If you’re thinking of moving to the UK – or out of London, there are many cities to choose from.
It depends what you expect from your move, but if you want cool, historic and lively cities there is a lot to choose from. London gets all the press, but in fact some places can be better to integrate, learn English or progress your career.
Those escaping London will find they may want to ease from the cutting edge and intense to a more sedate lifestyle, but with some of the modern trappings of the city.
Having a job in place will help you choose your city, but if you have yet to make a decision it can be tricky. Medical professionals for example can work pretty much anywhere. But the unskilled or creative industries may need to pick a city more closely suited to their needs.
The ‘capital of the South West’ is a relatively big city by UK standards. It has a good international airport with links to most major European cities and is also well connected by train and road to the rest of the UK.
Lifestyle wise, Bristolians enjoy the best of both the urban and rural. You can be shopping on cool Park Street and twenty minutes later you can be climbing a hill with a view across rolling fields.
The nightlife and music scene has a top notch reputation in the UK. After all, this is the city that spawned Roni Size, Massive Attack and Stanton Warriors.
Bristol is a centre of media production in the UK, with several independent production companies based in the city. Most famous is Aardman who make the Wallace and Gromit films. For industry there are engineering giants like BAe Systems and Dyson who are based in the greater Bristol area
Rent is lower than London (of course) but you can still expect to pay around £650-900 per month for a one bedroom flat or less if you are sharing. The average income is around £1,700 per month.
The UK’s second largest city, Brum (as it’s called by locals) is a lot more sedate than the Big Smoke. It’s a sprawling metropolis with several satellite cities such as Coventry and Wolverhampton which are entities in their own right.
Birmingham is a teeming city which is historically a hive of industry. Rolls Royce and Jaguar are both based in the area (Coventry) and still have a presence. The main industries now tend to be service based with lots of banking, utilities and logistics companies based in and around the city.
Birmingham is very multicultural with a strong Caribbean and Asian presence. There are also lots of Eastern Europeans and the vibe generally is of a bustling world city. Although it isn’t as cutting edge in terms of food or fashion as London there is still a lot to get stuck into.
Birmingham Airport is very well connected to global destinations with direct flights to the USA, Dubai, India and more.
As Brum is slap bang in the middle of the country it is of course well connected in terms of road and rail links.
Rent is pretty good for a big UK city. Expect to pay upwards of £550 for a one bed flat.
Due to the global popularity of Manchester United, the city is often thought of as the second city in the UK. It is big, multicultural and vibrant and famous for its music and sports scene.
Manchester has a famous industrial heritage and in fact, wouldn’t be the town it is today if it wasn’t for the industrial revolution. There are strides being made to make Manchester more media friendly, with the BBC having recently relocated many of their departments.
Manchester is a party town and the Canal Street area is a well known gay haunt. The city that spawned The Hacienda also has a plethora of late night venues from bars to clubs as well as enviable dining options.
Centrally located in the UK, connections with road and rail are excellent. Manchester lies close to cities such as Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham and London is just over 2 hours away by train.
There is also an excellent international airport with global connections, probably second only to Heathrow and Gatwick.
Average income in Manchester is just over £1,500 per month. With a diverse selection of jobs in industries including medical research, engineering, media and finance.
A one bedroom flat in the city can be found for around £650 a month, although you can splash out and find a three bedroomed pad for close to £1000.
Scotland’s capital city is a dream travel destination for many and is also one of the great places to live in the UK. Forget the grimy scenes of Trainspotting, Edinburgh is pretty glam these days.
A hotbed of tech startups, Edinburgh’s most famous success story is SkyScanner, the flight comparison site. But on top of this there is a lot more going on. If you’re looking to be somewhere thats’s going places then this might be it.
Added to this there is also the annual Fringe Festival, Hogmanay, loads of culture and as much fine whisky as you can shake a caber at (if you can lift one up). The city looks pretty good too, with the Castle overlooking the downtown area.
If you prefer your cities a little more rough and ready then Glasgow is down the road (less than an hour) and has much going for it too.
The city is served by two airports, Glasgow Prestwick and Edinburgh. Both have global connections including to the USA and Far East.
Rent is reasonable, with a one bed place between £550-700 a month and the average income around £1,700 per month.
The Capital of Wales doesn’t feel like a capital city, but still packs a punch. Like Edinburgh, Cardiff has a castle right in the middle of town and a cool harbour. You can also be on the beach or in the rolling hills within 40 minutes.
The city is sports mad, mostly for rugby. But the huge Millennium Stadium also hosts football games and concerts on regular occasions.
A stones throw from Bristol, the motorway will whisk you there in around 30-40 minutes. There’s an airport which serves mostly holiday destinations but Bristol airport is around an hour away. You can also be in London and Heathrow in an hour and a half.
Industry wise, Cardiff is mostly service based, mostly with call centres,retail and finance. The average income is low compared to the rest of the UK at around £1,500 per month. But this is reflected in the average rent of £450 and upwards for a one bedroom flat.
Others to consider…
If big cities aren’t your thing, no worries. The UK has plenty of smaller towns and cities which can entice those looking for a pleasant lifestyle.
Jobs are usually easy enough to come by although they may be in tourism or retail, hence lower paid. If in doubt teaching and healthcare jobs are always required in most parts of the country.
Deep in the Lake District, Carlisle a quiet rural town which is closer to Scotland than London. Mostly tourism and rural agriculture in terms of employment but lots of fresh air and beautiful views.
Beautfiful Cornwall has many great towns to call home but not much in the way of industry. Falmouth is a cool student town with beaches, nightlife and a working industrial port.
Consider also Penzance, Newquay and St Austell.
On the south coast, Brighton gets all the press but Bournemouth has a quiet charm all of its own. It’s a mid sized city with a great city beach and some decent options for employment. It’s also less than 2 hours from London by train and well connected to the rest of the country.
Oxford and Cambridge
These two famous university cities are both excellent places to call home, but not cheap places to rent. Great nightlife and stunning architecture are obvious benefits but there is also quite a lot of industry besides the universities.
So if you’re making the move to the UK, or moving out of London – any of these great cities should tick the box in terms of lifestyle, employment options and quality of life.
Have I missed something obvious? Need any more suggestions? Or you think I’m completely wrong? Get involved in the comments section below.