Where in England should I move?

I want to immigrate to England and I am conflicted on where to go.

I am in my mid- 20s and would be going on a tier 2 visa.
I would really like to be near the ocean as I have always wanted to live 30 mins/1 hour drive from the beach so I can swim and catch the waves on the summer weekends.

I am coming from an South Africa (as well as have the heritage of multiple other African countries) so I want an area where I might find other migrants (from anywhere in the world) and have friendly locals who are not discrimatory. As I won't have a car when I arrive, public transport needs to be easily accessible to get to shops, etc

I am still young and so would not want to be in a small village somewhere that has mainly older people. It would also be great to be in a safe area without it being extremely expensive

I was considering Brighton or Bristol but I am hearing negative things like it is too compacted/boring/ high crime.

London also seems to be a good option which I will keep on my list but I would really like something closer to the beach that I can hop on a train/other public transport and get there in 1- 1.5 hours max.

I know I should go based on the job I find but I want to know some good cities/towns to have as options

Hi and welcome to the Forum.

What skill-set do you have?  Tier 2 visas are only open to skilled migrants, so you'll need to find an employer who is willing to employ you and sponsor your visa; you can't move to the UK, then look for work.  The UK has recently announced a revised immigration system; the details are all on the UK Gov website, this link will take you straight there.  You should also realise that Tier 2 visas are by their nature temporary, there is no guarantee you will be granted permanent residence at the end and may have to go back to South Africa.

The Numbeo website offers a whole lot of information related to cost of living, property prices, quality of life etc; this link will take you straight there.  Many UK towns and cities have there own specific data set.

The swimming bit made me smile.  I would respectfully suggest that the UK is not the place to come to and "swim and catch the waves on the summer weekends"; if that's important, then you need to look at somewhere like Southern Spain.

You haven't said much about yourself, so I can only speak in general terms.  In general, in my opinion, the UK is a pretty liberal country, that said you will find xenophobes all over the world and the current BLM issues are causing some unrest which will take time to resolve themselves; I say that because the current Government is doing nothing to meet their demands except wait for the demonstrators to get bored and go home.  According to the demonstrators, the UK is not perhaps the most welcoming place for people looking for an all-encompassing lifestyle.

If you have any further specific questions, please come back to us.

Hope this helps.

Expat Team

I am an accountant and have been browsing the sponsor list for tier 2 visas. The document is about 2000 pages so I think I can loosely "choose" where I would like to go by applying to companies in that area.

When you say UK is not a place for a swim at the beach, could you explain? From what I have gathered online, UK has some nice beaches and the weather can get to a comfortable 25C

Hi again.

If you are a chartered accountant, you'll not have much trouble getting a job; if you are an accountant, then you may well struggle as I don't think the pay will be enough for you to qualify for a work visa.  Whatever, I wish you the best of luck in finding a job and getting your visa.

Average UK sea temps in the summer are between 15 > 20 C (link).  As I said, your comment made me smile; nobody has ever come on here saying they want to live in the UK because of the nice beaches and swimming.  The beaches have improved massively, but the water is still bloody freezing.  It's part of the reason why most of the Brits go to Spain for their holidays.

Hope this helps.

Expat Team

In normal times there is work especially temp work for qualified accountants, but in these times of global great recession and Brexit soon to come to break up the economy in UK I see dark times ahead.

I am a Chartered Accountant (ACA), but changed career as I could see that it wasn't a career with a bright future over 40 as so many are unemployed in UK. So make your money quick temping (many ANZAC and SA accountants do) or get a decent career going that is related or aim to be a CFO eventually.

I too would have suggested Brighton since it is very cosmopolitan and I know it quite well having lived there as a child. I have a friend who is a surfer and he lives in Hastings further along the coast where there is a right hand break off the harbour wall. Good thing about the Sussex coastline is that it is commuting distance to London.

Bristol too would be nice because you have the whole of the North Devon coast all the way down to Cornwall which has some of the best surf in the UK.  I am from Devon and spent most of my younger years surfing every weekend and every summer living in Cornwall. Also, although I do not know much about the crime in both these areas, I think living anywhere near Devon or Cornwall is amazing.

Other smaller places nearby are Bath and Exeter. Plymouth used to be a dump in the 1970's and I don't think it is much better even now. However, just half an hour east of Plymouth are Bantham and Challisborough where I used to surf when too lazy to drive down to Cornwall or North Devon. They are great for windsurfing or kite surfing too.

Bournemouth is best place.

Erm....in the late 1960's I lived in Lymington and Milford on Sea and went to school in New Milton. I used to travel to Bournemouth for my weekly music lessons. For certain it's a nice part of the country, in fact all along that coastline including Weymouth and Poole and the other way to Portsmouth and Hayling Island and not to exclude the New Forest which I really love - Lydhurst, Brockenhurst etc all beautiful places and wonderful nature. However, for a long time Bournemouth was known as a retirement area for old people. Not as bad as Bexhill-on-Sea which I recall was named "heaven's waiting room" by one of the national tabloids. So I am wondering if Bournemouth has changed and become less of an old peoples retirement area. I am not sure that it is a melting pot of cultures which I think the OP is searching for, and I don't think that the beaches have surfable waves. But I do know that there are many lesser known colleges there. Certainly the main beaches get very packed with holidaymakers in the summer.

The weather gets to 25°C...correct, but probably not every year and if it's more than a few days it will make headlines. However, if you are going to the beach in neoprene, that's doable.
However, if you insist on swimming you really want the south coast of the SW of England. Most of the rest is definitely too cold.
As for your references to discrimination - the UK is about as indiscriminately as you can get, although BLM are doing all they can to change that.
Brighton lovely, and is known for its gay scene.
London has everything...except Londoners.

London has everything except Londoner’s . Priceless.

Speaking as a Londoner; it's now officially a world class dump.

You mentioned about Brighton and Bristol having high crime. I would suggest that London, perhaps more specifically East London has pretty high crime too.

Also, this is going back to when I was a student, the southwest part of outer London like Kingston upon Thames, Richmond, Surbiton, Kew Twickenham and all around there was really nice. Places like Acton, Ealing, Southall had a lot of minority groups living there. I went to college in Ealing back in the 1980's and we avoided going anywhere near Southall because it was dangerous back then. And then places like Islington and Stoke Newington in the north of London have both been known for being dangerous at night. My brother has a flat in Islington and I lived there for a while. Parts of it are nice, but I wouldn't want to live there again.

So I would perhaps skip London as I certainly don't believe it's better than Brighton or Bristol. These days, lots of places are dangerous especially at night. You'd better find a place near the sea that has some surf. Bristol is fairly cosmopolitan and not too far from  the surf in North Devon.

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