What’s living and working in the UK like compared to my life in Australia/NZ?
For many professionals considering an overseas experience (OE) in the UK, the question of how their life in Australia or New Zealand would compare to life in the UK is a common one. Having often established a comfortable lifestyle at home, the last thing they want to do is travel to the other side of the world and find themselves scraping for a living, not enjoying the lifestyle and wishing they were back home. Thankfully, that’s far from the experience of thousands of professionals who come to the UK every year, many of whom look to extend their stay way beyond the conditions of their visa.
So how exactly does life in the UK compare to life back home? Well, let’s take a look.
Obviously, the first thing that many Australian and New Zealand professionals want to understand is how much they can earn. As you would imagine, there are so many variables to consider here that there are no black and white answers. Your experience, the type of profession that you’re in, the industry you serve, your qualifications and many other factors will ultimately determine the kind of salary you can command.
In our experience of helping thousands of professionals, we’ve seen many MyOErs earn significantly more in the UK than they did at home, whilst some find less money in their pockets with the choices they have made. Sectors like finance, IT, software development and Accountancy can often command the better salaries, whilst those in perhaps healthcare and retail can earn a little less than they do at home. That said, all agree that they’ve been able to comfortably enjoy the benefits and lifestyle of living in London and the UK, whilst still having the funds to travel around the amazing sights the rest of Europe offers.
What is also extremely encouraging is there has never been a better time to seek opportunities in the UK, as we recently shared in our latest blog on the booming job market here. Equally, it would also be misleading to do yourself a straight comparison without looking at the type of lifestyle you are going to lead, so let’s look at some of the other factors that will determine how much you enjoy your OE.
Standard of living
A common misconception is that living in the UK, and particularly in London, is so much more expensive than Australia and New Zealand. London is forever in the top 5 ‘world’s most expensive cities’ leaving people with a feeling that an OE is a great idea, but it’s going to be difficult to enjoy because the lifestyle is too expensive.
Well, put simply, that’s just not true! Yes, London undoubtedly can be an expensive city, but the general cost of living is more than comparable to Australia and New Zealand. Numbeo is a world city cost comparison provider, with over 4 million people sharing the costs of their living online, and when you compare the UK with Australia it’s pretty clear that in very many cases the UK is comparably cheaper, detailed in this article.
So lose any misconceptions about the UK being too expensive for an OE – if you’re a skilled professional with good experience then you can be confident that the cost of living is going to be well within your salary range. Earnings have significantly outstripped inflation this year in the UK, and the booming job market is forcing employers to offer record rates of pay to lure new recruits, all affording you the best and most lucrative opportunity to enjoy your OE to the maximum.
One thing that generally does cost more money in the UK when compared to Australia and NZ is renting. As you can see from the above link, renting is on average around 20% more expensive, which can sound a little disheartening. However, in our experience, many MyOErs decide against getting their own place and actually welcome the opportunity of taking shared accommodation with another like-minded professional.
MyOE help to bring professionals together by running regular social events, trips and gatherings in some of London’s most outstanding locations, so finding new friends and potential housemates can be as easy as a walk in Hyde Park. Equally, your accommodation can be of as high a standard as you want it to be, with many flats and houses both available and affordable in the very best areas of London.
Social & Cultural Experiences
If enjoying life outside of work is a key part of your current lifestyle, then you’re going to love the opportunity an OE brings. The UK and Europe are steeped in history, with never-ending chances to see some of the world’s outstanding sights with many right on your doorstep in London. Equally, if music or the arts are more your thing, the UK caters for every taste from free galleries and concerts in the capital, to some of the world’s most iconic famous music festivals such as Glastonbury. The UK government has a rich tradition of making cultural, art and music events free of charge, so enjoying a weekend touring the great sights of London can be as inexpensive as you’d like it to be.
When it comes to a night out, whether it’s a quiet pint or a big celebration, the UK really does come into its own. Most major UK cities are home to cuisines from all over the world, with every continent covered at a range of different prices. And of course, there’s the fantastic pub life. From quaint country pubs with local ales and roaring log fires to buzzing city centres hosting modern gastropubs – it’s really true that you are never far from walking distance to a great British pub. Equally, over the last 10 years the UK has seen a real explosion in all types of bars and nightclubs, so whatever your Saturday night tastes are you can be confident you will be more than looked after here.
So compared to life back home, living in the UK can bring a lot more opportunity to explore and discover new and interesting things, as well as giving you the chance to expand your social life beyond your wildest dreams should you want to.
Obviously one of the main reasons professionals from Australia and NZ go on an OE is for the amazing opportunity it provides to travel. Many MyOErs have shared over the years how seeing the wider planet can be a real challenge from Australia and NZ, and are therefore completely shocked and delighted at how easy and affordable it is to pop away for a long weekend to some of the greatest and most varied places on earth. Most recognise they probably won’t have the opportunity to do it with such ease again in their lifetimes so are absolutely seizing the moment and enjoying every minute.
London and the UK is one of the greatest places on earth for travelling to other countries, with most MyOErs taking every opportunity to travel through Europe for long weekends that they can. The explosion of low-cost airlines and cheap accommodation has meant the cost and time to travel to Rome for the weekend from London is as comparable (if not cheaper) than to travel to Manchester. The UK really is the gateway to Europe, we’re told by one of our MyOErs that the record for how many European countries you can drive through in 24 hours is 20 – that’s how easy it is to be able to dip your toe into a wide range of different cultures and sights on a World-class, inexpensive and very impressive adventure!
A typical 6 months can see a MyOEr taking winter trips to Scandinavia or ski-ing in Austria and Switzerland, through to spring in Paris and Berlin, before soaking up southern Europe and the delights of Spain, Italy and Portugal. Equally, many like to go off the tourist track and head for places such as the Baltic cities; or the former Yugoslavian countries of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia; or the historic countries of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. What they all have in common is that once they start exploring they quickly get ‘the travel bug’ to the point where they can’t imagine living the same routine as they were back home.
Therefore when comparing life at home to life in the UK, it’s clear that travelling and experiencing other countries is far easier and vastly more affordable from the UK. So if you’re keen to see the beautiful planet we live on, there really is only one winner.
Comparison done – let’s do this!
In summary, comparing life in the UK to back home can sometimes be like comparing apples with pears as both bring so many different things. What is for absolute sure is that thousands of MyOErs have taken the plunge and have never looked back, describing their experience as the best decision of their lives! And they’ve all done it without having to live on a shoestring, in a lifestyle that they’re not accustomed to. Earning good money, enjoying the UK and travelling to some of the world’s greatest places could easily be a reality for you today. So what are you waiting for?
For more information on what to expect from an OE then download our handbook and start your journey. Alternatively get in touch to schedule a call with one of our Australian offices and/or our UK office and get all your questions answered by one of our MyOE experts.