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Discover the United Kingdom

Prepare for expat living with our handy guides to life, work and managing your money in the UK.

Want to move to the United Kingdom?

Foreigners continue to be drawn to the UK by its attractive career prospects and the opportunity for personal development.

The career benefits of the UK do come at the expense of higher living costs, but improved salaries make up the gap and many expats manage their money well enough that they can afford to explore the rest of Europe in their free time.

London remains the focal point for many expats looking to move to the UK. The city is a hub of multiculturalism which owes much of its cuisine, traditions and economy to generations of visitors from around the globe.

You should find it easy to adapt to life in the UK, but it may take a while to adjust to the congestion in bigger cities. The weather can be temperamental, making it a common talking point among locals and expats alike. Although there’s no language barrier for English speakers, some regional dialects can be difficult to understand.

Working in the United Kingdom

Expats are attracted to the UK’s political stability, good working conditions and high standard of living.

While the corporate world remains conservative, enterprising expats have the opportunity to make their mark in a dynamic and diverse business environment.

Each of the UK’s 4 nations has its own unique characteristics, but business practices, etiquette and culture are all influenced by politeness and courtesy.

Many businesses have moved towards an egalitarian approach where positions parallel each other. As a result, responsibilities and hierarchies can sometimes be unclear, which can be frustrating for people used to explicit directives and a culture of subordination.

Women make up nearly half of the workforce and hold more managerial positions than in most European countries.

English is the language of business and working hours are from 09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday. Outside the public sector, employees often work much later. Business dress is conservative and formal in the corporate workplace, with both men and women wearing dark suits.

A firm handshake is the best business greeting. Gifts are not expected and can be inappropriate, but a round of drinks is happily received.

Expat salaries in the UK don’t differ much from local salaries but are generally high. This is especially true for the finance, law and IT sectors, as well as most corporate positions.

Explore life in the UK

What's on your moving abroad checklist? We break down the essentials including salaries, education and accommodation in the UK to help you prepare.

The UK, admired for its diversity, offers a variety of experiences for expats, from city life in London to the natural beauty of Scotland. The high cost of living, particularly in London, Aberdeen, Manchester and Edinburgh, is a downside.

Should you get an offshore bank account?

An offshore account can be useful for expats looking to keep some money in a central location, rather than one specific country or region. 

  • Our Expat Bank Account is an offshore account that comes with a range of benefits, including:
  • A Global Money Account - Make quick and easy payments across borders.
  • Relationship manager - Someone to help you and your family manage your money.

Online and on mobile - Manage your banking, FX and investments wherever, whenever.

You can set your account up in USD, EUR or GBP and you can hold it alongside accounts in the country you're leaving or the one you're moving to.

Top tips

Here's what expats have told us about living in the UK.

Be fully aware of the cost of living in the UK and specifically London, higher salaries may appear misleading once full cost of living has been accounted for.
Be prepared to make quick decisions re accommodation in London - the good flats change hands in no time. The standard assortment in supermarkets may be quite different from what you are used. However, London offers a number of specialty stores, where you can buy food from all over the world.

You might be interested in

Discover how offshore bank accounts can help you manage your international finances.
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Read our 10-step guide to moving abroad to make sure you've got everything covered.

Additional information

    All Expat Explorer survey data, including the tips in quotation marks, is provided by HSBC.

    All other content is provided by, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in July 2023. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

    This information is purely for orientation and to inspire further research, it does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

    Always remember to ensure you're aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.

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