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There are few global destinations that offer the grandeur and excitement of London. Perched on the banks of the famed Thames, the city shines with possibility even in the greyest weather, and buzzes with an electric energy rivalled only by the likes of New York. Expats moving to London will encounter a multicultural, densely packed melting pot of people working feverishly against an amalgamated backdrop of cutting-edge technology and two millennia of rich history.
Living in London as an expat
London is the undisputed powerhouse of the UK's economy, and expats will find all sorts of great work opportunities in the city. Sectors that are particularly well established in London include finance, business, law, IT, medicine and engineering, as well as more creative industries such as fashion, graphic design and media.
London might feel physically removed from Europe but is ideally placed to do some cross-continental sightseeing. London itself is also home to world-class tourist attractions, magnificent architecture, incredible theatre, concerts and art, plus beautiful expansive inner-city parks for restive lunch breaks. Foodies will delight in the fact that the city boasts a wonderful array of restaurants where expats can sample cuisines from across the world.
Cost of living in London
Although no longer in the world's top 20 most expensive cities, there is no denying that London is pricey, and expats moving to the city will need to ensure that their salary compensates for the high cost of living. While finding affordable accommodation in London can be difficult, expats will discover there are many ways in which one can save money as well. For instance, we recommend new arrivals take advantage of the many free and low-cost events and festivals that take place in the city each year.
Expat families and children in London
Those relocating to London with families will be pleased to know that there is a wide variety of schooling options available to them, and those who'd prefer their child continue studying the curriculum followed in their home country are likely to find a good international school that meets their child's needs in London. The city is also chock-full of fun family activities, whether the family is in the mood to gaze over the city from atop the London Eye or if the day simply calls for a picnic in one of London's many lush parks.
Climate in London
Many expats struggle to adjust to the less-than-perfect weather patterns, with long English winters and relentless drizzles a trial for those hailing from warmer climes. Another common complaint relates to one of London’s greatest accomplishments and frustrations – its public transport system. Rush-hour commuting on the tube or bus can be unpleasant, particularly in rainy weather. Still, expats will be able to get to where they need to go without needing to use a car.
London has an enormous, colourful expat population. There are large, well-established communities of every major nationality, as well as sizeable populations of Asian and Caribbean immigrants. The result is a dynamic, energised environment that never ceases to surprise and always values people’s skills over their origins.
►Read about our recommended Areas and Suburbs in London
►Learn more about the Lifestyle in London
"Quality of life is terrific in London. It offers so much history, architecture, culture and energy that I don’t think a lifetime is long enough to explore it all." Read more of Wendy's interview about expat life in London.
"Finding a job is challenging in the city. Recruiters are looking for exacting skills to match to the positions that they are working to fill and many of the positions require recent professional experience in UK companies/industries. This poses the proverbial Catch 22. Tenacity as well as a detailed online presence proved to be my greatest assets/resources as well as a resume/CV that appeals to the local market." Read more about US expat Kimberley's experience.
Are you an expat living in London?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to London. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.