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 has some of the smallest house surfaces in Europe. My 1 Br flat in France had almost the same square footage as my 2 Br semi detached house in UK. A 2 bedroom house of 55 square meters (592 sq feet) is quite common here in UK. This is a standard child or guest bedroom in UK where you can put a single bed and a small storage piece of furniture and…..uh that’s about it:
- UK has some of the most expensive child care in Europe. The national average for a full time nursery (kindergarten) is almost 1000 Pounds per month! People here don’t really seem or want to understand that this service is FREE in France (and pretty much in all of Europe), same as primary school. Yes I am aware that if both parents work you get 30 hours per week at the kindergarten for free, but that still leaves you to pay to pay the difference of around 500 pounds per month.
- UK also has some of the most expensive train transport in Europe (if not THE most expensive). Prices to travel by rail is simply ridiculous. A monthly pass to use the subway in London costs up to 360 pounds per month! A one way 2 hour train ride from Leeds to London (about 200 miles) will cost you 122.5 pounds. By comparison a similar distance trip in France from Marseille to Lyon on the TGV on the same day and same hour will cost you only 51 EUR (46.4 pounds).
- All the houses look the same here. No matter in which part of the country you are in (except for Scotland), you are likely to see the same 4 models of houses everywhere. Besides the small houses, everything else seems to cramped and looks the same on this island. This is more or less your typical street in the city, just endless row after row after row of the same looking terraced housing and cramped cars in between….
- Seeing flowers, remembrance notes and signs with suicide support line hanged around on every overpass, bridge and pier. It was really shocking to realize how many depressed people are here. I don’t know if it’s due to the weather or current state of affairs, but lots of young people are hopeless and resort to such tragic actions.
- What is up with the bathroom arrangements? First of all, most homes have 2 separate taps, in one comes boiling hot water, in the other freezing water! Brilliant! And than you have a shower that is activated using a pull wire. The alleged reason for this is to avoid putting electrical switches in the bathroom and minimize the chance of an electrocution. That would be a good idea if it wasn’t for the fact that most showers in UK are electrical! So yes, the machine that heats your shower water is standing less than 10 centimetres away from your naked wet body and they are concerned about you sticking your wet fingers in an electrical switch. Makes perfect sense no?
- Maximum state pension in UK is £175.20 per week (700.8 £ per month). I am not sure how exactly you are supposed to survive with that pension. I was quite shocked to hear this in a wealthy developed country like UK has such a small pension. I mean in Germany is somewhere around 1800 Euros , in France is around 1400 Euros, even in Spain it’s 1143 Euros per month. I know that many in UK have private pensions and compensate for that small state pension, but still, it’s ridiculously low.
- People here are praising the NHS (National Heath Service) , but it takes like two weeks to get an appointment with at your local clinic. And even then it’s not a doctor that sees you, just a nurse! Below you can see how the online booking system looks for my surgery (and no, it’s not related to Covid, was like this since we moved here). This would be unheard of in France or even Romania. Healthcare might be free here, but you sure get what you pay for. (in their defense I understand that in other regions is much better than here in the North East)
What do you think, did I miss anything? I am waiting for your opinions in the comments section or on the Fb GarciaCalavera.com page. You can also drop a like there to subscribe to future articles. Thank you.
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