magog_83: (BUNNY)
[personal profile] magog_83
Hello all! I'm hoping someone might be able to help. An American friend of mine on twitter is thinking of moving to the UK and has asked me a few questions about the country and attitudes towards immigrants etc. Obviously I can give my own opinions on some of it, but I wondered if anyone on my flist would have a better perspective. I have never lived in London so I don't really have a clue about costs besides it probably being very expensive, or where the best areas to live would be for that matter. Also any thoughts about British attitudes towards Americans moving here would be appreciated. I feel like any negative attitudes would be muted in London anyway - since it's such a huge melting pot of a city.

- Will being American cause a lot of trouble when I try to apply for jobs, look for housing, or just cause any major problems all-around besides those two I listed?

- Is it difficult to find an apartment, and around how much will rent be? I'll likely be getting a studio apartment. Additionally, I ask this question even though it's a bit broad because I hope that if I move to England I could perhaps live in London, and the only city in America that I feel is our equivalent of London is New York. Over in NY, very small apartments can go for thousands rent-wise, and if you want one in a good neighborhood it costs even more. Do you know if that is what it's like in London? I don't know if you live in a house or apartment, but do you know the names of some good areas in London to get a normal studio apartment and if it would really break the bank to pay monthly rent in those neighborhoods (like around how much would it be to live there)? If those areas are pretty expensive, what are the neighborhoods that I could get a normally priced apartment and are they bad/not very good areas? I'm sorry if this question is a bit all over the place and difficult to answer so it's fine if you can't really answer it with specifics.

Any help would be very much appreciated!

Date: 2013-04-20 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, I live in a rural area and attitudes to immigrants or even anyone with brown skin are pretty poor. But London is a different matter and I can't think of any reason an american in particular would be given hassle. I've never lived there, though.

Date: 2013-04-20 08:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
They're not great where I live either, unfortunately :/ I'm the same though, I can't think of any reason a white American would get any trouble, especially somewhere like London. I'd like to think no-one would, but I think we have a way to go yet before that;s true.

Date: 2013-04-20 10:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My hometown is a little like that. It's very white and sheltered.

However, I did my first Masters in London and I was the only British citizen on my course. One of only two Europeans. So no, it's not an issue!

Date: 2013-04-20 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't think being American would count against anyone in terms of finding a job but in this economic climate it does rather depend on the job as to what the requirements might be. The job market as a whole is rather stagnant.


There is the important bit of visas when it comes to working in the UK.

Here's some relevant information from the HomeOffice:

YES, you do need a visa to come and work or do business in the UK
(unless you are coming to do some types of work or business here for a short time)
You told us that

you are a national of United States.
you are coming to UK to Work.
you are normally and legally living in United States.

What do you need to do?

Generally, you must obtain a visa before you can come to the UK to work or do business. You must apply in one of the following categories:

Tier 1 of the points-based system - for investors, entrepreneurs, exceptionally talented people and recent graduates of UK universities
Tier 2 of the points-based system - for skilled workers who have been offered a permanent job
Tier 5 of the points-based system - for temporary workers with a job offer, and participants in the Youth mobility scheme
domestic worker in a private household
representative of an overseas business

The Working in the UK section ( contains more information.

You can also come to the UK as a prospective entrepreneur for up to 6 months, but you will need a visa. The Visiting in the UK section ( contains more information.

However, you do not need a visa to come here for up to 3 months as a sportsperson or a creative worker under Tier 5 (Temporary worker - creative and sporting). The Tier 5 section ( contains more information, and lists the documents that you must show our immigration officers when you arrive at the UK border.

Also, you do not need a visa to come here for up to 6 months as:

a business visitor
an academic visitor
a sports visitor
an entertainer visitor

The Visiting in the UK section ( contains information to help you decide whether you can come to the UK in any of these visitor categories. It also lists the types of document that you may want to bring with you to show our immigration officers when you arrive at the UK border.

Even if you are coming to the UK in a category that does not require a visa, you may want to obtain one before you travel (for example, if you have a criminal record or you have previously been refused permission to enter the UK).

So that is worth looking inot. All information can be found on the border agency website through the links listed above.

In terms of accomodation here's a handy website:

Run by the Greater London Authority you can specify type of accomodation and the area of London and it will show average rents for the private sector.

I have no idea which areas are best though.

Date: 2013-04-20 10:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is the far more eloquent version of what I was trying to say!

I can tell you the best areas to live in, but those are the ones that no-one can afford.

Date: 2013-04-20 10:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Re: Job, it will depend on the visa she has. Companies can only sponsor visas if they can prove that no-one already entitled to work in the UK will fulfill the job.

As for the place, it depends what part of London. In Oxford you wouldn't get a studio for less than $1000/month (not including bills) so most places in London would be more. I would rec that she checks out or for some ideas.

Can't see being an American being any issue in London. The only housing issue I can think of is that landlord tend not to like you if you don't have a job already because they want a guarantee on rent. (I've always had to provide a payslip or contract or something). But I can't see there being a particular problem towards Americans specifically.

I imagine that London for an American is like Chicago was in the US for me. In small towns it was really odd because people would come up and talk to you just for sounding odd. In Chicago it was so multicultural that it was barely mentioned. I'd get the very odd 'so where are you from' but mostly people weren't interested. London is the same way. (In NYC being British got you accosted by people in the street selling things to tourists).

Date: 2013-04-20 10:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks very much for this! I am collecting together everyone's comments for her :) I know that my friends who lived in London found it ridiculously expensive, despite having well paid teaching jobs, and couldn't wait to move further out once they could change schools.

Date: 2013-04-21 09:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Cool! I would also comment that unless she has a very wellpaid job or a very healthy bank account then a studio apartment is probably not feasible.

If I were her (not knowing anything about her!) I would look into sharing/bedsit because it's the only way to really make London prices doable. (IMO).

Date: 2013-04-21 07:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
All has been said regarding immigration. Let me add two things. 1) London IS ridiculously expensive. I know several, very high-earning people who have to live in flat shares because they can't afford their own place in London. And 2) I'd say if being American is going to be a problem depends on that person. I feel there is a bit of a negative attitude towards Americans in general (and sadly, many of my stereotypes have been confirmed over years of living with/meeting Americans). If your friend doesn't act like a twat though, she should be fine ;) Before I came to the UK I've always been told "ooh the British HATE Germans" and not once in my three years over there have I made any kind of negative experience regarding my nationality.

Date: 2013-04-21 09:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Really? I've never seen any anti-German attitude (with the only exception being the odd joke about the war which I've always thought was tasteless anyway). My best friend is half German and I think I would have noticed if she'd had any issues.

That being said, I've never met a German I didn't like and they've always been very happy to let me massacre their language in an attempt to be multi-lingual. The only country I've found people be friendlier was Belgium but that was all kind of uncomfortable anyway.

Americans... I love individual Americans. There are a large number who prove the stereotype though.

Date: 2013-04-21 10:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's what I said in my comment though ;) I'm guessing that the "omg British people hate Germans" have never been to the UK themselves. I never had any negative experience in that regard :)

I lived with several Americans at St. Andrews and ohhh boy, there were all these religious fanatics who hated gays and who didn't believe in evolution. On the other hand, one of my best friends is also American and she's absolutely lovely :)

Date: 2013-04-21 10:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I know (sorry, didn't come across well!) it just surprised me that people thought there would be. It's a little sad. Specially as every German I've met has been very welcoming when I'm in Germany. :)

Ah yes. I had a guy fall for me (v.v. long story) but he went to Bob Jones University where they won't teach evolution, didn't allow inter-racial dating until 2000 (and you have to be chaperoned) and ban homosexual alumni from returning. Where else would places like this actually exist? Every country has people with those beliefs but I think it's more prevalent in the US? Thankfully, most of them are sane and lovely. :D

Date: 2013-04-21 10:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
o___o that is INSANE. wow.
Yeah I think it is most prevalent in the US which is why it's so shocking for Europeans xD

Date: 2013-04-21 08:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I heard it said on the radio, this week, that the average rent in London is £1,100 a month, but no indication whether that was per person or per accommodation.
As for where to live, I lived in the inner-ish SW - Fulham, Putney and South Wimbledon. Those are good areas, but I also working in the inner-SW (South Kensington) so it was easy to either cycle to work or get a direct tube. I think daily transport is a major factor in quality of living in London. If she has a job to come to, I would strongly recommend looking for a place to live that is on an easy public transport route.
As for being an American in London, no, I wouldn't expect that to be a problem in itself.

Date: 2013-04-21 11:26 am (UTC)
ext_14590: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I'll throw my two cents worth in here, as someone who moved to the UK two years ago and lives in London, and who has american friends who have settled here, or who have had to leave due to visa issues.

Getting visas can be a challenge - and VERY expensive - I've been married to an Englishman for 24 years, and still only got a 2 yr settlement visa initially - I only got my permanent leave to remain a few weeks ago and had to jump through a million hoops. The whole process cost me almost £4000, and I will be up for more next year when I can apply for citizenship.

As far as I know you can't work in the UK as an overseas citizen from outside the EU without an appropriate visa. One friend who was here on a student visa from the US (and who only got to stay longer because she then found work with a company that would sponsor her) had to leave her partner and go back to the US recently when she couldn't find another job to sponsor her and her partner isn't in a financial position to do so. They have cracked down on immigration and also on student visas quite a bit.

You will also need to check on your entitlement to access to the NHS and health care. Australia has a reciprocal arrangement with the UK, so I had access even when I wasn't entitled to any other public funding or support. I'm not sure what the situation is for people from the US.

If you can get a Visa and want to come - there are still a number of bureaucratic hurdles to get over. Real Estate in London is expensive. Our first flat, a 1 bed in the Docklands area cost us £1100 a month, and it went up to £1500 when they readvertised it when we moved out. We now live further out in the SE suburbs. They're not 'bad' areas, but they're borderline dodgy. You can find affordable real estate if you try, but be warned - the advertised properties for rent on all the websites are NOT REAL. Almost 90% of the ads are either from properties from more than a year ago (they're simply up there to get people to 'register' with agencies), and they only leave up the more attractive properties that were considerably cheaper when they were listed. Even on real estate companies' own websites they generally do the same thing. You won't really know what's available until you start talking to agents personally.

Renters in the UK are responsible for a lot of the property expenses, including council tax, water rates, utilities, your TV license, as well as internet / pay television services. A majority of small properties are part or fully furnished - this can range from there being just a few basic pieces of furniture to everything including the knives and forks. Most UK properties don't have a separate laundry/utility room - the washing machine is often in the kitchen, and most inner London properties don't have a clothes line or drying area, so you get to dry your clothes on racks around the house. Many properties have integrated appliances, including fridges (but these can be very small), and room sizes are TINY - I mean, seriously small. A single room can be as small as a bit over a metre wide x 2 long (3-4' x 8'), a double room is any room you can fit a 4'6" mattress into, even if you can't always get the door closed. The US and Aus have the largest houses (room footage per capita) of any in the world. The difference is SERIOUS. We packed enough furniture / goods to fit what would be a small 2 bed apartment in Australia, and can barely fit them into the 3 bed house we now rent. And unless you get out into the suburbs, most kitchens are very small - some are no more than a couple of cupboards with a cooktop, microwave and barfridge, and often the cupboards are full of the boiler and fridge and washing machine.


Date: 2013-04-21 11:26 am (UTC)
ext_14590: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Everything in the UK revolves around your credit rating, and when you're new here, you don't have one. Even with a property and substantial savings in Australia we couldn't do a thing here until we started getting a credit rating. We had to pay 6months rent in advance to get a lease, and could only open the most basic bank account, which they let us do as we were able to transfer a large amount of money into it.

It's the same getting services / utilities connected - although once you have a bank account things start to get a bit easier. Also, nearly everyone demands that you pay for things via standing orders / direct debit authorities.

Getting into a house/flat share would probably make a lot of that easier as you can start getting established without trying to get everything in your own name initially, and there seem to be quite formal systems in place to recognise and allocate shared expenses.

There is work in London, but you can't be too fussy if you want to get employed quickly. Nearly all job recruitment here is now handled online, mostly automated and very impersonal, and having a resume that fits the target search engines is really important. There are services here that will help you structure one to hit your targets, but you will be up against a lot of competition.

I have several friends who are american and who are settled here - but in each case they have a UK partner. None of them have expressed any issues regarding discrimination over being american - the UK really is a melting pot, and people often can't tell one accent from another anyway. Outside of London / Birmingham and a couple of the other large cities, things are less multi-cultural, but I've found people are generally pretty accepting.

So, I know this sounds all a bit bleak, but the truth is, coming to live in the UK is hard work. Even for my partner who was born here and lived here part of his life, it was a real struggle to get established. We almost bailed out back to Aus a number of times. And I'm listing all these things because they are things I wish someone had told me before we came - then we could have been better prepared and it might have been mentally easier to deal with.

But, if you want it, don't let any of this put you off. Do as much research as you can - look into job ads for your kind of work (maybe even start contacting agents that recruit in your line of work and sound them out on demand, salary and locations), be prepared to live in a less than glamorous suburb (honestly - you can't afford them unless you earn a LOT of money), and learn as much as you can about the systems. I can't imagine living anywhere else now, despite the ongoing frustrations of the bureaucracy.


Date: 2013-04-25 08:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you SO MUCH for this reply! It;s exactly what I was after and really helpful, so thanks for taking the time to write it out. I'm just writing a reply to my friend now so I'm going to unlock this post for a couple of days so she can see what everyone has said. You are all much more helpful than I would have been on my own <3

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