How much money should I bring when moving to the UK?

As an expat living in the UK, I get asked all the time: How much money should I bring when moving to the UK?

In simple terms, the rule of thumb is to aim for about 3 months’ worth of your expected living costs. The idea being that if it takes you 2 months to find a job, depending on when you’re hired it could be right after the previous pay period which means you’d have to wait another month to get your first paycheque (since most companies pay monthly).

But how much is that? It’s hard to say.

For me, my monthly costs living in Kent (the south east of England) is around £1,300 per month (but that’s having costs split between my partner and I, such as rent, council tax, etc). So 3 months of my typical living costs would be just under £4,000 ($4,814 USD or $6,556 CAD).

To be fair, I would consider this to be on the upper end of money to bring to the UK. However, it’s always better to have too much than too little.

Moving to the UK? You need to bring THIS much in savings

Some things to consider…

If you are moving to the UK to live with your British spouse, then you could get away with bringing less money as you have their support (hopefully) should you not be able to get a job right away. If they already have an apartment, you’ll also be able to better estimate your monthly costs by going off of what they already pay.

Obviously the more money the better, as it’ll give you a bigger safety net should anything go wrong.

Another thing to consider is that visas like the Youth Mobility Scheme visa require you to have access to a certain amount of money, currently £2,530 in savings (around $,3044 USD, or $4,146 CAD).

It’s also important to think about realistically how long it’ll take you to get your first job. If you’re moving to the UK with the idea that you’ll take any job, they’ll probably be hired pretty quickly. If you’re coming to the UK for a specialist job that has few openings, it could take you longer.

One final thing: costs across the UK vary quite a lot. The cost of living in the south of England is far more expensive than in the north, with big cities like London or Edinburgh being very expensive.

For students moving to the UK

If you are coming to the UK on a student visa, part of the visa itself requires you to have money available.

You need enough money to pay for your course for 1 academic year (up to 9 months). The amount you need to pay will be on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).

You’ll need to show you have enough money to support yourself – unless you’ve been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months on the date of your application.

How much money you need depends on where you will be studying. You’ll need either:

  • £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses in London
  • £1,023 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London

If you’re boarding at a residential independent school, you’ll need to pay boarding fees instead. The amount you need to pay will be on your CAS.

Should I bring cash?

So much of life in the UK is contactless or cashless nowadays, but it doesn’t hurt to have some money in cash when you first move, but I wouldn’t recommend a lot.

Whatever you end up doing, make sure you can access that money when you move to the UK – whether that’s through an account like Paypal or Wize (which is really helpful as they can hold multiple currencies) or your original bank back home. Make sure you let your bank know you’re moving in case they try to block you from accessing your account abroad.

After I opened a UK bank account with Lloyds, I transferred some of my Canadian money from my Canada account into my new UK account – not all of it, just some to get me going. Then as I starting earning GBP, that money would go into my new bank account and I’d continue on like that