Touring England, UK and Europe

Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 01:01 am
My wife and I are looking to tour several countries within the UK and Europe. However after reading several posts from many of you that have direct experience with this I now have more questions and concerns as to the wisdom of such an undertaking.

We are both recently retired, I'm 60 and my wife is 55 we were entertaining the idea of visiting Europe by living in each of several countries for six months then move on to the next country. We were hoping to live in Europe for the next four to five years. We want to start our adventure in the UK, live in or around London for six months then move to Scotland and then Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Germany spending at least six months in each new country.

My wife and I will be selling our home here in Alaska and I have a modest pension, we'll have disposable resources of about 100K and a 4500 a month pension.

My first question is will the pension be enough to rent a fully outfitted apartment or cottage with utilities, transportation and food?

Second question; how strict are the UK officials about this "return ticket" issue, we're not planning to leave Europe for a couple of years at least.

Where should I live in and around London? I need something reasonable in price but has to be safe, I don't want to get mugged especially since I'll be unarmed. I understand I'll not be allowed to pack a weapon in Europe as I'm doing in Alaska.

My wife and I are both photographers and videographers and have had good results at selling our Alaskan images to "Stock Houses" and are hoping to do the same with our European photos to earn extra money, I'm hoping the Brits won't try to call that taking work away from a local.

My wife and I have other investment instruments and the sale of our home but would prefer not to use those resources. Those of you with UK and European experience please tell me if my budget is workable or a pipe dream?

Thank you for your time and favorable comments.
Bob W.
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 01:34 am
In some countryies when you live more than 6 (?) months you are considered as a permanent recident and have to pay taxes.
In other countries you have to have a permit to stay over three months, which is the limit for a tourist.
The health insurance varies in every country and has to be taken seriously.
The dream is wonderful, but reality is different.
You might not even like some places to stay there for six months.
Travel for a few months in Europe, but do not give up your home in USA.
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 01:45 am
Hi Bob, and welcome to A2K.

I am one of the few Brits who frequent this predominantly American site, and I live in North West London.

Having not had to apply for visas etc to stay in my country, you would probably have more working knowlege on this than I, but I would suggest having a word with the Brit Embassy over there (email probably) who would hopefully point you in the right direction regarding all the do's and dont's.

As far as your pension is concerned, I assume that you are quoting dollars?
If so, that works out to approx £3000 per month.

If you are after an apartment (usually called a flat over here), then a furnished one bedroomed flat could cost you anything from £500 a month up to the sky's the limit, depending on where you want to live.
Generally, the nearer to London you go, the more the rent will sky rocket.

Mugging? Unarmed?

Guns. I wouldn't worry too much, as we are all unarmed over here, apart from the very rare one or two incidents that happen every blue moon that are so unusual, they make the headlines.

Muggings. these tend to happen all over the world, so just use your head when out, and don't go walking down pitch black alleyways at night whilst holding up your gold iphone for everyone to see.
Generally, if you live in a normal town and live a normal, quiet life, you won't even hear of anyone being mugged, let alone experience such a thing.

Places to stay?

Outside of the M25, definitely. The M25 is the Motorway which encircles London. Inside = exorbitant, Outside = Ranging from expensive down to reasonable, the further out you go.

My tip(s)?

Settle somewhere between London and the South Coast, and "commute" into London by train in order to see the sights. You can see the main touristy bits of London in probably two or three days, so maybe consider staying in a central London Hotel for three nights, and treat yourself to Theatres, Concerts etc, or just leisurely strolling or using bus or tube to get you around.

Winchester would be a good spot to use as a base, as you could strike out in all directions from there and easily end up somewhere beautiful and typically English.

Oxford or thereabouts would be a "West of London" equivalent.

Got to go now, but I will return to this to add more from time to time, hopefully later on today.

Good luck.
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 02:38 am
Thank you for the post. My wife and I were born and raised in Alaska and have lived almost our entire lives here, so going adventuring is the plan, no loose ends, as such we'll be selling the house regardless. I have Aetna health and dental insurance which I've been assured is good world wide.

England does have a six month Tourist visa; Yes?

We've set a six month time frame so we could lease at more reasonable rates. Is this reasonable?
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 02:46 am
Thank you Lordyaswas, I'll will be sure to investigate those locations you had mentioned. Dark alleys are not my usual places to visit at my age.

That might have been a different story when I was twenty-something, ten feet tall and bullet-proof.
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Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 04:36 am
Hi Bob, and yes, it seems that the ordinary visitor visa is for six months, but you'd better read all the stuff on the Government page just to make sure.


It also covers a multitude of other things that you can and can't do, including paid work etc., so it may answer your question about your photography whilst here.

I will have a nose around to see if I can find some relevant links for you regarding the lease thing, but in the meantime, have you considered doing a week or two here and there in bed and breakfasts to start with?

If I wanted to find a place to live for six months, and was footloose and fancy free, I would definitely hire a car and tour around a bit for a week or two, just so I could investigate the area and make enquiries re. Renting a place.

Usually you will pick up recommendations from locals as to what places are nice, and what places are best avoided.

Back with some links soon (hopefully)
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 05:46 am
Note that London is not representative of "the UK".....more like "the whole world" according to demographic data. Note too that the cost of living in London and the South-East is much higher than elsewhere. If you really want to experience "British Culture" you could take a cue from Bill Bryson and go and live in the provinces....a large city like Birmingham, Manchester or Leeds with good transprt links to London is worth considering. Remember the UK is tiny compared to the US and you can drive almost anywhere in a few hours.. Many provincials (like me) find London an expensive impersonal hassle, and cannot wait to get out of it despite its "tourist attractions".
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 10:35 am
Thanks again, this is good stuff here.
We've already shifted gears to your suggestion of staying at a hotel within the M-25 Beltway for a couple of weeks touring before making a move to a community that is more relaxed and laid back.

Thanks for the link, I'm on it. My concern is we were hoping to start this adventure in the UK since we share the same language and does the "six month" tourist visa apply to the UK as a whole (England, Ireland & Scotland) or can I do six months in each major area I'm interested in?

This trip is at least a year away so now is the time to get answers. I would prefer this adventure go smoothly and not be standing in front of the UK immigration officer with that "Oh ****!" look on my face because I haven't done my homework.
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 11:00 am
It's been a very long time since I was in England (as in, over 40 years), but I recall the Lake Country was beautiful. It's a bit to the north. Definitely get out of the city!

PS My father drove the rental car. Yes, he almost got in a head-on. So maybe a bus tour? The pesky wrong side of the road (hiya, Lordy Wink) can be a lil tricky.

PPS Welcome to A2K. One of the two states I've never been to is Alaska (and Mississippi. There's a combo for ya). I bet a lot of us would love to see a thread with your insider take on it.
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 11:11 am
PolarBearBob wrote:
I have Aetna health and dental insurance which I've been assured is good world wide.

get full copies of the policies and check whether there are any timelines for out-of-country coverage - and what all of the possible exclusions are.
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 11:11 am
Your UK Visa should cover you for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but if you wish to visit the Republic of Ireland (not part of UK) which includes Dublin, Cork, Kerry etc., you will need to contact the Irish Government for their visa.

As far as Ireland is concerned, I would highly recommed Cobh (pronounced Cove), which is where the Titanic has its last port of call.
From there you can visit Cork and Blarney Castle. Truly a beautiful part of the world, with wonderful people.
They will talk the hind legs off a donkey and you will find that a half mile walk will take three hours with a diversionary but compulsory visit to the local pub, but you will leave with a warm feeling for the place and a tear in your eye.

Other personal favourites of mine, off the top of my head.....

Wales? Portmeirion, Snowdon park and railway, lots of coastal beauty.

Scotland? Edinburgh, Fort William, Highlands.

North East England? Lindisfarne (Holy Island), Durham Cathedral.

North West England? Lake District, obviously the cities of Liverpool and Manchester.

Other places.....working sort of downwards.....

York (ancient and very interesting)
Yorkshire Dales - stunningly beautiful.

Warwick (pronounced Worrick) great castle, plus more historicsl stuff.

East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk mainly) where most of the American bomber crews were stationed in ww2. Flat country, lots of thatched cottages.

Cambridge. Go for a punt down the river.
Saffron Walden, an archetypal English Market Town.

And that only brings you halfway down England, and only scratches the surface.

A more complete list will probably develop here over time, as others add their favourites.

As far as your idea of a Hotel inside the M25 is concerned, I think you would be able to find a lot better value place OUTSIDE the M25, as inside knocks the rates up considerably.

If London is a must for you, and I tend to agree with fresco about other places being just, if not more, English nowadays, then I would strongly suggest finding a good location that has efficient train links with London and maybe stay somewhere 30 or 40 miles out and commute in on days when you want to do the City tour(s) as necessary.

Another good point made was that we can pretty much travel from the top of England to the bottom in one day (at a push), and certainly two days taking it easy with a night in a hotel on the way.

Do your research, select your desired destinations and then mark on a map what would be the best centre of routes for you, that's my suggestion.

Back again later.....

Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 11:15 am
Many of the towns/cities in Europe are managed best by bicycle and there are terrific bike-hire programs available.

I'd recommend spending part of the next year riding a bicycle outdoors every possible day - don't skip rainy days. You'll find the ability to travel/tour by bicycle very handy. You can bicycle fairly easily between some of the smaller countries. We had one member here who used to cycle to work in Vienna each week from her home in Slovakia.

Start downsizing now so you get used to living with a lot less.
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Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 11:18 am
Thank you Fresco, now we're talking my language.

The very reason my wife and I are proceeding in this manner is we want to have the time to get to know people, I mean really get to know them, their lives, their families, their perceptions and their prejudices.

We want to spend six months in Scotland and Ireland as well, to really get to know those people and where they live.

Over the years my wife and I have been avid cruise ship tourists, its fun but you really don't get the time to really get to know a place. We don't have children and the remaining number of family members we both have living can be counted on one hand. We find ourselves at this point in our lives with the time and resources to go see Europe before we cash in our chips.

I don't think I would even consider this adventure if it were not for a laptop and the internet. The information you can gather is remarkable, one search of flats to rent in and around Birmingham and Manchester alone has returned no less than 3000 possibilities.

You can rent anything from a trailer to the Taj-Mahal, simply remarkable.

Thanks again for your input.
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 11:45 am
Hello Jespah; My wife and I were both born and raised in the 49th state and have lived almost our entire lives here. We both were originally from Fairbanks in the interior but now live in Eagle River a bedroom community of Anchorage.

When I was born here Alaska was still a territory. Its been fun, I've been privileged to have seen and experienced wonders of Alaska that others will only dream about.

Alaska will always be my home, its where I made my "fortune", married the women of my dreams and lived my life in peace and freedom.
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Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 11:56 am
I am from Scandinavia and have to find out about the rules for living there for six months.
One can rent small apartments thru AirB&B and they seem to be reasonable at least in Stockholm From 25 to 110 Euro a night
Also houses are available, but the prizes are very different depending on where you rent. Inland you can get a house for about 300 Euro and upwards
along any lake it will be from 800 Euro a week and direct on the westcoast it can cost you 1000 and more a week.
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 12:00 pm
Thank You ehBeth, I'll be sure to investigate the Aetna insurance more throughly to ensure my wife and I are covered properly.

Thanks for the tip about bicycles. I'm afraid that will be a real challenge for me as my knees at 60 are not what they used to be, seems all those years of playing "Nanook of the North" has taken its toll.

Maybe something with an engine or a battery might be a better bet. I'm sure I'm lucky to still be walking after some of the craziness I've participated in.

Thanks Again
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 12:03 pm
Hello Lordyaswas; more good stuff, keep it coming.

We're moving with a sense of porpoise.......

Thanks, PBB
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Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 12:11 pm
You're really going to need to be able to walk and/or cycle quite a bit if you're planning to spend substantial time in cities. Think of travelling in any large North American city - it's done by foot/cycle, not by car. The same applies in much of Europe - but more so.

It's also a cost factor. Gas prices are significantly higher in Europe. When you consider that renting in Scandinavia could take most of the pension $ while there, there's not a lot left for transport/food/miscellaneous.

If you are looking at a hostel/AirBNB level of accommodation, things are better financially but it means the entire trip needs to happen out of carry-on luggage. Given that you apparently plan to be photoing/videoing while travelling, that really leaves minimal luggage capacity.


What previous experience do you have of travelling in Europe?
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 12:12 pm
Speak very honestly to your broker about the trip so you can be sure to have the necessary coverages. I have seen many claims denied because of the timelines on travel insurance.
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Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2015 12:32 pm
If you hit Manchester or North West England send me a PM. I'd be happy to point you in a few directions.
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