Working And Living In London, England

Finance manager Justin Chai, 27, has been living in London, England, for one and a half years and is enjoying life there.

Justin Chai has lived in Auckland, New Zealand, Melbourne, Australia and now London, England. (Courtesy of Justin Chai).

Justin Chai has lived in Auckland, New Zealand, Melbourne, Australia and now London, England. (Courtesy of Justin Chai)

Justin, who is from New Zealand, has an Accounting and Finance degree – and he has also worked in Melbourne, Australia.

I caught up with the Finance Manager recently to find out about working life in London. Here is what he said.

Justin, why did you choose to move to London?

Like many people in their mid 20’s, after a few years of work post university, you want a challenge, you want change, you want to be out of your comfort zone. So I decided to quit my job and move to London. I hadn’t explored this part of the world, so a two-year tier 5 visa was a good motive to see Europe and spend summer in the Mediterranean!

What is the job market like now in London? How easy is it to get jobs there?

It depends on the area of work and of course you!

Most of my friends are qualified accountants and they have all found work! There are still jobs around. Obviously like most countries the market is tougher than what it was a few years back. It’s more competitive.

The Emirates Stadium, home to London's No. 1 football club.

The Emirates Stadium, home to London’s top football club.

How easy is it for graduates to get a job relating to their field of study in London?

Well the news the other day said it was quite hard because there are a lot of graduates applying for jobs in London. So it is very competitive for graduates nowadays and they are all struggling to get jobs. 

What sort of degrees and fields of work is more sought after by employers in London?

London is one of the biggest cities in the world – all fields are in demand. People trained in accounting and commerce fields are often sought after, though. But there is bound to be something for everyone. Probably best to speak to a recruiter or someone in your field first before planning to move there. 

What is the current average starting salary for a graduate in London?

I think the average is around 26,000 pounds (SGD $54,820) a year as per the Guardian. After five years of experience, it is hard to say – it depends on your industry, postgraduate qualifications and how you perform at work.

Two iconic landmarks of London - the London Eye and The Big Ben.

Two iconic landmarks of London – the London Eye and The Big Ben.

What is the cost of living like in London?

Depends on how and where you choose to live. In London, like most other cities in the world you have the option of living cheaply or not. I’m on a two year visa so I try to make the most of my weekends by travelling to other places in England and Europe – so my cost of living is probably higher than the average Londoner. Transport is about 30 quid (SGD $63) a week – depending on where you live. Food is quite subjective, groceries are cheaper than in Australia.

What are the costs of accommodation and housing like in London?

Rental is about 600 to 1,000 quid per month, depending on where you stay.

The more central you live, the more expensive it is. You can live in zone two (about 20 minutes drive from the city) and spend around 800 quid or above or you can live closer to the city in zone one (in the city centre or within walking distance from the city) and pay a little bit more. Depends if you want more space – it is generally more economical living further out.

Festivities taking place in Europe.

Many people working in London flock to other parts of Europe, to take part in festivals

How easy is it to adjust into life in London?

Depends on you as a person. It didn’t take me long to adjust as I’ve worked in a few cities. Google maps and a few mates – and you are good!

London is a great base to live in, as it gives you the opportunity to explore Europe! You can do quick weekend trips away. It is similar to being in Asia where you can visit a few places in South East Asia all within a weekend!

It’s great living in London as there’s so much history you can see by just walking around. You can also bring the Monopoly Board to life because there’s actually a Monopoly Pub Crawl you can do!

What are two characteristics that are unique to the English and/or their way of life?

Sunday Roast & Pub on Thursday night with work mates.

Any tips you can give to people who wish to get a job in London?

Same as in most countries – go via the company’s own website or via recruitors!

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