Relocating back to the UK – experiences and tips
Almost a month ago I wrote a post here. Unfortunately not a long vacation that dragged me away from the keyboard. Just after completing a huge milestone in our refurbishment project in June, we have already planned to continue our life on an other thread. As I finished the weekly commuting of 5000 kms and Reni the work on the project, next week we were on the road again driving back to the UK. We often say, we burn the candle from two ends, this is a good example of that.
As you may know from previous posts, we have lived in the UK for 10 years. I must say, we needed this four years of life and work experience abroad. Part of this experience we have learnt a lot and few actions we regret. Regret is also part of the learning process but I wouldn’t say an enjoyable feeling, when you must face with the consequences of a past decision.
We experienced living a life without being attached to any countries and governments, living FREE. Became vegan, started yoga, been introduced to the Wim Hof Method, started blogging and I became a must better version of myself than I used to exist. We traveled, lived and/or worked from about 15 countries during the recent years. Established my business in Estonia, gained our permanent residency in South America, purchased two properties in Hungary and sold one in the UK – while was working for a client in Germany. What a few years! We started living a so called Digital Nomad life and really enjoyed that.
Selling our first house in the UK was one of our regret – unfortunately back in 2019 I was not enough financially educated to know, once you manage to have a real estate, it is always a valuable asset and even the prices go up and down short term, long term a really good investment. I must admit, News can influence my decisions, mostly sold our first home because of panic: it will lose its value.
Nomadic life was like a dream until we got fed up spending long hours with finding our next Air B&B accommodation. Days gone with sitting in the car and traveling. These were fun in the beginning but after driving 130.000 kms in 3 years, booking&living in ~100 accommodations, we started to desire for a more settled life. Traveling with a dog is still complicated and often you have to make compromises where you stay, just because dog friendly holiday homes are still rare. Plus this place must have a place where we can do yoga, have a minimum 3 rooms, free parking spot and price is within our budget. So you can imagine… It’s like if you eat too much ice cream, after some scoops you start full and even sick. We collected many memories but our professional life (businesses) stuck. I noticed, I am no longer in the top IT consultants in my field. Traveling consumed the energy (and money) we could spend on learning and improving our businesses. We had to do something about it. We must study, level up to keep up with the trend. So we made a decision to settle down for a few months or years, pause our vagabonding life in order to become stronger. Build a solid foundation for our main income streams. This does not mean we gave up this nomadic lifestyle: we want to resume it better prepared and on a more advanced level.
I am writing now from a picturesque village in Nottinghamshire, where we rent a 200 years old cottage. This place is not too far from big cities but enough far from the hectic life of overcrowded areas. 1.5 months gone since we moved in to this unfurnished cottage with only few belongings we brought with ourselves in the car.
How was starting a settled life again as digital nomads?
Emotionally I had to accept, giving up our freedom is long term good for us. Paying 44% tax is also serving its purpose now (the hardest for me to consume now). In 2018 we flowed into the nomad life without any research, background work. We want to do it in a more advanced level with a solid business.
Four years ago we did not burn all bridges behind us; we kept our bank accounts, which came a big advantage when we came back. We have a continuous Royal Mail redirection from our our last known address in the UK to a virtual post box address. From this post box, they could forward any post to any of my temporary address abroad or just scanned the content of a letter. This way we could maintain an address, receive expired bank cards and important documents. Having a UK bank account with many years of history and also a bank statement with an address were esssential to have. I could use this bank statement temporary to start my new contract here and for renting a property. This way, resuming our life in the UK was like just waking up after a long dream.
I recommend you, if you leave the UK for some time, keep at least your bank account registered to your last known address and use a mail redirection to the UK Postbox service. Redirection annually costs about £70 and £5-£20 the post box, depending on usage (if no letter, no fee).
How is the housing situation now in the UK?
We have lived enough in the UK to feel confident, we will find easily a new home. The reality was that after the first 2-3 days of browsing houses online and speaking with agencies, I started feeling anxious! During Covid, some laws changed and protected those tenants who could not afford paying their rent due to losing their job etc. Many Landlords had to deal with the consequences of this, like paying the mortgage themselves while somebody else enjoyed their own house. This now resulted a very strict screening process by the agencies, including a hard credit check, 3-5 years employment and tenancy references. If you earn £35k a year, you have a chance to be able to rent a place for ~£1160/month. Use this calculator to find what you can afford. We also needed our “EU Settled” resident status for renting.
But! There is a HUGE demand in the housing market now, somehow there are more people trying to rent or buy a house than the amount of properties available. In very desired areas (especially which are family friendly; good school nearby, shops etc) sometimes 10-25 people are in the queue for the some house. Then the priority comes for those who have no children, earn much more than the requirement and have NO pets. I was told, because of our dog, we dropped to last of the waiting list and some agencies told me, not even worth to go and view the property as there are other viewers with no children and no pet. Some told me, expect minimum 6-8 weeks with our dog to find a property. After 3 days of continuous rejection, I had to think about what to do and changed plan. In our holiday home through booking.com we could stay only for two weeks, we had no 6-8 weeks. While years ago it was easy to find a place to live, now it became a really challenging task. Nice houses often gone in few hours.
Tip: if you have children and/or pet, prepare to invest some weeks of browsing-calling-viewing sessions until you find the place you are chosen. Or prepare to move out to the countryside.
How did we find the cottage we are living now?
On Zoopla, there is a feature to filter for Pet (on Rightmove I could not find such feature) and I started calling only those advertisements where pets are considered – avoiding further disappointments. I used Openrent too, which is for Private Landlords and also have a filter available for pets. We started looking outside of busy residential areas. We have a car after all, so it is not a problem we should drive 20-25 mins for our weekly groceries. We also wanted to live in an area where there are plenty of dog walking routes, so this little village ticked this box too. The cottage came with its imperfections, some issues are now fixed, some are waiting to be fixed. Our landlords are very helpful and assisting with the issues to be fixed, so we did not stress about. Main thing, we both passed the screening and got the keys in just 2 weeks. First challenge accomplished!
Furnishing an empty house
On the first day when we moved in, we did not even had a bed to sleep on. We bought two mattresses from Ikea, which we know are good quality and firm. From AO.com and Currys, we ordered a washing machine and a fridge with next day delivery, so we soon had all applies we needed to start our life here, in comfort. Facebook Marketplace is really good to find cheap, second hand furniture. We soon had desks and arm chairs, dining table with chairs. Sunday Carboot Sale is also a good place (and fun) to buy stuff for your new home for pennies. Car boot sales are a form of market in which private individuals come together to sell household and garden goods. It is a fun activity, you can find your closes on GoogleMaps or here. Just after few days we moved in, we had everything to live comfortable.
Buying a car
We wanted to have a local car as there is a restriction how much time you can keep your foreign registered car in the country. As soon as you are registered to an address as a resident, you must import your car officially or take it back to its homeland. Without a registered address, the car can stay up to 6 months in the country. Auto Trader was always the website we used when purchased a car in the UK. Found some cars on Marketplace and viewed some through this platform but at the end, bought from a car dealer who advertised on Auto Trader. Used car prices gone up 23-33% in the recent years. For the same amount we purchased a 3 years old Nissan Qashqai in 2016, now we could buy a 10 years of Lexus CT200h. Choosing a car was not an easy process: we started from Jaguar XF, then spent some time on Peugeot 2008-3008-5008, then tried imagining owning a Volvo V40 Cross Country, then ended buying a Lexus. Due to the energy crisis, we made some compromises with the size of the car and rather chosen a petrol Hybrid car that have about the same fuel consumption like a Diesel car. I found plenty of used car in the market and buying from a dealership was a pleasant experience – the car got a fresh MOT and full service, 6 months warranty. On AutoTrader for £20 I purchased a service to be able to run a full vehicle history check on up to 5 cars. Plus I used some government websites, which are free and really good: check MOT history and check if a vehicle taxed are essential tools when you buy a used car.
Before you collect your car, you must have the car taxed and insured. Road tax was registered by the dealership (0 tax on our car). Buying an insurance was our task but through Quidco I could run multiple quote comparisons. For £50 a month we have a comprehensive insurance (this is the highest level of cover available), with a nice cash back from Quidco (£26). I use Quidco for every purchase online, the best site ever to get a nice cashback. If you use my link when registering, you get £5 cashback. DVLA sent the proof of ownership document (log book – V5C) in a week -this is a must have document if you plan to have a trip abroad with your new car. For driving abroad, it is also recommended to have your insurance document printed out. Have a UK sticker on the registration plates and back of the car.
Buying a bike
In the countryside where we live, there are many cyclists, most of them professional road bikers. Seeing them daily made me think about, this is the time to start riding a bike again, after a good 20 years. Facebook Market Place is a good place to buy a decent road bike too. I found a Merida Ride Endurance carbon frame road bike in a good condition for £200! Getting used to it is taking time, first made 3-6 km rides, the most recent was 14.5 km. Cycling has many health benefits and hoping it will contribute to my plan to be the most fittest ever I was. Strava application on my phone I would very useful, tracking the route I am riding, with many statistics. I found some friends and family on the app, what a great way to get some motivation when seeing each other also riding and their achievements. Follow me on Strava!
In September we close the refurbishment project of our Base. Reni must face with these difficulties alone, while I am going to work from the UK and occasionally flying back to give some support. From October, I will focus on my new contract in a more senior position, while Reni will focus on launching her coaching business. Winter season is a perfect time to study and work on ourselves. We purchased a dozen of travel books, what we will read to keep up the excitement about traveling to new destinations. Reni has many GoPro videos to cut and edit from our last trips in Europe. I will come with my regular blog posts to keep you informed and motivated. I hope you liked this post, if you do, please comment and/or share.