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What's this post about:
In my previous post I had written about the home tips for a Indian or Asian to stay in UK. In this post I will write about the things that you need to do to make life easy for you. This list will include medical guidance related information, library, movies and taxi information. All the details I give here are based on my experience and knowledge.
Medical care: the first thing you need to do when you land in UK will be to register yourself in NHS, national health services. This is a system that's followed in United Kingdom. You will be given an unique NHS number without which it won't be all that easy to meet a doctor for medical assistance unless it's an extreme case of emergency. You can refer to the official nhs site and get to know the simple procedure to get yourself registered. We just had to go to the nearby nhs medical centre and get a form to fill to do this. You need to carry your passport as a proof and your address in UK proof for this. Once you have registered with nhs you will get an unique number and an access to their online medical system. You can log in to their site and book appointments with doctors. If it is general check up and not an emergency you will get an appointment within 5-15 days. But in case of emergencies and urgent medical care cases you can call 111. They will identify you with your date of birth whenever you call them. All the doctor prescribed tests like blood tests are free here. Even consulting a doctor is free. So don't ask the doctor how much you need to pay while leaving the room like you do in India.
Also, the medical shops here won't give you medicines other than the on the counter medicines without a doctors prescription. Here medicines prescribed by doctors is free of cost but you need to pay for the prescription I think it's around 8 pound per prescription you give to get medicines. So no matter how costly the medicine is they charge you say £8 per prescription and I guess the ones for pregnancy is fully free. Another point to be noted is that if you are a regular medicine taker like you take tablets for BP,THYROID and the like you need to meet doctor show your Indian prescription and get it re written by them in order buy the medicines here. Also, if you have some not so severe problem like a rash around your eyes or flu or cold you can meet the chemist at the medical counter in any shop, I go to boots, and explain to them your problem to get the medicines. They will suggest you to meet physician if it's not within their limits to prescribe or diagnose.
I would like to mention this when I talk about medical care. You need to apply some moisturizer if you are used to applying it already. Specially in areas that will get exposed to cold like hands and face. Even applying a lip balm is very important, if not your lips will start to crack and even bleed. It is very important to cover your head when you go out. You might think why people cover their head and not the ears sometimes, because if you don't the cold will affect your head giving you severe head cold and also problems of hair loss and dandruff. It's also common to develop some rough patches in the hands and around the eyes. Nothing to worry, just meet the chemist and they will give you e45 cream. Apply it and you will be fine.
It is very important you get yourself registered to the library near you. Almost every town has a library run by the council. All you need to do is take a proof for your UK address and your passport. They will issue a membership card and pin. This is FREE. This will let you borrow a number of books and magazines at a time, for our library the limit is 15 items, for Free. They also have movies and to show CDs, borrowing which might require a small fee. Libraries here are wonderful with tables, chairs couches and desks. You can pick a silent corner to read or even work on your laptop;not to mention the free wifi. You will have books ranging from technical, parenting to novels and kids books, biographies, religion, crime, philosophy, photography and what not. Also holding a library card entitles you to use their online system to borrow e book, renew and reserve items. It's also a good practice to follow your local library and newspaper on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. There will be a number of activities happening in your area like knitting classed, writers club meeting, yoga classes, painting, cartooning and what not. If you are a home maker then these will keep you engaged and get you new local friends.
Here we don't have much of Internet cafe. Internet is free in all the malls and shops, in most cases. But in case you want to check mails or do something important you can visit the library. You have computers there that they allow you to use for some 30minutes a day. Also, libraries have a facility to scan and take print outs for a nominal rate.
3. Cine world : In United Kingdom, cine world is a huge cinema theatre chain. You will have a cine world nearby you for sure. I would recommend you to get a unlimited card if you are a couple without kids. Because during winters movies will be the only entertainment here. A single ticket will cost you around £10 but an unlimited card that lets you watch any number of movies costs somewhere near £16 per month. So it might be beneficial for you to get an unlimited one. What's to be noted is that you can watch a film only twice with that card. This £16 one is a red one and doesn't include 3d films. But there is a black one for a little extra amount. Also with the red card you can book 3d films paying one pound something. The glasses you get for 3d cost 1 pound but it's a one time investment. You don't have to return them like in India. With this card you also enjoy 10% off at the food counter. If yo u are curious to know the cost of popcorn at cineworld let me tell you a small one costs £2.99 if I ll have to trust my memory and the largest costs you less than £5.
One more thing that we need to know is that we are allowed to take outside food to the theatres. But please don't take bread and jam, lunch and breakfast. Chocolates, chips, juices and pop corns from outside is okay.
One most important thing, I forgot to mention is that the unlimited card is to be taken as a one year contract but relax, you can break it without any penalty showing your return tickets. Just mail them with a copy of your return tickets and they won't charge you for any date later than your travel.
The council arranges for the garbage collection once a week, this differs from area to area, for us in central Milton Keynes it's Tuesday. They provide you with two sets of covers, a red one and a black one. Red one is to dump all your recyclable waste and black for the rest. You need to put all your garbage in these covers, tie the top and place it at the door at the side of the road. They will collect it on the scheduled time and day.
I would like to mention a few more things that I think are important to take care of. For some houses the agencies take care of all the bills but for the others you need to check all of these.
Council tax- you need to check with your agency or with the council of your area about the amount you need to pay. This can be paid quarterly or monthly. Don't frown reading this, with this council tax they give you free medicine, free education to your kids, keep your surroundings clean and also collect your garbages. So it's worth the money you pay as tax.
Water bills - you need to check with your agency or if there is no agency yourself, the water supplier to use. In our case we use Anglian waters. There will be a water meter which will be checked for your bills. In our case they will charge us a fixed amount every month and at the end of tenancy they will check the reading and make the adjustments to the amount paid, if it's less we need to pay else they ll pay back.
Gas and electricity- Gas will be used for the water heaters and room heaters in most cases. If your rent doesn't include bills you need to pay these along with water bills.
Hope this post was helpful. So when you search for a house here from India, under stand what all these means and enquire before making a decision. A house that says in the ad for rent that it includes bills will include everything like water gas and electricity. Some houses with gardens might charge you a garden maintenance along with rent. So decide for yourself what you really. Don't pick houses with garden if you are not really a garden person because here it will be too difficult to do gardening during winters unless you really like it.
If you have any doubts let me know through the comments below and I will try answering them. Was this post helpfulness? My next post will be about shops that you can afford, where you buy what and seasons and clothing in your budget. Also I am coming up with my travel posts soon. Like my Facebook page for more such updates about United Kingdom,