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Immigration to the UK

If you’re interested in moving to the UK, you’ll have to start the same place you would with any other country: by obtaining a visa. The UK Immigration department offers a selection of different visa for various travel circumstances, so you’ll need to start by understanding which visa is right for you. If you are moving to the UK because you got hired at a company there, you’ll likely be just fine applying for a UK Work Permit.

If you’re considering a permanent move to the UK and you don’t yet have a job, however, you’ll want to look into a UK immigration visa. Visit the Visa Bureau’s website for more information about the different tiers of immigration visas and to find out which applies to you.

Once you’ve decided which visa is ideal for you, it’s time to submit your application. Once you’ve completed your visa application, you’ll be contacted by a migration official who will help you understand what you need to do next and where your permit application stands. To speed the process, be prepared to present any required copies of documents like birth certificates, marriage licenses, and proof of income or insurance. You may also need to take a physical examination as a part of the visa application.

Finding Housing in the UK

When it comes to securing housing in the UK, location is everything. While many expats want to live in the heart of London, it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world and many people can’t afford it. By choosing to live slightly outside of London or in other areas throughout the UK, you’ll find more housing opportunities and lower monthly prices. You’ll also generally find less competitive jobs and less expensive amenities.

Once you’ve decided where you’d like to live, it’s time to start thinking about what type of housing you’d like to find. The UK offers a variety of different housing opportunities, but these are the most common:

The 5 Best Cities in the UK

1. London
Known for its gothic architecture, scenic river, iconic art, royal history, and global appeal, London is one of the most glamorous cities in the world. Visitors and residents alike love Tower Bridge, the spires of Big Ben, the quiet pattern of the Thames river, not to mention the dozens of world-class galleries and museums the city has to offer. In addition to being scenic, bustling, and filled with plenty of fun things to see and do, London is also a place where history meets modern life in a startling and intriguing way. The city is exceedingly dignified and drips around every street corner with history and elegance.

In addition to being beautiful, however, London is also diverse. A full 1/3 of Londoners are from outside of the country and upwards of 270 nationalities are represented within the city. Because of this, London boasts a healthy expat population and plenty of places for people of all backgrounds to eat, drink, laugh, shop, and engage in activities.

Popular among people who want to work in bustling industries or high-tech industrial, engineering, or scientific fields, London is a hub of industry, commerce, excitement, and opportunity.

2. Manchester
Considered second only to London in England, Manchester is a historical city in the northern part of the country. Boasting a history and culture to rival even the capital city, Manchester offers museums, galleries, shops, diners, and cultural attractions enough to keep anyone busy. Known for its somewhat hedonistic nature, Manchester is the perfect place for the lively expat that wants to experience the unparalleled nightlife, art, music, and cuisine the area has to offer. Slightly less expensive than London and no less exciting, Manchester is a fantastic place to establish a new life.

What’s more, since Manchester boasts the University of Manchester, the People’s History Museum, the Manchester Art Gallery, and the Old Trafford, residents here will never run short on things to do.

3.  Edinburgh
Located in Scotland and boasting a population of approximately 500,000 people, Edinburgh is a stately and historic city that lends itself beautifully to quiet professionals, young artists, families, and expats seeking a steady, robust city in which to live. Filled with narrow cobblestone streets and winding lanes dating back hundreds of years, Edinburgh is packed with tiny, hidden establishments ranging from pubs and taverns to restaurants and shops.

Visitors and residents alike love the unique and delicious restaurants in Old Town, the Royal Yacht Britannia, and the historical and breathtaking Edinburgh Castle. Located within proximity to the ocean, Edinburgh is a place that offers a healthy mixture of urban attractions and outdoor vistas perfect for hiking, running, biking, and exploring.

In August, the entire city explodes into celebration thanks to the world-famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe. A festival meant to celebrate arts and entertainment for three weeks, it’s one of the most famous in the world. Housing is less expensive here than it is in a city like London and expats looking to have fun and see the sights will love this beautiful city.

4. Bristol
Located in England, Bristol was at one point a hub for industry. Today, it’s in the midst of a revival, claiming a position as a place for creative people and newfound culture. Currently known as one of the grittiest, most famous cities in England, people love to visit Bristol but haven’t quite caught on to living there yet. This has kept rental prices low and helped ensure houses are still easy to find and jobs prevalent.

Currently recognized as a foundation for counterculture, this is the city that birthed Banksy and has drawn many alternative personalities as a result. Highly vibrant, filled with community art ventures, cafes, music venues, and public artwork, Bristol is the perfect place for adventurous expats who want to live in one of the most vibrant and creative cities in England. Recently called one of Britain’s most livable cities, it’s no secret how Bristol earned the title.

5. Liverpool
Known for its industry, wit, and city-wide obsession with the sport of Football, Liverpool is known first and foremost as the home of the Beatles. Fans of the group will find plenty of Beatles-focused memorabilia within city limits and won’t have any shortage of Beatles trivia to share with friends and family who come to visit. Liverpool is more than just the home of an iconic band, though, it’s also a vibrant and gritty city packed with attractions like Albert Dock and the Cavern Quarter neighborhood.

The center of concentrated urban regeneration efforts, Liverpool is adding more jobs and more opportunities to the mix, making it an attractive space for new expats who want to set up shop in a quickly-growing city with plans to expand much more shortly.

Pros and Cons of Living in the UK

While the UK is an expansive area with plenty to do and see, there are pros and cons involved in the decision to move there. By understanding each side of the story, you’re better prepared to execute an effective move and enjoy your time in your new country.

Pros

Cons

 

The Case for Moving to the UK

While there are many reasons to move to the UK, some of the most common have to do with the high quality of life, beautiful scenery, ample attractions, bursting creativity, and constant evolution the area has to offer. With so many cities, rural areas, and neighborhoods to choose from in the UK, it’s easy to understand why so many expats flock to the area every year.

While the cost of living in these places is far from cheap, the quality of life to be found here is virtually unparalleled. For people who can handle rainy, unpredictable weather, good jobs, ample attractions, lifelong friendships, and plenty of opportunities await. While moving to the UK isn’t always a simple process, putting in the time needed to secure a visa and find suitable housing often pays off in spades in the form of quality jobs and an enjoyable UK lifestyle.

So regardless of whether you choose to live on the rugged coast of Northern Ireland, in the rural areas of Wales, the downtown bustle of London or Manchester, or anywhere in between, there’s no doubt that the UK is a place full of opportunity, excitement, possibility, and plenty of unique attractions that will make the entire experience exciting. By being prepared for the realities and challenges of the move before you make it, you’re better ready to take difficulties in stride and to enjoy every single thing your exciting new city, town or countryside has to offer.