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  • parinaz00

Living on a Visitor Visa in the UK

Hi,  I am Dr. Iqbal, an international medical graduate working in the NHS as a JSD in Internal Medicine. The PLAB route is a long journey which can be made more bearable and less worrisome by being very meticulous with your planning.

In this blog we will focus on the aspect of living in the UK . Your living circumstances will depend on how long before your PLAB 2 exam do you plan to arrive in the UK, if you plan on attending an academy, how far your accommodation is from your academy, have you planned to do a clinical observership immediately after you give your PLAB 2 (as you have to wait a month for your results , why not use this time for a 4 week clinical observership).

Already it seems like a daunting task, but if you have planned well before you arrive for each one of the above tasks , you will at least have a vision moving forward for each milestone you achieve.

This topic has a lot to dwell into:

1)How many days prior to the exam will you arrive and booking accommodation.

2)Getting a clinical observership and sorting the necessary paperwork before you fly.

3)Packing luggage.

4)Finances and accounts.

5)Travelling between cities and travelling inside the city.

How many days prior to the exam will you arrive:

This depends if you wish to attend an academy, some offer online classes too and what you choose is according to your level of confidence in facing the exam.The next step is to book an accommodation, which is also seen as a necessary document to get your visa approved. If you have a family member willing to host you things are fairly simple. All you need is an invitation letter and you are set , but unfortunately most of us do not have that luxury.

Ways to find an accommodation while in India:

The best and safest way is to contact someone who has recently lived in that city/ attended the same academy you have chosen and had a great experience , but how do you get hold of someone?

There are so many on Trewlink, Facebook/ WhatsApp groups with thousands of members who are in the process or at the end of it-just asking if there is someone who has lived there and then asking for the accommodation details will get you started -always ask for a live video tour of the place and don’t be in a hurry to make any payments (Enquire regarding Security deposit,Broadband, additional bills)-try to ask multiple people and see if there is a common place people have recommended.

Then you have these websites like airbnb, sparerooms ,zoopla out of these Airbnbs are the safest and most credible but most expensive ,some people have had bad experiences with the other websites as you can’t go and check out the property in person.

Most accommodation near academies are strategically placed but please do your research, enter the postcode of the place in google maps and check for the nearest stores (Tesco, Aldi , Lidl etc), as you need to frequent these store once or twice a week and without a vehicle carrying heavy bags can be daunting,look for general stores/restaurants and most importantly if you have a bus stop near your place.

Once you zero in , you have a place to crash till you finish your exams.

Getting a clinical observership and sorting the necessary paperwork before you fly:

So after you have planned for the first phase, next is preparing for the phase after the exam while you are still at home this involves:

  • Getting a clinical observership

  • You can find my blog on the trewlink website on how to secure a observership, then you have to plan your accommodation near your hospital.

  • Once you have secured an observership, talk to the HR and fill out the contract, get all the necessary clearances, also apply for a police clearance certificate and try to keep your start date soon after your exam, probably after a week.

For your second accommodation in the UK the best option is Hospital accommodation, do enquire about this to your HR as this is the safest and cheapest way and you may also save on travel.

If you are unable to secure hospital accommodation, then you can look into airbnb , sparerooms and zoopla as you can visit this place around 20 days before your exam and see the room in person and do not make any payments till you have been handed the key. 

How to efficiently use these websites:

Rather than looking for ads , post an ad stating your circumstances your purpose /what you do , how long you are planning to stay, your preferences on roommates , then the landlords will contact you(You will get email alerts from owners willing to host you ) instead of you contacting hundreds of them which is very inefficient.

If you still wish to contact landlords first-Enter the postcode of your hospital in the search bar and select the map option to get the location of all properties on a map so you can choose accordingly.

Packing your luggage 

Try to pack light and you will thank yourself later, most of the things you want are available in the UK. The only thing I missed was the strong masalas as I am from India. When I was in my second accommodation and doing my observership, I unexpectedly had to extend my contract so I had to move to a new place and using the above mentioned methods to move and packing light helped me as unpacking was easy.

Finances and accounts

You can open online bank accounts in the UK while being in India, like Monzo, Revoult or use forex cards with banks that charge the least rate for loading the cards, so you need to do your research on that.

Travelling between cities and travelling inside the city

The cheapest way to travel between cities is through bus(National Express, Megabus etc), train are a lot more expensive, which feels like a good option if you have a stable income in the UK, you can travel between cities by bus for ¼ the price compared to trains. You can book these bus tickets on the trainline app.

For travel inside the city ,the CityMapper app is really useful and you can change the city accordingly. I felt the connectivity via bus in the city is really good and via the app you can locate the nearest bus stand , the option of buses and time for the buses to arrive. But in London , it's faster to travel via tube as the road traffic is very static.

For more specific queries please mention in the comment section.

Need more help?

If you have any questions about living and travelling in UK , I would be happy to answer them at You can register using this link. Find me as an ambassador and follow my profile-Syed Mashood Iqbal-to receive regular support and advice

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