Moving to England from US: some questions

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Matt Stryker, Feb 26, 2002.

  1. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    It looks as though my wife and I may have a chance to move to the UK in June 2003, and I have a ton of questions about England that I was hoping someone (British or otherwise) would have an answer to.
    First off is employment. I currently work with IBM, building and maintaining Cisco-based ethernet and token-ring networks; I'd like to find a job that requires that skill set in England, but I'm not sure what the market is like (or will be like) for people with Cisco experience. Also, how will my pay work (assuming I'm working for a British company) and how do income taxes work in the UK? What kind of visa (or other approval) do I need to seek a job in England, and is there any sponsorship necessary?
    Location: My wifes job will be located in Birmingham (not the one in Alabama); how are living prices in/outside the city? What are the main industries located there? Any US corporations with large offices there? What should we be looking for in terms of housing, and how much should we expect to pay?
    Home Theaters (of course, the most important thing [​IMG] )- I currently have a fair amount of equipment, and I'm wondering if its worth carting off to England. Will I be taxed on specific items I bring (Such as my LT150 projector)? Will my equipment run ok on converted current? If I move to England, will I be the first person there with an SVS? [​IMG]
    Any other gotchas that you know of would be helpful. We're still in the consideration stage at this point, so we're trying to see if its possible and smart to pursue. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    As for the immigration laws, check out the British equivalent of the INS, the IND at http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/
    Can't help with the rest of the stuff. [​IMG]
    /Mike
     
  3. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    The first thing you need to get used to Matt is the cost of living here. Taxes are higher, prices are (generally) higher. Fuel is (a hell of a lot) more expensive. Food is more expensive. Live here for a while and you wont be complaining about having to spend $3 on a gallon of gas, believe me.
    And it rains a lot.
     
  4. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    And as for yout HT equipment? Forget it. I spent a year there away from my beloved HT watching a bloody 21" tv! Some appliances/electronics won't work even with adapters and converters. And even if they do, you run the risk of long term damage. Oh, and take lots of money!
     
  5. andrew markworthy

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    Rob's pretty much covered the stuff I was going to say. I'd just reinforce that prices vary enormously according to district, and houses a few hundred yards apart can vary enormously in price, depending on their district. The general rule is that if it's cheap, you probably don't want it.

    You don't mention if you have kids - if you do then school catchment area (i.e. the area from which the school will accept intake) is paramount. The best Brit state schools are on a par with the top private schools, but the worst ... Trouble is that property prices in a good school's catchment area can be easily 25 per cent more than identical property in another area. If you want info on identifying schools, get back to me, and I'll be glad to help.

    An awful lot of people live outside Birmingham and commute in. I live in Worcester (about half an hour's drive away) and I reckon half the neighbourhood commutes to Brum (as it's called locally). You can thus choose between countryside, small village, city living, small town. Generally, price is a good guide to how nice an area is It's difficult to make generalisations, but around Birmingham, 120,000 (min) should buy you a small but respectable property. Remember that UK houses tend to be smaller than in the States, but the build quality is *way* better. Also, prices can be dictated to a perverse extent by how 'individual' the house is, regardless of size or other features (if you have any thoughts of a thatched cottage, have at least 250,000 available!). In addition, some areas are fashionable for no discernible reason (Solihull on the outskirts of Birmingham is a case in point). If all this is putting you off, remember that there is a decent range of rental property as well.

    Don't be too put off by talk of 'it's more expensive'. Yep, some things are, but it's generally not *that* bad, and there are compensations - free health service (though with long waiting lists for relatively minor operations, and you have to pay something towards dental work), and if you're going to Birmingham, three great things - the Birmingham Symphony Hall (reckoned to be one of the best in the world, and with a world-class local orchestra), the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford, and of course all the Indian restaurants in Birmingham city centre.

    If you want to read an American's perceptions of Britain, try Bill Bryson's 'Notes From a Small Island'. He's an unashamed Anglophile, but it'll give you some idea of the range of British life and culture.
     
  6. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Producer

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  7. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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  8. Marianne

    Marianne Supporting Actor

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  9. Eric Kahn

    Eric Kahn Guest

    I believe the UK has 50 cycle power and unless your equipment is designed for 50 cycles or is universal with a switch, don't bother taking it
    Your best bet would be to contact teh manufacturerer of each piece and ask them.
    while you arew over there you can ship me one of the multi sync tv that are sold in europe and the UK so I can watch my PAL stuff without the speed up[​IMG]
     
  10. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    Thanks for all the suggestions. Her job will be at the university, so we'd like to live somewhere near (but definitely not on) the campus. We have no kids, and would probably give our dog to a friend (he doesn't poop on concrete well); a small flat would be fine, rental probably preferred.

    I've been thinking I may just sell everything in my HT here and just keep my DVDs; then just buy a new system when I get back. I was under the impression the FPTV was particularly expensive to buy over there, that was why I was thinking of bringing the PJ over and perhaps selling it.

    As far as weather, Atlanta's winters are pretty much 40 degrees and rain, so I'm somewhat familiar with the climate.

    Eric- If you're paying shipping and taxes, sure. It wouldn't be until next summer though.
     
  11. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    Oh, and bring me back some red bull! I just moved back to Minneapolis and was excited to see Red Bull in the grocery store...that is until I checked the price; $2.50 arrgghhh [​IMG] I was able to get a can for just 80p in Tescos!
     
  12. andrew markworthy

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    Just to answer a couple of points:

    (a) British dentistry is *not* awful, contrary to everything you've heard. The difference is not in basic treatment, but in the level of cosmetic dentistry. Until recently, Brits have found the idea of gleaming white even teeth as unattractively artificial (before any Brit contradicts this, think about how the Osmonds and other chessy US pop stars had the pee taken out of them in the 1970s because of their gleaming white gnashers). We tend to have teeth that look 'natural' (but are perfectly healthy). If you want to look like you've a mouth full of dentures, just tell the dentist, and he'll be quite happy to pander to your whims.

    (b) Marianne, Brit building regulations are a lot more stringent - I'm racking my brains for a web source to support this, but it really is correct. Occasionally there are articles in the press about exactly why American houses are so much cheaper than Brit ones. This for some reason cheers Brits up.

    Going back on topic - if you're going to live in Brum or nearby, I'd personally avoid Solihull (or 'Snobby Hell' as it's known by non-Solihullians). Try e.g. Bourneville or some of the other leafier suburbs (knowing my standard of advice on property matters, this should guarantee that the areas either become ridiculously expensive overnight or otherwise no-go zones full of drug dealers).
     
  13. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Which university? Birmingham or Aston? There's a lot of areas that could be considered decent around Birmingham University, but you really don't want to live around Aston. Asston is should have been named. I know, I work there.
     
  14. Graham Perks

    Graham Perks Second Unit

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    I don't know that the houses are much cheaper. I think it's more to do with the land cost.

    Here in the middle of Austin TX, you can buy some very expensive homes with less than 2000 sq ft (or 3 bedroom/1 bath as they'd say in the UK!)

    Go out of town and texas is a big place. Lots of land for cheap.

    The building is the same, the land price is not.

    Take England, a population about a sixth of the USA's, squeezed into a space smaller than Florida. No wonder land is a bit pricey :) A bit like New England...
     
  15. CharlesD

    CharlesD Screenwriter

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    I've lived in both the US and the UK and I'd agree that, in general, that the houses are better in the UK.
    However, I think that it depends alot on which part of the US you compare with the UK. Newer houses in both the US & the UK are not up to the standards of older the buildings, and in many parts of the US there is nothing older than 150 years, and huge areas of houses less than 50 years old.
    And of course all those old buildings in the UK were built to last otherwise they wouldn't still be there [​IMG] !
     
  16. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    Rob- Birmingham University. I haven't been over to see it yet, but I have seen pictures. Is it located near any of the main business districts, or would I probably be looking at a commute?
     
  17. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Birmingham Uni has a large campus situated a few miles outside of the city centre and is easily accessible.
    The 'business areas' as such are all over the place. There are a lot of industrial estates dotted in and around the city (and beyond). Birmingham isn't that big really. Certainly nothing like London. You'll probably find the whole country 'small' compared to the US [​IMG]
     
  18. andrew markworthy

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    I do a lot of my research in collaboration with researchers at Birmingham University, and know it pretty well. It's a nice campus (has its own railway station and you can be in the city centre in ten minutes, so no particular problems over commuting)and surprisingly green and open (a contrast with quite a lot of Brum!). There's also Aston University (very much city centre and not as physically attractive, though academically a good place for many subjects) and there's University of Central England (used to be Birmingham Polytechnic - all our polytechnics were made into universities about ten years ago - they're generally known as 'new universities').
     
  19. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    I found a dentist in the UK that actually washed his hands before working o in my mouth.

    A friend of mine actually wouldn't let the dentist in his mouth because his hands were visably dirty...the 'dentist' got all huffy about it

    Generally prices are the same....just mulitply by the exchange rate

    I worked in the UK as a Engineer for a US company at Vickers (UK).

    I saw some openings for engineers with 5 -10yrs experience that was about half what I was making in the states

    Good Luck
     
  20. andrew markworthy

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    Grant, they all wear gloves now. My regular dentist in Barrow used to wash his hands in clove-scented antispetic wash. The result is that I can't smell anything with the scent of cloves without a feeling of anxiety.

    Engineers generally get a pretty raw deal in Britain, even compared with Europe (compare with e.g. Germany or France). We're still paying the price for Victorian educational 'reformers' like Arnold, who felt that anything to do with industry was menial work. My dad was an engineer in Vickers and trust me, I remember the lectures on how bad the pay was vividly.
     

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