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Foreigners’ pros and cons of living in London

Foreigners’ pros and cons of living in London

London is an extremely sought-after city among foreigners, and Russian nationals are no exception. The rich history of the British capital, its cultural attractions, and modern infrastructure have made the local property market one of the most investment-attractive in the world. However, real estate in London attracts a demand not only from investors but also from end-users from other countries.

We will discuss below the potential pros and cons of real estate in London, the way a Russian-speaking community lives in the capital, and where to find your dream apartments.


Life of Russian-speaking immigrants in London

It will be easy for people who come from the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, and other CIS countries to adjust to life in London as there are huge Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking communities here. The city has everything you need for a comfortable ex-pat life:

  1. Russian-speaking nurseries and educational institutions. Parents can send their children to a nursery from the very first months of their kid’s life. Nurseries cost around £400 per week., Parents will receive a discount when the child is three years old. A childminder, a specialist who takes care of a group of children, is paid around £320 per week. Babysitting costs £20-25 per hour. Studying at a private Russian-language school costs about £6,000 a year.
  2. The Russian-language media and communities on social networks.
  3. Russian, Polish, and Lithuanian shops and restaurants. In London, there are many places where you can find traditional Russian dishes on the menu, like cabbage soup or shchi, dumplings or pelmeni, Russian salad, etc. There are also many shops with Russian products. The Kalinka supermarket is the most popular among them.

Does London become a popular immigration destination?

London is one of the most well-known immigrant cities in Europe. A high standard of living, quality education, and healthcare system, investment-attractive real estate, developed infrastructure, rich culture and history, an enjoyable climate, etc. attract ex-pats.

Relocation opportunities

There are several ways to get a residence permit in the UK. The most popular options include the following:

  • To make at least £2 million in investments in the British economy;
  • To land a job offer from a licensed UK employer;
  • To obtain a Global Talent visa for professional achievements in IT, art, and various other fields;
  • To marry a British citizen;
  • To enroll in one of the British educational institutions and then find work in the country after completing studies.

Adjustment to a new home

To better adjust to life in London, ex-pats should bear in mind the following factors:

  1. The higher your level of the English language, the faster and easier you will adapt. At the same time, a foreigner should be prepared for the fact that the city’s population is multinational and there are many different accents. The best way to learn the language is to actively use it. Chat with the locals, read English books, listen to British songs and podcasts, watch the local TV channels, and more.
  2. Every culture has its stereotypes. But where there’s smoke, there’s always fire. The middle and upper-class British are known for their restraint. Englishmen are famous for their love of beer and tea. And although the residents of London are not too demonstrative (they do not hug or kiss when they meet, as the French or the Italians do), they are also considered to be outgoing and friendly. Studies of the personal qualities and characteristics of Londoners have shown that this is a city of extroverts who enjoy the fast pace and multiculturalism of the British capital.
  3. Cuisine. The country has never been famous for its food. There are only a few traditional English dishes that are recognized worldwide: fish and chips, mashed potato pie, and bubble and squeak. Fortunately, the country’s foodscape, similar to its people, has changed over the past few decades. In London today, you can find places with cuisine from around the world. Indian cuisine is the most popular among Londoners.

The Russian-speaking diasporas in London

England takes a population census every 10 years, organized by the Office for National Statistics. Thanks to the data collected during the census, charitable and public companies and even government agencies determine how to allocate the budget and types of projects needed for different regions, districts, and communities.

The census allows us to track interesting statistics like the number of Russian-speaking residents in London. Some foreigners call the capital of the United Kingdom "Londongrad" and "Moscow-on-Thames", and not without reason. A large Russian-speaking diaspora lives in the city. However, the information varies greatly, from an unconfirmed 770,000 people to a statistically verified 36,000 people. Let's have a look at these numbers.

Most reports and conferences mention that the number of Russian-speaking residents is about 300,000 people. This number includes not only Russian immigrants but also Russian-speaking immigrants from the former USSR countries. However, the 2011 census showed that there were only 36,313 immigrants from Russia living in the whole country. 687 were in Wales, 2,180 in Scotland, and 349 in Northern Ireland. 26,603 Russian-speaking people lived in London.

The inflow of Russian-speaking migrants has greatly increased over the past 5-7 years causing a change in the numbers. In 2014, The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported that the number of Londoners of Russian origin had already reached about 150,000 people. And in 2017, the Office for National Statistics stated that about 195,000 Russian-speaking immigrants lived in Great Britain.

Nowadays, these numbers will have changed again. Up-to-date reliable data can only be collected by taking a new census but there will always be a small inaccuracy in the conclusions. For example, respondents do not always mention their second or third language in the questionnaire. It is, however, still impossible to deny that London has a large Russian-speaking community.

Pros of living in London for Russians

Is residing in London suitable for Russians? The advantages that the capital of Great Britain has to offer speak for themselves:

  1. Career and business opportunities. A lot of well-known multinational companies have chosen London as their headquarters. That is why the city lures foreigners interested in career development, especially in industries such as finance, technology, and media. In addition, entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses will find that the British capital is a great place to begin as it offers an established infrastructure and a highly skilled workforce.
  2. A European tourist center. There are six international airports near London. An increasing number of low-cost airlines has led to the city becoming the main tourist hub in Europe.
  3. Quality and the affordable healthcare system. The UK National Health Service (NHS) is considered one of the greatest assets. Expats living in London get access to healthcare virtually free. Although patients have to pay for certain medicines, the prices are often subsidized.
  4. A wide range of real estate. The London market provides potential buyers with a wide range of housing units of various configurations and architectural styles. It has everything from luxurious Victorian mansions with spacious terraces to modern apartments with panoramic views of the city.
  5. Extensive public transport network. With the use of buses, the Underground, electric trains, and ferries, city residents can reach almost any place faster than by car. A large part of the local population does not feel the need to have a car.
  6. Access to free public education. In the UK, ex-pats can send their children to public schools for free. This option is perfect for kids who already speak English or who are still young enough to learn the language.
  7. Wide selection of international schools. London has the largest number of international schools in the United Kingdom. These institutions are expensive, but they allow foreigners to continue their education in their native language.

Cons of living in London for Russians

Living in London can also have some shortcomings that Russian ex-pats should be aware of beforehand:

  1. Strong competition in the job market. London, like the whole country, has a skilled workforce. In addition, the city attracts the best talent from all over the world due to its high earnings and quality of life. This means job-hunting can be quite a daunting task, especially in busy industries.
  2. Tourists. Tourism plays a key role in the city’s economy. Crowds of traveling foreigners can sometimes be an annoyance to locals.
  3. The high cost of living. London remains one of the most expensive cities in the world. Foreigners should plan their budget carefully before relocating.
  4. Delays in the Underground trains. The London Underground is the oldest underground system in the world, which partly explains the regular delays and technical problems. Also, due to the dense population, using public transport during peak hours can be a frustrating experience.
  5. Traffic congestion. The roads in London are extremely busy and are the reason many people avoid driving. To dissuade locals from going downtown, authorities have introduced a daily congestion charge for those who prefer to drive rather than use public transport.

Pros of purchasing real estate in London

For foreigners willing to buy a home in London, the advantages of this investment type are listed below:

  1. A wide selection of luxury real estate. The market offers an impressive range of elite houses in London. Here you can find numerous old mansions and elegant, custom-designed apartments.
  2. Demand for rental properties. Rental demand for local housing remains high as London is one of the most sought-after cities in which to live and work. If you can afford to buy a local home, finding tenants will not be an issue later on.
  3. Excellent investment policies. Great Britain, being the capital city, has a reputation as a haven for real estate investments. The city is economically and financially stable, which is why both British and foreign investors continue to invest in local real estate.

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