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Expat Single Mum Returning to UK - Help needed with working out monthly budget please!

(13 Posts)
HomeIsWhereYourHeartIs Sun 07-Aug-11 14:11:01


I'm a 'lurker' on the LP forum and I wasn't sure if I should rather post this in Finance section, but here goes:

I'm currently living oversea's, and I'll be moving back to the UK next year with my 2 DC's. DS will be going to school fulltime next year and, dpending upon what work I can get, I'll have to look for a childminder or nursery school for DS about 3 days per week

I'm trying to work out what my monthly living costs are likely to be, but I've been away from the UK for nearly 5 years now and I'm having trouble remembering how much I used to pay on basic household spend and bills etc.

I wondered if any other single parents on here could give me an idea about average monthly costs, especially if you're in the South-East. I've started on a list of things below as I've been doing as much research as I can on the internet, but I'm sure I have left some important things out.

Please have a look and let me know if I am way off the mark with any of my costings, or where there is a blank, please let me know what you think is an average cost to work on.


Rent: 1000-1250 pm (based on renting a 2-3 bedroomed semi in Surrey)
Gas/Electricity: 120 pm
Water Rates: 16pm (estimated GBP200 annually unless metered)
Council Tax: 100pm
Phone: 25.00 pm - No idea on what phone charges are like now, but it would be minimal use as I mainly use my mobile
Contents Insurance: 25.00pm

Petrol: 120pm
Car Insurance: ?

(Can't remember anything else about car costs! What other monthly costs do I need to factor in?)

Food Shopping: 400pm
School Dinners for DS: 40pm approx

Nursery Costs for DD: Not a clue on this one yet!

Newbabynewmum Sun 07-Aug-11 19:25:40

I can help you out with one of them - all nurseries where I live - south but not as south as you - are approx £50 for a day. Crazy money!

itsnotpossibleisit Sun 07-Aug-11 22:16:02

You also need to remember TV License, not sure how much it will cost you as I do not have TV.

Also mobile phone, depending on the contract you may have to budget £25.00

Car Tax which I do not know how much it will be as I do not drive either

Water charges I would say they are a bit higher, I would say more around £25.00 pm depending on the house I think

I think this is all

budgetmad Sun 07-Aug-11 22:41:56

you should consider contents insurance if renting.

For ds and myself I budget as follows - 2 bed property

insurance house & contents 40
electric 115
telephone/internet 27
water (not on a meter) 30
tv licence 14
council tax 70
mobilex2 30
car tax/insurance/mot/service/save towards new car 100
childcare 52 (that's for 15 days a year in summer & easter hols @£41 a day)
debt (sofa and computer) 80
savings for xmas & birthday 25
food 200
petrol for work 185
other petrol 20
parking for work 70
misc (school stuff, extra curricular stuff, gifts & everything else) 100
clothes/uniform/shoes 35
and that leaves me with 50 cash in my purse

HomeIsWhereYourHeartIs Mon 08-Aug-11 08:00:39

Thanks everyone, that's really helpful - although shock at nursery fee's! Budgetmad, your nickname is very apt indeed! grin

I guess my next step will be to understand how much financial help I will be able to get. Can anyonealso recommend any good websites to look at regarding benefit entitlements?

ladydeedy Mon 08-Aug-11 16:30:40

council tax may be higher - ours is £180 per month and if you are in a ssemi in Surrey I guess is likely to be similar..

HappyMummyOfOne Mon 08-Aug-11 16:35:57

You may not qualify for benefits, there is a test when returning to the UK to ensure its simply not to claim benefits that you will need to pass. I'd work out your budget without benefits to ensure you can afford to live in somewhere as expensive as Surrey first without state assistance.

Ormirian Mon 08-Aug-11 16:39:55

TV license is £32 every quarter I beleive.

Our water rates are 67 pm! But it's a 4-bed house so probably more than you will pay.

Car tax is something like 190 a year depending on the size of engine.
Petrol is silly money now! Depending on how much you travel it may be a great deal more than you have budgetted for.

Childcare - would you consider a CM - I beleive they are generally not as pricey and (IME) a very good option.

HomeIsWhereYourHeartIs Tue 09-Aug-11 14:58:16

Thanks again everyone for the info. Have added all that into my revised budget and it's not quite as bad as I'd thought. Childcare is my biggest worry, in terms of cost of quality care so will certainly look at the CM suggestion.

HappyMummy, just to clarify the point you made about returning expats claiming benefits, (and for the reference of any other expat MNer's that find themselves returning to the UK), for British Citizens there is no minimum residency requirements for claiming state benefits. You can live away from the UK for 5 days, 5 years or 55 years: same rules apply. There are no specific 'eligibility tests for British Citizens returning to the UK after living abroad, other than the usual eligibility criterion and assessment for all applicants.

Councils can apply a waiting period before processing a claim if they have concerns about the authenticity of the claim, but they aren't legally entitled to do so, and applicants can appeal if their Council tries to enforce this. The only area where there is a specific UK residency requirement of 3 years is when applying for Education grants/loans/bursaries etc.

Re: the comment about making sure I can afford to live in Surrey. To my mind, affordability will really only come into play if/when I am looking at buying a house, otherwise the general cost of living is fairly standard irrespective of where you live in the South-East.

HappyMummyOfOne Tue 09-Aug-11 22:05:13

This link sugests even UK nationals have to pass the test, there is nothing about UK people being exempt.

HomeIsWhereYourHeartIs Wed 10-Aug-11 03:33:13

HappyMummy, thanks for the link, and from the very quick look I've had at the site, the information just confirms what I said in my previous post.

There are no specific eligibility tests for British Citizens returning to the UK. This test is a standard one applied across the piece, but British Citizens (holding a British passort) are not subject to a minimum residency requirement. See the notes under 'General Points about Habitual Residence', which indicates 'applicants' may be habitually resident as soon as they arrive in the UK. By this, they mean British Citizens.

Believe me, I've checked this out very thoroughly.

MaisieMama Sun 14-Aug-11 15:28:20

Home - I'm going through this at the moment (I just returned to the UK last week) and have been told that I will have to pass the habitual residency test. I was born in the uk, hold a uk passport and have been away for 3.5 years.

As quoted on HappyMummy's link (and similar on DirectGov) "People not subject to immigration control who have to pass the habitual residence test:
UK nationals and people with right of abode"

I'm going in for more info this week so I'll keep you posted!

woollyideas Sun 14-Aug-11 18:30:55

I lived abroad for five years and returned to UK homeless and penniless. I had to have a Habitual Residence Test before I could claim any benefits. I'd been working for a couple of decades before moving abroad, so it was a bit of a shock to me, especially as the Benefits Office staff were rude and unhelpful and seemed reluctant to give me the information I needed. It was a steep learning curve. I returned to a similar part of the UK, OP, (West London/Middlesex/Surrey borders) because that's where family and friends were. I had a very tough time for the first couple of years, but it was still worth it - I couldn't have stayed with my ex any longer and my DC has a much better life here, mainly because I'm much happier.

Be prepared for a fairly tough settling in period and keep your chin up! I hope you have family and friends to support you.

By the way OP and Maisie Mama the HRT test comprised being shut in an office with a stern-faced bloke in a suit who asked me why I'd chosen to settle in the UK. At the time it was quite alarming, but TBH I wasn't in the best frame of mind! Just steel yourself - you'll be okay!

I wasn't immediately eligible for child benefit, but I think I got some kind of income support instead. I can't remember what the qualifying period was, but once I became eligible for CB the additional (IS?) payment ceased. I'm not sure what the benefits situation would be if you have any kind of savings. I'm guessing you might not get anything (anyone know?)

I have to say that I had a fantastic lone parent adviser at the Job Centre. Not sure if LPAs still exist, but she really helped me to find work (free courses to update my skills/help with childcare/ a work placement...) I had a job within ten months of coming back and think it would have been sooner if I hadn't been homeless/living in a hostel.

By the way, I think you've underestimated water rates slightly!

Good luck!

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