General

The benefits of migrating to the UK

By Amer Zaman

on December 19, 2022

Read Time: 8 Minutes

For great numbers of people around the world, it is an aspiration to move to the UK at some point during their lives.

There are many potential reasons for this, which are likely to differ from one such person to the next. For some, for example, it is the UK’s reputation as a tolerant, socially liberal country that is a major draw, while others may be especially attracted to its strong economy, cultural diversity, and/or proximity to wider Europe.

Whatever your own thoughts may presently be on the notion of relocating to the UK, and the reasons why you might do so, it is important to separate the fantasy and misconceptions from the reality, if you are to make the wisest decisions.

So, for today’s blog post, we thought we would take a closer look at some of the genuine benefits of migrating to the UK for many people, but also some of the less ‘glamorous’ details of the process of moving to this part of the world, that you should know about.

Even post-Brexit, the UK is a major destination for migrants

Few topics related to the UK have split opinion – both within and outside of the country – in recent years, to quite the extent that Brexit has. With the UK officially ceasing to be a member state of the European Union on 31st January 2020, there were fears in some quarters that this major change might herald a new era of heightened hostility to migration to the UK.

Looking at the raw migration figures alone since that date, it would seem that the situation hasn’t quite unfolded like that, at least so far. In fact, in the 12 months ending June 2022, it is estimated that some 1.1 million people migrated to the UK, with some 560,000 people emigrating from the country – translating into an overall net migration figure of 504,000 people.

That is the highest figure for net migration to the UK since the end of World War II. However, it should be borne in mind that this number is likely to have been driven up in part by exceptional factors like the end of coronavirus travel restrictions, and new visa schemes welcoming Ukrainians, Afghans, and Hong Kong British nationals to the UK.

Nonetheless, it is another indication that the UK does remain a major destination for migrants of a wide range of backgrounds and circumstances from around the world.  

What are the top benefits of moving to the UK?

There is naturally a broad range of reasons why any single given person might seek to migrate to the UK. However, some of the most frequently cited reasons include:

  • The good standard of generally low-cost – or no-cost – healthcare. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is renowned for the quality of its services. However, it is important to check the specific terms which apply to your own access to healthcare in the country, which will vary depending on how you move to the UK.
  • Access to free education. Foreign national children who reside in the UK usually have the right to attend state-funded and independent schools in England. It is expected that you will be legally resident in the UK if you wish to send your child to a state school at no cost.
  • The highly rewarding and varied lifestyle. Few countries around the world are as attractive as the UK in terms of the sheer range of leading arts, cultural, leisure, and sporting attractions and activities on offer. And with the UK being a relatively small country with an efficient public transport system, it is a fairly straightforward process to travel between its towns and cities to attend events such as Premier League football matches, music concerts, and theatre shows.
  • The social and cultural diversity. The UK’s long history of immigration has given it an impressively diverse social mix. This means that, whatever your national, social, cultural, and/or religious background, you are almost certain to be able to find people in the UK who have similar experiences to you of migrating here.
  • Considerable economic opportunities for skilled workers. If you have skills that are sought-after in the UK, and you can fulfil the requirements of the country’s admittedly increasingly stringent visa system, you are likely to find that you have plentiful opportunity to secure a well-paid job in the country.

Strong legal protections for workers. The sophisticated set of employment laws in the UK encompasses important protections in relation to such areas as levels of pay, holiday entitlements, and dismissal. Indeed, these protections might be somewhat stronger than you are accustomed to in your country of origin.

Is it worth living in the UK in 2023?

Although there are longstanding attractions of relocating to the UK that are set to hold true during 2023, the country is also undeniably going through a “cost-of-living crisis”, thought to be brought on by factors like COVID-19, the Ukraine conflict, and Brexit. This has added further to what were already intimidatingly high living costs for many migrants.

With inflation in the UK recently hovering at around 10% to 11% – and it being far from certain that the rate has yet peaked – such extra costs, especially for energy, will have to be accounted for by those considering a move to the UK in 2023.

Even prior to the cost-of-living crisis, the price of accommodation in sought-after parts of the country – especially London – was scarily high, compared to the budgets of many migrants. And while such living costs can be significantly lower in other areas of the UK, such parts of the country might not offer the economic opportunities that you would like. Much naturally depends on your specific field of work, and whether you would prefer to live in a bigger city or a smaller town. As always with such matters, the question of whether it is worth relocating to the UK in 2023 will have a different answer from one person to the next, depending on their own situation. Much uncertainty continues to surround how long heightened cost-of-living pressures can be expected to last, so you will need to think carefully about your long-term aspirations and needs.

What are some of the reasons not to move to the UK?

While our experts in UK immigration law here at Cranbrook Legal will always be strong advocates of moving to the UK, it is important that you only do so for the right reasons, bearing closely in mind your particular situation and requirements.

So, in the interests of transparency, here are some of the reasons why you might decide against migrating to the UK:

  • The hugely competitive job market. There are many sectors of the UK economy in which there is intense competition among workers to fill vacancies. It should be appreciated that while employment packages at UK employers can be lucrative, these are often only offered to especially highly skilled workers at the very top of their field.
  • There can be long waits for NHS treatment. Like many other state healthcare systems around the world, the NHS has been under considerable pressure in recent years, with frequently long waiting lists for specialist treatments. Although private healthcare providers are available to enable you to bypass those queues, these can come with a considerable cost. If, then, you are a migrant with an existing chronic health condition, you are advised to arrange a good health insurance policy as part of your move to the UK.
  • State-funded schools can vary greatly in the quality of education they provide. There are considerable variances in this up and down the UK, with the better state schools usually being oversubscribed, and priority given to students who live close to the school. Looking up Ofsted inspection reports for the schools you’re considering will help you make the right choice for your child.
  • The less-than-pleasant weather. Even outside of the winter, the UK has a legendary reputation for greyness and drizzle – and those winters can feel like they last forever. It gets dark early during the colder months, and even in the warmer parts of the year, it is always advisable to have a few coats handy.

British cuisine. The UK is not generally known for its culinary sophistication, even if fish and chips and the full English breakfast have their fans. But the UK’s aforementioned social diversity and long immigrant history have helped to bring many exotic dishes to these shores, so you shouldn’t lack for enticing dining options here.

How can I take the first steps to relocate to the UK?

If you are from the United States, a member state of the European Union (EU), or an eligible Commonwealth country, you will not require a visa in order to enter and stay in the country for up to six months.

In most cases, however, those wishing to move to the UK will need to apply for – and secure – a UK visa if they wish to remain in the country in the long term.

There are various other practical steps that you will need to take if you wish to migrate to the UK. Securing a job or work offer in the UK before you move will enable you to apply for a work visa. However, there are various types of visa available for the UK, including the likes of Student visas, Family visas, and business visas; the right one for you will naturally depend on your particular circumstances and ambitions for your time in the UK.

Here at Cranbrook Legal in central London, we are a firm with a strong focus on UK immigration law. We have an impeccable track record of assisting people from around the world with the process of applying for and securing immigration permission in the UK, so that they can move here and live rewarding lives. Our pre-agreed fixed fees allow our clients to budget in advance for their relocation to the UK, without any nasty financial shocks.

For a more detailed discussion of your needs in relation to any potential move to the UK, and how we can help make it easier, please don’t hesitate to call our immigration solicitors on 0208 215 0053, or to email us to arrange a free consultation.

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