London is the biggest financial centre globally, making it a city with large number of highly paid jobs. Beyond that, over the last 5 to 10 years, many professionals have moved to London to work in sectors other than Finance. Technology, and certain creative industries such as advertising for instance also attract people from outside of the UK. Regardless of high salaries, London’s quality of life can be tough at times, with a very high cost of living. Many things have drastically improved over the last 15 years – the food for instance – after 9 years living in London, it’s not just the quality of life that’s making me stay.
What makes London so attractive? Speaking for myself, as well as friends, the unique cosmopolitan environment means you work and live with people from all over the world with no or little language barriers. This is made possible by a British welcoming working culture as well as London’s urban ‘festive’ vibe.
According to latest statistics, there are 3.2 million foreign-born population currently working and living in London. This community is characterised by their diversity with professionals from all over Europe – in itself an already culturally rich and diverse continent – the Commonwealth, Asia, South and North America all bring their stone to the edifice. As far as my knowledge goes, this cannot be experienced to that extent anywhere else in the world.
Diversity only works in the right environment. While jobs help a lot but there is more to it than first meets the eye when it comes to London. The first one is obvious, the language. 38% of Europeans speak English as their second language making it relatively easy not to just work but also live normally in the UK for foreigners. By living normally, read not having an isolated expat life. Second is the welcoming and open British working culture which makes it easy for professionals to socialise outside of working hours. Third, the way London is built; each area in London has its own mix of modern and older houses making everyone from diverse social, economic and ethnic backgrounds live together. There is an argument that this aspect contributed massively to the openness of the city. Finally, London’s popular culture which embraces music, fashion, art, street life is second to none.