Family

UK Immigration – Six Months Summary 移居英國 – 半年小體驗

Dated back in late April when I first arrived in Heathrow Airport, it was cold at 7 to 8℃. Despite I had my thick jacket on, I still couldn’t stand the cold weather. Next came the UK summer where I had enjoyed some lovely warm and sunny days. Stepping into late autumn, weather is getting colder and colder. Temperature suddenly dropped back to 6 to 7℃ and I have to put on my thick again.

For the past six months, settlement related works have already been made and we are also gradually adapted to the UK life style.

Probably this is a right time for me to share with you some of my observations and thoughts regarding settlement in UK.

Accommodation takes up most of the expenses living in UK. Monthly rent for a two rooms apartment here in Kingston starts from £1500. Council Tax ranges from £115 to £343 subjected to the corresponding banding of the apartment. Band D for the most typical 2 rooms apartment is around £172.

Energy charge varies and really depends on the usage pattern. Taking my family as an example, the average energy charge is around £90 per month. And for expense on water supply, no separate charge will be made as it is currently covered in the Council Tax.
Personally I found spending on food is relatively lower in UK.

Fresh milk costs about £1.15 per bottle of 2.27 Litre, pack of 800g white bread at 60p, sliced cheese at 95p per pack, fruit jam at £1.6 per bottle, box of 15 pieces medium egg at £2, chilled chicken thigh fillet at £3.5 per 640g and even slice of 225g chilled sirloin steak only costs £4. Reason for such a low cost is all these are local produce and don’t require import from other countries.

One more item that I believed most Asian are keen to know. A bag of 5Kg Thai Jasmine rice only sells for £5.5.

So is it really cheaper than Hong Kong? I believe you should have the answer.
Eating/dining in cafes or restaurants will be much more expensive in UK. In Hong Kong, you can get a meal for 30 to 40 HK dollars in “Cha chaan teng” or 80 to 90 dollars in more decent restaurants. Of course, if you willing to pay more, there are a lot of prestige restaurants as well.

A cup of coffee costs around £3 in UK, sandwiches or pastry at £3 to £5. Whereas a main meal normally costs £12 to £13. However, pricing remains roughly the same across different restaurants.
Hong Kong is a fast paced place and you don’t have to wait very long in a restaurant before you food is ready. Whereas the situation is completely different in UK. No matter how busy a cafe/restaurant is, the chef will prepare you food according to his own pace. In order to fit perfectly into the society, learn to “let go” – Don’t push the waiter unless only necessary.
Transportation fare is quite costly in UK, especially for the railway service. You also need to be aware of the related penalties. The most common mistake is the failure to touch the meter when changing rail services and the system will automatically add the penalty to the trip. Another point to note is there is time limit for each trip. Travelling beyond the the limit will incur additional penalty.

Bus service is relatively cheaper. London Bus adopts a hopper fare of £1.55 that provides unlimited journey made within one hour of first travel. Child under 10 and student aged 11-15 with the Oyster Photocard are free. 16+ student living within London, it is also free, otherwise, there is a 50% discount off the standard adult fare. For student over 18, there is a discount of 30%.
Just like other western countries, people in British tends to wear fairly casually and focus more on practicality. In summer, T-shirt with a pair of jeans is very common. When the weather is getting colder, they will put on a waterproof jacket.

To be honest, I fully grasped the essence of this and save a lot in clothing.
Talking about buying casual clothes, supermarkets like ASDA or Sainsbury’s are some good alternatives as they are inexpensive, for example, you can get a T-shirt under £2. For slightly better, you may find Denim Jean at about £10 from Primark. Even if you want a waterproof jacket, you can get it starting from £60 from M&S or other outdoors clothing shops.

In case you would like to buy those normally available in Hong Kong, you may also consider to visit Uniqlo as it has been in UK for quite some times.
Except for buying cycling related products or coffee beans, I seldom do any online shopping while living in Hong Kong. Here in UK, shopping is a totally different experience. There are not many shops around and you don’t have much choices. Neither are those new and trendy items and that probably explained why online shopping is so popular here. In fact, whenever I walked around the concierge of my apartment, there will be pile of packages from Amazon or other online shopping platforms.

Shopping groceries online is another trend that promoted by supermarket chains like Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Lidl etc. With the benefits of saving shopping time and product delivery, this definitely a excellent choice for office workers.

In my case, I still have my groceries shopping in supermarkets nearby at a kind of physical exercise. For the rest of the shopping, I will have it done online.
Personally, I have some reservation towards electronic payment while living in Hong Kong and Octopus was the only electronic payment I used for transportation and settlement of small amount expenses. After arriving in UK, I noticed that most of the people here relied on electronic payment. By using Contactless card or smart phone tied up with bank account, nearly all of the day to day payment can be made.

Another point to note is that London Bus has gone cashless for quite a while. You need to have an Oyster Card, Contactless card or smartphone for payment.

One of the major drive force behind is definitely the Covid-19. Government and major business encourage people to use electronic payment as a way to stop the spreading of the epidemic while physically handling bank notes and coins.

Frankly speaking, other than the first few weeks upon arrival, I have completely switched to electronic payment in UK. And for those few thousands banknotes exchanged in UK, most of them are still sitting in the drawer.
Establishment of Credit History normally takes some time upon arrival in UK. As such, opening an account in traditional local bank or applying a credit card will not be an easy task. Preferably you should apply and activate an UK bank before you leave Hong Kong so that you can manipulate your funds more easily. In case this is not possible, you may consider to apply for an account with those virtual banks like Monzo or Starling where the account opening requirements are normally not so demanding.

Furthermore, I also suggest to apply a Debit card that support use of overseas currency before leaving Hong Kong. This will allow you to handle payments immediately after arrival in UK.

Personally, I will stay away from using credit card previously applied in Hong Kong as these will lead to un-necessary currency exchange.

記得四月尾到達倫敦,剛踏出機埸,氣溫只得七、八度,雖然已穿上厚厚外套,但還是有點吃不消。往後有幸過了一個陽光普照,和暖的夏天。轉眼半年,剛踏入十一月的深秋,這幾天氣溫又驟降到六、七度,又是時侯重新披上我的羽絨外衣了。

在過去的六個月,定居的安排已差不多辦妥,而對於英國的生活模式,亦逐漸適應。

今天就和大家分享一下我的個人體驗吧。

英國生活費用以住宿佔最大部分。Kingston 兩房住所月租約 1500 鎊起,Council Tax 方面則視乎住所 Banding,由 115 至 343 鎊不等,而較常見的 Band D 則是 172 鎊一個月。

電費及煤氣費用相信每個家庭都會不同,以我的情況為例,平均每月約 90 鎊,至於水費則已包括在 Council Tax 內。
日常食用我倒覺得非常便宜。本地牛奶 1.15 鎊 2.27 Litre,一包 800g 的白方包 60p,片裝芝士 95p 一包,菓醬 1.6 鎊一瓶,中裝雞蛋 2 鎊一盒 15 隻;冷藏鷄腿扒 3.5 鎊 640g,即使 225g 的冷藏西冷牛扒亦只需 4 鎊,價錢低的一個原因相信是這些食品是本地出產,不需從外地輸入。

還有一樣相信好多亞裔人仕都感興趣的是,一包 5 公斤裝的泰國茉莉花絲苗米亦只售 5.5 鎊。

至於是否比香港更便宜,相信大家心裏有數。
不想自己煮的話,出外飲食就昂貴得多。在香港可以説是豐儉由人,茶餐廳三、四十元一餐飯,稍為好一點的餐廳八、九十元都有,當然再好一點、貴一點亦有。

在英國簡單一杯咖啡要三鎊,三文治、pastry 三至五鎊。主食一般都要十二、三鎊,不同店子價錢反而又差異不太大。
香港生活節奏急促,食店或餐廳一般在十多分鐘內有得食。英國就悠閒得多了,無論多少客人,廚師都會根據自己節奏烹調。

要融入英國社會,首要學懂「放下」,如非必要,切勿催促。
英國的交通開支頗高,尤其是火車,亦要留意相關罰款。最常見的是轉車忘記拍錶,稍為大意系統即自動扣除高昂的罰款。另一樣不可忽略的是每程都會有相應的時間上限,逾時亦會有罰款。

巴士相對便宜,倫敦巴士是以單一價錢 1.55 鎊一程,同一小時內轉乘不另收費;10 歲以下免費;11 – 15 歲憑 Oyster Photocard 免費;16+ 居於倫敦內憑 Oyster Photocard 亦免費,不然就半價收費;而 18+ 歲學生則七折收費。
與其他西方國家一樣,英國人生活較簡樸,衣著多以實用性為主,夏天一般都是 T-shirt 加條牛仔褲,天氣轉涼就會多披一件防水 jacket。這點我就完全掌握,天天如是,省下不少買衫錢。
講起買衫,如果只是日常衣物,超市如 ASDA、 Sainsbury’s 都有,而且非常便宜,兩鎊一件 T-shirt,好少少可以去 Primark,十鎊一條 Denim Jean。即使防水外套,M&S 或一些戶外用品店都只是六十鎊起。另外 Uniqlo 亦登陸了英國好一段時間,想找回一些亞洲穿戴氣息,這𥚃亦是一個不錯的選擇。
身在香港時,我通常會到實體店舖購物,只有向外地訂購單車用品或咖啡豆等物品才作網購。到了英國後,Shopping 完全是另一體驗,實體店舖甚少,選擇亦不多,更不要説要買新上市物品,難怪網購在這𥚃那麼興旺。每天回家,路過 Concierge 都會見到一堆堆 Amazon 及其他購物平台的送貨包。

另外超市亦極力推廣網購,對於上班一族,既慳時間,又不需自行搬回家,確是一個非常好的選擇。

粗略估計,除日常食品外,我現時已差不多全數網購。
以往在香港我對電子貨幣會有些保留,一般只會用八達通作交通或小額支付。到了英國後發覺大部分人都使用電子貨幣,一張 Contactless card 或捆綁了銀行咭的手機已可完全應附日常消費。

另一樣要留意的是,倫敦巴士是不可以使用現金乘搭。乘客只可以用 Oyster Card,Contactless Card 或手機作支付。

電子貿幣普及其中一個推動力是 Covid-19,政府或商業機構都希望市民不用現金,以減少疫情因接觸及處理貨幣而散播。

坦白講,除了到英國的頭半個月外,我今天已全數使用手機支付;先前從香港帶來的數千英鎊紙幣,大部分仍完封不動!
建立個人 Credit History 需時,到了英國後申請實體銀行戶口及信用卡通用會較困難。如果可以,盡量在離港前申請及啟動英國本地戶口,那麼資金運用會方便很多。沒有的話,就可考慮申請一些虛擬銀行如 MonzoStarling 等戶口,開戶條件一般較傳統銀行寬鬆。

另外亦建議在香港申請一張支援外幣使用的 Debit Card,到達英國後便可即時用以支付消費。

而先前在香港已擁有的信心卡,因有𣾀率轉換的問題,如非必要我會避免使用。

Digression

Quite a lot of the Hong Kong families have arrived in the Kingston areas since mid-July and you will come across them easily in the Kingston Old Market, shopping centres and supermarkets. Sometimes when you stepped into cafes or restaurants, you would notice that the once quiet environment was filled with “their” experience sharing, laughters and even children’s screaming.

Having a nice gathering is definitely a joyful thing, however, is the “scene” looked familiar to you?

We now became “New Immigrant“, should we let go of some of those “bad habits“?

題外話

從七月中開始,Kingston 來了很多香港家庭,無論在 Kingston Old Market,商場或超市都有發現他們的足跡。很多時當你踏進一些食店後,會發覺原本清靜的環境都會彌漫著「他們」高談闊論的聲音或小朋友的叫聲。

難得在異鄉一聚當然是非常開心,不過這種「場面」大家又可有點熟悉的感覺?

今天我們變身「新移民」,是否要放下一些「陋習」呢?


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17 replies »

  1. 跟我聽到的經歷差不多,巴士現在真的不收現金,很多都網購。入鄉隨俗之餘也記住跟子女講廣東話。

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Interesting….and I hope you will get more English language comments which means meeting more people who are comfortable to comment here in English. They need to break the habit if the comment is non-controvesial: you are in a TOTALLY in a different country and more open.
    Sorry, as a Canadian-born I can’t read Chinese at all.

    Hope you and family will over time, like the UK alot…but maybe some of you have lived there before?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the blessing. My family & I had never lived in UK before but we truly enjoyed living here. To be honest, UK is really wonderful and that’s why moved here.

      By the way, those lovely ladies commented here are highly proficient in English. The reason we communicated in Chinese (Cantonese, to be exact) is that we tried to preserve Cantonese as a dialect. 😄

      Liked by 1 person

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