York, United Kingdom Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from York, United Kingdom

York, United Kingdom 05/01/06

Background:

1. How long have you lived here?

8 years.

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2. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Educator.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

The nearest major international airport is Manchester Airport that is connected to York by direct train. Direct trains to London, Edinburgh and Manchester run every half hour and thanks to the great eficciency of the East Coast Line, you can be there in 2-3 hrs.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Up to a few years ago, houses were relatively unexpensive and it was cheaper to buy than to rent. Things have changed considerably recently, with most young families being unable to get into the property ladder, apartment complexes are flourishing. The average price for a home in York is £220,000.00 with prices going slightly up or down depending on the quality of the schools of the area.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

£100-£150 forthnightly for a household of 2-3.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing. I believe that you can easily decorate a full house nicely with the cost of shipping your furniture from abroad (rule doesn't apply if you are an antique/designer furniture lover). Besides, very few British living rooms will have enough space for an American sized sofa. I would leave most electronic equipment back as well as any appliances. My suggestion is to calculate the cost per kilo of sending something and if that is more than the cost of the item when new... leave it behind.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

The average American fast food restaurants are present in York. There are plenty of restaurants that offer international food. In general, I would say the offer is pretty good and, against what could be said about English food, some of them are fantastic.

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Daily Life:

1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

There are plenty of agencies that offer domestic help. You should expect to pay between £20-£40 per hour depending in the size of the house and how messy you are. But bear in mind that this help is professional so, they will leave the house in a fantastic state in a couple of hours and you probably will need them just once or twice a fortnight.

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cars are accepted mostly every where. There are plenty of ATMs, and most supermarkets (and some pubs) can dispense cash when you buy your groceries with them.

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3. What English-language religious services are available locally?

The variety of religious services is representative of the population, as there are not many foreigners in general you should expect services just for the major religions.

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4. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Availability is the same as to any major British city. TV is great quality but be prepared to pay the annual TV tax (£100)

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Less difficulties than average. The City have taken special care to provide access for people with physical disabilities. Most places have ramps for wheelchairs or staff willing to help in case they don't.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The city is small enough to go to most places walking or cycling. Cycle paths are very good and pleasant enough to ride. So, lots of people ride or walk to work. Bus services are good but not very reliable time wise, or affordable. Taxis are safe and relatively unexpensive.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any automobile is OK, although I would avoid big types as parking bays are tiny and the petrol, at the time of writing, is about to reach a historical £1 per litre (around $6.50 dlls per American gallon). There are considerable parking restrictions near and in the old city. Residents in central areas have to pay for an annual parking permit (around £80 per car).

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Very good. Broadband connection costs around £15-£20 per month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

There are plenty of companies that offer better rates to the US than British Telecom, most of them offer a rate of 1 pence per minute (2 American cents per minute which is even cheaper than ringing nextdoor)

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Very good, I can report that I'm so satisfied with my vet that I have considered taking my child to him!. Just kidding, specialised treatment is widely available and pet insurance is rather cheap. There are plenty of kennels of different qualities, some are so clean that the average backpacker would preffer them to a hostel! However, they cost more or less the same per night.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No, unless you work for the University or the Science Park, locals will see you with suspiction. However if you want to do more manual tasks like washing dishes in a restaurant they will be more than happy to hire you.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

It very much depends in what you do for work and what you do when you go out. But as a rule no sports shoes are worn unless you are on your way to the gym.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Very good, one of the best things of York is that factory pollution in the area smells of chocolate.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

This is a quiet and relatively safe area. Groups of youths roaming the streets may be somewhat problematic and better not to be approached even when provocation occurs. However, this is a problem common in any city/village in the UK.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

British NHS is good and free, but be prepared to wait for a few months if you want to see a more specialised physician.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Summer and autumn are wonderful, most days have a bit of rain but the weather is relatively pleasant. Spring is cold and rainy but the English garden display make it up for the grey weather. As for winter... get out of the country! Winter is cold and miserable with rain. The long nights make this time of the year painfully depressing unless you have something to kill the time with...indoors.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are a handful of very good quality private schools but, as the city has concentrated in offering good quality education, most state schools are very good, but beware that for the best ones you will need to live in the catchment area to be able to secure a place.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

It will depend very much in the special-needs a child may have. But, as Britain have put much emphasis in achieving good access for their disabled, access is generally good and people have a good disposition to adapt to the needs of the child.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Pre-school starts in the term after the child is 4 yrs old, although some oversubscribed schools would preffer them to start later. Day care is cheaper than in London but still expensive when compared to other European countries. Full time care for an under 5 costs aprox. £650 per month. There is a £100 discount per month for children older than 3 yrs.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Relatively small but active.

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2. Morale among expats:

Not good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Several theatres running regular productions. A couple of cinemas offering Hollywood releases and an alternative cinema offering fantastic alternative cinema. Plenty of trendy pubs and excelent restaurants (at a price)

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This is a good city for families, there are good parks, quality museums and plenty of interesting places to visit around York. However, as in many other British cities, children are not particularly welcomed in public spaces after 6:00 pm. Although there are a handful of family friendly restaurants that would catter for them until 9 pm. There are plenty of options to keep the single and couples entertained. There are plenty of bars and trendy restaurants.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I would think so, there are a few gay bars and the University runs its own student gay newspaper

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

My only and biggest concern about York is racial. If you live within the protected world of the University, where people have travelled around and are used to see/apreciate other cultures you will have a good time at York. If not, you will find it difficult to find friends and will need to get used to the occassional racist remark. However, as plenty of foreign/other British people are attracted by the University, you will be surrounded with other expats that you could befriend, sadly, they will end up as tired as you of feeling unwelcomed and are likely to leave within a few months or years.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Plenty, you can even dig in your garden and find some antique reliques!

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Chocolate. Or, although not very local, designer clothing is widely available at relatively good prices.

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9. Can you save money?

Hardly, the sunny countries in near Europe are too much of a temptation to stay at home enjoying the rain.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

As a tourist, yes, no doubt. But, if somebody ever see me considering the idea of moving back to York, please take me out and shot me!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Everything including your American Express credit card.

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3. But don't forget your:

Your other credit cards and a good dose of good humour.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Any book by Candace Robb will make a terrific and well referenced reading to learn about the medieval heritage of the city.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Any book by Candace Robb will make a terrific and well referenced reading to learn about the medieval heritage of the city.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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