How much it costs to move to the UK

 ·6 Jul 2019

One of the biggest factors influencing a decision to move to the United Kingdom is affordability, according to immigration consultants Move Up.

The company has published a new guide looking at the costs of moving to the UK in 2019. These include expected costs such as visas, travel, and accommodation, as well as some of the unexpected costs such as medical tests and proof of savings.


Settlement visa applications can be complicated and stressful.

Move Up said that South Africans must also consider the risk of handling the application yourself or if you’ll use an experienced immigration agency to apply on your behalf.

The below prices show what you can expect to pay and include the main visa applicant and include agency fees, UK government fees, National Health Service fees and courier costs.

  • Ancestral Visa: R57,963
  • Tier 2 General: R84,533
  • Entrepreneur Visa: R84,428
  • Tier 1 Innovator: R80,111
  • UK Settlement Visa: R71,231

Proof of savings and NHI

For most settlement visas the applicant is required to show they have a certain amount of savings in their bank account. The amount varies depending on which visa you are granted, but usually ranges from R30,000 to R1,700,000.

Some settlement visas also require you to pay your National Health Insurance (NHI) fees upfront.

That amounts to approximately R41,000 per applicant and is usually paid along with your visa application fees.

TB tests

Applications for visas that allow you to stay in the UK for more than six months require a TB test that must be undertaken at a specified test centre in South Africa.

The TB test costs approximately R1,800 per adult and half that for children 11 years old or younger.  The certificate of results must be submitted with your visa application.


The next big-ticket item is air travel.  Booking tickets as early as possible and choosing non-peak flights during a low-season period is the best way to save money on flights.

A one-way economy class ticket with one stop in Dubai from Cape Town to London will cost approximately R5,500 for one traveller.

Overseas furniture removals 

Most families prefer to take their furniture and household goods to the UK with them, rather than selling them off before emigrating.

The cost of sending your household items to the UK varies, depending on the size of the container you need to fit your possessions into.

A medium size cube from Seven Seas costs approximately R12,000 on the South African side and £250 from the UK.

Pet relocation fees

The UK does allow you to bring your pets to the UK with you, but it can be expensive.

While it’s best to get a few quotes to compare, bringing your dog, cat or ferret can cost up to R26,000.

UK monthly expenses

Welcome news for South African expats is that buying cars in the UK is significantly cheaper than buying them in SA.

While filling up a tank of petrol costs about fifty percent more in the UK, you can purchase a second-hand, older car for just a few hundred pounds, or a newer SUV for around £13,000.

Below is a breakdown of monthly costs for a husband, wife and their dog living in Newbury, West Berkshire in a 3-bedroom, semi-detached house – and a car they bought with cash in 2019.


School fees

State schools are provided by the government at no cost to British citizens and foreigners legally living in the UK. These schools are effectively funded by taxes.

However, pre-school childcare can be expensive:

  • Registered childminder (25 hours for a child under 2):  £113 – £159 per week (R2,000 – R2,800)
  • Day nursery (25 hours for a child under 2): £127 – £174 per week (R2,300 – R3,100)
  • Part-time nanny (25 hours): £250 – £400 per week (R4,500 – R7,100)
  • Au pair:  Room & board plus £70 – £85 per week (R1,250 – R1,500)

Private education in the UK is very expensive.  Day prep fees can range from £10,000 to £20,000 or more in London, while day fees for senior schools can range from £12,000 to £25,000 per year.

Senior boarding fees cost around £35,000 per year, but some senior boarding schools are now exceeding £45,000 per annum.

Read: New changes will make it easier for South Africans to emigrate to the UK

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