Living & Working in London

Living & Working in London

Anita McCulloch Market Insight, Career Advice

You have decided that now is the time to move to the UK and by now you should already have your Visa and bag packed!

Here is a handy guide to living and working in London.

Types of Work

Type of work is dependent on your visa.

The majority of people who move over always begin their career on a contract to gain UK experience. If you are on a Tier 5-year visa, you will only be applicable for contract work which is easy to come by in London within HR. If you are on a 5-year Ancestry visa, you are more likely to obtain permanent work, however, your contract will usually come with a minimum of 25 days’ holiday and if you have plans to travel this doesn’t give you much flexibility. A contract allows you more flexibility.

Duration of work can be anything from temporary contracts through to an 18 month FTC. The average working hours in London are typically between 9am to 5.30pm

Salary information

We offer a variety of salary guides; you can review our latest salary information here.

Conversions and salaries can differ a lot country to country so make sure you do your research!

Finding Work

London businesses rely heavily on recruitment agencies rather than direct sourcing. Make sure you do your research and register with specialist agencies who specialise in the sectors that you prefer to work in i.e. Frazer Jones specialise in HR and legal for Taylor Root.

It’s strongly advised to send in your CV to info@frazerjones.com at least one month before your arrival in the UK. Alternatively, you can call the office on +44 20 415 2815. Therefore you can begin to establish a relationship with the appropriate recruitment consultant and potentially have interviews arranged before landing!

Employers in London highly respect the skills and knowledge that expats bring and find their experience easily transferrable. London is a great market to be working in with a huge variety of industries to choose from.

Places to live

Unlike most cities, people do not live in Zone 1 (City of London, Oxford Street, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Waterloo, Westminster etc.) as it is usually very expensive and busy. Most people prefer to live in Zone 2 & 3 (Shoreditch, Clapham, Wandsworth, Shepherds Bush, Bethnal Green, Mile End, Highbury & Islington, Brixton, Fulham, Parsons Green, Tooting etc.) due to more open space, better nightlife, affordable living and a short commute into the city (average 30-40 mins door to door).

A great website for when you are looking for somewhere is: spareroom.co.uk/uk

Alternatively, you could find short-term accommodation on sites like AirBnB airbnb.co.uk

Cost of living

Please see a rough guide to how much things will cost in London:

  • Flat cost – £650-£950
  • Tube – £140 a month
  • Lunch/snacks – up to £10 a day
  • Meal out – £25-£30
  • Coffees - £3 per coffee
  • Gyms – these vary hugely. There is an option to register with a gym that doesn’t have a contract associated or you could sign up depending on your preference from £35-£200
  • Shopping for one – £25 per week

Where to food shop

Value selection

  1. Aldi
  2. Lidl
  3. Asda

Mid-range selection

  1. Tesco
  2. Sainsbury’s

High quality selection

  • Waitrose
  • M&S

To drive or not to drive

Our advice? Do not bother. London has very busy roads and parking can sometimes cost more than rent! Tolls and charges apply to most London routes. Public transport is usually the best option for getting around. That or an Uber/Taxi.

Transport options

  • London underground (the tube)
  • Tram (in some areas)
  • Buses
  • Overground trains
  • Taxis (Uber is popular in London)
  • DLR
  • Bike

Registering for National Insurance

You will need to register as this will be required by your new employer and attributed to your payroll. Your tax rate will be based on the details you provide.

For more information from HMRC, please click here

Opening a bank account

There are plenty of banks to choose from that would suit your requirements. To open a bank account, you usually need the following. We advise you call the bank before your appointment to double check!

  • Passport/valid photo ID.
  • A recent utility bill (less than 3 months old) or council tax bill.
  • A recent bank or credit card statement.
  • Proof of studying (if applying for a student account)
  • Proof of employment (some banks may ask for this)

Tax rate

Here is a link to the most recent tax rates.


Summer months are great in London and the sun starts to shine around April through to September. The coldest months are usually December to February so make sure you have a nice warm jacket ready. The Summer has really long evenings and can sometimes be light up to 10pm. Conversely the winter months will start getting dark at 3pm (yes, 3pm!).

Social life

  • Variety of UK festivals from May until September
  • Pop up restaurants and bars – register on festicket or Time Out
  • Plenty of static bars and restaurants to choose from
  • Every area of London is totally unique
  • Carnivals such as Notting Hill & Pride
  • London is the gateway to all of the UK e.g. Brighton is an hour away on the train and Manchester and Bath are a couple of hours


  • LDN City (25 mins on DLR from central)
  • LDN Gatwick (30 - 40 mins on train from central)
  • LDN Heathrow (30 mins on train from central)
  • LDN Stansted (60 mins on train from central)
  • LDN Luton (60 mins on train from central)

Useful Websites