How to adjust to life if you’ve moved to the UK


With its great universities, centers of business, and contributions to popular culture ranging from Romeo and Juliet to James Bond, it’s of no surprise that the United Kingdom remains a top destination to live.

In fact, 14% of the UK’s population was born overseas with a particularly strong representation originally from India and Poland.

But, like a lot of countries worldwide, the UK was no stranger to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, making it a bit of a different experience than big moves to the UK in previous years.

So, we’ve compiled a quick list of financial and cultural tips to make the adjustment to your new British home a bit easier.

1. Money without borders

In the UK, you’ll be operating in British pounds, but with the European Union a skip and a hop away, you’ll likely be traveling frequently to the content or Ireland as, fingers crossed, COVID improves.

A Wise account is a one-stop-shop for all your multi-currency needs. It lets you send and receive and send payments between over 50 currencies. You can even get a debit card, which can be useful for those future travels or if you run your own business.

“Wise is the only provider where I know I’m getting a fair price, and it’s been so easy to use,” Ben Sheppee, who recently moved back to his native UK, recently told us. “I’m an artist, I don’t want to spend a lot of time making payments. We’ve worked with 70 artists in 16 countries and had projects in 26 countries so having a global payment system we can rely on has been vital.”

Transferwise really cuts down on those insane international exchange and conversion rates that can often reach a peak during the first year of an international move.

2. Keep to a budget

One thing that remains consistent in both pandemic and non-pandemic years is that moving to the UK is expensive.

The average Londoner spends over 40% of their monthly income on rent. While this varies from city to city, it is representative of what to expect.

As you’re juggling housing, food, and entertainment budgets, you’ll also need to determine which bank is right for you. Wise is a great option for your international banking needs, but if you’re looking for a domestic banking option, there are several options like Barclays, NatWest, and Lloyds to name a few. The UK has also several neobanks, like Starling, Monzo, and Revolut, which have been particularly popular among expats in recent years.

3. COVID resources — and deliveries

The British government has been regularly updating its coronavirus measures using a tiered system to describe different levels of restrictions.

The official resource for government information is, and the BBC is another good resource for keeping up-to-date with any changes in COVID policy. The NHS also has more information on testing tips and their tracing app.

Throughout this year, the various stay-at-home orders have led to a rise in popularity for online delivery services. Ocado, which sells Marks and Spencers food, is one example of this, while other supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose all have their own delivery services.

4. Queueing

It’s widely known that Brits embrace “the queue,” or “line” to more American English speakers. But whether or not the Brits like to queue is a whole other question, but they do indeed seem to respect the concept on a whole.

“If in doubt, assume there is a queue. Make sure you don’t barge in!” my friend Elizabeth says. “Even if it’s not formal, like at the bus stop. Whoever was there first, gets on first, even if the queue is a bit ragged. Same goes for pubs.”

But there have been some reports, like this one at WIRED UK, that the art of queuing has faced some interruptions due to COVID (whereas it seems like other parts of the world are just discovering it as measures indicate lines outside certain shops!).

5. Cheering for health care

Even as a non-Brit, chances are you’ve heard of the NHS, short for the National Health System. Videos of Brits cheering for their health professionals tackling the coronavirus made international news and social media earlier this year.

But that aside, the NHS is the UK’s public health care system that is afforded to citizens and legal residents. There may be some nuances regarding surcharges depending on your immigration status, so definitely become familiarized with your particular situation and make any related healthcare and insurance adjustments.

It’s difficult to condense the various adjustments you’ll experience in the UK to just a few, but you’re in good company there. One Wise customer had it particularly hard when he first landed, getting — you guessed it — COVID symptoms.

Paul, who moved to the UK at the onset of COVID with a pregnant wife, described the various difficulties compounded by this “new normal.” Ultimately, they were positive. But he said, “I was amazed how many people offered to help in any way possible. All of this support made a very difficult time bearable.”


Transferwise is also here to make these difficult moves and expensive transactions easier. In a world that’s seen tightened borders this year, Wise wants your finances to do without them.

Need to send or receive money internationally? Wise can help you manage your money across borders more cheaply and easily. Join our 9 million customers at, or through our Android or iOS app.

Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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