The unfamiliarity of a new country is one of the main reasons relocating can feel daunting and overwhelming. Arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible about your new location is the best way to help you settle and feel at home quickly. We provide our clients with a wealth of information prior to moving to support and encourage this process. Here we look at a variety of facts and figures to give you an insight into a selection of aspects of the UK.
UK Population: approx. 66.7 million (England population – 56.3m; Wales – 3.1m; Scotland – 5.5m; and Northern Ireland – 1.8m)
Major cities by population size: London, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Sheffield, Bradford, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol.
Nationalities: The majority of the population is English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish. However, the UK is an extremely diverse nation that has always welcomed migrants from around the world. Overall, ethnic minority groups represent 14 % of the UK population.
Languages: The official language of the UK is English, which is spoken monolingually by 95% of the UK population. Also, Gaelic is spoken in some parts of Scotland (roughly 1% of the population of Scotland), about 20% of the population of Wales are able to speak Welsh, and about 7% of the population speak Irish and 2% speak Ulster Scots in Northern Ireland.
Religions: According to the 2011 UK census, Christianity is the major religion in Britain, followed by Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish and Buddhist in terms of number of followers. Though each country that makes up the UK has a long tradition of Christianity that pre-dates the UK itself, in practice all have relatively low levels of religious observance and today are secular societies.
Government and monarchy: The UK is a constitutional monarchy, in which Queen Elizabeth II is recognised as the head of state. The elected Prime Minister, currently Boris Johnson, is the head of government. The ability to make and pass legislation lies with the elected Parliament.
Economy: The UK is a leading trading and financial power, while the City of London is the world's largest financial centre alongside New York and has the largest city GDP in Europe. The UK is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the G7, the G8, the G20, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations. The UK left the European Union on 31st January 2020. The UK is currently ranked eighth in the world in the World Bank's ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’ (http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings).
Crime: Generally speaking, the UK is a safe place to live, though residents are advised to demonstrate common sense in their behaviours. For example, you are advised to lock your windows and doors and turn on any alarm your residence has when leaving a property, and at night. You are also advised to take extra care of yourself and belongings when visiting major towns and cities. Licenced black cabs in London and licenced taxi firms outside of London are safe to use and reasonably priced. The Home Office provide a quarterly report about crime in England and Wales - the latest report can be accessed at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/. To find out about crime and policing in your new local area, go to https://www.police.uk/
Airports: London has five airports, but, at the moment, only four support transatlantic flights. The fifth, London City Airport only serves destinations in Europe, the UK and Ireland. The largest airports (in terms of passenger numbers) are London Heathrow London Gatwick and Stanstead Other international airports include Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Bristol.
Trains: The UK has a comprehensive rail system, visiting most major towns and cities (http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_destinations/maps.aspx to view the routes). Prices for tickets are different, depending on how far in advance the tickets are purchased - generally speaking, the earlier you buy them, the less expensive they are. Buying tickets on the day of travel can be very expensive. Tickets can be booked online in advance via various websites, such as http://www.thetrainline.com. Up to 2 children under 5 years can travel free with each fare paying adult. Children aged 5-15 inclusive generally pay half the adult fare, except where some Railcards offer discounted rates. (Some Train Companies in London and the South also offer a specially reduced flat fare for accompanying 5-15s.) If you are planning to regularly use trains, you would be wise to arrange a railcard.
Driving: In the UK, we drive on the left-hand side of the road, so the steering wheel is on the right. However, the pedals are in the same position as in left-handed cars, with the accelerator (gas pedal) on the right. The gears and almost always the handbrake (parking brake) are operated with the left hand. Many cars in Britain are manual cars (have a gear stick). The minimum age for driving a car in the UK is 17, and 16 for riding a moped or motorbike with a maximum engine capacity of 50cc. There are three main types of road - 'M' roads (known as motorways, which have 70 mph or 112 kph speed limit unless otherwise stated), 'A' roads (main routes between towns; 60 mph or 96 kph speed limit unless otherwise indicated; dual carriageways are 70 mph speed limit unless otherwise indicated), and 'B' roads (the smaller of the three, which tend to be in more rural locations). In urban areas the speed limit is 30 mph or 48 kph unless otherwise indicated. There are many websites offering route planners for driving, including the RAC (http://www.rac.co.uk/route-planner/). You must have a valid driving licence and insurance to drive a car in the UK.
Travel in London: Generally speaking, London is an easy city to get around, with a good tube and bus network and cycle hire in various locations (https://tfl.gov.uk/maps).There are also various online websites (e.g. http://journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk/) to help you plan your journey around London.
Public holidays: Full details can be found at (https://www.gov.uk/bank-holidays). The main bank holidays in England and Wales are on New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Bank Holiday, Spring Bank Holiday, Summer Bank Holiday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Scotland has 2nd January and St Andrew's Day in addition to those dates.
School holidays: State schools tend to split their school year into 3 terms, with a short 'half-term' break (usually 1 week) in the middle of each and a longer holiday at the end of each. The Christmas and Easter holidays are usually about 2 weeks long, with the Summer holiday tending to last 6-7 weeks. The school year runs from September to the end of July. Independent schools tend to have longer holidays. You could be issued with a penalty notice if your child is absent from school in term time without permission. This can include parents who take their children on holiday during term time without getting authorisation from the school. The penalty is £60, rising to £120 if not paid within 21 days. If you fail to pay a penalty fine within 42 days, you will be prosecuted.
Weather: The overall climate in England is called temperate maritime. This means that it is mild with temperatures not much lower than 0ºC in winter and not much higher than 32ºC in summer. It also means that it is damp and is subject to frequent changes. July and August are normally the warmest months in England. Around the coasts, February is normally the coldest month, but inland there is little to choose between January and February as the coldest month. For the latest UK weather, refer to the Met Office website http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/uk.
This blog contains excerpts from The Relocation Consultancy’s guide ‘UK Facts and Figures’. We provide detailed, comprehensive documents to our clients to furnish them with all the relevant information in order to settle as quickly as possible in the UK.
If you are thinking of relocating and would like further information on the services we offer and how we can help you, please feel free to contact us.
0118 947 0029