Living in the UK – part 1

I’ve moved to the UK from Switzerland in early 2003… what an interesting experience to live on this Island. Here are a few comment for those of you who are considering to live in Sunny England. And a disclaimer for the natives: I really enjoy it here, but there are still a few things that could be improved. Consider these as constructive comments ;-)

When I joined Corel in early 2003, I had to relocate to the UK, living in Switzerland before that. To make it short, this is a great country to live in, with a few little things that make it so unique and give its charm. I live in Maidenhead, Berkshire, which is about 30 minutes west of London by train.

To get started, trains are not always that late in the UK. I don’t know where this myth comes from, but train timetables are actually something you can take as a good starting point, at least if you travel between Maidenhead and London. Just one thing, avoid them the day after a public holiday. It seems that National Rail, the organization behind the rail-tracks, is always scheduling maintenance work on long week-ends (which is a great idea), but never manage to finish on time.

And for those who consider driving, there is a nice parking lot all around London. It’s called the M25. This highway that forms a circle all around the city is usually moving very slowly in the morning and evening, during week days at least. The speed limit at 70 miles per hour (about 110 kilometers per hour) seems to be only an indication on the M25 with an average at 5 MPH or 85 MPH depending on the hour of the day. Considering that speeding cameras are everywhere on that highway, I am not sure how things work from a speeding perspective… As I like to say… Whatever!

If you consider moving to the UK, you need to get one document as quickly as possible: A Utility Bill. Without that, forget about everything. So what is that. A Utility Bill is an invoice from a company delivering a service to your address such as the phone line, electricity, water. Once you have that magical piece of paper, you can open a bank account, get a cell phone (on a monthly plan, the utility bill is not required for the pay-as-you go offers), and almost everything else except buying groceries with cash (remember, you don’t have a bank account yet, so how would you have a simple debit card).

So what’s the catch? You need to have a home address in the UK to get this utility bill. And to be able to rent a place of your own, you usually need a bank account, for which you need a utility bill. Sounds like someone didn’t think it through for people who relocate to the UK from another country. I was lucky and got a lot of help from my employer and didn’t need a visa to come live and work in England. Once you have a home address, the fastest Utility Bill you can get is the one from BT (the British phone line company) – I got mine in 48 hours.

Because this blog entry would not be complete without it, here is the number one question I have to ask: What about the mixer? The one thing that still surprises me is that when you have a tap, you usually have one for the hot and one for the cold water separated, not mixed as tepid water? Well, seems like the mixer technology is not available on 80% of the taps in this great country. Water is either burning hot or freezing cold, never just right. For the men who shave the old fashioned way, I am certain you understand :-)

OK, enough complains. The parts of the UK that I have visited so far are really great. The weather is really not so bad, isn’t it? Summers are not to hot and usually benefit from a decent amount of sunshine, and winters are rarely below 0° Celsius. The cities and the landscapes are really wonderful and the people are very nice (except the drivers on the M25, but that’s another story).

My only complain is that I haven’t had a chance to go visit this island in more details… but hopefully soon.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, October 15th, 2005 at 9:56 EDT and is filed under travel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Living in the UK – part 1”

  1. G?©rard’s Blog » Blog Archive » Living in the UK - Part 2 Says:

    [...] To follow-up on the previously posted Part 1, I’ve got a few extra things to add about living in this great country. In no specific order: the Aga, the movie theaters, the NHS and the weather (yes, I missed that one last time… how could I!). As previously, these are constructive comments or views from a surprised resident. [...]

  2. Gerard’s CC:World » Blog Archive » Living in Ontario, Canada - Part 1 Says:

    [...] of saying things, that is for someone who grew-up on the other side of the Atlantic. As for when living in the UK before coming to this side of the world, there are things that come as a surprise to me, some [...]

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