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
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!!