Four years have passed since we left France and immigrated to England, UK. I wrote about life in Hull once before HERE , it was my first impressions after the first month of living in Hull . At that time I was not planning to stay in the city of Hull , but the pandemic and Brexit greatly reduced the opportunities for work and relocation. Now at the time of writing this article, I left Hull for some time, but I can’t say that I intentionally wanted to leave. If I would’ve gotten the job I wanted there, I’d would’ve probably settled there permanently. I didn’t leave because I had a bad life there, so to speak, but you can do better than Hull. I think this is probably the short story of the city.
Don’t get me wrong, the city of Kingston upon Hull, known simply as Hull after the river Hull that runs through it’s by no means the worst place in England, but it’s quite… limited both in size and in mentality. After all, the population voted 67.6% for Brexit, and shortly after the implementation of the referendum result, one of the two ferry lines to Europe from the port (Hull – Zeebrugge) was permanently closed and the other laid off without notice 800 British employees via video conference to replace them on the same day with Asians and agency workers so….
As a native Romanian, I’ve lived in Romania, then moved to France and now we’re in England, UK so I think I can compare how is living in Romania to living in West Europe.
Well… considering that the local salaries are 3 to 4 times lower compared to the West, most Romanians would say living in Romania is EXPENSIVE! We have a saying in Romania: “We have Western prices but Eastern salaries”. You can easily see why we say this:
Cars cost the same, in fact most are actually considerably cheaper in the UK compared to Romania , here’s an example, same car, same year, same mileage , costs 2500 EUR more in Romania , despite the fact that salaries are 3 to 4 times smaller there;
“I’m looking for a house to rent”, “I’m looking for a flat to rent” – these are by far the most common posts on Romanian fb groups in England / UK. I’ve always wondered why these people never check the local real estate agencies and instead they go straight to various shady middle men who give them overpriced houses, without a contract and without any legal rights. The answer is not always simple. Many simply do not speak English and hesitate to contact the agencies, many don’t intend to stay that long in the UK and just want something quick for seasonal work. Many don’t have or think they don’t have necessary documents to legally rent a house in UK, and many simply don’t know how to rent a house through an agency because they’ve never done it. For the latter, I will show you step by step below how to look for a house to rent in England, UK and how to make sure you get it.
Don’t worry about the documents, most of the time you already have the necessary documents and you didn’t even know you had them. Unless you’ve just landed in England and you don’t have any document, (that’s practically impossible after Brexit now) you’ll surely have a payslip, a driver’s license, a letter from the doctor or the council, an utility bill or a bank statement with your name and an British address. Any of these are proof of residence in England and can be given at the agency. Considering that we moved 3 times in this country , I think I have some experience in this field. Here is the complete procedure how to look for a house to rent in England and make sure you get it:
Go to the main real estate websites and start looking for houses to rent in the city you want to move to. Respectively www.rightmove.co.uk , www.onthemarket.com and www.zoopla.co.uk . Here you have houses for To Rent and For Sale. I personally prefer rightmove because it has a simpler interface and many details about the house.
ATTENTION ! If you don’t know English, you can use the website’s automatic translation function. Google Chrome has a translation function. Right-click anywhere on the site and select: “Translate to English” or “translation”
You should now have a list of all the rental properties in your city like the one below, based on the search criteria below: namely houses to rent in the city of Hull and 10 miles around, priced between £100 and £500 with a maximum of 2 bedrooms. Here is the page in case you didn’t succeed.
We note that the prices are in monthly format ( pcm = per calendar month ) and also per week below ( pw = per week ). The ads can be sorted by price from the top, and filtered if you want to see, for example, only the houses that have a parking space or you don’t want to see the houses that are shared. For example, the first 2 ads in the picture above are with bedrooms in shared houses. This means you rent only one bedroom and share a bathroom, kitchen, living room). If you click on “map”, the houses will appear on the map to give you an visual idea where to look. Click on the picture of the house that interests you and you will have a screen similar to the one below:
Above we see an example of a house for rent in Hull, UK which:
It is rented for 425 pounds per calendar month (not to be confused with 4 weeks),
The house is on Estcourt Street, post code HU9 2RR;
A security deposit of 490 pounds is required,
The local tax ( council tax ) is in band “A”, that is, it is the cheapest (increases in price in alphabetical order A,B,C,D),
It is rented on a long-term basis,
It’s a ” Terraced ” type house – that is, attached to other houses,
It does not have its own parking space, there is only On street parking available;
If you click on the picture, you will be able to see the rest of the house pictures. On the right we see that it is from the Riverside agency, and we also have a phone number. If you like that house, call the agency (or ask someone who speaks English to call). They might ask you the address of the house you live in now (street, zip code) and mutually decide when to see the house listed in the add.
It’s possible they might ask you on the phone if you have proof of income, proof that you have settled status (ie the right to live and rent a house in this country) and/or if you have a guarantor. I would recommend that you to answer these questions as honestly as possible because you will be asked to provide proof later on.
2. Go on the set date to see the house. Usually each candidate has about 10 minutes available for the visit, and there are usually a lot of interested parties coming to see the house, so don’t be late!
A very important adive to increase your chances of getting the house: Dress nice for the visit! Imagine that you’re going to an interview, not to a viewing. The agent gives the landlord (the owner) the applications for the house, and his word matters a lot. One guy dressed in a work suit will probably have more chances to take the house than one who came in an Adidas tracksuit with a gold chain around his neck.
If you don’t speak English, get someone to translate for you. Talk nicely to the agent, chat for a while, don’t smoke in front of the house, try not to speak you’re own native language when you’re in front of him or her (not because you’re foreigners, but because it’s not polite to speak a language he doesn’t know understand). Don’t yell , don’t try to negotiate the price , this ain’t a bazaar here where you barter, and try not to look desperate.
I recommend you look and ask about the following things in the house:
If you have a pet, does the owner accept this? (this should be discussed on the phone before you see the house)
Is the heating on gas? Is the stove on gas? Avoid houses heated by electricity, it is very expensive! The same story with those with the electric stove;
How long is the rental contract? It is usually done over 6 or 12 months. During this time, the landlord is not allowed to change your rent, but later he can increase it. It is preferable that you sign for as long as possible so that the rent cannot increase. On the other hand, if the house turns out to be bad, you are bound by the contract, so this is a double-edged sword;
Does it have thermal insulation? If it has wooden framed windows, it will be difficult to keep the heat inside and as a result you will pay a lot for heating;
Is the hot water coming from a boiler tank or straight from the combi gas boiler? If it’s from a tank, remember that only one person can take a bath, then you have to wait until the tank is filled with hot water. If you have a small child in the house this matters a lot;
Are the utilities (gas and electricity) on the pre-paid card or subscription? It is usually more expensive on the card;
Does it have a smart meter? This electronic meter will reduce your bills quite a bit and save you from submitting readings.
Does the house come with a refrigerator or a washing machine? If so, it’s less expense for you
How soon can you move into the house? If you are lucky, the house is empty and you can move in immediately. If you are unlucky, the previous tenants or owners are still waiting to move out and it may take a month or more until the house is vacated…
If you liked the house you just saw, tell the agent there and then that you want it and ask what you need to do to make sure you get it. If you have the financial possibility to pay 2-3 months in advance, mention this. This is how we got our first house in Hull. With a little luck, you will go directly to the agency and sign the documents. If not, the agent will give you an application to fill in by hand or by email.
On the application you will be asked if:
Do you have references (ie recommendations) from previous addresses? If you stayed in a share house, give the number of the agent there, if you took a room from a middle man or you have a bad recommendation from the past… honestly, it’s better to give the number of a colleague or an English manager to recommend you… (pass this as a work reference or personal reference)
Do you have pets? most landlords (owners) do not accept large animals (dogs, cats), but for the small ones that stay in the cage they are not counted (parrots, hamsters, etc.); You can declare that you don’t have a cat, and you keep it hidden in the house, you wouldn’t be the first to do that, but you’re taking a risk in case you have an inspection…
Are you a smoker? You can declare that you are not, if you only smoke outside. Do not smoke in the house, because the smell easily gets impregnated in the walls and furniture and it’s easily felt by a non smoker. You risk losing both the house and the deposit. In addition, you will probably have a nasty reference from the agency/owner when you are looking for the next house…
Do you have an employment contract? If you don’t have a permanent employment contract, it’s not the end of the road. Even if you work on a zero hours contract, it’s still an employment contract. You can say that you have a stable income and have pay slips and/or bank statements to prove it. That’s why it’s important to keep all the payslips you have from work, regardless of how many hours you’ve worked, and to ask the bank where you are to send you a monthly Bank statement by mail;
You also have a section for comments. Here you can specify different details, such as if you have the possibility to pay several months in advance to be sure that you get the house, or for example that you are going to start a new job in the city and you are serious about the house.
Once you’ve sent the application, everything is in the hands of the agency and the landlord. The landlord looks over the applications and the agent’s recommendations, and chooses who he will give the house to. If you are selected, you will receive a phone call from the agency and you will be called on the set date to sign the Lease contract (that is, rent). You will be required to pay the deposit and the first month’s rent. You take the keys and it’s your house. Simple right?
I realize that in real life it’s not that simple, but believe me that that rental contract will ensure you full rights in England. Even if it’s just a rented house, this is your legal residence in the UK. Landlords are very careful about who they let into their properties, precisely because once the tenant has established his legal residence at that address, it will be very difficult to remove him from the house because he has rights (even if he stops paying the rent!). Obviously, when you’re living in a house without a contract, the type you get from shady Facebook middlemen, you will have absolutely no rights, and they can evict you at any time without the right of appeal.
If you liked the article or have additional questions, I hope I can help you and I’m waiting for you in the comments section or leave a message on the GarciaCalavera.com fb page. If you like the page, you can like and share the article to help others in this situation.
I’ve noticed lately more and more Romanians in England are pushing hard to get their own house. And why not? Why pay rent to a landlord, when you can put that money in to monthly payments for your own house, investing in your own future. You’re giving away this money on a monthly basis anyway, right? Let’s see how much does a house costs in England at this time, in August 2022.
Prices have increased a lot in the last two years, even by 40% in some areas. Brexit, Covid, the war in Ukraine, low interest rates on mortgage loans and the uncertainty of the future, all these factors have led many to want the security of their own property in England. Thus creating an extraordinary demand that far exceeds the supply. At the moment, the Bank of England is increasing the reference interest rates to reduce inflation. Interest rates on mortgage loans have already increased from 1% to 4%, but it seems that the market is still stubborn and the demand it’s still solid. However the rate of house price increases has slowed significantly.
For EU expats established in England UK, the act of changing their driving license in to an English or British one, is often a mandatory step due to work requirements. Possession of a British UK driving license is also the first and easiest way to obtain proof of residence with a picture and address here in England UK. This is one of the few documents accepted by banks, real estate agencies or employers. The others are more difficult to obtain (bank card, local council bil / utility bill or British passport).
The procedure to change your driving license in England UK is fortunately very simple and relatively quick. All official information can be found on the British government website here. As it is clearly written on the website, the citizens of any EU state have no legal obligation to change their driving license and are allowed to drive with the European license until the age of 70. For those who have obtained their driving license in a country outside the European Union, the driving license must be changed to a British license within 12 months of arrival in England UK.
How do taxes in Romania compare with those in the West, is it true that we pay more and earn less than those in France, UK or Germany? Let’s see:
England, UK, average annual salary £ 31,300 (€ 37,250). The first £ 12570 earned are not taxed. Only from what you earn over 12 thousand, up to 50270, 20% tax is taken by the British government. If one of the partners earns less than 12570 per year, the other has a tax reduction. National minimum wage: £ 9.5 per hour (€ 11.3), or roughly £ 1600 per month;
France, EU – the average annual salary in 2021 was € 39,300. The first € 10084 are not taxed, from what is over 10 thousand to 25710, 11% is taken, and from what is over 25 thousand to 73 thousand, 30% is taken by the French government. In France, the tax is calculated on the combined income of the family, each adult is considered as a unit, and each child as a half of unit. So, if you have a family consisting of 2 adults and one child, and only one of the partners works, his annual income will be divided by 2.5, and then it is observed where he falls within the tax grid. It’s quite possible that he ends up paying no taxes at all. The national minimum wage in France is € 10.25 per hour, or about € 1763 per month;
It seems that some people still don’t understand that the UK has left the EU and that you cannot enter England after Brexit without having to answer to border officials regarding the purpose of your visit. So let’s see what are the legal ways to come to England after Brexit if you do not have a residence permit (aka Settled Status).
First of all, you can say goodbye to any thought of visiting England and looking for work during your visit. Many were refused entrance in to the country at the airport on a PERMANENT basis if the customs officers even sniffed that you came to work and not just to visit. The British authorities started asking EU nationals for a return ticket, proof of accommodation during the visit and proof that you have enough money to sustain yourself for the duration of your stay. If you’re lucky enough, nobody will ask you anything at the airport, but are you really willing to take that chance and risk flying for nothing?
In addition, all (legal) British employers and all employment agencies are now required by law to request from candidates the so-called “share code” which is an internet link generated by the UK government’s website to the page proving that you are resident in England UK. It doesn’t matter if you have Settled or (Pre) Settled Status, they both give you the right to work and live in England. I explained in the last article how to apply for Settled Status. The deadline to apply for residency was June 30, 2021 (there are very few exceptions in exceptional cases for those who live in England before 2021 or have family here but did not have time to apply before June 2021, the list of exemptions is here). But let’s say you still want to come to England and you don’t have a NINO, residency or any work history or studies in the UK. Let’s see what options you have:
The war is long over, but who won in the end, Germany or UK England? Historians say that the United Kingdom and the Allies, but the modern reality on the ground says otherwise. In addition to official data, we will also look at the experiences of those who actually live in these two countries. I live and work in the UK – England since 2018, and my friends here have been living in various areas of England (London, Manchester) for more than 6 years. I have not lived in Germany personally (just in France) so I asked friends who have live there for research material. Three of them responded, out of which one is a doctor in the Dusseldorf area for 11 years, one works in retail in the Stuttgart area for more than 15 years and one came more recently (3 years) also in Dusseldorf metro area to work in the hospitality sector. Here is what I gathered from all of it:
Wages in Germany were already considerably higher than in the UK even before the Brexit referendum, which led to a decline in the value of the pound sterling, and this trend will continue in 2022. In 2020, the average gross wage in Germany was of EUR 47928 or GBP 40866 (at today’s exchange rate). In England UK – the average salary in the country is about 30000 Pounds per year or 35180 EUR at today’s rate. And the pound might continue to fall in 2022 due to the lack of strategy on the part of the British government and the general lack of management of the entire Brexit process; It is true that you pay more taxes in Germany, but even so, your NET income for the same job will still be higher there, no matter how you look at it (there are of course exceptions).
We’ve all heard that England is a friendly country towards cyclists, but what’s it really like cycling in UK England? After years of hesitation, I finally mustered the courage to buy a second-hand bicycle. On fb market, I found this baby for just 60 pounds. Not bad, right?
I haven’t ridden a bike for many years, but I slowly worked it out. First through the local neighborhood, and then through the city. For a beginner cyclist, I must admit that the road infrastructure for cyclists and the car driver’s behavior is very encouraging. There are literally everywhere segregated routes from car traffic for bicycles, clearly marked dedicated lanes that are usually physically separated by some kind of barrier (green space, curbs, stanchions, etc.). But by far the most encouraging factor is the behavior of car drivers towards cyclists in UK England. Every time or at least 8 out of 10 cases, when they see you approaching an intersection, they slow down or come to a complete stop and signal you to pass. And if you have to share the road with cars, the drivers stay calm behind you until the opposite lane is clear, and then they overtake you with generous clearance to the bicycle. That is, without horns, close calls overtaking, without harassment, verbal abuse, etc, you know the usual in Romania and East Europe in general.