Setting up a new life in the UK as a lonely middle-aged man ⦁ 孤獨老餅點樣去英國展開新生活

Winky saying goodbye to his family in Hong Kong

Winky Ma arrived in the UK on Leave Outside the Rules (LOTR) in late September. The recent political situation in Hong Kong prompted him to leave Hong Kong and move to Manchester on his own as a “lonely middle-aged man” (孤獨老餅), as he describes himself. He has shared with us what he did to set up his life in the UK.

You’re quite set up now. What were the first 3 things you did after you landed? ⦁ 你都差唔多安定啦,落地英國頭三樣做嘅係乜嘢

Renting a place is definitely the first thing to tackle. After having a place, I immediately sorted out my council tax and got a TV licence.

Once I had a flat, I got myself a bank account. I know it has been tricky for some of my friends who came on LOTR – the banks wanted them to prove they have the right to remain for at least 12 months but they only have leave to remain for 6 months. Hopefully for Hong Kongers coming on a BNO Visa – which allows you to stay for 30 months or 5 years – setting up a bank account will be simpler.

After that, I worked on sorting out all my utility bills. Getting my electricity, gas, water suppliers etc. These bills work as my address proof.

What is your plan for jobs? ⦁ 有乜嘢工作打算

I have a company in Hong Kong, so I still have a job although my salary is now reduced to 1/5 of what I was earning because I could not be in the office full time. Luckily, my spending in the UK is quite low so I am doing fine. I can probably find a job here, but I will have to lower my standard. I know for a fact it is going to be difficult for Hong Kongers to get a job here. But we are hard workers, so we will survive.

What strikes you as the biggest differences between the UK and Hong Kong  ⦁ 你覺得香港同英國分別最大嘅係乜

Firstly, the food culture. The lack of cha chaan teng (茶餐廳) near me is an instant reminder that I am not in Hong Kong anymore. Luckily there is a big Chinese supermarket Wing Yip in Manchester so I can get the ingredients I want and cook at home, which I am doing during the lockdown. If I am outside, the number of Asian restaurant is limited and I will have to get used to it.

Secondly, transportation is quite expensive here from my point of view. I live quite close to the town centre so I can walk from one place to another. But for anyone living further out, if you can’t drive then you will have to get on a bus.

Finally, the opportunity to see friends. The UK is so big, it really is not easy to meet with them unless we live close enough. On the other hand, I do treasure the time I get to see them face to face now – barring any COVID-19 restrictions. I honestly don’t feel lonely here yet.

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