6 things every expat MUST have (that you didn’t think about)

Moving to the UK is so exciting but there’s some stuff that’s often overlooked: things you don’t think are important until you realise you don’t have them when you need it. So let’s fix that.

Of course you need things like a valid visa and a passport, but these are more the everyday things you might have overlooked.

1. Power outage

This actually inspired this post because our power flickered the other day and I thought: “wow, I don’t think we’re prepared if that goes out.”

You never think about possible power outages but you don’t want to be caught without anything. Thankfully your cellphone will have a good light, but you obviously don’t want to drain the battery if your power will be off for a long time.

Make sure to grab a flash light, candles and matches the next time you’re out. You can typically get everything at a decent supermarket like Tesco or Sainsbury’s.

6 things every expat in the UK must have

2. Sick Box

As an expat in the UK, you’re going to get sick – it’s just the reality.

You haven’t be exposed to British germs before and after a few weeks, you’ll get hit.

Buy a plastic tub at the supermarket or at a store like Poundland and turn this into your Sick Box.

Fill it with things like:

  • sore throat lozenges
  • cold and flu medicine
  • painkillers
  • throw some bandaids in there, too
  • and any other first aid bits you might like to have on hand

There’s nothing worse than living alone abroad, getting sick, and then having to go to the store for supplies, especially if it’s far away.

I’d work on compiling this sooner rather than later because you can only buy so many items with painkillers in at one time, so you might not be able to buy everything at once. Want more details? Check out my post: getting sick in the UK (and how to make it easier)

3. Seasonal depression

One thing I really struggle with in the winter in England is the lack of sun. It could be days and days of dark, rainy days…

I like to take Vitamin D3 and I have a SAD light from Amazon to help me get through the dark winter days.

I don’t realize in the moment that I haven’t seen the sun for awhile, until I start to feel pretty depressed and then I’m like, “Oh right! It’s been a week since it’s been sunny.”

4. Smartphone

When I moved to the UK in 2015, I didn’t actually own a smartphone. Kind of hard to believe, but that’s the truth.

I could get by back then, but it was really hard and made everything a bit more complicated.

Nowadays, you really can’t get by comfortably without a smartphone, even just a basic one with data will make the world of difference. I pay for everything with my iPhone, I buy all my train tickets with my iPhone and use my phone as an electronic ticket. Even going to the cinema, I buy tickets at home and show them on my phone when I get there. My phone is full of super helpful apps that I use everyday.

There’s been times when I catch the train to a nearby city, have an afternoon out, and come home without even bringing my wallet – just my phone. If you need help, check out my post on how to buy a mobile plan in the UK.

5. A Railcard

I didn’t buy a railcard for years and then realised what a mistake that was.

Find a railcard that you’re eligible for (maybe it’s the 26-30 Year Old one like mine). Typically they’re £30 for the year, and every time you buy trail tickets you apply your railcard and you’ll receive a discount.

Not all train tickets are eligible for a discount, but I always apply my railcard just in case.

If you travel at all by the trains, you should make that £30 back quickly in savings. If you’re from a country like Canada, I never used public transport (it’s just not feasible) but now it’s the main way I get around in the UK. I just wish I got a railcard so much sooner.

6. UK-appropriate clothing

Depending on where in the world you’re from, your wardrobe might be quite different from what a typical British person wears. Don’t panic-buy an entire new wardrobe when you get to the UK, but there’s a few things you should keep in mind.

Winter coat: ideally waterproof as it’s more likely to rain than snow (I left my “Canadian” winter coat back in Canada because it would be way too warm).

Clothes for layering: the temperature can change quite quickly so layers helps with days that are both hot and cold