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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

London: Rampant High Costs Stifle Expats

Expats in London appreciate the great work culture, but don’t feel that they are paid fairly.

London comes 42nd out of 49 cities in the Expat City Ranking 2023. Expats in the UK capital struggle in many different ways, and the high cost of living doesn’t help.  Difficulties with the healthcare system and frustrations with public transportation add additional worries. Overall, 69% of expats are happy with their life in London, compared to 72% globally.

Finances & Work Hinder Life in London

One of London’s most glaring weaknesses is the Personal Finance Index (47th). About three in four expats (74%) struggle with the general cost of living, compared to only 35% globally. And 45% say that their disposable household income is not enough to lead a comfortable life in London (vs. 27% globally). So, it’s probably no surprise that 39% are unhappy with their financial situation in general (vs. 22% globally).

Unfortunately, local salaries don’t seem to make up for the high living expenses: the city ranks 43rd for (perceived) fair pay. “It’s very difficult to find a job with an appropriate salary to match the cost of living,” shares a Ukrainian expat. What’s more, the survey participants rate London 44th for the state of the economy. While many of them don’t see a purpose in their own work (44th), they do believe that the local business culture encourages creativity (9th) and flexibility (7th). Three in four (75%) also say that moving to London has improved their career prospects (vs. 59% globally).

The city shows an average performance in the Ease of Settling In Index (28th), while there are some ups and downs in the Expat Essentials Index (34th). Expats in London love the ability to pay without cash (10th) but struggle to open a local bank account (40th). And they aren’t just dissatisfied with the living expenses in general: 79% find housing in particular to be unaffordable, compared to 42% globally.

Widespread Difficulties with Getting Around

The Quality of Life Index (46th) reveals some further low points for London. Expats say that public transportation is too expensive (48th). And unfortunately, the alternatives aren’t great: the city ranks 40th for both its infrastructure for cars and the ease and safety of getting around on foot and/or by bicycle. London’s (in)famously grey weather also contributes to expats’ unhappiness. The city ranks 43rd in the overall Environment & Climate Subcategory, with the climate and weather (41st) and the air quality (42nd) receiving particularly bad results.

The Healthcare Subcategory (47th) is even worse for London: expats struggle with the availability (48th) and quality (47th) of healthcare, as well as the ease of accessing it (46th). And what’s more, 15% of expats don’t feel personally safe in London, about double the global average (8%). This, combined with low satisfaction with the political stability (24% unhappy vs. 13% globally), leads to a bottom 10 place in the Safety & Security Subcategory (41st).

Further Reading