Are you a Canadian considering moving abroad to the UK? Good for you – you are about to embark on an exciting experience that will create memories to last a lifetime! However, nothing in life is free and so we are here to help you understand the cost of moving to the UK.
In this post, we breakdown all of the costs that you need to consider when moving to the UK, as well as an estimate to help give you a clear idea about what to expect.
We understand there are many other questions you likely have about moving to the UK. Will I find a job there? How much money will I make? Where will I live? We’ll also address these questions later in the post.
Let’s jump in!
You may hear the UK is an expensive place to live – especially London. However, did you ever consider that Canada is an expensive place to live too? Living in London is similar to living in a big Canadian city such as Toronto or Vancouver.
However, the cost of living in the UK and the cost of moving to the UK are two different things. When moving to another country you need to consider additional expenses to set up your new life there, such as flights and visas.
Listed below are the main costs to consider when moving to the UK:
As a Canadian, you can visit the UK for up to six entire months without a visa. This is amazing! However, you won’t be able to work in the UK without a visa – which could cause some issues if you need to pay rent. Therefore, you will need to apply for a visa.
Not to worry! If you have a Canadian passport and are between the ages of 18-30 (inclusively) then you can apply for a working holiday visa. To learn more about the qualifications visit our UK Working Holiday page.
The UK working holiday visa fee is £244 – or about $425 CAD depending on the exchange rate. If your visa application is rejected, unfortunately, you will not be refunded the visa fee. Therefore, we will also add in the cost for Stepabroad’s expert support in obtaining this visa. Our team ensures that you do not have to go through the process multiple times and keep repaying the fee. Our UK Send Off Package also comes with a ton of additional support such as setting you up with accommodation in the UK, a bank account, phone plan and more.
When applying for a visa to live and work in the UK you are required to enroll in the UK’s national healthcare program. Essentially, this means you will be covered for healthcare costs the same way as UK residents. This is very similar to Canada’s healthcare program. The benefit is that you will not need to purchase travel insurance.
One downfall, however, is that you need to pay the full healthcare fee upfront – there is no option for monthly payments. In addition, you have to pay for the entire duration of your visa even if you don’t stay in the UK for the entire length of your visa.
The UK healthcare fee is currently £624 per year. However, with the UK working holiday visa or student visa you receive a discounted rate of £470 per year – or about $820 CAD depending on the exchange rate. Therefore, on a working holiday visa you will need to pay about $1,640 CAD for UK healthcare at the time of your visa application since this visa lasts for 2 years.
Note: If your visa application is rejected the healthcare fee will be refunded to you.
It goes without saying that you can’t swim to the UK and so will need to purchase a flight. When entering the UK on a visa, they do not require a return ticket. This means that you only need to worry about the price of a one way ticket when taking into account your total cost for moving to the UK.
You can look for cheap flights on platforms such as Skyscanner and Kayak. Since London is a major hub you can usually find really great flight prices. Of course, the cost will depend on which city in Canada you are flying from. For the sake of creating a budget, let’s estimate about $600 CAD.
While this isn’t exactly a cost for “moving” to the UK it is something that you should work into your budget because you will be expected to pay your first months rent before moving in. The reason it is important to work rent into your budget is because you likely won’t have a job at this point – or your first paycheque.
Since you will be using Canadian dollars to pay for your first month’s rent, the exchange rate won’t be in your favour. Once you start making money in British Pounds though you will be smooth sailing! For your first month’s rent, let’s assume you are living with roommates in London (the most expensive city in the UK) and spend about $1,100 CAD on rent.
When moving into a new place in the UK you are required to pay a security deposit. This is also required in Canada. However, in Canada we are used to paying a security deposit equal to half a month’s rent. In the UK, the security deposit – which they call a bond – is often closer to a full month’s rent (sometimes more if they know you are from abroad). However, it’s usually just under the first month’s rent so we will estimate about $700 CAD.
If you are moving out of a place in Canada, you can apply your Canadian security deposit amount to your UK security deposit. Remember, you should receive this money back when you move out – as long as you don’t incur any damages to the property.
As previously mentioned, when moving to the UK you should plan to cover your first month’s living expenses to allow yourself time to find a job and earn your first paycheque. This includes grocery, phone bills, and transportation. Phone bills are cheap in the UK. Groceries will depend on the food you eat, and transportation will depend on where you are living and how much commuting you do. As a ballpark, about $500 CAD will have you covered.
You are on a working holiday so let’s not forget to add in a budget for sightseeing and entertainment. The UK is great for sightseeing because by simply walking around you can see iconic buildings, markets, and attractions. In London they also have an abundance of free museums. It’s better to over-budget than under-budget, so plan for $500 CAD for sightseeing, entertainment, drinks, and eating out.
Now you know what expenses to account for when moving to the UK, let’s see how much you should have saved before making the move:
Keep in mind this is just a guideline. You can definitely find cheaper rent and decrease your living and leisure expenses. However, we always recommend over-budgeting rather than under-budgeting.
This is probably the most common question we get asked by our participants moving to the UK. When creating a budget for living in the UK, you need to consider the money you will be making once living there.
Your working holiday visa will allow you to live and work in the UK for up to two years. This means there is no barrier for an employer to hire you, even for a career position. Finding work in the UK is very similar to applying for a job in Canada. Having previous relatable work experience or skills for the jobs you are applying for will increase your chances of landing the position.
As part of our UK Send Off Package, we provide a list of job resources specific to your industry of choice to help you find a job in the UK. We’re happy to say that our participants have always found a job.
We also have a UK Camp Program where we get you a job at a fun outdoor camp before you arrive in the UK. In this program, your living costs and meals are all included as well! With your accommodation and meals covered, you can literally pocket every dime you earn while enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime experience of living in Europe.
The minimum wage in the UK is based on your age. If you are 22 years old and work full-time at minimum wage you can make about $2,250 CAD per month. This would be enough to cover your monthly living expenses. However, almost all jobs pay more than minimum wage – especially if you have previous work experience.
Remember, the purpose of a working holiday isn’t to make lots of money – it’s to allow you to support yourself while living and traveling in the UK. Even if you make enough to just cover your living costs, we highly encourage you to still take this opportunity to move to the UK. The experience of living abroad is priceless – and something we would be willing to spend thousands of dollars on. The adventures you have and the people you meet while traveling will change your life for the better.
The UK is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This means that you can live in any of these places – or even multiple! As part of our UK Send Off Package, we explain some of the main cities to live and work in and also provide assistance arranging your accommodation for you so that you have a place ready and waiting for you once you arrive.
If you are not sure where you want to live yet – no problem! We have short-term accommodation options that won’t require you to sign into a long-term lease.
If you sign up for our UK Camp Program you will work at one of the 12 beautiful camps located across the UK. The camps are outside of cities, but you will have days off to go and explore the country. However, if you are a big city person, then the UK Send Off Package would be better suited for you.
Feel free to visit our UK Working Holiday page for more information or fill out the form below to get in touch with our team!
Tessa is the Program Development Manager at Stepabroad and a travel lover at heart. Her passion for travel started during a summer in university when she moved to New Zealand on a Working Holiday. She was immediately hooked and since then has lived in Europe and Asia and backpacked through more than 40 countries.