From the iconic silhouette of London’s Big Ben to the rolling green hills and craggy cliffs in the Highlands of Scotland, the beauty of the United Kingdom’s culture and landscape has drawn people from around the world for centuries.

While the country’s diverse economy and generous immigration policies once made it easy to move to the UK, immigration requirements have become tighter over time. Now it’s generally only those with specialist skills that are in demand who can move to the UK. Brexit has had enormous implications for both UK and EU nationals and free movement between regions, as well as trade, labour and services. 

Living in the UK as an expat

There are several vital sectors in the UK economy, including IT, engineering, finance, healthcare, energy, oil and gas, and construction. If you have experience and sought-after skills in these sectors, you will find that there is plenty of scope for career progression in Britain, making it easier to obtain a visa and work permit.

The quality and affordability of housing in the United Kingdom vary widely. While you may struggle to find spacious, high-quality accommodation that doesn’t break the bank in notoriously expensive London, there are many areas of the UK where it’s much easier to find appropriate housing at a decent price.

Public transport in the UK is generally of a high standard, and the quality of road infrastructure is excellent.

By and large, healthcare in the United Kingdom is free, and the National Health Service (NHS) is often said to be one of the country’s greatest assets. Some services, like prescriptions, may require a fee, depending where in the UK you're based. The standard of hospitals and medical facilities in the UK is good, and you will find that doctors and medical staff are well-trained and knowledgeable.

Cost of living in the UK

As with any country, the cost of living in the United Kingdom varies depending on your lifestyle choices and location. Major cities such as London have a well-earned reputation for being pricey to live in. While life in the rest of the UK is by no means cheap, the cost of living is substantially lower outside these big metros.

Expat families and children

If you are moving to the UK with children, you will find that there are plenty of schooling options available, but the standards of education and schooling facilities vary considerably. Foreigners living in the UK are eligible to send their children to state schools, which are funded by the government. If you opt to have your children educated at a private or international school, you should budget accordingly or try to negotiate an allowance into your employment package, as fees are often astronomical.

Moving to the UK will also give you access to a wealth of historical and cultural attractions available in a relatively compact space. City nightlife venues are excellent, and you will be treated to an abundance of high-quality restaurants specialising in various exotic cuisines. Furthermore, the country hosts several exciting international sporting events and music festivals.

Climate in the UK

Hardly known for its desirable climate, the United Kingdom is plagued by atmospheric instability and unpredictable weather due to its location. You can experience many types of weather in one day, and rain is possible at any time of year, with gloomy conditions regularly the norm.

Weather aside, the UK has much to offer skilled expats and is a fantastic place to raise a family. It is also well positioned for easy and affordable travel to Europe and beyond.

Fast facts

Population: About 68 million

Capital city: London (also the largest city)

Other major cities: Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Manchester

Neighbouring countries: The UK shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland. It is separated from France by the English Channel.

Geography: The UK is located off the northwestern coast of continental Europe. The majority of the UK is split across two islands – the island of Great Britain and the northeastern part of the island of Ireland. There are also several smaller surrounding islands that make up the British Isles archipelago.

Major religions: Christianity

Political system: Parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Main languages: English

Money: The currency of the UK is the British Pound Sterling (GBP) which is subdivided into 100 pence. To open a bank account in the UK, most banks require proof of a local address and a form of official identification, such as a passport.

Tipping: 10 to 15 percent of the bill if a service charge has not already been added.

Time: GMT (GMT+1 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Flat three-pin plugs are standard.

Internet domain: .uk

International dialling code: +44

Emergency contacts: 999 or 112

Transport and driving: Driving is on the left-hand side. There are various public transport options available in the UK, and the transport network is generally well-formed, both across the country and within most cities.

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance

Cigna Global Health Insurance.

Moving your family abroad can be intimidating, but learning about medical options such as family health insurance early on can help you settle successfully.

  • Comprehensive Family coverage, wherever you go
  • Paediatric coverage for well-child visits & immunizations
  • Access to dental and orthodontic care
  • 24/7 multilingual Customer Service

Get a quote from Cigna Global

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