Things you should know before living in the UK

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Planning on moving to the UK? If so, you have a whole world of awesome adventure ahead of you, much of it revolving around pubs and the great outdoors, and soaking up history and culture round every corner.

But it’s not easy to prepare for living in the UK. Not only do you have to get all your paperwork in order – your visas and finances and everything else – there is also the smaller stuff to get sorted. By that, we mean day-to-day things in the UK: the weather, how people speak, how not to queue, etc. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when preparing to live in the UK.

Learn the lingo

English is the official language of the UK, obviously, but it differs – especially in terms of vocabulary – from American or Australian English. Take “lush” for example. Ordinarily, this means someone who drinks a lot, but in the UK (particularly in Wales) it means “good”. And on the subject of Welsh, if that’s where you’re heading, a little bit of actual Welsh language under your belt would definitely be an impressive string to your bow. There are heaps of other differences – like people not saying “heaps” to mean “a lot of”. You should probably also know “brolly” – slang for umbrella (which you’ll almost certainly have to use at one stage or another).

Short days, long days

You’ll notice a big difference between the length of days and nights between winter and summer. Winter can be a drag, with sunsets at 4 p.m. and day not breaking until after 7 a.m. But come summer, everyone living in the UK reaps the benefits of long days. Summers are an amazing time of year here – the sun doesn’t set until 9:30 p.m. at the height of summer, and it doesn’t get dark till around 10. It’s the perfect time of year for meeting up with mates, hiking, or just lounging around in a park or by the river. Lush, as some would say.

Being polite is very normal

The British can be a funny bunch when it comes to watching your Ps and Qs (i.e. minding your manners). If someone holds a door open for you, don’t forget to say thank you, lest you incur the wrath of a sarcastic “You’re welcome!” (You should also be holding doors for people, too.)

Saying sorry is also a British pastime, and you’ll find people living in the UK saying it left, right and centre. Maybe it’s got something to do with being ruled by the aristocracy for centuries, or maybe it’s just the way people get along living on a relatively small group of islands, but politeness is key!

Prepare for the weather

The weather in the UK isn’t always peachy. For one thing, it’s not exactly a warm country – think an annual average temperature of 13.1°C. But the thing is that it’s pretty unpredictable, too, and sometimes it can be really warm. Summer heatwaves can bring temperatures above 30°C, while the next week it might only be 20°C. You’ll see people sunbathing in parks, as long as the sun’s out and it’s summer.

And if you’re used to clear blue skies, you’ll have to start getting used to cloud coverage. The UK sees 1493 hours of sunshine per year; compared to Cairns (2738 hours) or even Hobart (2263 hours), that’s not a lot. So much so, in fact, that people living in the UK are actually advised to take vitamin D supplements during the winter.

But, don’t let this put you off. There are so many pros to a UK winter. Frosty winter walks followed by a cosy pub lunch is something you can only experience in the UK. Winter lights, outdoor ice-skating rinks and snow are a few of the many reasons we love winter in the UK.

Things you should know before living in the UK


Part of what makes up being polite in the UK is one’s ability to queue. Queuing, it seems, is a national institution and pastime all rolled into one. British people are good at queuing, and if you’re thinking of living in the UK you’ll have to get pretty good at queuing yourself. The best way to avoid any unsavory altercations is to simply get to the back of the line and wait patiently… queue-jumpers will not be seen kindly.

queueing in the uk

Know how pubs work

Queueing is a staple of pub culture, too. Here queues work a little differently, and rely on people’s honesty as they’re standing at the bar and the bartender asks “Who’s next?” Jumping the queue in a pub is not a good idea!

Also, pubs very rarely have table service, with many only adopting this custom during the height of COVID-19 restrictions. Go in, go to the bar, order, then find a table. Also note that drinking in rounds, buying drinks for everyone you’re with in turns, is the done thing: forget to buy a round more than once and you’ll get a reputation!

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