, many students still wanted to embark on it, being a good way to put some experience on their seaman’s book. The management of the Academy also wanted to put as many students on it as it could, being a safe method to check who has seasickness and who is able to withstand the conditions on board, thus being able to make cadet recommendations to large companies.

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UK COST OF LIVING IN ENGLAND – WHAT SALARY DO YOU NEED FOR A DECENT LIVING?

So what is the cost of living in England? Salaries are probably higher than in your home country, but so are the costs. Is it true that some people are are living hand to mouth here? … In some cases yes, but most are living just fine. The cost of living in England is quite good compared to wages, although the pound is dropping quite fast since Brexit… We already established in the previous article that food costs in the UK about the same as in countries in East Europe, so from the start you are at an advantage. Let’s see what costs and expenses we have in England:

  1. Accommodation: by far the biggest expense you will have will be securing a roof over your head. Unless you bring along around 150 to 200 thousand pounds to buy your own house, you will most likely rent like most people. The rental expense depends a lot on where you are. In general in the South of England (London, Southampton), and especially in London, to rent of a house costs double or triple compared to renting a similar house in the North of England (Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster, Hull, Newcastle). If in the North you can easily find a house of your own at 500-600 pounds per month, in London on the website www.rightmove.co.uk, the only rental house located in a decent area that is less than a thousand pounds per month was in Brentwood (one hour by car or train + subway to central London)
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Which country is better to live in: UK or France? Why?

So the eternal question and rivalry on the old continent: Which country is better: England, UK or France? Well, I lived in Marseille France, and than I moved to Hull, England, UK. It’s hard to say which is better to live in, and depends a lot on what language you speak , the region you are in and your job.

Both are somewhat problematic cities, with high unemployment figures and bad local reputation, so I might not be in the best position to judge these countries. (Or I might be in the perfect position to show the truth of each country, depends how you look at it)

In general, if you look only at the numbers and stats, life in France (if you speak French) is indeed better than life in England, UK. Everything from the weather to salaries, geography , location, infrastructure and social benefits is indeed better on the main land. It was not such a big difference before, but the gap has widen considerably since the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum and it will continue to do so unfortunately. Let’s see why:

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How much does food cost in England UK? Cost comparison UK vs Romania

We have all heard the myth that the cost of food in the West is even cheaper than food in Romania and East Europe, despite the fact that salaries are about 4 times higher than in the East Europe. How much does food cost in England UK? Living in UK England and seeing every day the prices in pounds I could never figure it out, so I decided to make a detailed comparison.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to ask for any receipts from folks back home, today we have online groceries shops in both countries. I compared the same food products from 2 large chain stores, respectively Mega Image in Romania, and ASDA in UK England. We went for products of medium quality or cheaper lower end, because let’s be serious, both the Romanian and the English do this. On the below list we have on the left side the online shopping cart from England with the prices of the products in British Pounds with their converted values into Romanian Lei currency below (at the exchange rate of the day: 1 GBP pound = 5.43 Lei), and on the right side the same products (or their similar equivalent in terms of weight and quality) with their price in Romanian Lei and their converted values into British Pounds to see the difference.

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UK Residence – How to apply for Settled or Pre Settled Status

Corona Virus is in all the news right now, but let’s not lose the long-term essential. Who does not have Settled or Pre Settled Status after 31 December 2020 will no longer have the right to reside and work in the UK. However the government of the UK also said that the deadline for applying for UK status is 30 June 2021, so nobody really knows what to make of it.

The procedure is simple and fast. All you need is an email address, a UK mobile phone number, a camera phone that supports the EU Exit application: Document ID, electronic passport (the type with chip), NINO number and possibly a proof of residency. (utility bill, bank statement, P60 form if you are self employed). It can be done without the application on the phone, but this means sending the original documents by mail, a process that takes much longer and is riskier. I also definitely recommend using your passport when applying. You can also apply with the national ID card, but I have heard many cases when they were very delayed with the granting of Settled Status due to the lengthy procedure of manual verification of Identity cards.

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What do the Romanians in the UK think about Brexit, their lives here and if it’s still worth coming here

Romanians in the UK and Brexit, feel like this is the only thing I have been hearing over the news for over year now. Officially the United Kingdom left the European Union on the 1st of February 2020, but we have a transition period until the 1st of January 2021. Until than the EU free movement of people and goods rules still apply, same as before. So we are not going to see any major changes until than.

The Romanian Embassy in London assures us Romanians that entry into the UK will be allowed same as before, just with your EU identity card or valid passport (at least until December 31, 2020). Neither the right to work and live in the UK will not be affected until the end of the year 2020, so theoretically anyone coming here during 2020 should have no problem working and applying for NINO. The Embassy also encourages all Romanians living in the UK to apply for Settled Status by the end of 2020.

I asked the Romanians who are already here what do they think about this whole situation with Brexit, how it affects them and whether it is still worth the trouble to come here. We are after all about four hundred thousand people in this country. I initially did a survey on one of the most numerous fb groups of Romanians in the UK asking what Romanians would do if the economy of the UK takes a hit and the Pound decreases in value to Euro levels.

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Expat Marriage in England UK – procedure and costs

Unlike in Romania, the expat marriage in England UK procedure is a very simple one that does not imply headaches. Remember the article about how complicated it was to get PACS or married in France? Well, unfortunately It’s just as complicated in my home country Romania as well. We initially wanted to have the civil marriage ceremony in Romania but I was surprised to find that in our country besides the usual pile of papers requirement, you are also required to provide a “Prenuptial Medical Certificate”.
This supreme idiocy is required only in our country, and consists of a certificate obtained based on results of blood tests, that prove you do not suffer from any serious illness such as HIV, Syphilis or TB. This certificate issued by most clinics is valid for 14 days but must be submitted within 24 hours to the Register Office! So once you have it, run quickly to the Register Office, submit the application, and then you must wait at least 10 days to get married, but no more than 14 days, otherwise your prenuptial medical certificate to expire! Makes perfect sense, right? Only in a banana republic like Romania it does yes.

I searched the internet for a logical explanation regarding why you have to wait 10 days, but I could not find any. If anyone can explain this ridiculous request to me please do.

Overall, it seems that we had to take a minimum of 3 weeks leave for this event, so we decided to get married in England UK.

In the UK, unlike Romania, the Expat marriage in England UK procedure is very simple: you have 3 steps to follow, you pay 2 fees, show up with your passport and proof of address and soon you will be married. Let’s see these steps:

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