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Sunday, 1 May 2011

UK, US, CANADA cost of living many Africans should know about!


So I was taking stock of my time away from Nigeria and how much I have spent since I got here and its unbelievably very high!!

So fellow african just before dashing all out for the UK, (or U.S or Canada) Be warned, be careful & also be prepared...for the cost of living here in the UK is thus:

1. Mortgage payment for Home owners
2. Home Building insurance for home owners
3. Home Content insurance 4 Home owners
4. Rent bills for those renting
5. Gas bill
6. Water bill
7. Electricity bill
8. Council tax
9. Transport fares for Bus or tram passes etc.
10. For car owners - Road tax, MOT, Car insurance, Car servicing, Breakdown cover & the all important Petrol or Diesel.
11. TV Licence
12. Internet fees for Surfing the net
13. Mobile phone bills
14. Home phone bills
15. Sky TV fees
16. Food
17. Clothings
18. Provision
19. Prescription charges
20. Dentist fees
21. ? Savings
22. Charity & Family

DO NOT GET ME WRONG, THE BENEFITS ARE WONDERFUL, THE EXPOSURE IS COMPARABLE TO NONE. THE OPPORTUNITIES ARE THERE.However the fact remains that many do not understand that UK is not a place to earn pounds easily as though picking it from the ground. And those with cars & houses definitely have more bills to sort out than those without, meaning the more you earn the more you pay! So where is the change?

Giving someone a car in the UK is so different from giving someone a car back home in Africa becos here it may be rejected if the person is not ready for the other bills attached to a car owner such as MOT, Road tax, car insurance, Breakdown cover, Servicing & then PETROL.

Mortgage is not heard of back home becos those who buy houses really do it once by paying cash down. But here if anyone tells you he/she has bought a house its a different story, becos it often mean HUGE money has just been borrowed & once that individual fails to pay his or her monthly loan back - the Bank will repossess the house from such. And there has been so many homes repossessed recently since the recent economy crunch.

Like I mentioned earlier, same thing goes on in other places. Take for instance North America. Many Africans who come to North America, expecting it to be easy and stuff, get it pretty rough. You find yourself working 2 to 3 jobs, in order to sustain a lifestyle that is basic to most westerners. Some who blindly think that their credentials will be recognized in the west, are shocked to discover that they have to go back to school or work menial jobs. Most of those jobs, are hardcore factory jobs that often endanger the lives of those who partake in them.

Other things to note, are the international students who get hit hard with the reality of living in the west. School books in North America, could cost as much as a semester's worth of fees in Africa. Tuition is also very expensive and in countries like the US, it can be unaffordable(like 20,000 - 40,000 dollars), unless you get a loan from the government or get a scholarship. In Canada, tuition is like 5000 to 7000 dollars for most universities, as it is subsidized by the government. But i know international students who pay close to 20,000 dollars in tuition. That is excluding living expenses and textbooks. In the UK, cost of tuition for International students used to be 15000-30,000 depending on the courses but the recent plan by the conservatives will further hike such school fees!

These amounts are not even charged by the best universities in Africa.

An article by Danesi in Nigeria Village Square further puts things in perspective:

I do understand why you want to migrate given your love for your family. I am happy that you have all obtained your visas as you look forward to transferring your media skills here (UK). Work was not going the way it should in spite of your towering industry stature. So you have thrown in your retirement letter to everyone's shock. You have sold all you ever owned to be able to relocate with your family. In a nutshell, bridges have been burnt as you look forward to making UK your "new home."

However, you need to prepare for a completely strange transition, which may either make or break you. You will practically go to 'school' on CV writing and before you eventually get it right it might take roughly three months- this is no exaggeration, as there are many critics out here. You will start pushing out your new CV, while it takes about 3,000 to get you one interview! You may have to push out about 30,000 copies to get 10 interviews and you’ll probably need to attend 30 interviews to finally land a job! The truth is you may have to send out 900,000 applications before you get a job here!

If you are wondering why this is so then consider the following statistics and facts: the Royal Mail risks 50,000 jobs; Woolworths, which has 813 stores, collapsed in November and as a result, 25,000 jobs are likely to go; the pound has hit a near low against the Euro; manufacturing has fallen to record lows; the service sector is in record contraction; Britain is slipping down the income rankings; the Bank of England is being blamed for the recession; unemployment has hit 1.8 million- the highest since 1998; UK debt has risen to 1.5 trillion pounds, etc.

Do not be shocked that your M.Sc degree means nothing to the employers here. Worse still, the almost 20 years of experience you have does not count! Most employers do not even know what the HSMP (Highly Skilled Migrant Programme) means!

It is great that you are coming with your family of five, but you need at least £13,000 (N2.8m) to survive the first six months of possible unemployment- and this is outside of London! You’d probably need close to double that amount if you decide to reside in London. You may not be able to earn the mandatory £35,000 per annum required by the Home Office (if your visa is to be renewed in two years time) if you do not work in London. And if your post code reads anywhere but London, your applications will all fire blank. Meanwhile, no employer will tell you the reason.

If you have a relation or friend who lives in London and is willing to accommodate you temporarily, why not come alone for now? However, the danger in that is multi-faceted. Who says you will find work in six months- even menial work? There is a recession here, which affects virtually every sector. You will be shocked to learn that the employment agency would rather call, and even in some cases, register somebody from the EU who cannot express him/herself clearly in English than give you, a master's degree holder a break. And the job in question? Factory operative! The wage is about £5.75 an hour before tax/NI deductions. Do not forget that you need to be in the £24/25 per hour bracket to hit the HSMP £35k target. Relationships with your hosts will be strained in most cases and you will be running bills back home too since your wife is not working.

f you have the money, come with your family, stay with your host for not more than 72 hours, maximum, a week, but be prepared to contribute your quota to the upkeep of the home. You will be lucky if your hosts are not greedy because they have not set eyes ever on the kind of money you are coming with at a go, in their 20-something years of living in the UK!

That you have the money is no guarantee that you will immediately get a house of your own because you do not have a credit history. If you do not have a guarantor (and many potential ones are unwilling) then just pay six months rent upfront. Though the checks that will still be undertaken may take between two to three weeks. Make sure your landlord in Nigeria can easily be reached by the referencing company, e.g. e-mail, fax, land phone, mobile, etc. If you do not get a permanent job before the six months and your landlord wants to sell the property then you start the process all over, though your Nigerian landlord may not be contacted again. If your employment is temporary/contract, which is less than 6-12 months, you will need a guarantor.

Do not be in a hurry to own a car because keeping it on the road is not a joke; more so your driving licence/experience, like your academic certificates/experience, will not be recognised! You will have to start from scratch as a learner, in spite of your 18 years accident-free driving experience on roads that are death traps in Nigeria! Do not even think of using your international driving licence because of the prohibitive insurance premium you will be paying on it. What baffles me, however, is the accident statistics here despite the very strict driving/traffic regulations - every morning my radio reports accidents on the A2, M25, and the lot, as fatal!

The bills never cease to come from utility companies whether you have a job or not! Your local council tax is even reviewed upwards and if you call to let them know you are not working, they ask if your wife is and if she is. Your subsequent bills will come in her name! If you are impatient, the thousands of rejection letters you are going to receive on your applications will almost make you stop believing in yourself - you will think you are absolutely useless! An attempted foray into other unrelated survivalist professions like care work may even return further rejection letters- but you are highly skilled! You will crave anything eventually because the bills are ticking away - lunch time play leader, mail sorter, support worker, anything.

You pick up most newspapers here and it is obvious you could do a better editing job if given the chance, but you have sent more than 5,000 unsuccessful applications to be considered even for the post of assistant reporter! You will almost feel like quitting. Your foreign degree is competing with theirs in this period of recession. Thousands of their citizens are out of work and they would rather give them priority. But do not be frightened, do not despair. I understand that your Christian faith is intact: that is a vital credential you will be need here at this time. Be prepared because at a stage it will look like God does not even operate here!

You were given 24 months and by 10 months into your visa some prospective employers are already weary of even interviewing you, citing "company policy" as the reason (your visa is running out of steam). I can confirm to you that many Nigerians here are returning home in great numbers- are you surprised?

Do you still want to come to UK (U.S,CANADA ETC( Whatever decision you take should consider a lot of the points listed above. Once you do that, you will LOVE living there!!



Olori said...

nne u do well. sad truth is that those who are lining up at the embassy in ikoyi are not doing the mental calculus o. As some of them will say, "d fact say e no work for you no mean say i no fit make am". God will help us all o.

The Young Radicals said...

unfortunately, no one cares about those important details, their own is just to get visa and plane ticket. its sad really.

Lily Johnson said...

Hey! Na wa oo! That's why people wey dey there no dey remember person sef. Bills upon bills. Anyway, life is hard generally and if you don't taste two pots of soup, you wont know which tastes better.This is what most of them tell themselves. As Olori said, all the people sleeping at the embassy should read this piece. At least, you would know what you are about to face.

Anonymous said...

Ha, they will say you are trying to chob Obodo Oyibo by yourself o. I always laugh when they come and start complaining, talking about "how come you did not warn me"...I told you time and time again pscheww.

No one considers this o, they come here thinking they will have access to that money tree but they always get the shock of their lives. Good piece Mena.

kitkat said...

Its crazy the amount of bills and taxes people have to pay abroad. How many people even pay any form of tax in naij. definitely not the alaba boys and market women..
the taxes in these countries wld eat all your income lol

Mena UkodoisReady said...

@ Olori: Tell me about it! I wont even bother if indeed alot of people 'make am' as you said,but the reality is damning! The scales fall of your eyes the week you land. LOL

@Young Radicals: Indeed! Remember your Hoftsede analysis? Well the elements of a'short term orientation and planning is displayed here! Abi na?

@Lily Johnson: Absolutely agree with tasting the soup. It will be lovely if many Nigerians have the opportunity of seeing how other nationalities exists in an environment where rule of law exists and things are stable...but not just that, the system that backs up such a standard of living o.

@Anonymous: thanks o! Ha Otio? Make everybody experience am na.But they shouldnt burden another person trying to survive sha:))LOL

@KitKat: The tax and bills are awful! But it works for them too.
LOL@ Alaba and market women, even the professionals try theirbest to avoid paying such taxes....until they need such documents to obtain a permit to go 'abroad' na...;)thanxx

Surprise said...

Why some people are hell bent on travelling abroad is that when some of you over there come home, you oppress them, you show off. Even though you tell them it is not easy over there, they will think you are only deceiving them because you don't want them to make it like you. They will think if it is not easy why are you still there. I only pity the people that have good job here and resign to go abroad only to get their and start suffering.

The Corner Shop said...

I suppose to access those opportunities and the exposure you need to be prepared oh! Shudder!


Myne Whitman said...

This is the sad truth. It's a pity that a lot of people don't bother to find out and know these things before migrating.

ABIGAIL NY said...

In the US you need to add life insurance and even car insurance. It's not a must to get but it makes life much easier.

Mamuje said...

I spend more money monthly in Nigeria (for bills) than I paid when I was livingnin the UK....and I pay more for a lower standard of living. Those who are independent here pay bills. I pay, water, NEPA and other taxes. The only thing I find cheaper is the rent, but when you thinknof paying 1.5 million Naira per annumnfor a 2 bedroom and they demand 2 years upfront. So Nigeria is NOT easy.

Ibhade said...

Wow! a very interesting read that i had e-mailed it to my hubby who wants us to relocate! This would help me in my fight; I REFUSE TO RELOCATE!..thanks so much for this article. Presently my BIL is at USA, he says UK is much better where he stayed for about 4years..all the same, i feel much secured in Nigeria because we go away with lots of things since we operate the cash economy and we do survive against all odds.

In nigeria, we can escape paying our bills and find alternative..we are so ingenious...hahahha... I LOVE MY 9JA o jare...just the poor education system, lack of infrastructural facilities that is making life difficult for the masses who out of poverty go into crime..*sigh*...thanks once more for this educative piece.

It behooves me how some people would leave a lucrative job in Nigeria and relocate abroad. The problem is that MANY are not telling the truth. They simply exaggerate their success to people at home but such people don't even have the money to have a credible investment in nigeria to fall back on in future! YOU SEE THE IRONY?

I get pissed off when i see the desperation of SOME people that i don't talk about it again... because they do say i have not tasted poverty that is why i am talking like this! BUT i am not rich! I just learnt to be content with the little i have and make do with what my country have...LIFE NA JE-JE abegiiii!

Bowling For Boobs Tour said...

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Efua Dentaa said...

So I get a full scholarship to study in Canada and everything is taken care of. My travel expenses, tuition, living expenses and all that. Now, before I leave Ghana, I'm excited cos I figure there's really not much I'll spend the money on. I mean really how much will I eat and how much rent will I pay? My conclusion was I'd return with plenty of dollars. I felt like I was being paid to study. How wrong I was.

I came back with virtually nothing cos all the money I was given was just enough to pay for rent, buy groceries, pay for bus fare and buy a few things (you know how it is over here. You can't travel and return with no gifts. Even if you were just a student, everybody expects something).

I was so disappointed and felt I'd mismanaged the money cos if I'd been given the same amount I got every month in Canada, in Ghana, I could probably have bought a very good car and probably land or a house somewhere.

Fact is I wasn't given too much money like I thought. I was just given enough to survive on. Yeah, working outside does bring in a lot of money as compared to working in Africa but most of that money is spent outside too not on frivolous stuff but on necessities. Unfortunately not many Africans know or are willing to accept this. They only think about the making money bit.

Ginger said...

Nice post! The funny thing is, no matter how much you plan, reality of life here is still a beetch!!

Think-About-It said...

You are so right. This is something people should know of before moving to the west. It catches many off-guard.

Anonymous said...

I like the truth of this write-up but i won't be surprised that some people would still not believe!

One person said one time that why are the successful ones not talked about but only the ones that don't make it?

I asked the person to define successful? Because it is relative! Why are people coming back home if it is so good over there?

I can relate to your story Efua because my friend had such opportunity and we thought he won't come back for a long time. But we were surprised when he came back exactly the day when his visa expired! He said it is not easy as we thought!

Also, a guy resigned from a very lucrative job and traveled with his wife. A year later he came back, reapplied to his former company who at that time had vacancy. Because he is good at what he does, he was employed again. Immediately the wife had her baby, and was giving clean bill of health to travel, she came back! She got a good-paying job and they told me the blunt truth when i told them i want to travel.

My friend's brother came to pay a visit from Uk and when i showed so much interest to travel, he told me to build my career here that there is harder than i imagined. It was then i forgot the whole traveling thing, and today, i am comfortable in my own way.

Thank you.

Nutty J. said...

men...this is hard. I cant begin to imagine it. Una dey try

therealworld said...

Tell me about sad people have little or no information at all b4 they embark on such journeys and some have a very false picture of the west. If u're going to study, get an education & come back home, u have better chances @ home. U will always be a 2nd class citizen outside ur home counrty. I make it my 'palaver' to lecture anyone initiating such fatal moves....imagine someone earning N5M/PA in Nig & thinking of relocating with his family to the UK....

Sisi Yemmie ™ said...

UK na Wah....all that was written is true, and moreeee

DIDI said...

Living abroad not as easy as people think it is.Experience they say teaches even fools. Nice Post.

Mena UkodoisReady said...

@surprise: Ojukokoro has led to the downfall of many people.

@ thanks corner shop and myne, lack of preparedness can lead to a very unhappy life indeed!

@Abigail: thanks! I couldnt list them all.Its the same in Uk

@Mamuje: I see where you are coming from. However for you its a choice of a certain lifestyle. Not many Nigerians choose to spends as much as you do and because its their home turf there are several ties to make life that much easier. This strong tie or network does not usually exist for a first time migrant. Not saying that Nig is easy. I am saying that if a Nigerian who are interested in migrating should face the realities of the cost of living in the country they are moving to as unlike home,there are not many alternatives, if one want to live in a first world country, one has to pay the price of living there.

Bowling for boobs: done :)

@Ibhade: LOOOL!You made so many great points. People are carried away by others exaggerated successes. Go into their bank account and see a debt of 22000 pounds and reality sets in.The African with a well paying job and no debt lives a richer life than one whoowes 22k and counting!!Relocate ke? hmmmmm, I dont blame you oh!please keep up the good work especially since you are already settled. Migrating with an estblished family carries its own risks. In most developed world, both parents have to work to make ends meet. Where in Africa the father comes back home to a warm meal and a restful evening with the wife in charge of domestic activities, in the first world, he comes back from work and has his duties on the homefront and will have to cook, and take care of the kids. Unless they can afford a housekeeper, nanny, aupair, cook and gardener;they just have to the do the chores equally with their working wife. Some of our men cant take this change.. Its also a different environment in here than back home. I would need a whole new blog to fully explain what culture shock/culture differences are doing to established marriages and the family life is :)))

Efua: thanks for another good point!Mind you not everyone is on scholarship so imagine having to work for every penny one spend. And I understand about coming back with nothing, Ignore those people!It is this idea of great expectations from home that one abroad must be coming back in style that cause so many Africans to stay away for so long! :(

@ Ginger and think about it:You hit the nail very well! Plan!Funny enough no matter how one plans, one still faces hiccups...let alone living everything to chance.

@anonymous 3 May 2011 22:31and the real world: In my opinion, It is very very silly for anyone to live a good paying job for a life here. There I was thinking of students, or those without jobs not those who have attained certain goals in their career! You should see African medical doctors resorting to driving cabs for a living!!

Sisi Yemi,Didi and Nutty Jay: thanks so very much for your feedback. :)))

Thanks for all the comments friendsxoxo

Rey said...

I used to hold on to the thought that I can save people from pain that I have experienced by sharing my experience and preventing them from making the same mistakes I have made but Alas the human race does not want to learn from your experience they want to learn only from their own experiences hence I let them.

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