The best places to live and work outside of London
London has a lot to offer expats, but you might be surprised to learn it isn’t considered one of the best places in the UK to work. In fact, the capital doesn’t score very well in a number of quality-of-life surveys.
With that in mind, you might be better off setting your sights further afield.
Let’s take a look at some of the alternatives…
Bristol tops the Sunday Times Best Places to Live Guide for 2017, thanks to the perfect combination of being close to some amazing countryside and coastlines, without feeling isolated from the delights offered by a big city. Not that it feels like a sprawling place, according to residents, who love the small-city vibe that Bristol gives off.
Sunday Times home editor Helen Davies explained;
‘The city is a worthy winner thanks to its ideal combination of extraordinary culture, impressive schools, buzzing culinary scene, exciting redevelopment and community spirit.’
‘We sum the city up as cool, classy and supremely creative.’
The Halifax Quality of Life Index for 2017 crowned Winchester the top spot out of 250 districts to live in the UK. This quaint historic town was once the capital city of England and still bears many of the relics of times gone by, such as the amazing cathedral and the medieval fortifications.
There is a nice mixture of shops, restaurants, cafes and open spaces, combined with easy transport access to other major hubs; London, Reading, Basingstoke and Southampton are all less than an hour away.
Halifax found that adults in Winchester were some of the most satisfied, content, happy and least anxious in the UK.
Some of the places in this article you will recognise, but Bebington is probably not one of them. If you’re not the city type and want something a bit more rural, with plenty of access to England’s green and pleasant land, this may be the spot for you.
According to research compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) on behalf of the Post Office, Bebington, Wirral, is the most desirable place to live in the UK. This is according to analysis of government data comprising employment prospects, working hours, average commute time, housing affordability and more.
The Royal Mail explained;
‘Located close to the River Mersey, Bebington residents enjoy the ideal balance of living close to work, having access to good schools and high employment rates.’
A somewhat unusual choice, but jobsite Glassdoor found that Slough, which is 20 miles west of London, comes out on top when you average out wages, employee satisfaction and housing affordability.
Slough, which is most famous for being the setting of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s sitcom The Office, scored 4.2 out of five, helped by a high median base salary of £35,000.
The town has been a popular destination for immigrants for around a century now, and is the most ethnically diverse place in the UK (excluding London). An impressive 150 different languages are spoken there, meaning you’re bound to find friends and support should you want to get a taste of home while you settle in.
You may have noticed by now that all of this research has been conducted by different institutions and has come to a different conclusion each time. This is because each piece of research has focussed on different criteria, which raises an important point. What is best for someone else may not be for you; you might be more interested in owning a home that being satisfied at work, or you may value being happy at work over the wage you earn.
As an example of how it pays to look past the top spot on these kinds of surveys, consider Glassdoor’s runner up, Manchester. Compared to Slough’s £35,000, the median base salary of £23,998 seems disappointing. However, it’s worth remembering that the average home in Manchester costs £177,263, compared to Slough’s £390,654. So, while wages in Manchester are 68.5% what they are in Slough, houses only cost 45.3% of the price.
The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh was voted the best city in which to live three times in a row as of 2016’s survey by the Telegraph. It’s a striking place, with its hilltop castle and mixture of medieval and Georgian architecture. It’s a place of vibrant culture, attracting four million people each year to witness its festivals, including the world-famous comedy festival.
It’s a popular place with filmmakers, was the first designated UNESCO City of Literature in the world, is home to the café where Harry Potter was written, and is really good for fireworks. The list goes on, but the point is that Edinburgh has always embraced culture and difference, making it a welcoming, friendly place to settle into.
Things to remember when moving abroad
The United Kingdom manages to fit in a lot of variety for such a small country. Places just a few miles apart can differ greatly in their look, feel and attitude. Hopefully this post has given you some inspiration, but even if none of these places take your fancy, just remember; this is just a small handful of the places the UK has to offer.
Remember to consider all aspects of the places you are interested in and ask what you value the most. If you want to buy a property, then how much wages are as a percentage of house prices is more important than salary on its own. If you want to send money back home, earning more will ensure you still have disposable income left after all the monthly commitments. Again, however, you may not need to sacrifice happiness or opportunities just to chase money; using a reputable currency broker like Currencies Direct can help make your funds go further, allowing you to stress less about how much you’re earning and focus on enjoying yourself.
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