Relocating to London

As a programmer, you might at some point have been offered a job in the UK. Given the job market currently, there is a high likelihood that that role would have been in London.

According to Tech City (a government funded non profit) the capital has the largest volume of digital companies and workers with over 250,000 people in Inner London.

Source: James Neeley

You come to London for the opportunities. There are many companies working on interesting problems, with great developers already a part of the team (London has the most top ranked StackOverflow users). But as a city of over 8 million people, you also come for the culture, history, things to do and places to see. There is so much to do, city-specific apps (Yplan, Fever) exist to help you find what’s going on. It is one of two alpha++ world cities after all.

Who can work in the UK?

If you are: an EU national, part of a nation in the European Economic Area (EEA), or you are from Switzerland, you can freely travel, live, work, and pay tax in the UK. This is a founding principal of the European Community and is Article 39 of the European Community Treaty.

List of countries in the EU:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • UK

Countries in the EEA:

  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway

If you are from Croatia, who joined the EU in 2013, you need a Purple or a Blue certificate. If you have a UK education or are recognised by a British institution as leading a field, you can apply for a Blue certificate. Otherwise, you need a Purple certificate which requires you to have a job offer and a company sponsorship number, and you need to fill out a form and pay a £65 fee. After 12 months of work in the UK you no longer are required to have a certificate.

EU — Blue, EEA — Green, Switzerland — Red, Croatia — Yellow

If you are from Turkey, Albania, Serbia, or Macedonia, until the EU applications are complete, you have to apply as outside the EU.

To get a visa from a nation outside the EU, you need a Tier 2 (General) Visa. Some companies will offer to sponsor, others won’t. It costs a company £536 or £1,476 to get a sponsorship number depending on their size. Your personal application: takes 3 weeks to process, costs you £428 or £564, and you need to prove you have £945 in savings. The Tier 2 (General) Visa covers you for 5 years and 14 days in the UK.

Salary Expectations

On the 8th of September 2015, 1 Great British Pound = 1.38 Euros or 1.54 Dollars.

For Junior/Mid roles, you could expect to be paid £30,000 and up.

Mid/Senior roles, you could expect to be paid £50,000 and up.

The average salary across all levels on StackOverflow is $68,860.59, which is equivalent to £46,000.

The salaries can rise quite quickly depending on the sector, the size of the company etc. For example, the roles on our job board range from £45,000 to £100,000.

How much does it cost?

These calculations are best estimates.

The Mid/Senior level roles on our job board start at £50,000. To work out the tax and national insurance you would pay, you can use the UK government’s tax calculator here (1060L is the standard tax code).

A £50,000 salary equals a take-home amount of £36,330.

The average rent in London for a professional living alone is £1,538 per month, which ranges from £900 to £2000 depending on the distance from the city centre.

That reduces (using the average) £36,330 to £17,844.

You do not need a car in London. Public transport, which includes the London Underground (the Tube), Boris bikes, local trains and buses, is the easiest way to get around. This is included with other bills:

  • Groceries (~£200 a month)
  • Internet (~£25 a month)
  • Monthly Travel Card (~£130 a month)
  • Utilities (~£135 a month)

Which, totalled, is £490 a month.

An additional charge is Council Tax, which depends on the location of your accommodation and its value, ranges from £800 to £1500. In our calculations, we will use £1000 a year.

This reduces (using the above estimates) the £17,844 to £11,000. This can be split into spending and saving, in whichever ratio you prefer.

If you are earning more than £50,000, up to £150,000, you have to work out the “net” increase (which is the increase in income — tax). For every extra £10,000 above £50,000 you can add £5800 to the £11,000 (in this hypothetical scenario your bills don’t increase as your wealth increases).

£50,000 = £11,000
£60,000 = £16,800
£70,000 = £22,600
£80,000 = £28,400
With Personal Accomodation and Higher Bills

Junior/Mid roles start at £30,000. This is in a lower tax bracket and it is likely you would share accommodation to reduce costs. This would potentially make:

  • Rent (~£800 a month)
  • Internet (~£13 a month)
  • Utilities (~£65 a month)
  • Council Tax (~£500 a year)

A £30,000 salary equals a take-home amount of £23,490. Paying rent, this reduces from £23,490 to £13,890. Paying bills, this reduces from £13,890 to £8,500. This can be split into spending and saving, in whichever ratio you prefer.

For earning £40,000, you can add £6800 to the £8,500. You switch to the higher 40% tax bracket on any money you earn above £42,385 (which is why the increase for every £10,000 drops from £6800 to £5800).

£30,000 = £8,500
£40,000 = £15,300
With Shared Accomodation and Lower Bills
Don’t get paid in Bitcoin. Yet.

For more information, including the prices of eating out, see Numbeo.

A Job in London

Now that you know the specifics, roles in London are hopefully a bit more appealing / realistic. It’s a great city to live in (our offices are in London so we may be a bit biased), the companies you can work for are second to none, and the problems being worked on are challenging and interesting enough to be passion-inducing.

Get in touch via chat on our platform to let us know your stories of relocating to the UK: how you found it and any difficulties that arose. We can add excerpts here to inspire and reassure others who are thinking about relocating.

If you would like a career in Functional Programming (we have roles in London) check out our new job board.


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