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PROFILE: Loving the hustle and bustle of London

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Pedro De Matos has been fortunate to have been able travel the world and meet different cultures and people. It something he believes that everyone should do sometime in their life time. Pedro believes that it helps us to understand each other better that will hopefully work towards a common good by learning to respect and understand each other’s diversity and culture.

He says that working in fast-paced global organisations have bolstered his learning experience and improved his career prospects significantly.

What do you love most about living in London?

The rich diversity of the city, its cultural heritage and beauty at night with its arts and entertainment, and then the hustle and bustle of the city as it awakes for a new day of work.

How long have you been living there?

For just under five years now.

What is your current job tile and name of company you’re working for?

I am the Global Head of Operations at TCS John Huxley Europe.

How has your CA(SA) qualification benefited your career?

Being a CA(SA) allows us to be diverse as not only are we champions of finance but the rich experience allows us to transition into operational and commercial roles, which makes us attractive to lead institutions and organisations.

Describe yourself as a person.

I think four words best describe me: passion, integrity, respect and courage. These embody who I am as a person and a professional.

An interesting lesson you have learned in living in London?

Don’t take things for granted – the business pace is fast and can change in a blink of an eye, so always be prepared.

What are some of the challenges you have encountered in London?

Being far away from home and friends I grew up with in South Africa has been a challenge. Then learning how to adapt to the weather and making the best of it rather than letting it get me down.

Is there a community of South Africans living in London?

Yes, there are several large communities spread across the Wimbledon and Putney areas.

What do people do in London to relax and enjoy their free time?

This city is rich with arts and cultural events, lots of theatre, live artist performances and also some beautiful parks where you can run and train in at night and in the morning. London also has a rich variety of great pubs and restaurants, so dining out is always a treat.

What is the quality of living like in London?

It’s very good. It can be pricey in central London, but there are always bargains around if you look hard enough.

What do you miss most about South Africa? Those beautiful sunsets and sunrises, and of course the thunderstorms on the highveld …

What does a South African earn in London?

A South African could earn between £25 000 and £55 000 for say hospitality, teaching, retail or recruitment type jobs, with executive and director jobs ranging from £80 000 to as high at £160 000 in base salaries.

How does the income tax system work?

The tax system is very efficient. You are assigned a tax code based on your employment status and earnings. The tax year runs from 5 April to 4 April and works on the PAYE-type model with tax levels associated with income levels. The highest tax rate is around 45%.

What is the cost of living − rent, food, electricity, water, gasoline, entertainment, etc?

In central London, rent can be high: about £2 000 a month for a two-bedroom apartment in a decent spot. Outside London you could find bigger homes. Food prices are reasonable. My average grocery bill is around £450 a month with cleaning materials about £200 a month. Water and electricity is cheap – around £150 per quarter. Eating out can be pricey, so this is where one needs to watch the budget. Fuel is about £1,27 a litre, which is high.

What do big-ticket items like houses and cars cost?

Average house prices can vary between £350 000 and as much as £650 000. Again, it will be based on location. Car prices vary as well, but you could get a new Kia Sportage for about £40 000 while a new Toyota Auris would be about £20 000.

Based on these two factors, can a South African move to London to save money or is it difficult because of the cost of living?

I think if you choose carefully and wisely you could save money and have a good-quality life in the UK.

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