Oddly enough, even though I’ve spent almost all of the prior ten-year period living in Asia (Malaysia, Philippines, China, Thailand), I’ve rarely considered what the advantages and disadvantages of living in the UK are as an expat.
From that, I would imagine that you now realize I’m from the UK (even though my spelling might suggest I’m from the US – I have a tendency for using “z” or “zee” instead of the “s.”)
Actually, there are numerous benefits of living in Asia (particularly some place like the Philippines) if you’re from more developed countries such as the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and others.
Those benefits are reflected, in some respect, within this article.
Nevertheless, let me try to provide you with some of the answers you are currently seeking to what are the advantages and the disadvantages of living in the UK. That is, as someone originally from the UK, and also as an expat who comes to the UK.
Advantages of Living in the UK (with regards to expats and people from the UK originally)
1 Financially strong
Do remember that, even though the UK has been part of the EU since 1973 (though, with the advent of Brexit, that scenario is about to change), we still utilize the UK pound sterling here, and not the euro.
Regardless of that, you can, if you wish, earn a lot of money here in a relatively short space of time. And, you don’t have to have a degree to do it, either.
I mean, let’s take working in a warehouse, for example.
There are tons of huge warehouses in the UK. Warehouses supplying supermarkets, DIY stores, you name it.
The minimum wage in the UK, at this time, is £8.21.
If you’re on the minimum wage, you ain’t becoming a millionaire anytime soon.
Nevertheless, if you do your 40-hour shift work, and you also do, say, eight hours of overtime each week (paid at time and a half = £12.30 per hour), after tax and national insurance contributions, I dare say you’d receive a monthly wage of around £1,400 by doing a basic warehouse job.
There are, potentially, multiple expenses to come out of that wage, but, let’s say you share your accommodation with two other people. You can still pocket a fair amount each month.
A guesstimate of how much you could pocket? 800 quid monthly.
Just as another example. Let’s say a teacher.
In the UK, the starting salary for a teacher at a secondary school (high school) in England (or Wales) that’s outside of London is around 24 grand UK pounds sterling (£23,720 to be exact) for the current teaching year (2018/2019).
For teachers with a more experience, they can expect somewhere around the £35k mark salary.
Additionally, there are quite a few very attractive benefits for teachers in the United Kingdom.
2 Economically strong
This point – “economically strong” – may seem to be the same as the first, but it’s not.
By “economically strong,” I mean that the UK has a very, very healthy track record over many centuries for being financially well “endowed.”
What’s more, while corruption does exist in the UK (as it does in every country) it’s minimal in comparison to someplace like the Philippines, Malaysia, China.
Then, there’s free basic education, there’s free healthcare through the National Health Service (NHS), there’s financial (and, possibly, also material) help from the government if you’re unemployed.
Then, regardless of how financially wealthy you are, in the UK, if you’ve fully contributed to your national insurance, you get a state pension, too. You get £8,767.20 per tax year as of the current tax year, 2019/2020.
3 Infrastructure is excellent
Telephone networks (mobile and landline), internet, television (in terms of the number and quality of the channels), you name it, you’ll find it to be of good to excellent quality in the UK.
In the Philippines, almost wherever you reside, you’re guaranteed a black out (or a brown out, if you want to call it that) on a weekly basis. In the UK, if there’s a very bad storm, power may go out for a few hours. But it’s an extreme rarity to have a black out in the UK.
Water supply to home in the Philippines, depending on where you are, goes off frequently. In the UK there’s none of that.
Public transport, while folks always complain about it in the UK, is superior to most other countries and relatively affordable, particularly when booked in advance (though, that does not apply to taxis which are not cheap in the UK).
What are the Disadvantages of Living in the UK?
1 It’s costly
It’s expensive to live in the UK, there’s no getting away from it.
Sure, there are some things that are relatively cheap.
Shopping at a typical supermarket – Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s – or shopping at one of the “more affordable” chains such as Lidl, is, generally speaking, kind of cheap, depending on what’s on your grocery list.
But, cost of buying or renting property in the UK is far, far from cheap.
Utilities are, likewise, very expensive, inclusive of gas and electric.
Internet and phone (landline and mobile) are very affordable and of high quality.
Owning your own car is far from cheap, also. Cost of petrol (gas) is expensive, plus there are all sorts of other fees (inclusive of taxes) involved in owning your own car.
Then, once more, the cost of taxis is at least – in my approximation – ten times more than in the Philippines.
Cigarettes, again, at least ten times more money for a pack of cigs in the UK than it is in Philippines.
Haircut – for a man – in the Philippines you can get your haircut for 40 pesos (60 UK pennies), or, at some places, even less than that. In the UK, cheapest you’ll be able to get your hair cut for is around 10 quid.
I could go on… and on…
This is a bit of a bugbear for me, too.
It’s cold in the UK, and can even be cold in midsummer.
If it’s cold in the summer in the UK, imagine what it’s like in the winter.
Go to Scotland and that cold breeze/ wind is, like… YIKES!!
Is the UK a Good Place to Live?
If you can find work, which isn’t difficult, and you’re willing to put in the hours, you can have a good life in the United Kingdom.
Cost of living is generally high.
Nevertheless, quality of life can be high, too. Depends what you value most, really.
For me, I prefer to work less and live for less, which is why I spend most of my life in Asia, particularly the Philippines. That’s what a quality life is for me.