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Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Year in the UK

It's been over a year now. Several things have changed, and it's best to categorize the positive and negatives to analyse the overall impact. And the analysis is important to steer life in the right direction, irrespective of the amount of control we have on our lives.

I would like to rate the impact of moving to the UK in various areas on a scale of -3 to +3 where -3 indicates that something has been a complete disaster and +3 indicates that something was so good that I "couldn't have asked for more".

Personal Level

I work only 7.5 hours a day. None of my office colleagues contacts me outside work hours. I never check my email when I am not in office. And I walk to office---it takes 7 minutes. Isn't that amazing?

On a personal level, more than myself, my family got several opportunities to live life in a meaningful way. My wife started working as a volunteer with the local council, and got a chance to explore things on her own. Our daughter has been seeing a child-minder 3 days a week, for 5 hours each; she has started picking up English as an additional language, and has gotten involved in creative activities which wouldn't have been possible in the Pakistan. Overall, I would rate the changes at personal level as +2.

Financial Aspect

Financially, it has been almost a disaster, especially considering the fact that I had been doing very well in financial terms back home. A huge amount of money has been spent in UK entry visas and more will be spent this year in getting an extension; additional expenses have been borne related to travelling and settling down.

The income tax starts at 20% for basic pay, and goes to 40% for most of the highly skilled professionals. The highest bracket is 50% for people earning more than £100,000 per year. Whatever is left is taken up by city council as the council tax, BBC as TV license fee, UK Border Agency as visa fee, and insurance guys in various "mandatory" insurance schemes.

I would rate my financial standing as a -2.

Health and Safety

Perhaps this alone was the sole reason for temporarily leaving the homeland. Compared to Pakistan, I would have rated life in the UK as +3 but the fact is that it's been less than ideal mainly due to lack of leading an active life style (in terms of working out, running, etc.). However, there are lots of positives, and some of the changes are amazing: I have much lesser head-ache; I no longer have Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI); I am generally in much better health.

When I buy something to eat I know that the expiry date is correct, and the ingredients are really what's written on the wrapper. It feels immensely bad that I can't say the same for Pakistan; not even for life-saving drugs and children vaccines.

Overall, my rating here is +2.


Nothing extra ordinary career-wise, however. The plus side has been an experience of working in a mature economy. It has taken me a good 1 year to understand what the British work values really are; how the economy works for the common man. I would rate it as a 0.


Rare things that happen in your life impart you the most knowledge. I have stated it earlier that the amount of knowledge obtained from an event is inversely proportional to the frequency of its occurrence. Life has been truly enriching, and I would rate it as +3.

Overall Score

So the overall score is +2-2+2+0+3 = 5 on a scale of {-15, 15}. Perhaps, not bad but certainly much less than ideal.


  1. Great post. the first couple of years are always tough. and you pretty much know which areas to focus on. so I am sure your second and third years will take the score much higher. As they say, knowing the problem is half the solution.

    Come to think about it... I should probably do a similar analysis of my life in Dubai so far. Here comes a trackback!

  2. Financial Aspect: You forgot to mention 20% VAT you need to pay on more or less any thing you buy.

    MOT, Car Insurances - I am not sure if you have one.

    Personal Level: The Weekend is all yours and your family's no interruption, no commitments from work whatsoever at all.

  3. Great post Shah G... all the best for the 2nd year!

  4. Anonymous8:58 AM

    From Adeel Suleman:
    Hmm nice analysis. Here in Sydney things are almost the same except that my home is 37KM from my office. Most of the ppl have to travel around 30KM to reach their office especially if they have family. This is the worst thing that can happen to any human being. I miss my Pakistani life and would like to go back as soon as law and order situation becomes better.

    By the way u didnt mention that UK has un interrupted supply of gas, water and electricity :):) which we dont have in Pakistan.

  5. Anonymous12:25 PM

    Good to know you are on positive side of the scale.

    Hopefully as your career progresses, Financial Aspect will soon be positive.
    To me "tandrusti-hazaar-naimat-hai", that is a big plus.

    Keep in touch.

  6. Congratulations on surviving your first year. Hopefully, it will only get better. I agree pretty much with everything you said. For all the money you throw away in this country, you do get quality of life in return. Whether its work-life balance, good quality food, decent public transportation, professional work environments or a general regard for the safety of your being. You really cant make money in this country unless you are doing business and that too really well. Enjoy the life and oppurtunities to explore things here and when you would like to save some money, move to middle east :)