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Moving to the UK?

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Jan-Peter van Tijk

Living in Great Britain, from Netherlands

"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

Living in Great Britain, from Ghana

"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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The UK at a Glance

Moving to the UK

Expats moving to the UK do so for various reasons. Whatever your motivations may be, your move to the UK has 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.

Moving to the UK is an attractive option for various reasons. As a business destination, the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has one major asset compared with moving to other European countries, despite similar living standards and working conditions: the language. English being the international language of business and trade, it is taught to most school children across the globe.

The UK is a densely populated country, with a considerable share of its 63.2 million people living in the south of the UK. About 90% of the UK’s population consists of city dwellers. Great parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland are less urbanized and less affluent, with people moving away to the UK’s southern areas.

Popular Destinations in the UK

If you are moving to the UK for academic reasons, you’ll discover that 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 catered 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 a more rewarding experience for your social life: Most of these universities constitute a little universe of their own, with on-campus accommodation and even on-site shopping facilities for students. You might also move to one of two smallish towns which have become world-famous due to their academic tradition: Oxford and Cambridge. Despite their small size, both UK towns attract international business, tempting research-based ventures in high-tech and the medical industry to move to the UK.

However, you are most likely to end up in London if moving to the UK. 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 in the world.


The country´s capital with 8.17 million inhabitants and by far the largest city in the UK, London is the seat of the national government. It is also the leading financial and commercial center in the EU: More than 100 of Europe´s 500 largest companies have their HQ in London.

London is truly multi-cultural and an exciting place to be, with people moving to the UK’s capital from all over the world. Its vibrant arts and entertainment scene caters to all tastes, classical and popular, mainstream and fringe, retro and avant-garde. Needless to say, it is every shopper´s paradise and a party animal´s dream.

Despite its size, London has remained quite a pleasant place to live, due to its many green spaces. The soaring prices for property, however, are one of the reasons why many families – even on an above-average income – prefer to live in the suburbs of Greater London when moving to the UK.

Edinburgh and Manchester

Edinburgh is the political and economic capital of Scotland, but with about half a million inhabitants, it’s only Scotland´s second largest city (after Glasgow). With a largely service-centered economy, it is one of the strongest business locations on the British Isles. Many foreign employees moving to the UK for their careers come to Edinburgh. The city’s vibrant arts and cultural scene and its beautiful architectural heritage also make it an attractive destination for tourists and people moving to the UK. According to the results of a popular poll published in 2009, Edinburgh was voted the UK´s “most desirable” city to live in.

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

InterNations Expat Magazine