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Most affordable city in UK???

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1. Posted by MCH (Budding Member 6 posts) 12y

MCH has indicated that this thread is about United Kingdom

I'm about to spend three months in the UK with the BUNAC program. I'm bringing enough money to survive for awhile but will definitely need to find a decent paying job quickly.

My question is...which cities offer good employment opportunities that cover the cost of living? And which cities have the lowest costs of living? I'd love to live in London all summer but am afraid I cannot afford it. I hear the northern part of the UK is the cheapest but that it is mostly industrial. Is it possible to live as a student with a tight budget in London? Brighton? Bath? Manchester? Other cities I'm not mentioning?

Thanks so much for your help!

2. Posted by BeckyR (Full Member 174 posts) 12y

Hallo . . . Our industrial north is not what you would probably consider industrial in the US, and there is fantastic countryside in that part of the UK.

So cheaper cities . . .the north of england is cheaper than the south, but if you are living in a city you will usually find good rents and cheap food, no matter whether the city is in the north or south. A good tip though is to go to a city with universities, since there will lots of students attempting to live on a budget!

However my overall advice would be to focus on what you want to get out and the type of job you want, rather than the cost of living. Cost of living is higher in the UK anyway, so a few pence here or there will going relatively unnoticed.

Cities to explore - consider London, Brighton, Oxford, Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Bristol

Hope this helps, good luck!


3. Posted by IMonaghan (Respected Member 431 posts) 12y

My 2 cents.

I haven't managed to move to the UK yet, so take my advice with a grain of salt... I have heard though that Glasgow/Edinburg Which are close enough together to almost be the same thing by USA standards. Like Gary Indiana and Chicago...

I hear that area is "relatively" inexpensive to live. While there you are a short hop from the Scottish Highlands too, and a short train south will get you into the midlands... It is a bit of distance from London though, so if staying close to London is a big issue for you, then this might not be the area for you.

I am sure TPers who live in the UK will wind up being much more help to you than I am though.

4. Posted by MCH (Budding Member 6 posts) 12y

Ahh...thank you both so's all good advice. I appreciate anything anyone has to say because I am so lost...and so nervous. Brighton is a city I have my eyes on, as well as London. I'm not sure what an industrial city is like in the UK, but I hear Birmingham is a very large city, has several universities, and then everyone adds, "but it's an industrial city"...what does that mean?? Is that bad? Does that mean I won't find a job that's not in a factory?

Basically I'm looking for jobs that are in retail, or restaurants, or clerical work. And I'm just looking to get paid enough to afford food, rent, transportation and hopefuly weekend travel or an end of summer trip.

Also about the north...I hear it's cold and the language is a lot harder to understand. Maybe I'm surrounded by anti-north people haha??? Well I'm open to anything, like I said in my previous paragraph, I just want to get enough money so I can eat, sleep, and travel in the UK...I just want all is has to offer...on my budget.

5. Posted by BeckyR (Full Member 174 posts) 12y

Hallo . . .You made me LOL! Perhaps your friends need to come to England!!

Birmingham is a large city and some of the accents are very strong. It was one of our industrial heartlands, and therefore it is ugly in places, but it has lots to offer, things to do, see etc etc and the city over the past few years has been really turning itself round. And there are plenty of jobs which are not in a factory, so you will be fine if you want to work in retail, clerical etc. And many of the cities actually in the north are similiar to this . . . . . .although completely different in personality!

With regard to temperature changes, Birmingham is in the midlands (not north by our standards, although some southerners think Watford is north! (JOKE!!)) So no real difference to being in the south, actually our weather is so variable anyway, it does not matter really where you are if you are here in the summer. It will probably be wet and damp everywhere (haven't you heard we are obsessed by the weather!!) ;)

So it depends do you want to live in a city which is pretty, has the countryside on its doorstep, is a university town, has the sea on its doorstep, great nightlife, cafe culture, strong communities, lots of americans . . . .?

Don't be nervous . . . .us brits are ok really and once you get use to our humour, weather and the regional accents you will be fine!!!

6. Posted by mim (Travel Guru 1276 posts) 12y

I think if your settling down to a job somewhere then choose your town carefully, also the YHA (youth hostel association) is quite big here so joining up might benefit you as there are hostels all over the place.
In my opinion Birmingham isn't the place for you, honestly choose somewhere thats pretty and lively, Brighton is a wicked place to be Edinburgh is also similarly lively and pretty.
Manchester is really cheap and also a laugh as is Leeds although Leeds is probably slightly more expensive, I've got friends in Manc though and they say it's trapped in a cloud it rains all yeaR round!!!

Summer in Cornwall is a must do, particularly Newquay, it will be easy for you to get a job and theres loads to do like surfing!

Don't miss the lakes if you come and the peak district if you like a good walk...

and like Becky said, Chill out and you'll have a wicked time!


7. Posted by ctwood13 (Budding Member 13 posts) 12y

Being a foreigner in the UK, I have dealt with some of your worries that you are having....

I started out in the UK with £100 to my name. I have worked as a nanny and done my share of work in pubs, bars, and restaurants. I now work for the government! I have also worked in both Birmingham and London and have visited a few UK cities since I have been here.

The best advice I can give you, which was given to me when I first got the UK, is grab an issue of TNT Magazine. It is a weekly magazine that is packed full of information (jobs, flats, travel deals, etc.) It is kind of geared towards Antipodeans, but only because there are more of them here than Canucks and Americans. You can usually get a copy of TNT in red TNT bins outside of tube stops and in some pubs throughout London. The best thing about it, is that it is absolutely free!!

If you want to check it out before you get to the UK. Check out this link

If you have anymore questions of the sort, please fire them my way

8. Posted by dlo (Budding Member 8 posts) 12y

For starters... enough with the Birmingham is ugly. Birmingham attracts visitors from all over the world and has created a new reputation for itself. It is friendly than london yet still busy and large... while having excellent access to the rest of the UK... the best access in the country. Plant yourself too far north or too far south and you will not have such easy exploring! Though you will find nice places all over...

I know many people from many countries who have moved to Birmingham just for the experience... it is professionally recognised that our accent is NOT hard to understand. In fact the accents that people refer to are from outside Birmingham in towns such as Dudley and Walsall.

We are a sane, friendly, upbeat people and we welcome you. (ps i don't like london at all but recommend visiting it. Birmingham is the second capital, don't let Manchester tell you otherwise, look at a map/ atlas if you need proof)

9. Posted by cookieyum (Inactive 75 posts) 12y

Completely agree with dlo about Birmingham. I´m starting uni there in september and can´t wait. It´s in a perfect position to access rest of UK and close to Birmingham you´ve got Stratford on Avon so you can see all the arty-farty shakespeare stuff, and there´s lots of nice countryside and canals to explore around the area in the summer. They recently opened a huge new shopping centre called The Bullring in Birmingham so i´m sure there´d be lots of opportunity for jobs there, plus the Cadbury´s chocolate factory is in birmingham so enough said! Really good student vibe, great people and cheaper than London.
As cool as London is i personally find it really expensive and a lot less friendly compared to other UK cities. People just don´t make time for you so i wouldn´t live there but it´s definitely worth a few visits.
My sister´s been at uni in Brighton for 3 years and it´s a really great place. Everyone´s so chilled out and you´ll have loads of fun there but every time i visit the prices are getting more like london so if you´re looking to keep to a tight budget then maybe look further north.
Me and my sister are actually country bumpkins from the south west of england, from somerset. When i was at home in england i was working in Bristol and i don´t know if this is of any use but i was getting paid 7 pounds an hour for my first secretarial job and there´s lots of demand for admin workers there. I got signed up with an agency to find me temporary work which worked out pretty well. Bristol´s only about 2 hours away from London on the train and has a good music scene, there´s always loads of live music concerts going on, lots of good shops,bars,museums and a good student base... Bath is about 45 mins away from Bristol, it´s a bit smaller and a bit more scenic than bristol but they´re both cool cities although personally i think Bristol has a younger vibe but neither are as costly as London.And of course the countryside is really nearby and very beautiful and from somerset it´s really easy to get to devon and cornwall for some summer fun! So obviously i´m biased but the south west of england is fab!:) But then again i love the north of england too and have lots of family up there-manchester, leeds,york,liverpool...they´re all great cities, cheaper than london and good nightlife. Don´t be put off if people say they´re industrial cities, they´re generally cheaper and have a lot more character than London. Spend some time in the lake district and/or the Yorkshire Dales if you can, it´s stunning up there. Edinburgh is a beautiful city but a bit out of the way however i would DEFINITELY recommend going up in august for the Fringe Festival. It´s the best fun and the atmosphere is incredible! Basically anywhere you go in the UK you´re gonna come across regional accents and they might be a bit hard to grasp at first but i think the regional differences are what give the UK it´s character so just have fun exploring as much of the country as you can because we don´t all wear bowler hats and speak like Mary Poppins! And if this summer is anything like last years then i wouldn´t worry too much about the weather cos we had a heatwave in august and for the mostpart the summer was lovely and hot. Okay, let me know where you choose to go. Hope this is of some help,sorry it´s so long - i have a severe waffling problem! Have a wicked time!!!:)

10. Posted by BeckyR (Full Member 174 posts) 12y

Oops . . only said in places . . and actually a significant part of my family are from the area, so thought I could share a few comments on Birnmingham . . .note I said more positives than negatives!! Anyhow at least we are giving some real good advice and tips . . . . ;);)