The United Kingdom is becoming one of the most multicultural countries in the world. The early 20th century saw immigrants arriving from Ireland and former British colonies and more recently there’s been an influx of migrants from other EU-member countries, particularly those in Eastern Europe. London alone is estimated to be home to more than 270 nationalities. However, all four countries that make up the UK, England, Scotland, Wales and, to a lesser extent, Northern Ireland, have significant expat populations, especially in the larger cities.
The current British government has taken steps in recent years to place tougher controls on Britain’s once extremely lax immigration system – including the introduction of a points-based skills system similar to the one seen in countries like Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Despite these efforts, UK immigration levels are still fairly high.
So what is it that continues to attract so many expats to British shores?
Well, the answer is simple… Work. London is widely regarded as the financial capital of the world and, for many migrants, salaries were much higher than what they could expect to earn in their own home country – although the cost of living is increasing rapidly.
The UK’s education system is of a high standard and some of the world’s best universities are located in the country (in fact, international students make up a large percentage of the nation’s annual migrant intake numbers). The excellent and for the most part, free healthcare system provided by the NHS is also the envy of many other countries, while the UK boasts some of the best infrastructure in the world throughout all areas of the country.
What’s more, Brits are, on the whole, extremely welcoming towards foreign residents and while you shouldn’t expect any of the locals to converse with you in anything other than English – call it a hangover from the days of the Empire – most expats are free to enjoy and celebrate their own cultures. One point to note is that regional accents do vary wildly throughout the UK and some expats may have trouble understanding some of the stronger accents; indeed, even some Brits do!
Almost everything you will need to think about when moving to the UK can be found here and much of this content is supplied by emigration industry experts and expats and updated regularly to help you plan and prepare for your new life.