The Ultimate Guide to Living and Working in London

By December 20, 2017For Talent

London is the place to be for young professionals. The lure of jobs, culture, and an exciting social scene has been drawing people to this urban mecca for decades. In fact, the population is made up of an impressive number of young workers. 24% of inner London’s population is 25-34 year olds.

Are you tempted to take the plunge and join the rat race in the big smoke? Read our ultimate guide first.

Average commute

The average daily commute for Londoners is 84 minutes. Which roughly works out at 7 hours a week.

Despite the fact that they’re spending all that time in transit they aren’t really going too far. In fact, the average London commute is a mere 7.9 miles. Why the delay you may ask? Well, you can thank London’s bustling transport system for that. The city is the worst in the UK for traffic jams and 7th in the world overall.

Thankfully there is an abundance of public transport options that you can pick and choose from.

Public transport
London has one of the biggest urban transport networks in the world. Buses, the underground, overground trains, trams, boats, bikes, taxis, you name it, London has it.

The Tube is still the most popular mode of transport for workers. It’s extensive, cost-effective and is not affected by weather conditions. Most Londoners have Oyster Cards, a prepaid travel pass that allows them to jump on public transport. Monthly travel cards cost £340.70 for zones 1-9. Buses and the Tube also accept contactless debit cards which will be capped at a certain amount.

London is one of Europe’s main tech hubs thanks to its generous investors, affluent consumers and huge corporations. The inner city alone is home to an estimated 40,000 tech companies covering everything from fintech to fashtech so whether you’re looking to get in on the ground floor of a startup or join a huge multinational, this is the place to do it.

London has been a massive financial centre since the Middle Ages. Most of the financial district is centred around Square Mile and Canary Wharf. Apart from traditional banking activities and insurance, London also thrives as a centre for foreign exchange and bond trading. Many multinational organisations have their headquarters there including HSBC and Barclays.

Canary WharfCreative
London’s creative industries cover everything from film to TV production and theatre to gaming. Many of the world’s biggest advertising and digital agencies have head offices within the city’s bustling creative areas like Soho and Camden. Thanks to a high number of university students, London is guaranteed a steady stream of top creative talent year after year.

19 million people visit London every year which means that hospitality is a massive business in the English capital. Hotels, bars, restaurants, tourist attractions and nightclubs provide millions of jobs in the city centre each year. If you’re looking to gain experience this could be the place to do it.

Average salary
Wages in London tend to be higher than elsewhere in the UK. As you can see from the graph below they are all above the national average.

UK work permits
Unfortunately, due to Brexit it is still unclear what will happen with work permits and visas in the future.

At the moment, British citizens, European Economic Area (EEA) citizens and Swiss nationals can all live and work in the UK.

People from certain countries such as Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria, may require special permission to work in the UK.

You will also need to apply for a UK residence card or be able to prove your right to work in the UK as an EU citizen.

You can find out if you need a visa here.

Once you begin working in the UK you will need to apply for a national insurance number. This is used to keep track of your employment for tax purposes.

In Britain, most people pay tax through PAYE. This is a system your employer or pension provider uses to deduct income tax and national insurance contributions before they pay your wages or pension.

Tax is charged by different bands depending on how much money you earn.

Rent in London is notoriously expensive. If you choose to live here you will have to fork out a sizeable portion of your monthly wages just to put a roof over your head. In fact, Generation Rent are now spending 40 per cent of their wages renting in London, according to a recent report released by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The average cost for a room in a shared house is now £725 a month, down from £741 last year according to the latest data from SpareRoom.

Finding the right area
When choosing somewhere to live there are a few things you need to consider. Make sure that you choose an area that is within your budget. There’s no point living in Shoreditch if you can’t even afford to have a pint after work.

Remember that your expenses don’t stop at rent. You will also need to factor in things like wifi, electricity and heating bills. Don’t forget to include council tax either. This changes from borough to borough but you can find out more here.

Most people in London join houseshares. While the thought of sharing a toilet seat with Jonny Random might freak you out, it is a huge part of London life, a great way to meet new friends and of course save some pennies.

Average cost of living
London is the most expensive city to live in in the UK and 8th in the world (no big shocker there) so it is important that you budget accordingly.

The average price of a pint is £4.08 according to the Good Pub Guide. Two tickets to the local cinema will set you back £24 while a basic lunchtime menu with a drink will cost you approximately £11 according to Expatistan.

Yes, the city can be pricey but this is no secret. People have been complaining about the cost of living in London for years. However, it’s not all doom and gloom if you’re savvy about it.

There are certain things that you can do to help. Things like changing your energy provider, using a railcard and making the most of happy hour can help you to save some cash.
London is about so much more than money. If you really love the city that will only be one small part of it.

Weekend life
London is a hub for young professionals so naturally enough there is an abundance of things to keep you occupied at the weekend. Pubs, restaurants, theatres, free outdoor events, gigs, shopping, sport. Whatever you’re into you will be able to do it in London. Yes, even things like skiing or beach volleyball.

The only problem you will encounter is having enough time to do them all. Keep an eye on websites like Time Out London and The Londonist for upcoming events near you. Make the most of living in one of the most exciting cities in the world.

Top tips from expats in London
We reached out to five people who have lived and worked in London to find out their advice for newbies. Here’s what they had to say.

‘’Find somewhere to live temporarily when you first move. This will give you a chance to get to know people and suss out different areas that you would like to live in. Don’t forget to consider how long your morning commute will be. You don’t want to live hours away from your job.’’- Amy Murray, Occupational Therapist.

‘’Take advantage of all the city has to offer while you live there. London is a playground for 23-35 year old working professionals and it’s next to impossible to be bored in the city. Whether it be adult recreational sports leagues, exploring the history of the city or parking yourself in a pub all day. You’ll always have options for something fun to do.’’- Jason Mayer, Brand Associate, Western Digital.

”Live somewhere social, if you don’t know anyone in London find a large house relatively central so you’ve got people to make friends with.”- Claire Callander, Landscape Architect.

”The underground system is the only way to travel. Load up your oyster card but be prepared to also load up your iTunes and maps as there is no service down there. People move fast and furious and lift tourists out of the way, so get into the right lane and stay there. I mean it, stay there.”-  Frankie McSwiney, head of business development, Jobbio. 

‘’Take advantage of free gigs in London. My friends and I find these on the DICE app. We’ve had the best cheap nights out at these gigs.’’- Maria Doherty, Behaviour Support Teacher.


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Author Alice Murray

Alice Murray is a Content Creator at Jobbio with a passion for Employer Branding and Graduate Culture. She's a keen traveller and a self-proclaimed lazy runner.

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