How to Live and Work in London

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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.

London Regent Street

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.

Westminster

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.

Covent Garden

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.

Working in London

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.

English pub sign

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.

London Tracks

Which London monument or historical site have you always dreamed of seeing?

 

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12 comments on “How to Live and Work in London

  1. I’m currently residing in Australia but want to make the move to the UK! I’m a college student studying fashion and i am graduating this year. I was hoping in making the move in two years time. Any tips for the move? Meeting people? Living situations? Best sites to find for travelling? Job situations?

    1. Hi Michelle, actually another blogger covers the UK in a lot of detail. Her blog is called “Keep Calm and Travel”, and she has a moving to UK post which is awesome and answers most of your questions.

  2. London was also the city of my past & my youth, & I have very fond memories of it! We actually lived in the Suffolk area of England, but made the 4-hour trek to London to visit family often. I do intend to get back to it someday soon & experience it as a grown up. I’m sure I’ll love it just the same! =)

    1. Thanks for visiting, Christie, I really appreciate it. I love checking out travel sites daily, you never know what kind of steals you might find, and many are to London and the rest of Europe. There are so many deal sites out there, but a good one to start with is http://www.johnnyjet.com. I even attended one of his presentations at a nearby college–good stuff! Safe travels.

  3. I used to visit London as lot and it was one of the most exciting places to travel to. There is a great mixture of different cultures there, so I could hear so many languages being spoken in the street. Although I loved being there as a tourist, I can’t imagine myself living and working there – way too expensive and busy for me.

    1. Thanks Agnes! It’s certainly exciting and diverse, and definitely expensive. That being said, I’m a firm believer that just about any city in the world can be affordable if you know where to look, dig deep and ask around. Another option that seems to work for people in the UK is to live outside of London and take the train in whenever they want. The opinion of some recent Brits I’ve met is actually sort of “Anti-London,” they much prefer Northern England. Expensive and crowded as it may be, I’m still a huge fan.

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