So you have visited London for vacation, or the Olympics, or for work, or have read about it. Now you’d like to spend some quality time there, not just a weekend or a few precious vacation days.
How can you move there and really experience it?
Two main ingredients are usually required to make the move: a job and a place to stay.
Beginning with the job angle: one of the easier ways to find a job in London is to already be part of an international corporation that already has offices in London. Banks, I.T., and telecommunications are typically very active in this area, although other industries including aerospace are also active here.
The expat route through an international company can be attractive, as it is typically an extended – but not permanent – stay. This allows you to experience the full breadth and width of the culture, and yet return home or move on to the next adventure. Note: if you can pull it off, schedule your two-year expat stay in London during the Soccer World Cup. A spectacle to be sure.
Many folks do not have the straightforward benefit, however, of working for a multinational company. So, for the rest of the working folks, you can begin just as well by looking for London jobs on the Internet. Some great places to start are:
And there are plenty more places to search. London is a huge collection of people and industries, and you will find some interesting job options, such as:
Junior Market Analysts (Football) £29,000 per annum (that’s per year in British speak).
Senior Apparel Designer £50,000 per annum.
Head Of Guest Sales – Entrepreneurial Travel/Property Company £70,000 per annum
Sales Director Europe/Middle East/Africa £150,000 per annum
There are tens of thousands of jobs (June 2014) listed on the job sites mentioned here. You can sort by industry, salary, location, etc.
It is important to realize that the UK employer will need to show why the US-based candidate is a better option than a European job seeker. This could be simple, or not so much, depending on the desire of the employer to hire a US candidate. US candidates are exactly what some of them are looking for, however.
Editorial note: Do yourself a favor and read “Knock Em’ Dead 2014” (or the current year) to speed along the process of landing a job. Also, attending a university in the UK is another great way to spend quality time in the culture.
The second main ingredient: finding a place to stay.
Most folks headed to London are looking for flats (apartments). Again, the internet is most handy. The site www.findaflat.com/london will give you a great idea of what is possible, and within your idea of a fair monthly rent. Some obvious points: flats in central London on top of an Underground station will be most expensive. Moving further out from central London and away from Underground stations will drop the price considerably.
Examples of London flat pricing as of June 2014:
You can get a two bedroom flat, with refrigerator, washing machine, and dishwasher near West Hampstead/Finchley Road for £1400 a month ($2,380 US per month). The location is a 20-minute walk from three different Underground stations. Minimum rent term is six months, and requires one month’s deposit.
Now is as good a time as any to note that the washing machine in most UK homes will be in the kitchen. Whatever.
Another option is a partially-furnished studio apartment a few minutes’ walk from the Seven Sisters tube station. Rent is £850 per month ($1,445 US per month), and includes water, electricity, and gas. Requires one month’s deposit, and a six month minimum stay.
Another choice: Furnished studio apartment near Hyde Park and just a five minute walk to Bayswater tube station. Monthly rent is £1,300 ($2,210 US per month) and includes all bills up to and including Wi-Fi. Six month minimum rental.
These are three quick examples. First reaction is that the rent is staggering. But remember: you must consider what you will save on transportation, and the fact that utilities are often included.
You will need to accept that your living square footage is almost guaranteed to decrease. If you have seen a UK hotel room as compared to a US hotel room, you can get an idea of the transition. But many agree that less is more here.
Two things prior to the move are highly recommended: 1) Spend time to evaluate neighborhoods and locations, and 2) Open a bank account with a bank that has branches in the UK. HSBC and Citi are two bank examples. Just makes things smoother for moving your money around.
A final note: it is also possible to purchase or rent a house rather than a flat in London. These will be mostly in outlying areas, although there are some closer to central London. You will need to learn the difference between “freehold” and “leasehold” and you’ll pay much more per square foot than in most of the US. Some small number of US folks opt for a house for a sense of comfort/familiarity similar to what they had in the States. But it is a departure from the true London experience, in the opinion of many.