Settling in the UK

I always knew that settling in the UK wasn’t going to be easy, but in some ways it’s proved way more challenging than I’d expected. Read on to find out why…

let’s start at the very beginning

We arrived on Saturday 12 June and went straight into compulsory hotel quarantine. We finished up on Wednesday 23 June and headed to Bristol for a few nights. From there we headed to London and into a (small) 2 bedroom apartment whilst we looked for our long term rental. In my rough plan we were going to be in a rental apartment until end July, maybe mid-August latest by which time we’d have found our rental (in the countryside and NOT London).

We had to buy our car cash, pay insurance & MOT up front for a year all because we have no credit history yet. We knew this though and had budgeted for it. Having a car was a non-negotiable for us! Even though a big tank of a 4×4 was not the best car for London-life, having a car has been great and we wouldn’t have it any other way! We have since sold the tank and bought an electric car; kinder to the environment AND better for city driving!

Luckily, we managed to enrol Tristan in (free) school where his cousins are so that was a massive win, and Grayson was accepted into the nursery right next door. Result!

He only goes 3,5 days a week as it’s quite expensive (nursery is very pricey in the UK and you don’t have to commit to all days of the week, you can choose full day or half day and which days).

settling in the uk

Renting in the UK is so different to South Africa. Firstly the advertised price is not fixed; it’s totally flexible in either direction. WHO gets the property is also not on a first-come-first-served basis. Bottom line, whether you get a property or not is based on your offer being the best the landlord receives. So we lost a few properties because we didn’t put in the highest price! 🤯

Eventually, after deciding to remain in London for 1 year, we put in an offer on a terraced house and it was accepted! Hallelujah! When we viewed the property it was in a terrible condition; I have no idea how people actually lived in the space! Part of our offer included a list of things that needed to be sorted out before we moved in. It was written into the contract and both us and the estate agent, Foxtons, signed it.

broken contract

The day arrived for us to finally move in and… NOTHING had been done to the property! I was crushed; how has this happened? Contractually Foxton’s had broken the terms of engagement but they weren’t phased at all. Either this is normal or they literally don’t give a damn and know no one is going to get lawyers involved because they (lawyers) are so expensive! So we moved into a house that was falling apart at the seams – the fridge didn’t work, cupboard doors were missing, walls had been drawn on by previous tenant kids, toilet seats broken, the list goes on and on! I was so disappointed, but not once did I even joke about turning around and heading home to South Africa.

always look on the bright side of life

Moving from SA to the UK has highlighted just how privileged a life we had back in SA. We have help for everything and anything and it’s cheap! Here in the UK help – domestic or otherwise – is available but comes with a price tag and whilst we are still converting it hurts! Not only that, but our house in 3 storeys so my days involve going up and down the stairs more times than I can count (hello sexy legs!).

When we had furniture delivered (we shipped NOTHING over), we not only had to build it ourselves (I am literally the flatpack queen; I could probably get a job doing it) but then also carry it up the (narrow, winding) stairs to whichever room it was destined for.

But, we can order pretty much anything we want online, and have it delivered as soon as the very next day! And even things sent via Royal Mail (post) arrives on time, still packaged (nothing stolen) and by a friendly face!

first world life

First world efficiency is an actual thing! Things work here. Service levels are far superior to anything we’ve ever received in South Africa in many years; cashiers, postman, cleaners, bus drivers are happy, smiling, courteous and polite!

We are all loving living here, but it doesn’t come without its ups and downs. Stay tuned for more posts about our emigration journey.

Much love xxx


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