Category Archives: Tips & Advice

Four things you should know about moving to the countryside

Everybody knows everybodyrolling countryside hills

You probably don’t know the lady that smiled at you in the butchers, or the man that said ‘Morning!’ as you were walking your dog but that’s just the English countryside. As soon as you move here you’ll feel like your social circle has grown tenfold. If you need to nab some milk when you first move in then you can ask your neighbour with no hesitation. The family vibe that comes from quaint English villages is totally unbeatable.

Night times are so much clearer and calmer

The best vantage point to see the stars is from the most remote country location. Minimal light pollution and cloud coverage can give you the most spectacular sky views. If that’s not enough to convince you that you belong in a farmhouse in the countryside then we don’t know what is! Combine your newly-discovered starry nights with some friends, a campfire and food for a classic countryside get together.

sheeps-road-countrysideYou won’t go a day without seeing some wildlife

From Skylarks to horses and everything in between don’t be surprised if your morning commute is disrupted by a herd of sheep. The countryside is the home to thousands of cattle, birds and dogs so don’t worry about taking your pooch to the pub for a few either, they’re probably welcome with open arms. Cocker Spaniels and sheepdogs are a firm favourite out in the sticks so if you really want to get in with the locals we recommend carrying around some dog treats!

 

The air is crisp, clean and healing

The UK countryside has some of the cleanest air in the UK with extremely low pollution levels. Thanks to all the green pastures, plants and foliage the air is completely different to the stifling, warm air of inner cities. You can start off your mornings with a walk to get you awake, alert and ready for the day!

The Top 5 Expat Destinations Around The World

HSBC’s Expat Explorer Report for 2015 has ranked countries and territories on the opinions of expats based on questions about economics, their family life and their overall expat experience. 39 countries from Brazil to Bahrain have had their expats quizzed on these three categories, with the scores being totalled to give the final ranking. Which of the following makes you want to move overseas?

1. Singapore

moving-to-Singapore

Singapore is a tiny island nation just off the coast of Malaysia with a high population of expats and a fantastic array of cultures. Known as the Lion City, Singapore is a hit with expats due to its tropical climate, strong economy and the fact that English is one of 4 official languages. This location is also renowned for its very environmentally friendly ‘Green Policy’ and its extreme low tolerance to crime, making it one of the safest expat destinations you could relocate too.

2. New Zealand

moving-to-New-Zealand

New Zealand is a popular choice among Brits, with expats favouring how easy it is to integrate into the ‘Kiwi’ culture and finding that settling down is extremely easy. With a strong economy and links to British sporting events like Rugby Union and Cricket, Brits typically feel right at home. Another important item the Expat Explorer Report noted was that those who move here live a more healthy lifestyle, being encouraged to be active by the weather and the general mindset of resident New Zealanders. Considering emigrating? Find out how we can help.

3. Sweden

moving-to-Sweden

In the 2015 HSBC Expat Explorer report Sweden came first in the ‘family’ category with the education system, government attitudes towards family policies and the quality of life all contributing to this. Sweden offers parents of newborns 480 days of leave which can be split between the mother and father, making it a very attractive place to start a family. With free healthcare and a wealth of cultural highlights, this economic powerhouse is unsurprisingly the 3rd best place for expats to live.

4. Bahrain

moving-to-Bahrain

Bahrain is a country which offers higher average salaries, a warm welcome to expats and a ‘straightforward financial landscape’ meaning that adapting to different tax practices is easy. When asked expats did note that living costs are relatively high, with the average spend on this being 53% of their salary however 68% of those asked said they had a higher disposable income than they did previously. Combine the extensive opportunity to take in the Middle Eastern culture with the tropical climate of this island in the Persian Gulf and you’ve got a fantastic expat destination.

5. Germany

moving-to-Germany

Expat residents of Germany benefit massively from this economic superpower with 49% of those asked saying that their career has advanced more quickly since moving. Job security and a healthy work/life balance are other contributing factors to Germany clinching the 5th spot on the Expat Explorer report. Other contributing factors include Germany’s long history of culture, the embedded folk traditions at Christmas time and Germany’s fashion scene. Fancy settling down in time for the festive season? Moving to Europe is easier than ever with our services,

Office trends and tips: how to optimise your in-office time

Office spaces are almost as important as who is actually in the office because it can affect productivity, creativity and the health of your employees. So finding the right balance between work and play is pivotal. The office needs to be functional more than anything. It may look great to have all ‘stand-up’ desks, but employees will eventually get tired of standing and lose the creativity you’re trying to inspire. However introducing stand-up meeting rooms for 20-minutes-or-less meetings only is likely to provoke fresh, engaging ideas and give employees mini-breaks from sitting down.

google amsterdamWhen you’re designing an office space it’s good to consult your employees. Ask them what they do and don’t want, what would be best for them and for how they work. Involving new employees in design is also a great way to spark future collaborations. If employees work together to create their own workspace, they’ll have something in common already.

Shared areas are the best way to encourage teamwork. A square office with a round ‘coffee hub’ in the middle, complete with worktops and plug sockets, is a sure fire way to get people engaged and talking. It also gets employees moving. Sitting in one spot for 4 hours can suck the creativity out of some people, so let employees wander and change their workspace frequently. Why work at a desk from 9 to 5 when you could work in a cosy pod for 2 hours, stand for 30 minutes and then set up shop in a repurposed storage container? Why work inside when it’s sunny and you’ve got a roof garden? It’s all re-energising, re-invigorating and different!

Not only does layout of an area affect employees’ productivity and efficiency there are plenty of other factors to consider. Light, colours, plants and spatial design can all be points for change and while you don’t have to think of everything but it’s good to cover the most important bases. Let’s take light for example. Do you work better in a dark, dingy room or an open room with a high-ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows? The correct amount of light can be the difference between creative genius and stagnant ideas.

The style and colour of an office is also conducive to good work, especially when there’s a playful element. The kind of ‘wow, have you seen this?’ conversation that any employees can spark up with each other encourages creativity through group bonding and an eventual lack of self-consciousness, freeing people up to volunteering new ideas.

google-london-granny-flatCombining styles such as industrial rooms featuring exposed brickwork with neon, textured wall installations can be a fab way to inject a fun, youthful feel into a workspace. It works with just about any style! Try combining kitsch or vintage meetings tables with modern chairs to accentuate and highlight the differences in both, it’s a cool talking point too. If you’re not sold on that, try angular, geometric patterns on every wall and place contrasting rounded desks and chairs near by.

The easiest way to re-create your office workspace is to stick with pale coloured walls and go crazy for colours of desks, chairs, posters, and even pens, post-it notes and coffee cups! The contrasting colours will bring fresh, vibrant air and a new motivation and drive to your workforce.

google dublin

Saving for your first home is simpler with a Help To Buy ISA

help-to-buy-isaA Help To Buy ISA, not to be confused with the Help To Buy Scheme, is a savings product that is rewarded with tax-free bonuses for money that is saved towards a deposit on a new home. Aimed at first time buyers only, the government will pay a ‘bonus’ of £50 for every £200 saved.

As well as receiving tax-free interest (available on all ISA products), with the maximum government bonus of £3,000 available, this savings plan will mean a 25% boost for anyone who has never previously owned their own home.  In addition, if two first-time buyers are making a purchase together, they are able to save into two separate ISAs, offering up to an extra £6,000.

The government bonus is claimed via your solicitor during the purchase of your property, so whilst the savings made in a Help To Buy ISA do not have to be used to buya house, if you decide not to proceed with a property purchase, you will not receive this additional money.

first-time-buyer-contractTo qualify you will need to have saved at least £1,600 within your Help To Buy ISA.  This will then entitle you to an initial £400 reward. The maximum property value in London eligible to be purchased using a Help To Buy ISA is £450,000, and for the rest of the country the maximum property value will be £250,000.

Further terms & conditions apply and to find out more and check if you are eligible, visit the Help to Buy website. However, we do advise that you talk to an Independent Mortgage Advisor for expert help on buying your first property.

 

Things to do during the fortnight before you move house

moving-toolsIt’s only when you begin to put the entire content of your house into boxes that you realise how much stuff you actually have to move! If you’re packing your own things then we recommend that you start packing around two weeks before your move so that you won’t have to rush it during the days before the move.

2 weeks may sound a little early but when you’re packing you always start with the stuff that you use least. So if there’s a cupboard in the spare room for example, start with that! Emptying these ‘storage cupboards’ that house old photos, christmas decorations and things like that which you don’t use on a daily basis is efficient and can allow you time for a bit of a clear-out. A declutter can make the move easier and probably cheaper. Plus you’ll be doing something nice for any charities and foundations you donate too – we’ve listed some places that take unwanted items here.

Labelling is super important. Moving 20+ cardboard boxes is bad but moving 20 identical brown boxes that are sealed is not a pain that you want to bring upon yourself. Clearly write the room name on each box and you can save yourself so much time and effort when it comes to moving in as well as unpacking!

You don’t want to be missing out on any of your bank statements, local newspapers and birthday cards so letting everyone know of your change of address is critical. Especially because you don’t want any confidential details going to the new owners of your home! Below is a basic list of things you’ll need to update:

  • Your bank details
  • Your internet, television and phone provider
  • Your insurance providers, especially car and home insurance
  • DVLA records (up to a £1,000 fine if your address is wrong)
  • Redirect your mail via Royal Mail
  • TV Licensing

Hopefully our ‘2 weeks before the move’ guide is going to help make your move smooth and streamlined. Don’t forget you’re welcome to give us a call for advice or view our full guide for more in depth help!

Tips when moving offices

moving-offices-tips-and-adviceHere at Hackworthy we help businesses move offices all the time so we know the pressures and understand that it’s fairly difficult to make sure everything’s in order. There’s so much more to consider than when you’re moving house because for starters, there’s usually more of you! We know just how to help your day run as smoothly as possible and how to have you back to normal ASAP so we’ve compiled a simple, and hopefully helpful, list of tips to get you through your office move without a hitch!

  • Knowing the floor plan of your new office space is key. This way you can decide if you need to store any extra desks you don’t need for now and you can plan which items goes into the van first and last. It’s a way more efficient way of unpacking!
  • Use the office move as an excuse to sort through old files and paperwork. You can shred all the bits you don’t need, cutting on costs, legwork and moving time. Our sister company, Plymouth Self Storage, can even shred it for you! Start your new lease clutter free and ready to be productive.
  • Don’t leave your employees in the dark. If they’re not clued up on all the details of the move, then they can’t be as efficient as possible. Hold a team meeting to ensure questions are answered and you could even delegate so employees know what they can do to help.
  • If you’re moving computers and unplugging leads it’s so easy for work to be lost if you haven’t made sure things are shut down properly. Make sure you back up all of your folders onto a hard drive prior to moving, just in case.
  • Secure any personal files you have on clients or employees, to be confident that you’re not in breach of the data protection act by allowing third parties access to these files.
  • Organisation is key in a big move, especially with a business relocation so make sure that you label boxes, organise your files and categorise everything. Allocating boxes for employee information, company documents and client files will help you more efficiently unpack and get business back to normal.
  • Call your utility suppliers in advance and change addresses to get your services redirected. By calling ahead of your move you’ll avoid things such as Internet downtime.
  • Make sure you tell your customers you’re moving! There’s nothing worse than your clients turning up at your old office and thinking you’ve gone bust. It’s bad for business via word of mouth and your clients may just take their business elsewhere. It may also be true of new clients looking to talk to a team member so make sure your materials and online presence are up to date.

If you’re thinking about your office move, give one of our team members a call for a chat.