The Top UK Cities for Expats


The UK might be a relatively small country – especially when compared to the vast expanse of the United States – but in this small island there is a world of amazing diversity, a bewildering array of characterful regional accents, and some of the most exciting, cities you could hope to visit. Culture, history, architecture – it’s all here on this island at Europe’s western edge.

If you’ve ever considered making the UK your home or living full-time in the country as an expat for an extended period of time, you might be interested in our list of the UK’s Top Cities for Expats. Obviously the attributes that make a city attractive differ from individual to individual depending on their tastes and requirements – it’s a subjective call! This list, then, is just for inspiration rather than being based on any cost of living metrics or demographic data. And of course outside the big cities there are innumerable charming towns, villages and hamlets, so if there’s somewhere in the UK you’d like to sing the praises of, let us know in the comments…

The UK’s top cities for expats 

London. This one had to feature high on the list, and not just for the fact that it’s an endlessly fascinating place. It’s also home to people from every corner of the globe. The UK capital is cosmopolitan, forward-looking, and according to recent stats, has a bigger French population than the cities of Bordeaux or Strasbourg. If you find yourself in one of the city’s well-known neighbourhoods such as Notting Hill or Kensington, chances are you’ll hear a fair few American accents too – and not all of them tourists. London’s strong economy means there are lots of opportunities for expats on overseas assignments – and it all adds to the mix.

Edinburgh. Nobody could deny that the Scottish capital is just a little bit chilly in winter. But oh, my, is it beautiful. A large financial centre as well as big in the arts – home each year to the world’s biggest arts festival, in fact – Edinburgh offers expats something a little bit different. And it’s not always cold – in summer the temperature can stay warm for weeks on end. The mercury rarely rises to the high 20s (centigrade) but it has its fair share of sunny, short-sleeve days.


Manchester. From the gleaming, futuristic developments at Salford Quays to the bustle and commerce of the Deansgate, Manchester often feels like the perfect city. Vibrant nightlife, endless shopping and restaurant options, and a friendly, welcoming populace, Manchester always feels like home – even if you’re just in town for the evening. It’s also a big university town with students from all over the world – many who stay on in England as expats.

Bristol. Offering city life but without the London property price tag, Bristol is a popular choice for many expats and UK nationals alike as the place to live. It’s also known for its green reputation as one of the country’s most sustainable cities, and also attained a high rank in the recent Quality of Living Index survey – with a placing ahead of the capital for the ‘wealth and happiness’ of its residents.

Cardiff. Wales is a beautiful country with lots of amazing countryside to explore, and its capital city Cardiff is a vibrant and very cool place to be these days. The BBC recently reported on a survey whose results indicate that it’s also ‘the best city in the UK for young adults’. This is down to a number of positive factors including the employment opportunities on offer in the city, the cost of living – and that all-important work-life balance, too.

For more information on moving abroad, the following sites provide useful expat resources:

AXA PPP International – medical insurance abroad is important, even if you’re an EHIC holder travelling between European Economic Area countries. This site also contains a range of country guides internationally.

Expat Focus essential guide to moving abroad. Handy free guide from one o fthe bigger expat sites, covering everything from health to employment and loads more besides.

Living in the UK for expats by InterNations. (Note: this site usually requires sign up in order to view content in full, but it’s free to join and their articles are all really well written.