to London Q & A
Since my article on Londons Overlooked Neighborhoods ran, Ive received a deluge of emails from readers seeking advice on living and working in London. Regrettably, the process of expatriating and settling here is full of confusing and sometimes even ridiculous requirements that will acquaint you with Britains backwardif still lovableidiosyncrasies before you ever leave home. Expat hopefuls may feel that the Brits are as keen on keeping foreigners out of their dreary isle as they are on keeping out rabies. Nevertheless, Britain hosts a thriving community of American expatriates.
How can I become eligible to work in the U.K.?
To legally hold a job in the U.K. you need
a working visa from the British Embassy in the U.S. Unfortunately,
obtaining a work visa is a process that can only be undertaken
by an employer who wants to hire you and can demonstrate why a
particular American candidate fits that job better than any EU
To make matters worse, work permits can only
be secured for certain professions (not for clerical jobs,
for example). For specific information on requirements, see this
site for work
permit procedures and availability.
Cant I just move to the U.K. and then look for a job?
Technically, it is illegal for Americans to
enter the U.K. and begin job-hunting and interviewing when theyre
on a tourist visa. In reality, many people do so.
How can I legally find a job in the U.K. if I cannot job search in the U.K.?
There is no easy answer to this most popular
of questions. It is possible to search for jobs in the U.K. over
the Internet. The best job bank Ive seen so far for London
jobs is The
Guardian, a major newspaper here in London, with a large web
presence. You can find the job listings online on variety of sites.
Just search on "United Kingdom jobs" and you will find
a plethora of job
Another option is to contact multinational U.S.-based companies and inquire about jobs in their London offices. My husband, for example, found a job in London after meeting with the New York office of an investment bank and interviewing via teleconference with its London office. (Investment banks and news organizations have traditionally been a major source of jobs for Americans in London.)
Once Ive found a job, how can I find housing in London?
Regardless of whether you are interested in
renting or buying in the U.K., your first step in house hunting
should be to contact an estate agent. With links to many estate
agents and neighborhood descriptions net-lettings.co.uk is
a great place to start, as is rightmove.
The cost of housing in London has exploded over the past few years. Rental prices for flats are priced on a weekly rate, and the British calculate 4.3 weeks in a month
Where in London
Should I live?
London is an endless series of interconnected neighborhoods and villages, each with its own distinct character. So choosing your location is very important.
If its imperative that you live in the most central and fashionable districts of London, the neighborhoods of Chelsea, Knights-bridge, Mayfair, Notting Hill, Soho, and South Kensington are the places to start. If youre looking for more affordable (and less centrally located) housing but dont want to sacrifice atmosphere, check out Battersea, Bayswater, Clapham, Fulham, Islington, and Maida Vale.
Two invaluable resources for the London house-hunter are Where to Live in London and London Property Guide, which describe neighborhoods, price ranges, and the London housing market in general. Find them at major U.K. bookstores. Living in London: A Practical Guide, published each year by Londons Junior League, covers everything from housing and taxes to cultural activities and is stuffed with priceless information compiled by past London expats.
In order to succeed in expatriating to the U.K., youll need lots of patience and even more determination. But for almost every American I know here in London its been worth it.