Living in Newcastle?
June 13, 2005 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Newcastle upon Tyne: what can you tell me about it? Would you move there from the US? Are there software jobs to be had?

My wife is being considered for a job in Newcastle, so we're wondering if we should move there from the US (we're currently in the Bay Area) if she is in fact offered the job.

I'm a programmer/software engineer, so I've been trying to figure out what the employment situation would be for me in Newcastle. I know it's no Bay Area or London, but are there reasonable software jobs to be had? Since I'm an EU (though not UK) citizen, I think employment authorisation shouldn't be a problem, but a bit of googling hasn't given me a good sense of what sorts of jobs are available. I know that the city has been trying to attract technology businesses, but I can't really tell how successful they've been.

Also, weather aside, is Newcastle a good place to live? I'm thinking of going there to have a look around when my wife goes for her interview. Where should I go and what should I do to get a good sense of what the area is like?
posted by klausness to Travel & Transportation around Newcastle Upon Tyne, England (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can tell you a lot about Newcastle as a place, having lived there for much of my life (not anymore).
I can't speak much to the software jobs, but I'll give you all the general help I can.
Newcastle is an amazing city. If you are interested in a place where people are friendly, open-minded, the cost of living is low, gorgeous architecture, public transport is good, some of the most stunning scenery is within a few minutes drive, then Newcastle may be for you.
The cost of living is potentially very low (obviously varies depending on where you want to live) and if you/spouse will be working in town, you would have the choice of living in a downtown area (lots of nice riverside loft conversions), a greener area, or a lovely village, all within a straightforward commute.
The area has always had a lot of artsy stuff going on, but there's a lot of great new stuff including the Baltic contemporary art museum and the Sage music centre.
Concerned about getting out? less than 3 hours train to London, direct flights from Newcastle to most major cities in Europe.
Yes, go visit when your wife interviews. Some things to do:
walk around the quayside, over the new footbridge. Actually check out all the lovely bridges.
Go to the Baltic and Sage.
Check out Jesmond (a more upscale residential area, adjacent to downtown), especially Jesmond Dene (lovely greenery etc).
Make sure you see all the old downtown streets like the Dog Leap Steps, John Dobson St, etc.
Please, please, please talk to locals - some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet.
Take the Metro to Tynemouth or Cullercoats to get a glimpse of the coast.

Feel free to ask more specific questions. Also, tell me more about the kind of area you'd like to live in, and what you're into and I may be able to give more suggestions.
posted by cushie at 1:26 PM on June 13, 2005

A google yielded this list of tenants in a building in Newcastle marketed to hi-tech type businesses. Worth clicking around those companies to give you a general idea of companies and jobs that may be of interest to you.
posted by cushie at 1:35 PM on June 13, 2005

As a recent UK transplant, I think it's well worth considering. The north of England is wonderful, low-cost airlines fly all over the place, and there's a lot going on in Britain.

I know that you've said "weather aside," but I'd strongly recommend thinking about English weather (winters, in particular) before you make the move. I've found adjusting to short and grey winter days much harder than anticipated (and I'm Canadian!).
posted by lumiere at 2:32 PM on June 13, 2005

Newcastle's not a bad city but I think you really have your finger on the button when you say "it's no Bay Area or London." You'll have a good time when you visit but personally I think you'd be insane to consider anything other than a temporary move from California. Having lived in the States and the UK, with family in the north of England, I believe the standard of living is far higher in the States, especially compared to the north of England.
posted by skylar at 3:58 PM on June 13, 2005

Well, to expand a bit on the situation (while trying to have this thread not be excessively googleable), my wife's academalicious career doesn't really give her free choice about the city in which she works. Before this opportunity came up, our plans were to move to an unlovely smallish midwestern town (actually, it appears to have a population similar to that of Newcastle proper, but there's no larger metropolitan area), where she currently has a job. Newcastle could hardly fail to be nicer than the town in question. But my current employer might let me telecommute from the midwest, whereas they probably wouldn't be receptive to having me telecommute from England, and a move to the UK would be much more permanent than a move to the midwest. So I'm trying to gather as much information as possible, so that we can make a relatively reasonable decision if she is, in fact, offered this job.
posted by klausness at 5:34 PM on June 13, 2005

Bear in mind that you *may* have problems understanding the locals at first. The Geordie accent can be very strong and seems to be one of the most difficult regional accents for Americans to understand. You'll get the hang of it after a while.

It is a nice place. Personally, I'd recommend an extended vacation of at least two weeks before you consider moving. It's a *lot* smaller than the Bay Area and the centre is nothing like as big as somewhere like Manchester or London. But you might want that, particularly as you say you were prepared to go to a small midwestern town.

What I would suggest is contacting whatever institution your wife is going to and asking them to put you in touch with either an American member of staff or an American student at the place and talk or email them about it. Nothing's better than someone who has done the same thing you are thinking of....
posted by humuhumu at 2:10 AM on June 14, 2005

I've lived in or around Newcastle for most of my life, and the past 5-10 years have seen a real transformation and modernisation of the city, thanks to massive cash expenditure & regeneration plans.
It narrowly lost out to Liverpool for the European City of Culture award last year, and while it's become something of a cliche to say so, there is a real 'buzz' about the place these days (hell, thanks to the revitalised 'pink triangle' I've seen it referred to as the UK's 3rd most gay-friendly city behind Brighton & Manchester, something that would have been unthinkable a decade ago).
The Baltic & The Sage are both fab, and there's a Carling Academy opening soon, finally providing a decent mid-sized concert venue to fill the gap between the universities and the Arena.

The North-East still has the lowest cost of living in England, and there has been a large increase in high-tech jobs over the same time period, though I'm not too familiar with the current employment-situation.

And I'm sure the local accent won't provide a massive hurdle - my ex-flatmate's American fiance moved over here recently and doesn't seem to have had much trouble adjusting.

Again, feel free to ask any more specific questions, I'd be glad to help.
posted by anagrama at 3:14 AM on June 14, 2005

Oh, and a little more on the jobs front - Sage and Reflections are probably the biggest-name software companies in the region, but I'm not too clued into the present situation other than by general hearsay. Their websites are probably worth having a look at, though.
posted by anagrama at 3:24 AM on June 14, 2005

I have lived in both Newcastle and small midwestern towns. I would say Newcastle is much more cosmopolitan, esp since you will meet a lot of people associated with the university (including other Americans on the faculty in various departments).
You may have a little trouble with the accent but you'll find people happy to repeat things/slow down for you.

Another place to look for employment opportunities might be the Centre for Life.
It's a pretty new centre focused on all kinds of biotech, genetic research (with a lot of education and health stuff for the public, too). There are some companies based there which might have software type job opportunities.
posted by cushie at 3:50 AM on June 14, 2005

Explaining Newcastle to someone in the UK is bad enough, but explaining it to someone outside of the country, particularly someone used to California, is a mammoth task.

Let's get one thing straight, the UK is grim, compared to California, but you get used to it after a while and will eventually appreciate it. Things are smaller, greener, and the people look different (that said, Newcastle has a great quota of attractive and friendly females, not that that helps you any).

As far as British towns go, Newcastle isn't bad. I always feel like it's its own country when I'm in the Tyneside area, since it's so dramatically separated from anywhere else (long drive over the moors to the south, long drive over Northumberland to the north). It definitely has its own culture, in a very drastic sense compared to other UK towns.
posted by wackybrit at 5:41 AM on June 14, 2005

IT Jobs in Newcastle

You could upload your CV to Jobsite as well.
posted by voon_42 at 5:50 AM on June 14, 2005

Ah, Newcastle (or Nuke-Arsehole as a friend of mine calls it). I've lived in Durham (15 mins on the train from Newcastle) for the past six years, so I know the city fairly well.

As anagrama says, Newcastle has changed a lot in a relatively short time. When I first visited the city (about twelve years ago) it was suffering the effects of recession (chiefly due to the collapse of the mining and shipbuilding industries that had been the city's lifeblood) and was a very grim place indeed. Since then it has undergone a massive regeneration. A lot of investment was poured into the city in preparation for its European City of Culture bid, and it's now a much more visitor-friendly place, with much more to see and do. Basically it's transformed itself from an industrial city into a retail centre -- it's the place where people in the North-East come to spend their money and have a good time.

However, moving to Newcastle would still be a big culture-shock for anyone accustomed to the Bay Area. The infrastructure and transport links are good, but still a long way below American standards. It's not a cosmopolitan place, much less ethnically mixed than London, with few black or Asian faces to be seen. And although people talk about the 'vibrant nightlife' of Newcastle (which is true) it can also be violent and intimidating. Newcastle city centre on a Friday or Saturday night, especially around the Bigg Market, is best avoided unless you're part of a large party and you've had plenty to drink.

Feel free to e-mail me (bibliography AT, mainly a spamtrap but I do check it periodically for real messages) if you want any further information.
posted by verstegan at 8:08 AM on June 14, 2005

Thanks for all the feedback. My wife and I both appreciate it. It looks like we will be going to Newcastle to check it out. If my wife is, in fact, offered the job, then I'll probably take you folks up on your offers to provide more information.
posted by klausness at 3:42 PM on June 17, 2005

Oh, and a very belated followup: She got the job, she accepted it, and she's already there. I'll be joining her in the next few months, and I'm about to start seriously looking for a job there...
posted by klausness at 12:30 AM on February 28, 2006

« Older Advice on Selling a Domain Name   |   Has anyone made a Green Tea/caffiene lotion? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.