Cities in United Kingdom for Expats

To help you find the right UK city for your needs, we’ve compiled this list of the top destinations for expats in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Keep reading for an overview of each city and what it’s like to live there as an expat.

City Summary and Commentary Score (1-10) Reasoning
England      
Bath Bath offers a serene lifestyle with its historic charm, natural hot springs, and cultural attractions. Expats can enjoy a peaceful ambiance and a strong sense of community. 8 Excellent quality of life and cultural experiences. Limited job opportunities in certain sectors.
Birmingham A bustling urban center, Birmingham provides expats with job diversity, affordable living, and cultural events. The city’s transformation makes it an attractive choice. 9 Strong job market, affordable living, and diverse culture. Urban lifestyle might not suit everyone.
Bradford Known for its diverse population, Bradford offers expats a welcoming atmosphere, affordable housing, and cultural mix. 7 Inclusive environment, cost-effective living, but limited job prospects in some industries.
Brighton & Hove With a vibrant LGBTQ+ scene and a beachy lifestyle, Brighton & Hove offer a unique mix of culture, art, and relaxation. 9 Rich cultural scene, open-minded community, but relatively high cost of living.
Bristol A hub of innovation and history, Bristol provides expats with diverse job opportunities, creative spirit, and a dynamic urban experience. 9 Economic opportunities, cultural vibrancy, but housing costs can be steep.
Cambridge Home to the renowned University of Cambridge, the city offers intellectual stimulation, historic beauty, and a strong educational environment. 9 World-class education, intellectual atmosphere, but living expenses can be high.
Canterbury A city steeped in history, Canterbury offers expats a glimpse into the past, along with a peaceful and close-knit community. 7 Historic charm, strong sense of community, but limited job diversity.
Carlisle Nestled near the Scottish border, Carlisle provides expats with a gateway to nature, affordable living, and a tight-knit community. 6 Affordable living, scenic surroundings, but fewer career prospects in some industries.
Chelmsford Close to London, Chelmsford offers a balance between urban and suburban living, along with proximity to the capital. 7 Access to London, comfortable lifestyle, but can lack the excitement of larger cities.
Chester Known for its Roman walls and Tudor buildings, Chester offers expats a historic ambiance, cultural events, and a cozy atmosphere. 8 Rich history, cultural events, but limited job opportunities in certain sectors.
Chichester Chichester offers expats a mix of cultural experiences, historic charm, and a close connection to the South Downs National Park. 7 Quaint environment, access to natural beauty, but fewer job options compared to larger cities.
Colchester As one of the UK’s oldest towns, Colchester provides expats with a blend of history, cultural attractions, and a cozy lifestyle. 7 Historical significance, cultural offerings, but may lack some amenities found in bigger cities.
Coventry With a focus on growth, Coventry offers expats economic opportunities, cultural events, and a developing urban landscape. 8 Economic potential, evolving cityscape, but some areas might still be under development.
Derby A city with a manufacturing history, Derby offers expats opportunities in engineering and technology sectors, along with cultural attractions. 7 Niche job opportunities, cultural landmarks, but certain industries might dominate the job market.
Doncaster Set in Yorkshire, Doncaster provides expats a mix of traditional English life, countryside proximity, and urban convenience. 6 Countryside living, traditional feel, but may lack the amenities of larger cities.
Durham Home to a historic cathedral and university, Durham offers expats a strong sense of community, cultural richness, and academic environment. 8 Strong community ties, academic opportunities, but limited job sectors.
Ely Ely’s cathedral and riverside setting offer expats a serene escape, historical significance, and a slower pace of life. 7 Tranquil environment, historic significance, but fewer job options compared to larger cities.
Exeter With a thriving waterfront and economic opportunities, Exeter provides expats with a blend of maritime charm and modern progress. 8 Coastal beauty, economic growth, but housing costs can be a concern.
Gloucester Nestled in the Cotswolds, Gloucester offers expats a mix of medieval architecture and picturesque landscapes. 7 Scenic surroundings, historical charm, but job diversity might be limited.
Hereford Surrounded by countryside, Hereford offers expats a peaceful setting, historic landmarks, and a strong sense of community. 6 Rural beauty, sense of community, but fewer job opportunities in some sectors.
Kingston-upon-Hull As a port city, Kingston-upon-Hull offers expats maritime experiences, cultural events, and a welcoming community. 6 Maritime ambiance, cultural attractions, but may not have the job diversity of larger cities.
Lancaster With a historic castle and university, Lancaster provides expats a mix of history and youthful energy from its student population. 7 Blend of history and youthful atmosphere, but limited job markets in some areas.
Leeds As a bustling urban center, Leeds offers expats job opportunities, cultural vibrancy, and a lively nightlife. 8 Economic prospects, diverse culture, but urban lifestyle may not suit everyone.
Leicester Known for its multicultural atmosphere, Leicester provides expats a blend of diversity, cultural events, and historical sites. 7 Cultural diversity, historical landmarks, but may lack the size and variety of some other cities.
Lichfield Lichfield’s medieval cathedral and charming streets provide expats with a historic ambiance and close-knit community. 6 Historic charm, community atmosphere, but job opportunities may be more limited.
Lincoln Lincoln’s cathedral and blend of medieval and modern architecture offer expats a mix of history and urban convenience. 7 Rich history, mix of architecture, but job options might be constrained.
Liverpool Known for its music heritage and waterfront, Liverpool provides expats with a vibrant cultural scene and numerous entertainment options. 9 Rich cultural history, entertainment offerings, but certain areas might have lower living standards.
London The UK’s capital city, London, offers expats a globally connected hub with diverse job opportunities and world-class attractions. 10 Unlimited job opportunities, cultural vibrancy, but high living costs and fast-paced lifestyle.
Manchester As a thriving urban hub, Manchester provides expats a strong arts scene, economic growth, and a sense of community. 9 Economic prospects, cultural richness, but weather and housing costs can be drawbacks.
Milton Keynes A planned city with modern amenities, Milton Keynes offers expats a comfortable suburban lifestyle. 7 Planned infrastructure, suburban living, but may lack the historical or cultural depth of older cities.
Newcastle-upon-Tyne With its friendly locals and iconic bridges, Newcastle-upon-Tyne provides expats a blend of urban convenience and warm community. 8 Friendly atmosphere, access to amenities, but weather might be a downside for some.
Norwich Known for its historic architecture and artsy vibe, Norwich offers expats a creative and charming living experience. 8 Creative community, historic charm, but job market might be competitive.
Nottingham Home to the legendary Robin Hood, Nottingham provides expats a mix of history, entertainment, and contemporary living. 7 Cultural significance, entertainment offerings, but certain areas might have lower living standards.
Oxford Renowned for its prestigious university and historic charm, Oxford offers expats a world-class education environment. 9 Academic excellence, historic significance, but high living costs.
Peterborough Situated in the heart of England, Peterborough offers expats a well-connected location and a mix of historic and modern attractions. 6 Convenient location, mix of history and modernity, but fewer job opportunities.
Plymouth With its maritime heritage and coastal beauty, Plymouth provides expats with a relaxed and scenic lifestyle. 7 Coastal charm, relaxed lifestyle, but certain industries may have limited presence.
Portsmouth As a coastal city, Portsmouth offers expats a mix of naval history, waterfront living, and maritime ambiance. 7 Maritime heritage, coastal living, but may lack the cultural depth of larger cities.
Preston Located in Lancashire, Preston offers expats a balance of urban living and nearby countryside escapes. 6 Access to countryside, urban conveniences, but may lack some amenities of larger cities.
Ripon This small cathedral city offers expats a tranquil setting, historic charm, and a close-knit community. 6 Tranquil ambiance, historic significance, but limited job sectors.
Salford Adjacent to Manchester, Salford offers expats easy access to the city’s amenities and attractions. 7 Access to Manchester’s resources, cultural scene, but might lack some independent offerings.
Salisbury Known for its stunning cathedral and proximity to Stonehenge, Salisbury provides expats with a mix of history and natural beauty. 8 Unique landmarks, blend of history and natural beauty, but job opportunities may vary.
Sheffield Known for its industrial history and green spaces, Sheffield offers expats a blend of urban and outdoor experiences. 7 Urban and natural balance, industrial heritage, but some areas might be less developed.
Southampton With its maritime heritage and cultural scene, Southampton provides expats with a coastal lifestyle and urban attractions. 7 Maritime and cultural mix, coastal living, but housing can be costly.
Southend-on-Sea This seaside town offers expats a relaxed atmosphere and easy access to London. 6 Coastal living, easy access to London, but might lack some amenities found in bigger cities.
St Albans Close to London, St Albans offers expats historic charm and suburban comfort. 7 Suburban lifestyle, access to London, but may lack the excitement of larger cities.
Stoke on Trent Known for its pottery industry, Stoke on Trent provides expats with a unique cultural experience. 6 Distinct cultural focus, but fewer job opportunities outside of specific sectors.
Sunderland Situated by the sea, Sunderland offers expats coastal living and a strong sense of community. 7 Coastal ambiance, community feel, but job prospects can be sector-dependent.
Truro As Cornwall’s only city, Truro offers expats a blend of Cornish culture and city amenities. 6 Access to Cornish culture, but limited economic opportunities compared to larger cities.
Wakefield With its industrial history and art scene, Wakefield offers expats a mix of tradition and creativity. 7 Industrial history, artistic community, but job options might be specific to certain sectors.
Wells Known for its stunning cathedral and medieval architecture, Wells provides expats with a quaint and charming environment. 7 Quaint ambiance, historic significance, but job sectors may be limited.
Westminster At the heart of London, Westminster offers expats iconic landmarks and a central city lifestyle. 9 Access to London’s opportunities, cultural richness, but high living costs.
Winchester With its historic cathedral and bustling market, Winchester offers expats a taste of English tradition. 7 Historical significance, market culture, but job sectors might be narrower.
Wolverhampton This city provides expats with a mix of urban living and nearby rural escapes. 6 Urban and rural balance, but might lack certain amenities or economic opportunities.
Worcester Known for its cathedral and riverside setting, Worcester offers expats a tranquil living environment. 7 Tranquil surroundings, historic significance, but job sectors may be limited.
York With its medieval walls and historic attractions, York offers expats a journey back in time alongside modern amenities. 8 Historical richness, modern conveniences, but housing costs can be high.
Northern Ireland      
Armagh Known for its history and cathedrals, Armagh offers expats a glimpse into Northern Ireland’s past. 6 Historical significance, cultural heritage, but job sectors might be limited.
Bangor With its coastal location, Bangor provides expats a relaxed lifestyle by the sea. 7 Coastal living, relaxed ambiance, but job diversity might be limited.
Belfast The capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast offers expats a mix of history, culture, and economic growth. 8 Cultural and economic hub, historical landmarks, but some areas might have lower living standards.
Lisburn Close to Belfast, Lisburn offers expats suburban living and easy access to the city. 6 Access to Belfast’s amenities, suburban lifestyle, but may not have independent offerings.
Londonderry Also known as Derry, this city offers expats a blend of history, culture, and a vibrant arts scene. 7 Cultural richness, vibrant arts, but some areas might have lower living standards.
Newry Situated on the border, Newry offers expats a strategic location and a mix of urban and rural living. 6 Convenient location, blend of lifestyles, but economic opportunities may vary.
Scotland      
Aberdeen Known for its oil industry, Aberdeen offers expats a mix of economic opportunities and scenic landscapes. 8 Economic potential, scenic beauty, but potential for a transient job market due to oil industry fluctuations.
Dundee With a growing technology sector, Dundee offers expats a blend of innovation and historic charm. 7 Innovation potential, historic landmarks, but might have fewer job prospects compared to larger cities.
Dunfermline Dunfermline offers expats a balance between urban living and nearby countryside. 6 Balance of urban and rural, but job diversity may be limited.
Edinburgh The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh offers expats a blend of history, culture, and a lively arts scene. 9 Cultural richness, historical significance, but living costs can be high.
Glasgow Known for its friendly locals and cultural diversity, Glasgow provides expats a vibrant urban experience. 8 Cultural diversity, urban vibrancy, but certain areas might have lower living standards.
Inverness Surrounded by the Scottish Highlands, Inverness offers expats stunning natural beauty and a peaceful lifestyle. 7 Natural beauty, tranquility, but job diversity might be limited.
Perth With its central location, Perth offers expats easy access to other Scottish destinations and a relaxed lifestyle. 6 Access to other destinations, relaxed pace, but job sectors might be limited.
Stirling Known for its historic castle and university, Stirling offers expats a mix of tradition and education. 7 Historical significance, academic opportunities, but living costs might be a concern.
Wales      
Bangor This Welsh city offers expats a balance of coastal living and nearby mountain landscapes. 7 Access to mountains and coastline, but job diversity might be limited.
Cardiff The capital of Wales, Cardiff offers expats a growing economy, cultural attractions, and proximity to the coast. 8 Economic growth, cultural vibrancy, but high living costs and urban lifestyle might not suit everyone.
Newport With regeneration efforts, Newport offers expats a mix of historic charm and modern development. 6 Balance of history and development, but job diversity might be limited.
St Asaph This small city offers expats a peaceful setting and a sense of community. 6 Tranquil ambiance, community feel, but limited economic opportunities.
St Davids Known for its cathedral and coastal beauty, St Davids offers expats a picturesque environment. 7 Coastal charm, natural beauty, but job diversity might be limited.
Swansea With its waterfront and cultural scene, Swansea offers expats a mix of urban living and coastal relaxation. 7 Urban convenience, coastal living, but job sectors may vary.
Wrexham Situated on the border, Wrexham offers expats access to both Wales and England, along with a range of amenities. 6 Convenient location, blend of lifestyles, but economic opportunities may vary.

 

Conclusion 

Use this list of top cities for expats in the UK to narrow down your options. Consider what’s most important to you – big city energy, affordable costs, seaside living, or a thriving job market. Wherever you choose, embrace all the history, charm, and opportunity the UK has to offer. With a high quality of life, thriving job market, and lively cosmopolitan cities, the UK offers expats an appealing mix of culture, history, and opportunity.


Note: Scores are subjective and based on a holistic evaluation of factors such as job opportunities, quality of life, cultural experiences, affordability, family friendliness, and overall appeal to expats. The reasoning for each score takes into consideration the city’s strengths and potential drawbacks for expats looking to migrate, settle, or work in the UK. These scores aim to provide a general overview and may vary based on individual preferences and priorities.


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