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Wishing to move to London

Travel Forums Europe Wishing to move to London

1. Posted by sbeck1981 (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y

sbeck1981 has indicated that this thread is about England

Hi, I'm Shannon! I currently work as a school social worker in the Chicago area in the US. My father is getting married to a woman from Bristol this December (it's a long story). He and I had a chat with her about England and its social service careers, and for me, it sounds like a much better place to be a social worker than the United States. I don't want to live in Bristol, but I've visited London before and absolutely love it. I would consider moving to London to pursue my social work career, but have no idea where to start, how to afford anything (I was looking at apartments on Gumtree.com and they are unbelievably expensive--over $1000 US for each month for a studio or single room), what credentials would transfer (I have a Masters Degree in social work from a US University), and what I would need to do to be qualified as a social worker in England. That, and would it be beneficial to declare citizenship or apply for dual citizenship, how would I transfer my finances, what would happen with my social security number, etc.?

If anyone has any ideas or knowledge about social work in London, let alone how someone can make the move from the US to London on her own and not end up homeless, please let me know!

2. Posted by Skylarking (Budding Member 27 posts) 8y

London is the world's most expensive city and even Bristol has become pretty dear in recent years. However you should be aware that Britain, like the US, has a bursting property bubble. In particular, in many large cities there is a glut of empty new-build apartments available for rental. You might be better looking at Birmingham, Leeds or Manchester as base from which to seek work. Check this website.

Rightmove

With regard to employment, you'd really need to check with the British Embassy first (if that isn't stating the obvious); also with regard to the citizenship issue. I've never really quite understood why anyone wants to live on this overcrowded island. Most of us are dying to escape from the place to somewhere with more breathing space!

3. Posted by magykal1 (Travel Guru 2026 posts) 8y

Hi Shannon

I work in Children's Services in London and I can tell you straight away that you'll have no problem finding opportunities in Social Work here. I have worked with a number of American Social Workers over the past few years, one of my current colleagues is an American Social Worker with a Masters in Social Work qualification. The qualification is certainly considered equivalent - you would be able to work as a Social Worker without any additional study. There is a chronic shortage of qualified Social Work staff in London and there are plenty of opportunities.

London is indeed mightily expensive - Social Work salaries aren't terrible though (I think Social Workers are underpaid for the job they do, but that's a different issue) - starting salaries at entry level with a qualification in London are from about £27,000.

4. Posted by sbeck1981 (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y

Thanks for the info., Skylarking. I will look that up. I understand that it's expensive, but it's so lovely and historic and picturesque. There isn't that same sense of history in America (and I won't get into the political and idealistic reasons I'm considering leaving my country behind). It feels pretty costly here as well, especially considering our economy and pay scales. Prices keep rising, but salaries do not, and lots of jobs are being cut. If I were to keep an American salary and attempt to live in London (or any surrounding area), there would basically be no possibility. Plus, I owe the government almost $700 (roughly 350 pounds) per month for student loans from graduate school.

And magykal1, that social worker starting salary amazes me. The starting salary for an American social worker is about $27,000...in US dollars (how does that equate to pounds? I think it's about 13,775 pounds per year--the social services are quite undervalued here). Cost of living is a bit lower here (for instance, I am moving to a 2 bedroom apartment on the north side of Chicago this summer with a friend, and it costs $1300 per month, or $325 per week [166 pounds pw]). Downtown in the city is MUCH more expensive ($4000 a month for the apartment of a size we're looking at, so 500 pounds pw), but up north is more artistic, more fun, (:) ) and less congested. However, the salary difference between the UK and the US for social work is incredible, and would definitely help my transition become possible. Wow, thank you for the information. It's also nice to know that I would not need to pursue any other sort of licensure or country-specific qualification if I decide to go through with this sooner rather than later.

You have both been a great help--thank you!

5. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

The starting salary for an American social worker is about $27,000...in US dollars (how does that equate to pounds? I think it's about 13,775 pounds per year

The salary should not amaze you at all. You need to know that the numbers that go with costs of living are similar, you only have to remove the USD and put GBP there.

So you get 27,000 GBP because you need it, and in terms of what you can save after all expenses it will be equal to the 27,000 USD you get in the USA. Only difference might be that you can pay back your student loans faster.

I was looking into salaries in London and surroundings myself last year, and I found that when all was said and done I would have less money and way smaller living space when living and working in London than here at home in Germany. The salary was much better, but the cost of living so much higher that I decided to stay here in the end.

6. Posted by bwiiian (Travel Guru 768 posts) 8y

Yes the cost of living in London is horrendous, but don't let that or anyone put you off. I don't understand anyone trying to be negative to your move, just do it, you will love it. If you don't do it you will regret it for the rest of your life.

7. Posted by magykal1 (Travel Guru 2026 posts) 8y

Quoting t_maia

The starting salary for an American social worker is about $27,000...in US dollars (how does that equate to pounds? I think it's about 13,775 pounds per year

The salary should not amaze you at all. You need to know that the numbers that go with costs of living are similar, you only have to remove the USD and put GBP there.

So you get 27,000 GBP because you need it, and in terms of what you can save after all expenses it will be equal to the 27,000 USD you get in the USA. Only difference might be that you can pay back your student loans faster.

I was looking into salaries in London and surroundings myself last year, and I found that when all was said and done I would have less money and way smaller living space when living and working in London than here at home in Germany. The salary was much better, but the cost of living so much higher that I decided to stay here in the end.

Yes, this is true - it does reflect the generally much higher relative cost of living. However, if you can find some way of keeping your costs down (accommodation is the big killer - followed by transport, fuel bills and food) then you can bank quite a lot. Loads of ozzies and kiwis do it by jamming themselves 12 to a 4 bed house, and eating just pasta and vegemite sandwiches but saving loads for more travel. You'll probably not want to do that, but there ways of keeping costs down even in London.

So - the bad news is that the chances are that the bulk of your apparent wage increase is probably going to be eaten up by higher costs of living. The good news is that it's unlikely that you'll be unemployed or hugely worse off than you are at the moment....

8. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3546 posts) 8y

I know that you can do a one year course in Social Work to qualify you from a normal UK batcherlors degree - my sister looked into it. (although this wasnt recent she graduated maybe 8 years ago) BUT in saying that l think its a career that you obviously have to be involved in some kind of continous education due to the nature of the work involved changes in legislation etc etc. Im not sure how this would work with an overseas degree - best to contact some of the universitys in the area to see what they require.

Salary wise - my sister didnt qualify in social work took a different route but does work in rehabilation of different people back into society but l know she earns more that 13k (maybe 18k but she only works part time since she had kids) and she is based in Edinburgh - and works for a charity. She had lots of voluntary experience which helped her get the post. I wouldve thought with the London weighting the salary would be more but then as everyone has said the cost of living is probably more - although Edinburgh isnt a cheap city to live in either.

Next time l speak to her l will pick her brains for you!

Heather

9. Posted by magykal1 (Travel Guru 2026 posts) 8y

I've said it before, but just to reiterate so there's no confusion, if you hold an accredited Masters Degree in Social Work you won't need to do extra study. I'm coming from a position of knowledge rather than speculation here as I work with several people who have taken this route already.

If you're worried about this check out these 2 pages on the General Social Care Council website (you will need to register with them):
This link about country guidelines, including the USA
(particularly the bit where it says 'If you qualified in the USA and hold a Master's degree in social work that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), you would normally be expected to meet the DipSW requirements.').
And This section about applying for registration for overseas

Also a good read for you, I found: http://www.socialworker.com/home/Feature_Articles/General/An_American_Social_Worker_in_London/