The UK is an exciting country full of business opportunities and historic significance for the adventuring expat. Plus, with a US expatriate community of over 125,000, the UK firmly places itself as one of the world’s most welcoming countries to foreign business and entrepreneurs. Though no longer in the driver’s seat of a worldwide empire, the UK is nonetheless a major global economic power, and relocating expatriates will find themselves interested in doing business in the UK. Each of the state’s four nations, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, certainly retain their own unique characteristics, but when it comes to the working world, practices, etiquette and culture are fairly standardized; all governed by a uniform respect for politeness and courtesy.

Although the UK will likely feel familiar to western expats, the country isn’t without unique challenges. A key relocation challenge, comes in the form of housing costs within the most popular expat living area in the UK: London.

Though housing in London looks to be increasingly rare and financially burdensome; there are several ways HR departments and assignees can work together to overcome London’s notoriously high cost. GMS VP of Global Services, John Fernandez offers these three guidelines to help manage expatriate living expenses: 
    1. Look for Housing Outside the 5 Major Business Districts of London:

      If you’re looking to purchase or rent property in London, even pricing on the outskirts of the city can vary significantly depending on size and location. Much like New York, there are affluent areas and “lesser” income areas. Chelsea, Westminster and Camden are London’s equivalent to New York’s prestigious and expensive Tribeca business district. A single square meter of property in Chelsea now costs over £11,000; Whether renting or purchasing, these costs are likely unsustainable for most expats, making expatriate housing one of the most important factors to a successful London relocation. For budget considerations, the following London boroughs (districts) are great alternatives to prime London real estate:

      A. Tower Hamlets
      – studio/single bedroom avg. cost: £1,200/month
      – two bedroom avg. cost: £1,920/month
      – home purchase avg. cost: £415,000
      B. Shoreditch
      – studio/single bedroom avg. cost: 1,260/month
      – two bedroom avg. cost: £2,080/month
      – home purchase avg. cost: £420,000
      C. Greenwich
      – studio/single bedroom avg. cost: £1,150/month
      – two bedroom avg. cost: £1,640/month
      – home purchase avg. cost: £495,000
      D. Lewisham
      – studio/single bedroom avg. cost: £1,050/month
      – two bedroom avg. cost: £1,300/month
      – home purchase avg. cost: £360,000
    1. Schedule Global Destination Services:

      HR Departments can help prepare their relocating assignees by providing useful area information, common housing practices, and an established housing budget. In addition to housing information, offering key relocation services such as, Area Tour, Global Home Finding, and Schooling Assistance can greatly improve an assignees relocation experience and success.

  1. Consider Creative Solutions:

    Home Sharing might be one unorthodox, but useful solution to mitigate costs and quickly locate housing in areas that would otherwise lack vacancy. Average room lettings in London range from £600-£1100 per month. Check out the “London Rents” map to check room pricing per district, courtesy of London’s Government site. Typical assignments that benefit from a Home Sharing model might include developmental, rotational and short term project based relocations.

Expatriates relocating to the United Kingdom may have trouble finding housing options.
Global Mobility Solutions’ latest free global location guide “Spotlight on the UK”, provides in depth information on visa acquisition, housing, education, and cultural advice for expatriates on the move.

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