Buying a Home in the United Kingdom? Financing Options for Expats

If you are moving abroad to the United Kingdom and want to purchase a home as opposed to renting there are a variety of options for a first time home buyer. First time home buyer special financing is not limited to British citizens either. Even as a non citizen or non resident of the United Kingdom you will be able to qualify for some of the first time hoe buyer special financing options. You may notice that the special offers in the United Kingdom are not offered in your home country so it is important to know what you are entitled to in the United Kingdom so that you do not end up paying more than you need to for your new home. It is advisable to speak with a specialist mortgage broker if you are looking to purchase a property in the UK to move to. Many offer a free service and can help you through the whole process

If you are recently out of college and have good job prospects you may qualify for a special graduate and professional mortgage for young people. This type of mortgage will allow you to borrow up to five times your annual salary. In some instances you may even qualify for a 100 percent or 125 percent mortgage. The Britannia Building Society also backs a Graduate Network Scheme that you may qualify for as well called Share to Buy which is a joint mortgage for young professionals.

You may be interested in a self certification mortgage which is a mortgage that does not require you to prove your income. You may want to look into this if you are self employed or if you work on commission or some other type of employment that means your income fluctuates. Remember though that if you purposely lie about your income it is considered to be fraud and there are custodial sentences for offenders.

If you have friends or relatives you can all pool your resources and buy together if you want. Typically two to four people go in together on a home. Share to Buy offers a program for co-buyers where each person’s share of ownership is in direct relation to the deposit that they made and the remaining payments on the home. The percentage of the home that each person own is listed on the title deed and each buyer is listed as a tenant in common. The downfall of this is that if one person wants to sell you have the option of buying them out but if you can’t then the property must be sold.

Uk House Prices Wordcloud Means Economic Financial Valuations In The United Kingdom. Rising Or Falling British Property Values – 3d Illustration

A common thing in the UK is to obtain a guarantor for your mortgage

Typically young professionals use their parents to guarantee the mortgage payments. Most banks require a down payment of 25 percent to do this type of mortgage though. And the guarantor will need to have 30 percent equity in their own home. Guarantors are able to be released once the mortgage holder is making enough to qualify for the loan.

Housing associations and trusts offer shared ownership as an option to potential homeowners. The way that this works is that a non profit association helps low income earners such as teachers buy a home by buying a portion of the property and paying rent on the rest. Once you can afford it you can increase your share of ownership. They also offer another scheme called a starter home scheme where you can borrow up to 30 percent of a home up to a max amount of GBP 35,000. These loans are interest free and do not have to be repaid until you sell your home, as you are not expected to live in it forever as it is a starter home intended to get you into something else.

Unlike in the United States where rental income is taxed, you can take in a lodger in your home tax free if the rent is no more than GBP 4,250 per year. This is another great way for expatriates to save some money on their mortgages.

How hard it was to buy tickets for 2012 London Olympic Games

They’re Not Cheap and You’d Better Have a Visa Card

London in 2012 will be home to the Olympic Games. Set to be one of the most spectacular Olympic Games ever, British officials have just announced tickets will go on sale in March, 2011, and they expect a huge rush. If you’d like to attend the London 2012 Olympic Games, you can buy tickets online and here’s how to do it. But, be warned, buying Olympic Games tickets is complicated, expensive and not likely to be ‘available to everyone’ as the British government once promised they would be. Plus, you’ll need a Visa card.


Where Do I Buy Tickets For London 2012 Olympic Games?

The first thing you should do is go to the London 2012 Olympic Games website and register your interest. When you register, you can tell the London Olympic Games Committee which events interest you the most. That way, when they’re close to starting to sell tickets, you’ll be contacted via e-mail with information on those events, prices and any special offers or information you might need. From there, you can apply. The London 2012 Olympic Games website is here.

How Much Are London 2012 Olympic Games Tickets?

Although prices were supposed to be ‘inexpensive’ so that everyone had the chance to attend, it’s looking more and more like the majority of tickets will be high priced and difficult to get hold of.

Basic ticket prices begin at £20 (currently around $31.05). Children 16 years of age or under will pay their age (eg: if you’re 14 you’ll pay £14) and Seniors will pay £16.

Other prices will range from £20 per session up to £150, depending on the session and the sport. Finals of events are priced as high as £725. With opening ceremonies and closing ceremonies in the £20.12 to £2,012 range, depending on the seat.

For cheap tickets, the problem comes in with the announcement that out of 8.8 million tickets, only 2.5 million will be £20 or less, with the majority being much higher. Twenty five percent of the tickets won’t go on sale at all. They’ll be used for sponsors, dignitaries, Olympic officials etc.

For a full price list for every seat, check out the Olympic Games tickets section on their website. You can download the entire list for future reference, or just look at it on the website. Prices are broken out by sport, venue, session type and whether or not there are ‘Special Prices’ available.

How Does Ordering Tickets Work?

There’s actually no ‘first come first served’ at the London Olympics. Instead, as soon as the tickets application process is opened everyone interested puts in their information including credit card info and then, after a set time, the people who were successful getting the tickets will be contacted. They’ll either get them by being one of a set number of people who applied (ie: there were more tickets available than people who applied) or, if too many people apply, there will be a drawing and the lucky ones contacted afterwards.

Remember, you’re competing with people from all over the world, many desperate to get to the London Games, so don’t be too disappointed if you can’t get what you want.

The Olympic Committee therefore recommends you apply for tickets in several sports, with the understanding you may not get what you really want. But…..as you are legally bound to purchase the tickets you’re allocated, you could end up with an expensive bill if you get tickets in every event you apply for. Not a particularly smart way of doing things, it would seem. So be careful.

How Do I Pay?

The other drawback is, for online tickets, the London 2012 Olympic Games is only accepting Visa cards, as they’re the sponsors of the Games. So, if you have a MasterCard, American Express or any other credit card type, you’re out of luck and will have to apply via mail, if you don’t know anyone with a Visa card who can do it online for you.

For any more information, check out the London 2012 Olympic Games tickets website.

Food in the Czech Republic from Brit Guy Point of View

The Czech Republic is not known for its delightful cuisine, and like the United Kingdom, the food stands accused of blandness. In recent history, it perhaps has the excuse of poverty and long winters, the sort of environment where pickled and simple foods are essential. Consequently, like the British, the base ingredient of any meal is the meat and two veg, alongside that real Czech delicacy of beer.

On most Czech menus there is a section dedicated to beer snacks. The most popular, and one that is highly recommended, is Nakladny Hermelin- pickled Brie marinated in olive oil. The taste is strong and even more so with the chilies it is served with, but the strength is slightly tempered by a generous portion of bread. Despite such snacks, most Czech food is designed to drink with beer and few Czechs eat the national dish of pork, dumplings and sauerkraut without a Budvar or Pilsner close to hand.

Pork is the Czech main meat, but usually on menus, they have chicken and beef at around the same cheap price. Other meat is less popular and quite expensive. Of course, they have duck and lamb, but pork, beef and chicken are the three staple meats. A beef dish is recommended as it’s traditionally served in a rich sauce containing ingredients like horseradish and lots of sugar.

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Czechs love their sauces and though there is not much fish about, tartar sauce is extremely popular. If you order mayonnaise in a Czech restaurant, you often receive tartar sauce. It really is that loved and especially when eating fried cheese, another Czech delicacy.

In terms of cheeses, the Czech Republic is famous for Abertim and Olomauc. Abertim is made from sheep’s cheese in the famous spa town of Karlovy Vary. Olomauc cheese has a proud, 130-year history and it even has a museum in dedication to its unique taste, which is distinctive and strong. Perhaps an acquired flavor, but if you are a fan of cheese it should strike your fancy.

What Czechs really want you to try is their dumplings or knedlik as they are called in Czech. The most famous of these are bread dumpling but you can also get potato dumplings, which are little bit more different from what us westerners are used to. The real difference between their dumplings and the dumpling say in England is instead of large balls of dough they are sliced and served to you on the edge of your place like pieces of bread, great for mopping up the sweet sauces.

A typical Czech meal is not the same without dumplings, but neither is it the same without soup. A Czech meal usually starts with some kind of soup from fish, garlic, onion sauerkraut, potato or dill and always served with bread. Some restaurants give you so much bread that the soup almost stands on its own as a main course, but not quite.

A main meal consists of a meat and a side dish, both of which you have to order separately. If you prefer fish to the usual meat choices remember carp, a traditional Christmas dish, is the Czech national fish. Also, remember that the Czech Republic is inland, so though there are fish farms, particularly carp farms, the fish isn’t always the freshest. A side order is usually some sort of potato such as a potato pancake or dumplings.

Finally for the deserts. Czech’s are very fond of their pancakes and these are always available. Perhaps a more exotic dish for visitors is honey cake, usually found in cafés to go with coffee, but sometimes served in restaurants as well.

Do Military Dependents Need Passports and Visas when PCSing to the United Kingdom?

A PCS (Permanent Change of Station) for military dependents across state lines will obviously not present any problems as they travel freely across America. However, can military dependents PCS to the UK without a passport and visa?


Dependents’ Requirements

The military sponsor’s orders should clearly list each dependent who will be PCSing with them to the UK, such as the spouse and minor children. Orders must be hand carried by either the active duty sponsor or spouse so that immigration control can inspect the orders upon arrival into the UK. Many military dependents who move with their sponsor to the UK are unaware of the fact that they must obtain government clearance and the proper documents (passports and visas) before they are allowed to set foot on British soil. The sponsor’s orders lists accompanying dependents. Nevertheless, this does not take the place of a valid, current passport and an entry clearance visa for a stay of more than 6 months. The entry visa will reflect the length of time that the sponsor will spend in the UK and dependent visas will expire when the sponsor’s tour in the UK ends. A sponsor’s extended tour will mean that their dependents will need to apply to the British Home Office for a leave to remain visa in their passport.

Sponsor’s Requirements

Active duty personnel are not subject to the same rigorous immigration checks as their accompanying dependents because they are on official business. In effect, this means they do not have to present their passport or obtain a visa to legally enter and work in the UK. Their government issued travel orders and military ID card are sufficient proof of their intentions as they enter the UK on official U.S. government business.

EU Dependent Requirements

EU citizens who will be PCSing to the UK with their sponsor will only need to present their passport to immigration control. They do not require an entry clearance visa to move to the UK for any length of time, but will be treated exactly as other EU (including British) citizens.

In short, military dependents who PCS with their sponsor to the UK must present a current, valid passport and obtain an entry clearance visa (except for non-EU citizens who do not require a visa). Plan months in advance of your move to the UK by making sure that family members who will be moving with you has their own up to date passport and an entry clearance visa if it applies.