This was the city of my past, the city of my youth. There may not be another place in all the world as culturally rich and historically vibrant as glorious, unparalleled London. London, with its ancient castles and stone facades set atop and amidst Starbucks, H&Ms and posh clubs; London, with monuments, parks and bridges around every corner; London, a city made up of quaint neighborhoods and a cosmopolitan bustle that belies its undeniable charm.
Samuel Johnson once said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” a sentiment that is fully realized the moment you embark across the Millennium Bridge and are met with a view of the Thames and the skyline in all its glory.
I recommend you make your home base at the centrally-located Thanet Hotel (mid-range budget), a Bloomsbury jewel within walking distances of the Holborn and Russell Square Underground stations (8 Bedford Place, Bloomsbury WC1B 5JA). For $145 USD/night, enjoy a third-story room overlooking several parks and classic English terraces. Speaking of classic, your room rate includes a traditional English breakfast each morning, so be sure to fill up on grilled tomatoes and marmalade toast before heading to nearby Covent Garden for sightseeing.
Securing work in England is notoriously difficult, but nothing is impossible for the expat-to-be! Keep in mind that you have competition from both British citizens and EU citizens who can work in the UK without securing a visa.
The easiest way to get a job in London is to work for a U.S. company based there (or a company from your home country). Since you’ll still be getting paid in U.S. dollars, the British government is far more lenient about giving you a work visa. Even though you’ll be working as if you were still at home, you’ll still need to obtain a work permit and pay taxes (!) to the British government.
Another option is to find employment with a British company in London. This is tricky because you’re supposed to secure the job before entering the country, and your employer has to prove that there were no suitable British applicants to fill the position. From there, your employer will apply for a Tier 2 work visa on your behalf.
Since English teachers aren’t exactly in demand in England, the easiest work/live option for most people who wish to live in London is to enroll in classes in one of the city’s dozens of colleges and universities. In many cases, students are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week, so you’ll at least be approved for some part-time income.
You can also apply for what’s known as a “live-in job” or a “pub job,” where you’ll bartend or wait tables in a restaurant that also provides you with living accommodations and meals. Typical pub job earnings are around $250 USD/week after taxes plus tips, but your rent is paid by the company. You’ll still need to obtain a Tier 5 visa, but these are much easier to get than a Tier 2 work visa.
London has a lot to offer culturally–it was the seat of the British Empire of old, now a place where sophistication and history mingle amidst the cobblestone streets. Today, it is the capital of a country that retains its strong nomadic roots–I have found British citizens everywhere in my travels, much more so than citizens of other countries.
Call it coincidence or what may, but I call it a continuance of the explorer’s spirit found in every British heart. And this, I think, is what you will find most prevalent in the rich history of the city’s past.
Which London monument or historical site have you always dreamed of seeing?