If you’re researching your UK relocation, today’s blog post is inspired by a helpful edition of the London Evening Standard that came out this week. Let’s thumb through the pages together and find a few, shall we?
Many moving to London tend to already be avid travelers—or perhaps a UK relocation is your springboard for globe-trotting. International travel obviously introduces you to a variety of new and fascinating cultures, but it also entails getting used to new currencies and constantly calculating how they convert to your home denomination. But it’s one thing to put purchase-price parity to the test as you figure out whether that Le Big Mac in Paris would cost you the same as one in Chicago, and it’s another to figure out whether that new London salary that’ll pay you in GBP will go as far at home if you must still manage finances there.
That’s a situation my husband and I can personally relate to…a very great deal. You see, we made our UK relocation the same week the economy fell out from under us all in 2008. Originally giddy over how my husband’s new salary in GBP would effectively cut our USD-denominated student loans and mortgages in half, we, like the British pound, were totally deflated to see that $2:£1 exchange rate diminish. Sure, it’s all relative once you’re in London and spending GBP, but when you have ongoing financial obligations in your home country, these currency fluctuations are critical. Our UK purchase-power wasn’t affected, yet, as far as we were concerned, that salary had dropped 40% that week right along with the pound.
When you make your UK relocation, be thoughtful about the bank transfers you’ll need to make between nations. According to Lloyd’s TSB, as quoted in the Standard, 34% of expatriates transfer cash overseas at least four times a year (18% make at least a dozen transfers). If you simply transfer cash when you fancy and don’t time these transactions strategically, losses through exchange-rate shifts can accumulate—in addition to the bank fees tacked onto these transfers. Assuming an average fee of £15/transaction, if you’re among that third of expats making quarterly transfers, that alone is at least £60/year.
Definitely research what different UK banks charge for transfers to find the best deal. And as for currency fluctuations, a UK relocation truly brings you into the global marketplace. So join the locals in raising your awareness of the economic and political climate around the world that has such a significant bearing on exchange-rate calculation. The more you know, the more you can play the game—one way of protecting yourself against devaluation being to lock in exchange rates with forward contracts.
Back when I was packing, discarding, or donating my belongings in the weeks leading up to my UK relocation, I was lucky enough to have family members offer to store so much of my stuff so I didn’t have to rent storage in the US. And then on moving to London, we got downright lucky enough to find a flat that could actually hold all the crap I did bring. But I have to say, most of the others I viewed didn’t, so I would have been stuck looking into paid storage here in England or shipping things back.
In hindsight, there’s so much less I would’ve brought were I to do my UK relocation all over again. It’s just one of those live-and-learn things you’ll no doubt encounter yourself, so if you find your flat spilling over—or perhaps move into a furnished London apartment that renders pieces you’ve shipped from home redundant—here’s a word to the wise:
Traditional storage via removal companies is generally less expensive than self-storage. This is at least in part due to the fact that professionals stack up and store your goods, likely utilizing storage space more efficiently. According to London movers Aussie Man & Van, as also quoted in the Standard, traditional storage on average charges 40% less for the same amount of space as self-storage. And their fees typically already include VAT (value-added tax), whereas, as of October this year, UK self-storage business are going to start charging VAT of 20%.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that once you’ve already made your UK relocation and work to get settled in, don’t be too flippant about which energy company you sign up with.
I can attest that it’s already getting nippy outside here, my chattering teeth alerting me the other afternoon that it’s almost time to bring our radiators back to life. In the meantime, though, I’ve been keeping the shades lowered over my large, unsealed Victorian windows and layering up in sweaters (even hats) to fend off the cold as long as I can, because there’s no sting like that winter gas bill.
As if hasn’t been bad enough, England’s second-largest energy provider, SSE, has announced gas and electric price increases of 9% as of next month, attributing it to rises in wholesale/distribution costs. And as this impacts all other providers, too, it’s only a matter of time before more follow suit. According to the Standard, the average household energy bill is expected to surpass—wait for it—£1400/month this year, more than double the cost of only seven years ago.
Cost-saving options? Look into the smaller guys like Sainsbury’s Energy or OVO that have been slower to increase rates. Paying your bills via direct debit also usually results in discounts for being consistently on-time.
Don’t go into your UK relocation blind—ask us at London Relocation all your questions and we’ll tell you no lies. Helping you navigate banks, international movers/storage, and utilities is only a fraction of what we’re here for, so never hesitate to phone or email. We’re a cost-saving service, too, and will make your UK relocation time and money-efficient from beginning to end.