Enriching your personal life while living in the UK

Enriching your personal life while living in the UK

by Stripes Europe
Stripes Europe

Like many other overseas locations, it can be a challenging environment for spouses who are seeking employment. It is common for applicants to wait six months or longer to land a job that aligns with their education and/or experience.


  • Federal positions: These positions provide support through various functions across the installation. Jobs are listed through the Office of Personnel Management at www.usajobs.gov.
  • NAF Positions: NAF positions support installations through services in Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) and Force Support Squadrons (FSS). Hours range from regular, full-time to flexible part-time with varying employment benefits. For details see
  • www.nafjobs.org.
  • DODEA-Europe: These schools offer full-time positions, substitute teachers, administrative staff and educational aids. Go to www.dodea.edu/Europe/offices/hr.
  • Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES): Apply at www.odin.aafes.com/employment or through local human resources offices.
  • Community banks and credit unions: Jobs as bank tellers and managers.
  • Defense Commissary Agency (DECA): Jobs at commissaries.
  • Defense Contractors: Job opportunities in technology, management, accounting and administration are available with contracting firms. Your installation’s contracting office and A&FRC office will have information about vacancies.


As part of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), command-sponsored family members with a vignette stamp in their U.S. no-fee passport (and no employment restrictions on their passport) are able to work on the British economy without a work permit.

  • You must apply for a National Insurance Number when hired for work.
  • Jobcentres are government-ran employment offices.
  • You can search jobs on their website at www.jobseekers.direct.gov.uk
  • If you’re looking for work, starting work or setting up as self-employed, you will need a National Insurance Number (NIN). 
  • Contact Jobcentre Plus at 0800-141-2075 to obtain a NIN.
  • They may require for you to attend an “evidence of identity” interview. 
  • Visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/ni/intro/number.htm#4 for details.
  • British Income Tax: If you work in the U.K., you are subject to U.K. income tax in addition to U.S. income tax.
  • The Inland Revenue U.K. government department collects the tax. 
  • Tax is paid based on your income during the tax year, between April 6 and April 5 the next year. For details see www.hmrc.gov.uk/rates/it.htm.
  • Additional questions regarding British income tax may be directed to your installation’s Legal Office.


While many may feel more qualified to hold a volunteer title, there is so much to take away and learn as a volunteer. More often than not, this is the main avenue people take to eventually land a great job. Volunteering can help you gain experience and network to land a paid position in the future.

Start making connections

  • Visit your installation’s A&FRC, Community Relations Adviser, FSS, MWR and other offices for volunteer opportunities.
  • Reach out to various offices across your installation that aligns with the career field you’re interested in. You never know if they need volunteers or are willing to let people shadow them.


Key spouses is a group of volunteers within the squadron picked by the Commander to help be a liaison between spouses and the group. Key spouses help newcomers by reaching out to them before they arrive to help answer any questions they may have beforehand and provide them with the resources the newcomer may need. Key spouses are around to support and help newcomers in their transition and throughout their tour in the U.K.


Taking the time to advance your education can help you excel in the future. Educational opportunities on installations come with a variety of programs at universities partnered with the DOD. Check with your installation’s education office to see what colleges are available to you on-site.

Central Texas College Europe

Primarily associate degrees and practical training. The Advanced Skills Education Program develops leadership qualities within non-commissioned and junior officers. Offers face-to-face and online courses.

Community College of the Air Force: https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/Barnes/CCAF

Accredited degrees and courses for qualified personnel.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University: https://worldwide.erau.edu/administration/military-veterans/europehttps://worldwide.erau.edu/administration/military-veterans/europe

Certifications, undergraduate and graduate degrees. Offers face-to-face and online courses.

University of Maryland University College: www.europe.umuc.edu

Undergraduate and graduate certificates as well as associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs. Offers face-to-face and online courses.

The University of Oklahoma: https://outreach.ou.edu

Online and independent study options for some classes. Face-to-face advanced degrees available.

Other schools: Many U.S.-based schools offer online courses or have European satellite locations and some European universities offer programs for English speakers.

Note: For tuition assistance and financial aid information, visit www.military.com/education, www.militaryta.com or your Education Office.


  • Start DIY projects you’ve always wanted to do.
  • Spend time in the gym and establish healthy habits.
  • Travel, travel, travel! Living in the U.K. means traveling to other European countries is easier than ever before.
  • Start a blog – whether it be travel, fitness, military living, etc. Contribute your articles to www.StripesEurope.com for a chance to get published online and in various magazines.

Find what works for your goals and dreams — whether you land a great job, volunteer with an amazing organization, further your education or find other ways for personal enrichment. What matters is utilizing your time in the U.K. to benefit your future to the best of your ability.

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