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What's your Biggest Spend?

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

The hope of coming from the Philippines into the UK can be quite exhilarating. It can be a place to start anew and experience an adventure in the hope that everything turns out for the better. However, paired with this new hope is the reality that there would always be challenges ahead especially when relocating into a new country. Moving to the UK is not cheap.

Where do our fellow Filipino nurses spend most of their salary? How are they able to manage their spending? Members of the Filipino UK Nurses Community share in this article what is their highest spend since moving to the UK. Plus they also provide their money saving tips too!

“My rent covers almost half of my pay.”- Nurse Roma

Generally speaking Filipinos arriving in the UK will start as flat or house renters in the UK. And as most would expect rent prices in London and surrounding areas are most premium. But other popular areas like Cambridge, Oxford, Brighton and many South of London areas are quite costly too. Average cost of living in London is mitigated with the high cost allowance on offer for some London employers but that is not always the case. The average rent prices in the country are on the rise, as of this article’s writing, so it is important that any new migrants arriving in the UK should consider their rental fees. When renting a house, you also need to consider other costs such as Council tax, electricity, gas, water and other utility bills.

Money Saving Tips in Renting:

  • Do house share. House share means shared costs not just in rent but other utility bills.

  • Consider hospital accommodation. Some hospital provides accommodation or housing for their staff, but with a set fee. This, sometimes, come in cheaper especially if all bills are included.

“From London, we moved up north & bought our 1st house- it is our 1st and biggest investment ever!”- Nurse Kim

In the UK, one can own a property as long as you have a UK residency status. This means that those with working visa can also be home-owners. But buying a new home in the UK comes with a great cost. The most common way for migrants to own a property would be via the mortgage route. Process of applying for a mortgage is relatively straightforward- the first thing you need to achieve here is saving for a down payment for a property, which is minimum of 10% of the property value. If you’re purchasing a £100,000 value property, you need to save for at least £10,000 for a house deposit. There are schemes available which helps in purchasing a property for the first time. The current scheme first time buyer help to buy scheme provided by the UK government allows just a 5% down payment with the government offering to top up your down payment for a total of 25% but be sure to read the full contract before agreeing to this.

Aside from the deposit—note that there are additional fees you need to save for! When buying a house in the UK, there are other costs you need consider like solicitor’s fees, surveyor’s fees, stamp duty, insurance, house repairs amongst others. There’s a lot to consider. It’s a big investment, after all.

Money Saving Tips in Buying a House:

  • Consider putting in a higher deposit if you can. A higher deposit may mean have lower or less monthly amortization.

  • For more affordable properties, consider properties up north or far from London.

“For the past 10 years, half of my pay goes to my "padala" or family back in the Philippines. I made huge sacrifices to better their living condition. I just hope they appreciate what I’ve done for them.” - Nurse Jo

We, Filipinos are known for our love for family. We work abroad with the dream of improving the lives of our family members back in the Philippines. That’s why sending money to the Philippines is a common practice for most Overseas Filipino workers. According to BC Remit, one of our partner remittance companies based here in the UK, the average remittance of Filipinos here in the UK to the Philippines is between £400-800/month.

Tips in Sending Money:

  • Create a culture of appreciation rather than a culture of dependence. Whilst it’s good to give, it’s also important that we help our families back home appreciate the work behind every pound we send. Let your family know how hard you’ve worked- that way, they will use the resources you give wisely.

  • Help and educate on how to save & how to earn their own money. Teach them how to fish. Help them to become more self-sustainable and less reliant on your remittance.

  • Aside from the exchange rate, consider the transaction fees when you compute for the overall cost in sending money. There are remittance companies who have high exchange rate but have high transaction fees too. BC remit offers competitive transaction fees and amazing customer service.

“My first 3-6 years were all about visas. I had to pay for the renewal of my visa, indefinite leave to remain and then British citizenship. It was tough- I had to do lots of bank shifts to cover for all these visa expenses.” -Nurse Jun

Visa fees do not account for your cost of living. However, it is important to consider the costs of visa renewals as this is paid for by the migrant employee themselves and very seldom does a generous UK employer would offer to pay visa fees. If your contract is only set for 3 years, this means that you have to pay for the renewal of your visa. On your 5th year, you can already apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). ILR is usually the most expensive. At the time of writing this article, it costs a little over £2400 for the ILR status. On top of it, you need to pay for the life in the UK Test, english test and biometrics. On your 6th year, you can apply for naturalisation or British citizenship which would still incur costs.


· Save early. This way, you are not in a high pressure to work extra to pay for these visas.

· Check updates on the government website.

“Travel is life. I have always wanted to see the world. My work as a nurse has enabled me to achieve this dream. But I would not deny that traveling can also be expensive.” -Nurse Jen

The UK is the perfect hub to travel across the Atlantic and of course throughout Europe. Coming from the Philippines many nurses would look into journeying around favourite tourist sites like Paris, Barcelona and Milan. Where one could get affordable flights into these dream destinations your budget can easily be blown by other costs like accommodation and activities.

Aside from traveling to see the world, another costly travel is our holidays back to the Philippines. A trip to the Philippines may mean dinners and parties with families and friends, buying “pasalubong”—all of which comes with a cost.

Money Saving Tips on Travel:

  • Check walking tours. Engage with the locals for more immersed experience. Especially if you are travelling around Europe.

  • Book early. You might be able to bag cheaper flights and accommodation when you book months in advanced.

  • Have a budget and stick to your budget. It’s easy to spend especially when you’re enjoying.

“Childcare costs a lot especially during the 1st few years. It’s insane.”

- Nurse Mary

For migrant parents, childcare can be difficult. You can’t expect your relatives to be there to help you in looking after your child. For most, they must rely on friends or their partners to help in childcare.

Some had to enrol their kids to the nursery or hire a child minder- both of these options can be expensive especially for the 1st 3 years of the child. According to day, it would cost an average of £7212 for one to send a child who is less than 3 years old to a nursery for 25 hours. This may mean paying more than your monthly mortgage or rent! Once they reach the age of 3 years old, you can be entitled to 30 hours free. But you still need to consider costs for after school clubs, breakfast clubs and others.

From primary school until secondary school this is free education in public schools. However costs for parents would be on the miscellaneous side like extracurricular activities and uniform costs. Sending your kids to the University is expensive too. Yes, there are student loans available. However, there are other costs to consider such as housing/accommodation for your child, allowance and other miscellaneous.

Child Care Tips:

- Create your own village. Share childcare with other parents. There might be other parents who are also looking for childcare help.

- Consider degree apprenticeships. It can be a more practical way to earn a degree and job at the same time.

Moving into the UK for Filipino Nurses is very offer many positive possibilities. However, it is also very possible to encounter financial challenges when one does not come prepared. Key to mitigate these is to plan and set out goals with all the potential outcomes in mind. This article hope that through the collective knowledge and experience of the pioneering members of the Filipino nursing community, the next generation of Filipino nurses would come in the UK with better knowledge and have a great start in their own UK journey.

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