Based on my three-month experience of shopping at British supermarkets, I've compiled a list of recommended items to bring to the UK and items you may want to avoid bringing. For the items not recommended to bring, I've provided purchasing alternatives.
This post was translated from my Chinese blog post with the aid of ChatGpt.
This category includes items that are either difficult to find in the UK or are unreasonably expensive.
- Coat hooks ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Coat hooks in the UK are seriously overpriced. You can buy a whole box of them on Taobao for the price of one in the UK.
- Apron ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Aprons are also unreasonably expensive here. For the same price, you can buy ten on Taobao.
- Oil pot ⭐⭐⭐ I searched various supermarkets, but I finally found one in a small corner shop. However, it’s not very functional and tends to leak.
- Backup phone ⭐⭐⭐⭐ It’s always good to have a backup in case your phone breaks. Phones here are quite expensive.
- Hair clippers ⭐⭐⭐ In the UK, getting a haircut is costly. During the pandemic, I didn’t dare to invite a barber home, so I learned to cut my hair.
- Power strip with a British plug ⭐⭐⭐⭐ These are mostly available in Chinese supermarkets, but they can be quite expensive.
- Plug adapters for UK sockets ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Although available in British supermarkets, they tend to be expensive.
- Waterproof jacket ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ A must-have for windy and rainy days. Clothing stores are currently closed.
- SIM card ejector tool ⭐⭐⭐⭐ It doesn’t take up much space.
- Power bank ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Prices for power banks are relatively high here.
This category includes items that are small, lightweight, and can be purchased in the UK without unreasonable prices.
- Router ⭐⭐⭐ If you need it, it’s best to bring your own as routers in the UK can be quite pricey.
- Ethernet cable ⭐ It’s not much different in price.
- USB mini fan ⭐⭐⭐ Dorms in the UK generally lack air conditioning, so it can get hot in the summer.
- Hygrometer ⭐ If you need one, it’s best to bring it from home as the prices here are relatively high.
- Soap holder ⭐ Pound shops have them, but the designs might not be very appealing.
- USB cables ⭐⭐ Prices for braided cables are similar to those in China.
- Desk lamp ⭐ I have two bright spotlights on my desk in the dorm, so my desk lamp is just collecting dust. Desk lamps here are slightly more expensive.
- Camera tripod ⭐⭐ If needed, bring a portable one; prices here are nearly double.
- Small humidifier ⭐⭐ If it’s small, you can bring one. The cheapest one on eBay costs £7 and is no larger than a roll of toilet paper.
- Chopsticks ⭐ You can find them in Chinese supermarkets, and the prices are reasonable.
- Foldable basin ⭐ Similar basins are available in Chinese supermarkets, and the quality is slightly better.
- Thermos flask ⭐ Prices are similar to those in China.
- Nail clippers ⭐⭐ If needed, they are available, but I’m not sure about the quality.
- Batteries ⭐ Prices are slightly higher here, but they are acceptable. You can bring rechargeable batteries but avoid regular ones.
- Toothbrush holder ⭐ Pound shops have plastic cups that work just fine.
- Vegetable peeler ⭐⭐ Both Chinese and British supermarkets have them, and the prices are reasonable.
- Shoe brush ⭐ Same as above.
- Swiss Army knife ⭐ It can serve as a temporary toolbox. Prices here are quite high.
- USB drive ⭐ Prices are not much higher.
This category includes items that are too large, heavy, or available at lower prices in the UK.
- Soap ❌ You can buy soap for 80p for two bars at Home Bargains.
- Electric rice cooker ❌❌❌ There’s really no need for this. You can buy a second-hand one or order one online when you arrive. Carrying your own is heavy, takes up space, and requires an adapter plug. The options here may not have as many functions as those in China.
- Hairdryer ❌❌❌ Same as above.
- Large humidifier ❌❌❌ Same as above.
- Foldable kettle ❌ You will use it a few times, and it will collect dust afterward. Buy an electric kettle at a big supermarket or order one online before arrival.
- Kitchen knife ❌❌ It’s too heavy. Chinese supermarkets have them at reasonable prices.
- Electric toothbrush heads ❌ For Oral-B toothbrushes, they are cheaper here than in China.
- Umbrella ❌ The wind here can be quite strong, and umbrellas tend to break easily. You might want to try those designed to withstand typhoons from Taobao.
- Cookware ❌❌❌ Really not necessary. Large supermarkets have a decent selection, and the styles are fine.
- Duvet ❌❌❌ Unless your suitcase is only half full (insert dog head here).
- Window screen ❌❌ You can find them on Amazon, and the windows in student accommodations can only open a small gap; they can’t accommodate screens.