Moving to the UK
December 16, 2003 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Along the same lines as UKnowforKids's question, my wife and I are interested in spending a couple of years or so in England, and were wondering what our best options were...

We have a couple of ideas including attending university or a house swap deal. Either way we would have to hold jobs obviously.

This is a big thing, and we aren't taking it likely, nor rushing into things. So this is a bit preliminary. However, if any MeFites happen to have jobs for an audio engineer (the wife) or a web pion (me) please feel free to make contact (see user profile).

Otherwise, if anyone has any advice we'd like to hear it.
posted by terrapin to Work & Money (7 answers total)
likely = lightly (d'oh)
posted by terrapin at 1:43 PM on December 16, 2003

I'd seriously consider looking for somewhere well outside of London if I were you. Public transport isn't great here, but the country is so small that you are literally no more than 3 or 4 hours from anywhere you might realistically want to go. London isn't the hub that people seem to imagine, and with car you are probably more mobile / flexible elsewhere.

It can be a pain to rely on trains if you live outside, but work in London (cost can be up to £2 - £4k / year even for an hour's commute in each direction), but for the sorts of business that you and your wife are in, you really don't need to work in London at all: Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham are all nice places to live (in parts) and you are virtually guaranteed a better standard of living than you would get with London living costs and pollution.

I don't have any bright ideas for finding jobs or houses I'm afraid. I'm sure that there are online resources for facilitating house-swaps, but I think the notorious difficulty of getting US work-permits might make it hard to easily set up two-way swaps.

Work-wise - particularly in the audio-engineering field - you'll probably be wise to start sounding out potential employers sooner rather than later. I think it's likely that building and using good contacts is a lot safer than just arriving and wading into a job market that is pretty competitive for both fields at the moment.
posted by bifter at 2:31 AM on December 17, 2003

I have to disagree with bifter, London is the hub, although it is a dirty, dirty city, and life is cheaper elsewhere. However if you live in London you don't need (or want) a car, public transport is excellent, as long as you don't mind sharing with a few million others.

My Israeli girlfriend is studying at the Westminster Uni and I'm very impressed with the facilities, mostly dotted around central London. There are loads of US & foreign students here as well, working and studying.

It does depend on the kind of course you are thinking of studying though, and what you enjoy doing in your spare time. For example, if you like Surfing, and wanna study IT, get down to Plymouth Uni.
posted by trioperative at 8:19 AM on December 17, 2003

Thanks for the living tips. The wife and I are big city people and love the hustle and bustle of London (we have visited a number of times), but completely understand that the cost of living in London is pricey. We would consider living on the outskirts of the city in order to save a few quid :)

trioperative: The last time i was in England (2001) my mates took me to Plymouth to visit old friends from when they attended uni there. I liked the town a lot, and enjoyed our excursions to Cornwell too.

Again, I appreciate the time put into these replies. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any further advise... or jobs for us ;)
posted by terrapin at 9:21 AM on December 17, 2003

However if you live in London you don't need (or want) a car, public transport is excellent, as long as you don't mind sharing with a few million others.

You should have tried living along the Central Line for 3 months after last year's derailment. We had 3 hour each way journeys... weeping tears of impotent rage as train after train went through the platform, too full to get on to... the works! ;-)

Seriously though, the novelty of London wears off fast, although I am prepared to concede that this is probably dependent on your preference for recreational activities. Live music and food are better in London than anywhere else, pubs generally not great, clubs debatable.
posted by bifter at 9:25 AM on December 17, 2003

I've lived in London for nearly 17 years now and the novelty has yet to wear off. I guess it really does depend on what sort of lifestyle you want. Culturally the rest of the country (sorry, the rest of the world) is a fleapit in comparison.

It's a huge city and actually quite a bit cleaner than many other large cities, NYC included. The SE postcodes are among your best bets for cheaper living, and one quickly gets used to commuting by overground rail (far more pleasant than the tube anyway.) Even Croydon has its benefits as it's only 12 minutes to Victoria, and no-one wants to live there.

It really depends what you want to do here, but remember what Dr Johnson said: when you're tired of London you're tired of life.
posted by cbrody at 4:21 PM on December 17, 2003

**crawls into a hole to die**... ;-)
posted by bifter at 2:25 AM on December 18, 2003

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