Observations from across the pond

Part of living in a new part of the world is observing the differences. No judgements, just observations. I’ll post more as they occur to me :O)

  • Normal greeting: “Hiya!”
  • Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way.
  • Even though there are crosswalks with a red/green light for pedestrians, they don’t care. What would be “jaywalking” in the US is normal here.
  • A washer/dryer combo machine is normally in the kitchen. The one in ours…is really complicated and kind of hard to figure out how to use.
  • Letting a flat is rarely done private party. They almost ALWAYS go through an agency.
  • Rent is negotiable up front. If a flat is 1750 a month, you can make an offer and say “I’ll take the flat for 1600” and they can choose to reject, accept or negotiate.
  • It rains and is overcast…a lot. Very different from San Diego.
  • Any dislike I had for walking before has been beat out of me. Don’t really need a car to get around which means we walk EVERYWHERE.
  • Contrary to what I’d originally been told, photographs on CVs are discouraged in the UK.
  • Swipe credit cards (i.e. what is normally used in the US) have been replaced by chip cards where a pin is entered. While they still take swipe cards, they scrutinize the signature like no other. I was in a Sainsbury’s (grocery store) and the lady at the register stared at my signature on the back of the card and the receipt for a good 30 seconds. Maybe a photo ID would have been more effective? Australians had adopted the chip & pin method before the UK and they had complaints that it’s actually less secure.
  • Being from a Commonwealth country is helpful. When you go to live in a new country, you have ZERO credit history. No credit is bad credit. They don’t care if you have incredible credit from your home country. Since I’m a Canadian citizen I can apply for the electoral role, and that automatically gives me credibility here, because the government knows I exist. To what extent it helps, I don’t know yet…my application hasn’t finished processing. There are a couple ways around it though.
    -HSBC has an account called “Premier”.  If you meet the minimum income or total investments qualification, they’ll transfer your credit history and open an international bank account for you. The minimum income and/or total amount of investment is fairly high.
    -The BEST option is if you have an AmEx card (held it for at least 3 months) you can request a Global Transfer. This basically means that AmEx will issue you a UK credit card, based on your US credit history. Very handy.
More next time!

3 thoughts on “Observations from across the pond

  1. the street rules sound like China… jaywalking and no pedestrian right of way.. lol and the walking a lot part. maybe you can bike places! people told me to get a bicycle but I’m a bit afraid of the drivers here soooo i might just stick to walking.

    1. The bike thing is definitely a good idea…except I never really learned how to ride a bike and still have trouble turning left 😛 But it’s quite precarious to ride a bike in London…much like China.

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