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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Misconceptions About Life in the UK

A week ago, I obtained my UK driving license. It's tough to get one. But it's not the toughest thing that I have came across since I came here 1.5 years ago.

The three biggest fallacies about life in the UK for me have been:

Fallacy 1: British speak English and their accent is what we hear on BBC.

Nothing can be far from truth than this one. British speak in all kinds of accents incomprehensible to an outsider. The truly shocking one for me is the Cockney accent, and the one that I have to live with is the Yorkshire one. Listen to some of the British (and a few other) accents by Amy Walker in the following video and you'll know what I mean.

Fallacy 2: Britain is an expensive country to live in.

Wrong! Britain is an extremely (read "prohibitively") expensive country to live in. The basic tax rate is 20%. It raises to 40% as soon as you cross (approx.) £35,000 per annum salary (which is merely a "good" salary for middle class in my opinion), and it goes up to 50% as soon as you enter the £150,000 onwards bracket.

Kindle Fire HD is more expensive in the UK than the US!
Let's compare the price of the recently launched Kindle Fire HD in the UK and the US. Intuitively, they should be priced approximately the same; isn't it?

The price of Kindle Fire HD 7" is £159 for the 16 GB model (source: amazon.co.uk [1]). The same is available for $199 in the US (source: amazon.com [2]). It's the same company selling the same product and the difference in price is 55 US Dollars! Why!!

It's not just the Kindle; almost everything is more expensive in the UK than the US. Compare the tax system and you can readily see the difference---the lowest and highest income brackets in the US put the tax at 10% and 35% respectively; in contrast it's 20% and 50% in the UK!

Fallacy 3: If you know how to drive, you can pass your driving test after taking a few driving lessons.

It's really tough to get one. Three attempts to pass a driving test is pretty common. Leeds (Harehills) has a pass rate of just 28% [3]. 

There has been one lady who has failed the test 90 times [4]! Yes, it's not a typo, she has failed the test 90 times! I am happy that I passed in my second attempt.


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