Working in London is a dream come true for many. After all, it’s one of the business hubs of the world, it’s a diverse and multicultural city, there’s so much to do that you’ll never be bored, and as Samuel Johnson so eloquently put it, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”
But as is true of anywhere, there are always pros and cons. So let’s take a look at both the good and the bad points of working (and therefore living) in the UK capital city.
Pros of Working in London
- London is an epicentre of business. Pretty much all of the world’s biggest companies have a large presence in the city.This means that employment opportunities are high, and the chance to ascend up the career ladder in your chosen profession is strong.
- Salaries in London are good. In fact, they are higher in London than in any other part of the UK. They also compare favourably with salaries offered in other major cities of the world.
- London is a very safe city. In fact, in comparison to other world cities, London scores extremely highly.There’s a good police presence on the streets, and London has a high number of CCTV cameras with an army of people watching them, meaning any crimes or incidents can be spotted fast – and the relevant services sent to deal with them.
- When you work in London, you get free medical treatment via the NHS (National Health Service). Well, free is a relative word, because everyone who works and pays tax in the UK is paying towards the NHS.But it means that you don’t have to pay when visiting a doctor, or for any hospital treatment you might need.
- You’re surrounded by history on every corner. Where else in the world might you walk past The Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, or the Houses of Parliament on your daily commute to work?
- You don’t need a car. Thanks to the excellent public transport network (London Buses and The Tube), there really is no need to own a car when living and working in the city.
- There are so many green spaces to go and relax and get away from it all: Hyde Park, Green Park, Regent’s Park, Richmond Park… The list goes on and on.
- London is one of the top cities in the world to be self-employed. So, if you’re thinking of starting up your own business, it really is the place to be.Plus there are many different government incentives for people doing just that, and lots of free support available too.
Cons of working in London
- Okay, so the biggest con has to be is how expensive it is to live here. No one is going to pretend that London is a cheap place to live.Rents are high, as is the cost to purchase your own property. You can check out average rents and purchase prices in all regions of London on London Property Watch, which is updated on a daily basis.Websites Expatistan and Numbeo provide an up to date price comparison service that allows you to compare the cost of living in London with any other city in the world.
- The Tube, which is the method of transport that everyone in London uses to get around, is crazily busy during peak commuter travel times (from around 07:00-09:30, and then again from 16:30-19:00).A top tip here is that the carriages at the very front and very back of the train are always a little quieter. It’s worth missing one or two trains so you can get to these end carriages – it will make your journey far more pleasant…
- London is busy. Seriously busy. If you’re not used to the big city, getting used to how crowded the place is can be a big culture shock.
- In London (and the whole of the UK), they drive on the left, and if you come from anywhere else in the world (with just a few exceptions), you’re used to traffic driving on the right.Not only does this make it a bit nerve wracking if you want to drive yourself, but the traffic also comes from the wrong direction when you want to cross the road!
- The weather – yes, it really is as changeable as it’s fabled to be. In London, you get used to always carrying an umbrella, and to dressing in layers – as one moment it can be gloriously warm, and the next you’ll be freezing.And the worst thing about the winter months is the damp – because it might not be as cold temperature-wise as you’re used to, but the damp really does have the ability to seep into your bones.
- Homes and accommodation are small – well, especially if you come from the USA, Australia, or other cities in countries with lots of space.The UK is a small country, and therefore space is at a premium. If you want a large property, you’re going to have to pay an awful lot for it. Current property for sale and rental prices can be checked out out on Right Move and Zoopla.
- If you come from the US, you’re going to be in for a shock when it comes to customer service, because it’s nowhere near as good.However, that is a huge generalisation, as there are of course many people who do a wonderful job and provide excellent customer service.In fact, if you’re used to living in Paris (famous for its rude waiters and shocking customer service) then London is going to be a delight!
But despite all of these cons, it has to be said that London constantly ranks at the top of the list of places people overseas want to live and work.
And despite all of the bad things, the good stuff outweighs them all. That’s the reason so many people aspire to work in the city – and hundreds of thousands of folk who make the move to London each and every year can’t all be wrong…