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r3 - 28 Apr 2008 - 17:46:03 - TraceyHillYou are here: Astrophysics Wiki >  WelcomeToExeter Web  > SettlingIn

Settling into Life in Exeter

This page will provide information on useful things that you will need during your time here.


Everyone (?) in Britain is entitled to free medical treatment through the National Health Service (NHS). Information about the NHS can be found On this site you can also search for the nearest doctor or dentist.

Doctors in the UK work ridiculous hours, generally 8/8:30- 5/6:30 Mon-Fri ONLY! If you're sick outside of these hours or on the weekend you will need to go to the hospital which also has a NHS "walk-in" centre.

There are attempts in place to change the hours of GPs to accommodate longer hours and hours on the weekend, but from what I can tell this will take a while to implement still.

NHS walk-in centres.

The idea behind these (from what I can tell) is to treat people for things that are not emergencies or do not require a specialist. You simply "walk-in" and be treated. My experience of the one on SIDWELL St in town is that they do NOT have a doctor on staff, only a nurse who can probably treat things like burns etc. Anything more urgent or serious and you will need to visit a GP or your local hospital.

The NHS also offers contraception services. But only between certain hours.


In order to find a local doctor, use the NHS website above, choose GP, put in your local area and you will be given a list of doctors and their distance from you. Be warned however that most surgeries WILL NOT accept you as a patient unless you have been in the country for 6 months. When I enquired of them what I was supposed to do for the first 6 months, I was told to use the hospital.

After ringing around a number of surgeries I found one that treated people who had been in the country for less than 6 months, however I still don't think that I am on their books. The surgery is: St. Leonard's Practice on Athelstan Road.

Most Doctors surgeries are only open 8/8:30- 5/6:30 Mon-Fri ONLY! You may wish to ask them if they plan on extending their hours in the future.


Of course if you're sick, you generally need medicine. There are your local BOOTS stores - but even they close at 4:30pm on a Sunday as I discovered once. The one at Exe Bridges is open until 5pm on Sundays. By chance, I discovered that the pharmacy attached to the St. Leonard's Practice is open late most days and even on Sundays! (10 or 11pm)


Fill these at a pharmacy. I've not had to do this yet, but I was told by a pharmacist at St Leonard's practice that it is really cheap or even free for most scripts. There is also the option of ordering your repeat prescriptions on line through the St Leonard's practice - but check with them for more information.

EIC card

The EIC is an European Insurance Card for medical treatment within Europe and outside of the UK. It is free to obtain and useful if you plan on travelling within Europe. See for who is elligible and regarding applying.


Dentists in the UK appear to be a rare commodity. You can obtain access to free dental care through the NHS, but good luck finding a dentist that has room on their books and is taking new patients. The NHS website above will also give you an idea of local dentists that you can try approaching.

If you do find a dentist taking new patients, generally there is a long waiting list to see them.

There are also private dentists, where you can pay as you go and get more immediate treatment. However some private dentists have plans that you need to sign up for (12 a month) which covers one checkup a year or so and everything you have to pay for ON TOP of this subscription service.


Mobile Phones

Obtaining a mobile phone in the UK is no problem. You can walk into any phone store on high street and buy a pay as you go SIM card, with no identification required.

If you want to obtain a contract, then you will need you bank account details. Pricing plans for contracts are ridiculously expensive. For around 25 (month) you CAN get contracts with unlimited text and 500 minutes of talk time (and who needs that?).

To get an overall review of your best options I would suggest places like carphone warehouse, you can tell them your needs, how much you would like to spend and they can tell you the best phones and the best deals for you.

However, they are not the brightest of sparks and don't always inform you correctly. Eg. I was put on a 25 contract with cashback (which means that I only pay 10 a month - bargain) with a large number of hours and texts. However, they didn't tell me that I could only call certain numbers and text certain numbers and that my contract was part pre-paid. Was not the most impressed by this. So do some reasearch.

There are many carriers: T-mobile, 3, Orange, Vodafone, Virgin etc.


Obtaining the internet for your house is probably best done by asking around people at work to see which carrier they use. You can't obtain internet at home without a landline connected so don't forget to factor in this extra charge. Try this website for a price comparison:

Grocery Shopping

There are a number of grocery shops in the centre of town. Tesco on High St which is open late - until 10pm on weeknights. Sainsbury's in the Guild Hall which I believe are only open until about 6pm. Sommersbys on Sidwell St open until 8pm.

Tesco is by far the cheapest - so I am told.

BREAD: is a rare commodity in the centre of town. You can not buy any after 6pm!

There is also a Sainsbury's outside of town near Whipton and heading towards the M5. Ask others in the dept for directions. You will need a car or to take the bus.


I haven't figured this out yet. Postage in the UK is a nightmare (incredibly complicated). It depends on the size of the envelope, the thickness of the parcel, how quickly you want to send it, where you want to send it etc. I generally go to the postoffice and ask them for a quote and then decide. I send a lot back to Australia and most of my things arrive in a week but I pay for it.

There is something called "surface" mail which is a slightly cheaper option of sending a parcel long distance. However there seems to be no time frame attached to this and the mentality appears to be "it will arrive when it arrives". I am not sure if this means 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years. So I haven't checked this option out yet... and truthfully it is not much cheaper then ordinary mail anyway.

Local mail you can send either first or second class depending on time of delivery (I think). You can buy your stamps at the post office (avoid lunch times! - even on Saturdays) or at some small grocery stores.

DRIVING (Kuenley Chiu)

If you are from US, officially you are supposed to only use your US license for 1 year (but this seems loophole filled depending on your travel/residency). You may want to look into getting UK license. 1st step -- go to any post office, request package D1 (?) (the driving license application) to get your provisional license. Takes a few weeks (must send passport with it), so choose convenient time to do this. Written test is easy, practical test much more strict than in US.

additional new costs encountered: annual road tax on car (hundred to a few hundred ) MOT safety/emissions check, ~40 annually car insurance gas price, typically (7/26/06) ~1/liter

-- TraceyHill - 10 Apr 2008

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