Money, money, money….
One of the biggest hurdles for us when we first tried to move to the UK in 2004 was banking. Oi! It's making my head hurt already. Being twenty, I guess I could have done more research at the time, but basically, I closed up my bank account in Vancouver and asked for the bank to issue me a cheque with my remaining balance. The cheque was in Canadian funds which brings us to ...
lesson # 1: If you show up to a British bank with a cheque in Canadian funds, it will be mailed back to the bank that issued it and a new cheque with the amount in British pounds will need to be sent. This could take 6 to 8 weeks. The bank failed to tell us this and we spent a lot of time wondering where our money was.
lesson #2: If possible, get an account before you leave. I strongly advise this. When I wanted to switch bank accounts in the UK, I originally was not approved due to bad credit even though I had never missed a payment nor had any debt at the time. The bank finally figured that my papers were shuffled to a random bank teller back in Canada. They may have not known what to do with it and declined it or decided not to approve it because I had closed my account with them earlier in the year.
Earlier this year, Lloyds TSB offshore made bank accounts available to those who wish to open a foreign current account, live / work overseas or even if you just travel frequently. So far, the customer service has been great - super helpful and friendly and the nice thing is that they have staff based in Vancouver and Toronto.
Other possible banks to consider are:
Barclays (This is where we originally set up our accounts on our first trip in 2002)
If you decide to work / live abroad or just want to spend a good chunk of time traveling, having an account in place with some cash in it, will, in the long-term, make your life a lot easier. Trust me. I can't tell you enough how happy I am that this has all been taken care of. * whew *