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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Career Opportunities Come at a Price in the UK

Expats appreciate British culture and the friendliness of the people – just as well, as they may need some British sense of humor when dealing with the cost of life on the isles.

Work to Travel?

The two most popular reasons for people moving to the United Kingdom relate to either a local job that expats have found on their own, or the career opportunity of a partner. Indeed, the UK ranks seventh in the Job & Career subcategory of the Working Abroad Index. More than two-thirds of the expats (69%) are content with their career prospects, and 63% are generally satisfied with their jobs.

Overall, jobs are considered insecure by only 16% of expats in the UK, compared to a global average of 22%. Thanks to this, together with a rather positive outlook on the local economy (four in five give it a favorable rating), the UK ranks a respectable 17th out of 64 countries in terms of overall job security.

On average, a job in the UK takes up 39.6 hours per week. In their spare time, 83% of respondents are happy about the available options to pursue various leisure activities, and 85% feel safe in the UK. Over half of local expats (52%) are, however, not delighted by the British weather conditions (worldwide, only 22% of expatriates are unhappy with the climate in their host countries). As such, it is fortunate that close to nine in ten respondents (88%) rate the opportunity to travel favorably and more than half (51%) even describe it as very good.

Expat Statistics 2015

Expat statistics for the UK - infographic
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Welcome to the UK!

In the UK, one in four expats (24%) is French, US American, or Italian. The new arrivals from these and various other nations come to a fairly welcoming country, with the UK ranking 19th out of 64 in the Feeling Welcome subcategory in the Ease of Settling In Index.

Altogether, 73% of respondents in the UK rate the general friendliness of the British positively. While 71% of all local survey participants have few problems settling down (worldwide, only 58% would say the same), almost two in five (38%) find it hard to make local friends. Nevertheless, three-fourths of expats don't have a lot of trouble getting used to the local culture, and 69% feel quite at home. Overall, 76% say that they are generally happy with their life in the UK.

Do You Speak English?

Three out of four people (76%) state that life is a lot harder if you don't speak the local language in the UK. Worldwide, only 43% think the same of life in their respective host countries. Luckily, the vast majority (82%) doesn't consider English a difficult language to learn. The fact that the survey was conducted in English, with the respondents thus proving their proficiency in the UK's local language, makes this figure somewhat biased. Nevertheless, three in four expat parents in the UK (74%) raise their kids to speak two or more languages.

We Are Family

Expat families have to take more things into consideration when moving abroad. Overall, 83% of participants are happy with their family life in the UK. The country is among the top ten regarding the quality of education (9th out of 41 countries). Moreover, four in five expat parents (81%) rate the options provided in the UK for their children's education positively. The opinions about the costs of education are divided: 39% rule in favor of the affordability of education, whereas 42% evaluate it negatively.

However, things look a little different for childcare. While the available options are generally considered favorably by 63% of expat parents in the UK, less than half (44%) are happy with their availability. Furthermore, 61% of respondents with kids find childcare in the UK expensive and over one-fourth (27%) even consider it not at all easy to afford.

The British Life is Costly

Good career and education opportunities come at a high price for expats in the UK. As far as personal finances are concerned, the UK ranks among the bottom ten on the global scale in the Personal Finance Index (59th out of 64 countries).

More than half of the survey respondents (53%) are not happy with the overall cost of living. In the Cost of Living Index, the UK ranks 51st out of 64. Housing costs in particular stand out, with two in three expats (66%) rating the affordability of housing negatively. In addition, one-third doesn't consider finding appropriate housing easy in the UK.

The cost of healthcare in the UK is rated as reasonable by 62% of the expats, but almost three in ten (29%) are not content with its quality. However, 62% of survey participants in the UK are pleased by the quality of the natural environment. The local economy, political stability, and peacefulness are also all regarded favorably by the majority of respondents in the United Kingdom (80%, 86%, and 86%, respectively).

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