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Moving to the UK?

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Moving to the UK

Expats moving to the UK do so for various reasons. Whatever your motivation may be, your move to the UK holds the advantage that you won’t need to learn a new language from scratch. InterNations has lots of useful information on moving to the UK, from life in London to UK visa regulations.
London is the No. 1 destination for expats moving to the UK.

Many of its characteristics make moving to the UK an attractive option. As a business destination, the United Kingdom, composed of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, has one major asset which outweighs its counterparts in other European countries with similar living standards and working conditions: the language. After all, English is the international language of business and trade taught in schools across the globe.

The UK is a densely populated country, with a considerable share of its roughly 64.5 million people living in the south of the UK. Just over 80% of the UK’s population consists of city dwellers. Great parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland are less urbanized and less affluent leading to people leaving for the UK’s southern regions.

The "It" Places for Expats in the UK

If you are moving to the UK for academic reasons, you’ll discover that practically every city has at least one university. All UK universities boast large numbers of international students who move to the UK from all corners of the earth and are usually very well cared for. If you move to the UK to get a university degree, moving to one of the UK’s smaller university towns can sometimes prove to be more rewarding for your social life: most of these universities have a bit of a campus feel with university accommodation and even on-site shopping facilities for students. You might also have heard of two relatively small towns whose academic tradition has become world-renowned: Oxford and Cambridge. Despite their size, both UK towns attract international business, tempting research-based ventures in the high-tech and medical industries to move to the UK.

However, if you’re moving to the UK, you are most likely to end up in London. While historically speaking, the UK’s status as an economic power rested firmly on trade and heavy industry, since World War II the focus has been moving towards the tertiary sector. Today, the UK economy relies mainly on London’s status as one of the leading financial centers of the world.

London — The Center of Everything

The country’s capital, with 8.6 million inhabitants being by far the largest city in the UK, is the seat of the national government. It is also the leading financial and commercial center of the EU: in 2014 London hosted 40 percent of the European headquarters of top companies worldwide.London is truly multi-cultural with people moving to the UK’s capital from all over the world, and generally an exciting place to be. Its vibrant arts and entertainment scene caters to all tastes, from classical to popular, mainstream to fringe, and from retro to avant-garde. Needless to say, the  party animal in you will not be disappointed.

Despite its size, London’s green spaces make it quite a pleasant place to live. The soaring prices for property, however, are one of the reasons why many families — even those with an above-average income — prefer to live in the suburbs of Greater London when moving to the UK.

Edinburgh and Manchester — Culture and Industry

Edinburgh — “ed-n-bruh” — is the political and economic capital of Scotland, but with just under half a million inhabitants, it’s only Scotland’s second largest city (after Glasgow) and accounts for about ten percent of its population. With a largely service-centered economy, it is one of the strongest business hubs on the British Isles. Many foreign employees moving to the UK for their careers come to Edinburgh. The city’s vibrant arts and culture scene and its beautiful architectural heritage also make it an attractive destination for tourists. According to the results of a popular poll published in 2009, Edinburgh was voted the UK´s “most desirable” city to live in and the 2014 Good Growth for Cities index published by PWC puts Edinburgh at third place out of 39 of the UK’s largest cities.

Manchester, in the northwest of England, lies in one of the UK’s largest urban areas. It has undergone a significant regeneration process since the decline of the manufacturing industry in the post-WWII period and is now an important location for finance, technology, and the arts. Manchester is renowned for its blending of old Victorian architecture with bold, modern design, and has obtained worldwide fame thanks to its two premier league football clubs, Manchester United and Manchester City. It also boasts extensive shopping facilities as well as an international airport, which makes it easily accessible for people moving to the UK from abroad.

Read more on where expats in the UK choose to settle down in our articles on Housing and Accommodation in the UK.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Jan-Peter van Tijk

"I wish I'd found InterNations sooner: It would have made my first few month as an expat in London much less overwhelming."

Therese Yeboah

"For me, the InterNations events are the best part. I attend almost every get-together and always get to know lots of friendly fellow expats."

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