Many of us toy with the idea of setting up camp in the UK. We watch our friends do it, we hear news from family over there and we think to ourselves: “I’m sure I could do it too”.
Once we’ve had the conversations, done the thinking and made the decision to move, it all becomes very exciting and we’re quickly swept up in the romance of it all.
Reg Bamford, CEO of 1st Contact and Sable, has been moving South Africans over to the UK for the past 20 years. In fact, he founded and established an entire business especially for South Africans doing just that.
In chatting with Bamford, we have identified five things for you to seriously consider before you make the move.
Before moving you should ask yourself: “Do I have enough money to survive in one of the most expensive cities in the world?”.
Unless you have a work permit handy and your employer lined up from day one, the reality is you’re going to start spending money and not earning any. “It’s emotionally daunting if you don’t have a job, but financially it’s a killer,” says Bamford.
It’s no joke when you’re spending R1,000 a week just travelling in zone one and two in London and on top of that you’ve got to pay rent and maybe even eat. Bamford advises budgeting for four or five months without an income.
“Some people lose their nerves and leave after two months,” he says. “You’ve always got to budget for slightly more and slightly longer than you were probably hoping for.”
When it comes to transferring money, it’s as simple as making sure you get as many Pounds for your Rands as you can.
“Most South Africans default to their banks to transfer money, but the sad reality is that the banks are not on your side,” says Bamford.
“Your bank is looking to make as much money as possible and at the end of the day, you’ll get a miserable rate.”
Bottom line: To get the most bang for your buck, avoid the bank and rather use an international money transfer service such as 1st Contact Forex.
How do you know if you’re eligible for a UK Ancestry or spousal visa if you don’t ask? There is no greater satisfaction for businesses such as Philip Gamble & Partners than helping a South African claim UK citizenship when they thought it was near impossible.
If your spouse is British or European, it makes things a whole lot easier. However, obtaining a spousal visa can be a royal pain (and can cause serious heartbreak further along the line). If you don’t know the ins and outs of the UK law, it’s advisable that you seek professional advice before skipping over with your partner.
If you’re looking to sell your house in South Africa, when you choose to sell it has huge tax implications, not only in South Africa, but also in the UK.
If you sell before you leave, while you’re leaving (say you spend two to three weeks travelling before settling in the UK) or after you’ve left, that will change how that property is taxed, explains Bamford.
Again, the professionals always know best.
“Some people think that they’ve got to sign up with 100 agencies and others think it’s fine to sign up with just one,” says Bamford. “We say, don’t do that. Sign up with three to five of the best agencies in the field you work in.”
Searching for these agencies on the Internet will swallow you whole. Instead, join a job assistance programme where you will be put in touch with the best of the best. 1st Contact’s job assistance programme has good working relations with agencies in the UK who are trustworthy and accustomed to finding the perfect jobs for South Africans.
“South Africans can find a job here,” says Bamford. “If you’ve got that will to find a job, you will find one.”
Bamford’s greatest piece of advice for any South African considering making the move is: “Trust the professionals who have done it before”.
In today’s world, we simply type our symptoms into Google and self-medicate instead of seeking professional advice.
“You see it in all walks of life, people think that they can save money by trying to do everything by themselves. You’ll end up paying far more for mistakes you’ve made early on than you would up front to get good advice.”