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E x pat g u i d e : U n i t e d K i n g d o m i n c lu d e s lo n d o n c i t y g u i d e This expat guide offers information and advice if you are moving to the UK. Click on the different tabs to find out about anything from tax rules and banking to education and cultural highlights.

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E D U C AT I O N

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LO N D O N

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Bupa International is the specialist international division of Bupa, and we have operations in UK, Denmark, USA, Spain, France, Hong Kong, Egypt, UAE and Australia. We care for the lives in our hands, and are dedicated to providing all the insurance services, help and advice you need to keep yourself and your family in the best of health. Our dedicated team respects everyone’s individuality, culture, privacy and dignity, and aims to provide a personal service you can rely on throughout your Bupa International membership.

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M ov i n g

Moving to the UK With its diverse economy and liberal immigration policies, the United Kingdom is perhaps the most popular expat destination. Hardest to adjust to is the relatively high cost of living, poor weather, and urban congestion in London, to

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where the vast majority of expats move. However, for most expats moving to the United Kingdom is a seamless transition from their home country, with few surprises in store. Until the recent global economic crisis, the UK had abundant opportunities for work, particularly in London where the city

Living

E D U C AT I O N

competed with New York for the title of financial capital of the world. Jobs are tighter now, as is the availability of work visas, but for those with skills and determination the UK remains charged with exciting prospects. The schools are decent, public transport comprehensive, and the infrastructure of the highest quality. There is also an incredible wealth of historical and cultural attractions available in a relatively compact space. Additionally, the UK is well positioned for easy and affordable travel to Europe and beyond.

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LO N D O N

The UK has been strengthened and enriched by decades of immigration, and despite recent economic woes, it remains a welcoming environment for expats from all corners of the globe. Shipping and removals There are many reputable companies offering removal services and shipping to London. Costs will depend on the volume of goods and the length of time involved in shipping. Goods shipped from the USA and Canada will take around four weeks, with extra time added for customs clearance. Bringing pets to the UK Shipping pets to the UK is a lot easier now thanks to the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). Provided the animal has a veterinary certificate and all inoculations are up-to-date, they can be freely brought into the country without undergoing quarantine. See full details here: http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/index.htm Links • Air and sea freight: www.excessbaggage.com • Freight company: www.anglopacific.co.uk/index.htm • Sea freight: www.shipit.co.uk

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• Pet shipping: www.petrelocation.com

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Working in the UK Below you will find information about: • Visas and work permits

Living

• Banking, money and taxes • Business culture • Public holidays

E D U C AT I O N

Until 2008, the UK’s powerful economy, and dominant financial and services sector, actively welcomed expats from all walks of life. The result was the world’s most multicultural working environment, an exciting melting pot of talents that benefited the UK tremendously. However, since the 2008 global economic crisis the employment market is less receptive

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to expats as the economy contracts and sheds jobs. Visa and work permits

LO N D O N

EU nationals do not need a visa to work or reside in the UK, but all other foreign nationals will need a work visa. Expats wishing to obtain a work permit in the United Kingdom should prepare to wade through a maze of requirements and eligibility stipulations. As of 2008 the previous work-based immigration system was replaced by a points-based system, which was then modified and capped in 2011. The system awards points depending on how well the applicant satisfies a particular set of criteria within a category of application. The criteria by which work visas are issued can be hard to understand. There are numerous schemes and skill enticements – it suffices to say that the more highly skilled and experienced you are in a desirable field, the better your chances of a smooth and speedy application process. Key fields include doctors, scientists, engineers and MBAs. As part of the new legislation in 2011, expats will need to have an employer sponsor to receive a work permit for the UK. Category requirements for a UK working visa: There are many different categories under which a non-EU national can apply for a UK work visa. Each has unique requirements and entitles the individual to a specific set of rights. The main

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category that expats will be interested in will be the Tier 2 (general) grouping; the Tier 1 grouping was done away with in April 2011. The Tier 2 (general) category is for skilled workers who have a formal job offer made by a registered UK company. These

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workers must be able to prove that they can fill a gap in the workplace not adequately being satisfied by current UK citizens. For more information visit the website of the UK embassy in your home country or The UK Border Agency. It is a good idea to consult the points based calculator on the UK Border Agency site prior to preparing your application. Banking, money and taxes Opening a bank account in the UK can be a frustrating process for expats. You will need proof of income and employment, evidence of a local address, and a passport. It can be helpful to have a letter of introduction from your home bank, specifically testifying to your credit worthiness and financial track record. A series of recent bank account statements will also be helpful. Banks vary in the strictness of their requirements so shop around.

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There are over 20 commercial banks in the UK. The major banks include Santander, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB, Barclays and NatWest. Banks do not charge for most minor transactions, including issuing cheques and drawing money from ATMs.

Living

Expats who have lived in the UK for over 183 days across the tax year must pay tax on their UK or overseas-generated income. Tax rates vary from 20% for income up to £36,000 annual gross income, and as much as 40% for amounts over £36,000. The main personal allowance is £5,435.

E D U C AT I O N

The tax year ends on 5 April. Expats must complete form A86 downloaded from www.hmrc.gov.uk and submit this to their local tax office, for the

useful info

purposes of determining their correct tax status. Until this is done you will be assigned a temporary insurance number to establish your tax level. This means you will pay a higher rate of tax (Emergency tax) but this can be refunded once you acquire full tax status.

LO N D O N

Business culture Politeness and punctuality are highly valued in maintaining good business relations, and initial meetings are often conducted formally and impersonally. It is normal to exchange business cards during introductions. Business dress code is formal, with dark suits preferred. Business hours are normally 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken at lunch, and 20-25 days leave per year. Public holidays

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2011

2012

New Year’s Day

3 Jan*

2 Jan*

2nd of January (Scotland only)

4 Jan*

3 Jan*

St. Patrick’s Day (Northern Ireland Only)

17 Mar

17 Mar

Good Friday

22 Apr

6 Apr

Easter Monday

25 Apr

9 Apr

The Royal Wedding (only in 2011)

29 Apr

N/A

May Day

2 May

7 May

Spring Bank Holiday

30 May

4 Jun

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (only in 2012)

N/A

5 Jun

Battle of the Boyne - Orangemen’s Day (Northern

12 Jul

12 Jul

Summer Bank Holiday

29 Aug

27 Aug

Saint Andrew’s Day (Scotland only)

30 Nov

30 Nov

Christmas Day

25 Dec

25 Dec

Boxing Day

27 Dec*

26 Dec

Ireland Only)

*In the United Kingdom when a public holiday falls on a Saturday or a Sunday it is moved to the first available weekday that is not a public holiday.

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living

Living and culture Below you will find information about: • Cost of living

E D U C AT I O N

• Language • Local customs • Popular expat cities

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• Tipping • For information about Bupa International healthcare click here.

LO N D O N

Those moving to London will have very few problems adjusting. London is incredibly diverse with a multitude of cultures. Every cuisine, obscure grocery item and cultural accessory is freely available. Expats from the former colonies of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand number over one million, and there are sizeable and well established communities of Asians, Jamaicans, Africans and East Europeans. Expats moving outside of London will experience more of the traditional middle-class Britain, with its fairly standard set of values and traditions, familiar to anyone coming from a western background. English is spoken widely although strong regional accents may convince you otherwise. Traditionally the British are polite, reticent and circumspect — although such is the diversity of classes and cultures that few stereotypes hold up very well to personal experience. Better to think of the UK as a whole world in one island and adopt an accordingly open mind.

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Cost of living As with anywhere else, the cost of living in the UK will vary depending on lifestyle choices and location. Property in London

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is very expensive although prices have dropped in recent years. Rental varies in the UK and depends on where you live and the type of apartment you are looking for. Be warned that cheaper accommodation generally doesn’t include utilities. When moving to the UK, if you decide on shared housing and use public transport, you will be able to reduce your costs significantly. Shopping in London for clothes and accessories can be pricey; home appliances and electronic gadgets are generally imported from China and Japan and thus taxed accordingly. Cars are good value, but petrol prices are among the highest in the world.

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living

Language Predictably English is the official language, although with strong regional accents visitors might be convinced the locals are speaking some other dialect. In Wales, Welsh is commonly spoken.

E D U C AT I O N

Local customs As of 2008, smoking is illegal in all enclosed public spaces, which includes pubs and restaurants. When it comes to escalators stand on the right and walk on the left.

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Popular expat cities Finance and media opportunities are concentrated in London, but other cities popular with expats are Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

LO N D O N

Tipping It is normal to tip 10 to 15% of the bill in restaurants, hotels and taxis if a service charge hasn’t already been added.

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living

E D U C AT I O N

Education and schools Below you will find information about: • Education and schools

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• Links to international schools Education and schools in London

LO N D O N

London’s schools vary tremendously in conditions, facilities and the standard of education they offer. The better schools tend to be in the more affluent areas. School days normally run from 9am to 4pm on weekdays. There are three terms with a week break between each, an additional two weeks at Easter and Christmas and eight weeks over summer. The school year begins in early September and concludes in July. There are two types of schools: • State schools are government run, follow the national curriculum, and can only be attended by pupils resident in the local catchment area surrounding any given school. Waiting-lists for the best performing institutions are long. • Independent schools are privately run, charge high fees, and usually offer a superior standard of education. A third option, popular with expats, is the international schools. These offer the advantage of continuity with one’s home country curriculum (eg the American K-12), and familiar modes and languages of instruction. Research schools through the comprehensive www.schoolsnet.com

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International schools • International Community School: www.ics.uk.net • Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle: www.lyceefrancais.org.uk

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• The American School in London: www.asl.org • The German School: www.dslondon.org.uk

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living

Below you will find: • A summary of useful information • Embassy contact details

E D U C AT I O N

• Useful links Useful information

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Time: UK local time is set at GMT, although with daylight savings time is set at GMT +1 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October. Electricity: 230 volts, 50Hz. Flat three-pin plugs are standard.

LO N D O N

Currency: The pound sterling (GBP, £) is the official currency of the United Kingdom. It is divided into 100 pence (singular: penny). You can check the latest exchange rates here. Safety Information: The UK is a very safe destination for expats, although robberies and muggings do occur in larger centres, and alcohol-related violence is not uncommon in bars and at sporting venues. As a result of the threat of international terrorism UK airports and main transport hubs have extremely tight security so you can expect delays and close scrutiny. Communications: The international country dialling code is +44. The outgoing code is 00, or 048 for Northern Ireland, followed by the relevant country code (eg 001 for the United States). There are a wide range of city/area codes in use. Mobile phones work throughout the country; the network operators use GSM 1800 networks, which may not be compatible with some dual-band US cell phones. Broadband internet access is cheap and widely available, and internet cafes are available throughout the country.

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Climate: The United Kingdom has a famously changeable and unpredictable climate, much maligned by its expat residents. Winters are renowned for their duration and cold and wet conditions; snow is common in high-lying areas although is quite rare in London. Summers are generally warm with frequent showers, as cricket supporters can verify. London’s climate is

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temperate, so expect modest daily highs during summer (apart from the odd heat wave) and winter lows that hover around freezing level. Visit the BBC Weather website for more information: http://news.bbc.co.uk/weather/ Emergency Number: 999

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Embassy contact details United Kingdom embassies: • British Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 588 6500, website: http://ukinusa.fco.gov.uk/en/

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• British High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 237 1530, website: http://ukincanada.fco.gov.uk/en/ • British High Commission, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6270 6666, website: http://ukinaustralia.fco.gov.uk/en/ • British High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 421 7500, website: http://ukinsouthafrica.fco.gov.uk/en/

living

• British Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 205 3700, website: http://britishembassyinireland.fco.gov.uk/en/ • British High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 924 2888, website: http://ukinnewzealand.fco.gov.uk/en Foreign embassies in United Kingdom:

E D U C AT I O N

• United States Embassy, London: +44 (0)20 7499 9000, website: http://london.usembassy.gov/ • Canadian High Commission, London: +44 (0)20 7258 6600,

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website: http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/united_kingdom-royaume_uni/index.aspx • Australian High Commission, London: +44 (0)20 7379 4334, website: http://www.uk.embassy.gov.au/lhlh/home. html • South African High Commission, London: +44 (0)20 7451 7299, website: http://www.southafricahouse.com/

LO N D O N

• Irish Embassy, London: +44 (0)20 7235 2171, website: http://www.embassyofireland.co.uk/home/index.aspx?id=33706 • New Zealand High Commission, London: +44 (0)20 7930 8422, website: http://www.nzembassy.com/united-kingdom Useful links • Wordtravels has an extensive travel guide to the UK: http://wordtravels.com/Travelguide/Countries/United+Kingdom • Expatknowhow provides relocation and repatriation training and support for anyone intending to work overseas, or planning to return home after an extended time abroad: http://www.expatknowhow.com/menus/main.asp • Useful information on taxation: www.hmrc.gov.uk • Room Service by CORT - Nationwide Furniture Rental with the UK’s Market Leader: http://www.roomservicebyCORT.com • Air and sea freight: www.excessbaggage.com • Freight company: www.anglopacific.co.uk/index.htm • Sea freight: www.shipit.co.uk

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• Pet shipping: www.petrelocation.com

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This content is provided by www.expatarrivals.com, copyright © 2011 Globe Media Ltd. All rights reserved. By its very nature much of the information in this expat guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they’re relying with the relevant authorities. Neither Globe Media nor Bupa International can be held liable for any errors or omissions, or any loss, damage, illness and/or injury that may occur as a result of this information. Bupa International is not responsible for the content of external websites.

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E x pat g u i d e : L ONDON This expat guide offers information and advice if you are moving to London. Click on the different tabs to find out about anything from tax rules and banking to education and cultural highlights. You can also read our expat guide to the United Kingdom.

M ov i n g

Wo r k i n g

Living

SEE AND DO

E D U C AT I O N

uk

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Bupa International is the specialist international division of Bupa, and we have operations in UK, Denmark, USA, Spain, France, Hong Kong, Egypt, UAE and Australia. We care for the lives in our hands, and are dedicated to providing all the insurance services, help and advice you need to keep yourself and your family in the best of health. Our dedicated team respects everyone’s individuality, culture, privacy and dignity, and aims to provide a personal service you can rely on throughout your Bupa International membership.

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M ov i n g

Moving to London Few cities offer the grandeur and excitement of London. It shines with possibility in even the greyest weather, and offers opportunities for career development and personal discovery unmatched elsewhere. Expats moving to London encounter

Wo r k i n g

a multicultural, densely packed amalgam of people working feverishly against a backdrop of cutting edge technology and two millennia of history. London might feel physically removed from Europe but is ideally placed to explore it, a proximity that is a key benefit of

Living

SEE AND DO

living here. London is also home to world class tourist attractions, magnificent architecture, incredible theatre, concerts and art, plus beautiful expansive inner-city parks for restive lunch breaks. There is no denying that London is expensive — by some estimates the third most costly city in the world for expats, although the weakening pound is making the city cheaper for Europeans and Americans. The long English winters can be a trial for those hailing from warmer climates. Expats also face the challenge of London’s public transport system. Rush hour commuting on the tube or bus system can be unpleasant and almost certainly malodorous, but you will get to where

E D U C AT I O N

you need to go without recourse to a car. London has a huge expat population. There are large, well established communities of Asians, South Africans and

UK

Australians, and a sizeable population of Americans and Caribbean immigrants. The result is a dynamic, energising environment that never ceases to surprise and always values people’s skills over their origins.

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WO R K I N G

Working in London Below you will find information about: • Visas and work permits

Living

• Banking, money and taxes • Business culture • Public holidays

SEE AND DO

Unless you have a British passport or are from the European Union, a visa is required to work in London. The application process is normally preceded by a job offer.

E D U C AT I O N

If you are looking for work in London, consult one of the London’s recruitment agencies or read the active recruitment pages in national daily papers, such as the Guardian. It is essential that you have a good, up-to-date CV and are well presented.

UK

Recruitment agencies will require you to interview with them first, before they secure you an interview with a suitable employer. London’s job sector is very diverse, but is particularly active in the fields of finance, media, tourism and IT. The working day typically runs from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, with 20-25 days leave per year. Visa and work permits (UK) EU nationals do not need a visa to work or reside in the UK, but all other foreign nationals will need a work visa. For more information visit the website of the UK embassy in your home country or The UK Border Agency. The criteria by which work visas are issued can be hard to understand. There are numerous schemes and skill enticements — suffice to say the more highly skilled and experienced you are in a desirable field, the better your chances of a smooth and speedy application process. Key fields include doctors, scientists, engineers and MBAs. After four years of working full time in the UK, expats can apply for permanent residency. There are no restrictions against

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duel citizenship. The easiest way to gain a work visa and residency without requiring any sponsorship from an employer is to fall within the requirements for Tier 1 visas for highly skilled individuals.

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Banking, money and taxes (UK) Opening a bank account in the UK can be a frustrating process for expats. You will need proof of income and employment, evidence of a local address, and a passport. It can be helpful to have a letter of introduction from your home bank, specifically testifying to your credit worthiness and financial track record. A series of recent bank account statements will also be helpful. Banks vary in the strictness of their requirements so shop around. There are over 20 commercial banks in the UK. The major banks include Santander, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB, Barclays and NatWest. Banks do not charge for most minor transactions, including issuing cheques and drawing money from ATMs.

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WO R K I N G

Expats who have lived in the UK for over 183 days across the tax year must pay tax on their UK or overseas-generated income. Tax rates vary from 20% for income up to £36,000 annual gross income, and as much as 40% for amounts over £36,000. The main personal allowance is £5,435.

Living

The tax year ends on 5 April. Expats must complete form A86 downloaded from www.hmrc.gov.uk and submit to their local tax office, for the

SEE AND DO

purposes of determining their correct tax status. Until this is done you will be assigned a temporary insurance number to establish your tax level. This means you will pay a higher rate of tax (Emergency tax) but this can be refunded once you acquire full tax status.

E D U C AT I O N

Business culture (UK) Politeness and punctuality are highly valued in maintaining good business relations, and initial meetings are often conducted formally and impersonally. It is normal to exchange business cards during introductions. Business dress code is

UK

formal, with dark suits preferred. Business hours are normally 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken at lunch, and 20-25 days leave per year. Public holidays

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2011

2012

New Year’s Day

3 Jan*

2 Jan*

2nd of January (Scotland only)

4 Jan*

3 Jan*

St. Patrick’s Day (Northern Ireland Only)

17 Mar

17 Mar

Good Friday

22 Apr

6 Apr

Easter Monday

25 Apr

9 Apr

The Royal Wedding (only in 2011)

29 Apr

N/A

May Day

2 May

7 May

Spring Bank Holiday

30 May

4 Jun

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (only in 2012)

N/A

5 Jun

Battle of the Boyne - Orangemen’s Day (Northern

12 Jul

12 Jul

Summer Bank Holiday

29 Aug

27 Aug

Saint Andrew’s Day (Scotland only)

30 Nov

30 Nov

Christmas Day

25 Dec

25 Dec

Boxing Day

27 Dec*

26 Dec

Ireland Only)

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*In the United Kingdom when a public holiday falls on a Saturday or a Sunday it is moved to the first available weekday that is not a public holiday.

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living

Living Below you will find information about: • Accommodation

SEE AND DO

• Weather • Parks in London • Area guide

E D U C AT I O N

• Cost of living • Transport For information about Bupa International healthcare click here.

UK

Accommodation The vast and densely packed London metropolis has accommodation options to suit every budget, lifestyle and predilection. A positive consequence of the economic crisis is that rentals in some areas have dropped by up to 30 percent. Prices drop even further once you move outside of London and beyond the ring-road. Weather London has a temperate climate, with mild daily highs in summer (although there is the odd heatwave) and winter lows that approach freezing but shyly recoil at the last minute. Rainfall is constant, mostly in the form of drizzle, throughout the year. Snow falls occasionally in winter but seldom more than a few millimetres. In general, the weather and grey skies are the number one complaint expats make about living in London, with the cost of living a close second.

lo n d o n

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Rainfall (mm)

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Min Temp

Max Temp

40

72

32

54

24

36

16

18

8

Temperature (˚C)

Rainfall 90

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0

0 Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

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Parks in London London’s parks are one of its strongest features. You’ll find the vast expansive of Hyde Park right in the city centre, and Regent’s and St James’s Parks close by. Browse these parks and others at www.royalparks.org.uk.

SEE AND DO

Area guide One way of understanding the layout of the city is to use the underground Tube map: zones 1 and 2, correspond to the

E D U C AT I O N

city centre and accommodation here will be expensive and difficult to find. Zones 3 and 4 contain a plethora of suburbs with semi-detached houses and tenement units. Zones 5 and 6 offer the cheapest accommodation but transport times into the city can easily exceed one hour during busy times.

UK

North London has several areas popular with expats: leafy Hampstead Heath and bohemian Camden are close to both the city and some of London’s best parkland. Primrose Hill has lovely buildings and stunning views — rare in this predominantly flat city. Expect to pay a price for this privilege, and fight off celebrities for the last Sunday paper. A little further out are the cheaper suburbs of Wembley, Manor House and Finchley. To the east are the now gentrified areas of Docklands and Brick Lane, with plenty of historical charm and trendy little restaurants. The former East End suburbs Shoreditch, Hoxton, Spitalfields and Bethnal Green are dense with new media companies and coffee bars. London’s South stretches across the Thames and includes areas such as Greenwich, Clapham, Tooting, Putney and Wimbledon. Kew and Richmond are some of the most desirable and expensive areas of London, reserved largely for bankers and the extravagantly wealthy. To the West, you find the exclusive suburbs of Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Kensington, Earl’s Court and Notting Hill and further out the more affordable suburbs of Fulham, Shepherds Bush and Chiswick.

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Cost of living London recently lost the title of ‘world’s most expensive city for expats to Moscow and Tokyo. However, at number three

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in Mercer’s cost of living survey it is still a pricey place to make a home. The most expensive factor is housing although the recent property slump could make London more affordable . For more details, see: • www.citymayors.com/economics/expensive_cities1.html • www.mercer.com/costofliving Transport Do I need a car? Not really. Public transport, though crowded and erratic at times, is comprehensive and can get you to wherever you need to go. Owning a car is expensive, too. Petrol prices are among the highest in Europe, driving into central London attracts an £8 daily congestion charge, and parking is a nightmare.

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Living

See and do London offers an exceptional expat lifestyle for those who can afford to enjoy themselves in this expensive city at the centre of the world. It is in general an exceptionally sociable lifestyle, as the poor weather forces people to mingle, and the range of dining and entertainment options are virtually limitless.

SEE AND DO Places of interest London is sufficiently big and diverse that even locals can be tourists in their own city on weekends. For expats, London is

E D U C AT I O N

a city that is constantly being discovered, full of surprises and new adventures. Key attractions, such as the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Tower Bridge, are worth visiting as is St Paul’s Cathedral and tranquil St James Park. The West End, with its bright lights and billboards of Piccadilly Circus is always interesting, and

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nearby Chinatown, Soho and Covent Garden are lively districts packed with both history and modern distractions. Don’t miss the world-class British Museum and Natural History Museum in South Kensington while the London Eye, the London Aquarium and Tate Modern are also worth visits. Getting around to see the sights is easy, if a little uncomfortable at times. The city’s red buses and extensive underground train network link all the major attractions and residential areas. Here is a subjective list of worthwhile but admittedly touristy attractions to start you off on your expat adventures in London town: Tower of London: Built in the 11th century, it is home to the crown jewels and the famous Yeoman guards. A fascinating place and an essential piece of British history. www.hrp.org.uk / Telephone: +44 (0)844 482 7777 Houses of Parliament: Built 1,000 years ago and formerly the main residence of Britain’s monarchs, the Palace of Westminster is the administrative centre of the country. Best known for Big Ben and lively Commons debates.

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www.parliament.uk / Telephone: 0870 906 3773 Tate Modern: The former Bankside Power Station has been reinvented as the Britain’s new National Museum of Modern

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Art with an astounding and immense collection of 20th and 21st century art works. An excellent café and restaurant with wonderful views add to the allure. www.tate.org.uk / Telephone: (0)20 7887 8888 National Gallery: Britain’s National Gallery lines the northern side of Trafalgar Square, and is home to works from all the major European schools from the 13th to the 19th century. The guided tours enhance an experience that can be bewildering for all its variety. www.nationalgallery.org.uk / Telephone: (0)20 7747 2885 British Museum: One of the world’s great museums, home to over 6,000 historical pieces from all over the world, the British Museum has collections of antiquities that include the Frieze or Elgin Marbles, Roman Portland Vase and the original Rosetta Stone. www.britishmuseum.org / Telephone: (0)20 7323 8299 or (0)20 7323 8000 London Eye: Catch the best views in town aboard the gently revolving London Eye. You can gain a rare sense of geographical perspective in a city that is mostly flat. www.ba-londoneye.com / Telephone: (0)870 990 8883

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Shakespeare’s Globe: An excellent reconstruction of the original theatre, the Globe celebrates Shakespeare’s life and times and houses performances of his plays. www.shakespeares-globe.org / Telephone: (0)20 7902 1400, Buckingham Palace: See the changing of the guards and take a sneak peek inside the Queens’ chambers. Cheesy to

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some, but a pilgrimage to others. www.royal.gov.uk / Telephone: (0)20 7766 7300 Harrods: Quite simply one of the most luxurious and opulent shopping emporia in the world. Apart from the wonderful

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range of departments and services across seven floors, there are 22 restaurants to restore your energy levels. The Food Hall is the place to stock up on picnic goodies. Telephone: (0)20 7730 1234 Camden Market: Hugely colourful and diverse shopping experience with a pleasant bohemian character to remind one of

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its 60s culture heritage. www.camdenlock.net Greenwich: Visit the site of the Greenwich Meridian, where the split between the globe’s East and West is located and from where the world clock is set on zero degrees latitude. You will also find lots of markets, the Cutty Sark ship, and pleasant river views. St. Paul’s Cathedral: Sir Christopher Wren’s 1673 masterpiece is a truly iconic London building that miraculously survived the bombings in the Second World War. Head inside for some rare peace amid all the London business. www.stpauls.co.uk / Telephone: (0)20 7246 8357 Annual events Notting Hill Carnival: From 1964 this has been London’s biggest and most colourful party, initiated to promote positive race relations. After the Rio carnival, this is the largest street party in the world. When? Around the summer bank holiday at the end of August.

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Lord Mayor’s Show: Every Lord Mayor since 1215, including Dick Whittington has marked his election with this opulent pageant which concludes with big fireworks display over the Thames. When? The second Saturday in November. London Marathon: The Flora London Marathon is run over a 26.2 mile (42km) route starting in Greenwich Park and taking in Greenwich, Canary Wharf, and Big Ben. 30,000 professional and amateur athletes take part and the atmosphere is very convivial and festive for spectators. When? End of April Trooping the Colour (Queen’s Birthday Parade): A colourful parade full of pomp and pageantry, the Trooping of the Colour takes place in June in the summer weather even though the Queen was born on 21 April. Highlights include the march of the Massed Bands and the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment with their magnificent black chargers. Chinese New Year: London’s Chinatown in Soho marks the advent of Chinese New Year in February. Expect processions, parades and lots of great foods.

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Education and schools London’s schools vary tremendously in conditions, facilities and the standard of education they offer. As a rule, the better schools tend to be in the more affluent areas. School days run from 9am to around 4pm weekdays. There are three terms with a week break between each, an additional two weeks at Easter and Christmas and eight weeks over summer. The

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school year begins in early September and concludes in July. There are two types of school: State schools are government run, follow the national curriculum, and can only be

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attended by pupils resident in the catchment area. Waiting-lists for the best performing institutions are long. Independent schools are privately run, charge high fees, and usually offer a superior standard of education. Research schools through the comprehensive www.schoolsnet.com

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A third option, popular with expats, is the international schools. These offer the advantage of continuity with one’s home country curriculum (eg the American K-12), and familiar modes and languages of instruction. International schools • International Community School: www.ics.uk.net • Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle: www.lyceefrancais.org.uk • The American School in London: www.asl.org • The German School: www.dslondon.org.uk

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This content is provided by www.expatarrivals.com, copyright © 2011 Globe Media Ltd. All rights reserved. By its very nature much of the information in this expat guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they’re relying with the relevant authorities. Neither Globe Media nor Bupa International can be held liable for any errors or omissions, or any loss, damage, illness and/or injury that may occur as a result of this information. Bupa International is not responsible for the content of external websites.

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