Most Kiwis think London is the place to be, given its size and the amount of amazing things London has to offer. Don’t get me wrong, London is an awesome city but there are other great cities in the UK too.
I’ve seen Kiwis based in Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol, Newcastle and Edinburgh, who all seem to be flourishing. However, it’s worth noting that it’s unlikely you’ll earn the same salary or contract rate as you would in London, if you live and work in these other UK cities. So, if your aim is to earn as many pounds as you can in a set timeframe, London is probably the place to be.
London can be expensive
On the flip side, we have lived in Bristol for the last two years and have been paying £1700 per month for a nice (but modest) 3 bedroom, 2-bathroom family house. We have friends who are in a similar situation to us in London (they also need a 3-bedroom family house) and are paying anywhere between £3000 - £3500 per month for a reasonable roof over their heads! So yes, while you can earn more in London, things like accommodation aren’t cheap.
Places like Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh and Bristol all have international airports that fly to all over Europe. For example, we managed to get return flights for four people from Bristol to Faro, Portugal. The cost…£230.
The tech hubs
If you work in the technology space, there are some great tech hubs in spots like Bristol (Strava is relocating its European HQ to Bristol).
Leeds (has one of the best-known games developers – Rockstar North who have over 900 staff) and Manchester (the average digital salary is £47,000).
If you want to work for one of the big accounting or management consulting firms (Accenture, EY, Deloitte Digital, KPMG etc) they all have offices in cities like Newcastle, Liverpool and Cardiff, if you don’t want to spend a long time on the London Tube system getting to work!
Working from home
You’ll find that many employers allow staff to “WFH” too! The first time I heard WFH, I had to ask “what’s WFH” – it’s Work From Home. If you want the best of both worlds where you work a few days in London and one or two days from home, it’s certainly possible. In the UK, I found working from home is certainly more available and mature than in New Zealand. Typically, it’s available to you once you a proven and trusted by the employer. As a bonus, with the number of cool tools available these days, you can still be included in meetings and sprints while working remotely.
If you are living outside of London but need to go to London from time to time, or for a couple of days a week, the best way is via train. However, as you may have heard, getting a train into London can be expensive. For example, an off-peak return ticket from Bristol to London will cost me £75. By off-peak, I mean leaving Bristol after 9am and leaving London either before 4.30pm or after 6.30pm.
Hopefully I’ve shown you that there are alternatives to London. Not that I dislike it, in fact I love London, but hopefully I’ve shown there are other UK cities to consider.
Written by Nathan Masters