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IT Jobs in London: 5 Stories of Expats About Living in London

IT Jobs in London

IT Jobs in London. A city of friendly people, expensive rentals and slow service: six Russian developers share their experiences in the UK capital.

I was always curious about how people settle down in a new place, how they perceive a new culture for themselves and overcome everyday difficulties, whether they regret the decision made over time. Admitting mistakes is difficult, and many find it easier to adapt than decide to return.

My name is Dmitry, I work for an international IT company. The development team is distributed between offices in Moscow and London. Quite often, Moscow employees move to London, if given the opportunity. Sometimes we hire specialists in Russia immediately with the condition of moving.

In the nearly eight years I spent at the company, at least two dozen of my colleagues moved. And I also had such a chance: after weighing the pros and cons, I decided to stay in Russia, which I have no regrets about. Nevertheless, it was always very interesting for me to find out, “what about those who moved.”

IT Jobs in London: Stories of Expats About Living in London

To this end, I conducted a small survey among my fellow developers in the UK. I share his results with you. I hope they help someone make an informed choice, which you won’t have to regret later.

IT Jobs in London: 5 Stories of Expats About Living in London 1
Peter Perepechenko

Long moved? Alone or with family? Where did you work before?

Alexey: I’m from Stary Oskol. He moved to London with his wife two years ago, ten years before living in Moscow. Prior to Badoo, he worked at Acronis.

Pavel: Before moving to the UK, I lived in Kuala Lumpur for two years, worked in a small startup. We left there with my wife, because Moscow completely stopped arranging.

Ivan: He moved five years ago, with his wife and son. Prior to that, he worked in the Moscow office of Badoo.

Timur: He worked in Moscow at Mail.ru Group. He moved to London in October 2017 with his wife.

Andrei: I am from Novosibirsk, but before moving I lived in St. Petersburg. Before Badoo, I worked at Aviasales for five years. My wife and I moved to London in 2018.

Mikhail: Before moving, we (wife, two sons and I) lived in a suburb of Moscow. I worked mainly from home, remotely, and also led my projects. My family and I have been living in London for the third year.

What were your first feelings after moving?

Alexei: A friendly country with a huge number of tourists (it strikes how many there can be).

Pavel: Moving to London (as well as to Kuala Lumpur) was moving to a city and a country where I had never been. In Kuala Lumpur, I planned to live for a while, but I knew for sure that this was not a move forever. And here I immediately felt that “it suits me.” Fun fact: half a century ago, Malaysia was a British colony, so when I arrived in London, I was surprised how much I know about the behavior of people and the functioning of everything around.

Ivan: Before the move, I was on a business trip several times, so I had an idea about the city. I arrived alone, found a home, and then I moved my family. In general, everything went fine.

Timur: The first days were, on the one hand, difficult: it was necessary to adapt to a new rhythm of life, to get comfortable. On the other hand, it was very interesting, I wanted to see everything, visit all the museums.

Andrew: Oh gods, how does your Soho stink in this! ..

Michael: First impressions – “Wow, how cool everything is here, unusual and cool!” I have never been to London before moving, but I visited other European cities and had a rough idea of ​​what to expect.

What do you like in the new country?

Alexey : I really like the weather. In addition, London is one of the greenest capitals, something constantly blossoms here. People are in no hurry, very rarely you can encounter negative emotions on the street. With a high level of prosperity, there is little pathos and pomposity. More cars: if you like cool cars, London will appeal to you.

Pavel : The short answer is: “I like everything.” I have always believed that Moscow is not a city for life; it is a city where you can earn. In Moscow, I was uncomfortable. In London I feel comfortable living here is cool. This is such a boiler in which everyone is mixed and everyone is accepted. Well, or at least they pretend that they accept: if the real thoughts of people do not affect me in any way, then I do not mind that this is so. Probably, this is not the right time to say this, but I like the local predictability and traditionality – “Englishness”.

Ivan : Firstly, the opportunity to live in a metropolis relatively close to the center in an apartment with a private garden: you can call friends for a barbecue, put a swing or slide for children. Secondly, it is very easy and interesting to travel around the country: there are many viewing platforms, places for recreation along roads, museums, castles, hotels.

You can break somewhere on the weekend (only hotel room prices are not encouraging). Thirdly, in London there is a large selection of products: for lovers of cheese, sausages, wine, beer – a paradise. All year round you can eat fresh berries and fruits. Products are slightly more expensive than in Moscow. I only miss the torpedo melon, and my wife misses Borodino bread and squash caviar.

Timur : I like the rich history of the country, its attitude to nature, and the courtesy of people.

Andrew : There is a greater level of freedom of travel at a comparable cost.

Michael : I like the climate – warm and rather humid, without strong heat in summer and cold in winter. The streets are clean. I like the attitude of people – generally friendly and very unobtrusive. I like ordering and following the rules, focus on order and common sense. Ecology, product quality is generally better. I like that I can catch a train – and be in Paris in two hours, and in Amsterdam in four hours.

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IT Jobs in London: 5 Stories of Expats About Living in London 2
Peter Perepechenko

What do you dislike?

Alexei: This is amazing, but the service here is so-so. To conduct Internet in an apartment in a day or two? Forget it! It will take a week or two at best. At the same time, the speed will be lower, and the price will be much higher than in Russia. Delivery from the online store during the day? Forget it! It’s lucky if Amazon Prime ships your order the next day. Some products, such as small furniture, can be expected for a week.

Pavel: I’m probably not very demanding, but the only thing I don’t like is the inability to do business quickly. If you want to rent an apartment, lay it for a couple of months. If you want to spend the Internet – lay a couple of weeks. If you want to get some service, wait again. Surprisingly, I’m not from England.

Ivan: There are problems with petty crime (I just did not expect this). They got into our car, cleaned a house from friends, they can grab a phone on the street. The reason is simple: the police were offended by the fact that Teresa May had reduced funding at the time and acted on the principle of “we said that it would be worse.” I don’t like how taxes are spent: you start paying more attention to it when you see how much money you give to the state.

Timur: Sometimes there is a lot of garbage in the city center, especially in the mornings. I certainly did not expect this: my idea of ​​European cities was probably too idealistic.

Andrew: Nothing comes to mind, I’m unpretentious.

Michael: Expensive housing. For example, my monthly rent (including payment of gas, electricity, water, Internet, consular fees) costs 2,250 pounds (about 190,000 rubles). It’s about an apartment in the format of two bedrooms (three-way in our opinion). And I live far from the city center (it is about 40 minutes by metro). And then there are high taxes – about 40% of income.

What did you have to get used to for a long time and what could you never get used to?

Alexey: This is food. She’s just different. Unfortunately, I could not get used to the local cuisine and I consider it tasteless. Worthy establishments can be found, but you need to try if you do not want to leave a fabulous sum for dinner. And, probably, you should immediately stop translating prices into rubles (or the currency that you used before) – here many things are much more expensive.

Pavel: Perhaps, it took the longest time to get used to the language – to British English, which in addition also has a bunch of different accents. I still sometimes ask people around to get them right. Somehow, soon after moving, I stood at the bus stop, looked at the schedule when my bus arrived, and waited.

A guy came up to me and asked if I had something. I did not understand what he was asking about, so I asked again. He repeated his request, but that did not help me. Therefore, just in case, I said that I do not have this. From the expression on his face, I realized that it turned out to be somehow very embarrassing, as if I had insulted him and generally did not consider him a person.

And now I’m standing, I feel like the last scum and in my head I scroll through that set of sounds again and again, until, finally, I don’t understand what he was asking about the bus schedule in the phone that I watched before how he approached me. I apologized, said that I did not understand what he had said, and asked if he was interested in the schedule of buses. And so it turned out.

Ivan:Medicine is specific. In my opinion, free medicine is much better than Russian. But in Russia, normal employers provide insurance with which you can get good service, but there is practically no such service here: insurance allows you to only slightly improve the quality of medical services, but not by an order of magnitude like ours. And here is a specific education system: it is necessary to deal with it. Once upon a time, schools were divided into grammar schools, which prepared children for entering universities, and ordinary schools were easier for people.

Then they decided that this strengthens the stratification of society, so grammar schools began to remodel into ordinary ones (and not vice versa). Therefore, now we must very carefully approach the choice of the area of ​​residence so that the children get into a normal secondary school. With elementary school it’s easier, but you also need to look at the rating: housing in areas with higher-rated schools is more expensive.

But if you move without children or with small children, then it does not matter. Well, and probably you won’t surprise anyone with two separate taps for hot and cold water: this is the case in our house, although, apparently, we were just unlucky – this phenomenon is becoming less common in public places and new apartments.

Timur: The British are more open. So far, I have not always managed to be the same: to maintain short conversations about the weather, etc., to smile more.

Andrei: I’m still sad to give four times as much rent as in Russia. And here it’s difficult with heating. I think this is the standard for apartment buildings – the lack of central heating: each apartment has its own boiler, you can heat, you can not heat. We are used to the fact that in Russia the apartments are hot in the winter, and here you choose the temperature yourself – the question is price. This was one of the experiments when moving – to set different heating modes and compare the cost. According to my estimates, every degree after +20 is about +10 pounds to the account (but this is the case with our boiler and our house). So if you are used to the heat, then it is not so expensive. The main thing – do not rent apartments with electric boilers – go broke.

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Michael: It’s hard to get used to the fact that you need to plan your vacation in advance. Local schools are very scrupulous about skipping classes: just taking children and going on vacation in the middle of a semester will not work. And during the holidays, airfare prices are much higher, since at that time everyone flies. Sometimes it’s more profitable to pay a penalty for absenteeism (yes, there is one, its size is about 50 pounds) for the opportunity to save hundreds, or even thousands of pounds, flying away a few days before the holidays.

IT Jobs in London: 5 Stories of Expats About Living in London 3
Vadim Istratov

Was there something that surprised you?

Alexey: Weather! There are a lot of sunny days in London. There is practically no rain, and if there are, it is weak and short. For a year and a half, I saw a shower five times.

Pavel: Something constantly happens that surprises – it’s a different culture! The lines to restaurants, cafes and many more where, for example, never cease to amaze. The device of the local health system was surprising at first. It is surprising that culinary gods live across the strait, and people on the island did not learn how to cook. I am exclusively talking about British cuisine – everything is fine with the rest.

Ivan: Pleasantly surprised by the manner of communication of the British. They are incredibly cool able to convey their point of view, without turning to the individual and not hitting the opponent. It is very pleasant to watch how the British argue, describe the shortcomings of people or report children: very restrained, constructively, on business. It was also surprising that, on the one hand, everything was in order, and on the other, Londoners dumped garbage bags directly onto the sidewalk on the day of garbage collection. If you go to work, you go around.

Timur: I was surprised that London, despite its size, gives the impression of a suburb. Most areas outside the historic center consist of two to three story houses. Also surprised by the number of parks and greenery in general – there really are a lot of them.

Andrew: It turned out that in this civilized Europe of yours, not all people clean up after their animals! I was surprised that the metro (one of the most important infrastructural systems in the city!) May simply stop working due to a strike: the metro staff didn’t like something – one or several lines take up a couple of days. In Moscow, this is simply impossible. And with the high cost of the metro in London, it is completely unreliable: as clearly as in Moscow, it does not work.

Michael: Pleasantly surprised by the diversity of nature in Britain. There are a lot of interesting scenic spots within a few hours by train or car from London.

IT Jobs in London: 5 Stories of Expats About Living in London 4
Vadim Istratov

How do you spend your free time? Is there enough communication?

Alexei: Just last week, we had our first gathering of Badoo squash fans (there are seven of us so far). Before moving to London, I had not heard about this game, but it turned out to be quite interesting and very active. We also periodically meet on the barbecue and other home gatherings.

Pavel: My leisure is very diverse. In winter and in bad weather my wife and I visit museums. In good weather, we either walk or go somewhere: depending on the time that we have, it can be a trip by bicycle or by train. We have compiled a list of places we want to see, and are slowly moving along it. Sometimes we go to Whitstable (Whitstable, an hour by train from London) to eat fresh oysters, go to visit friends.

Ivan: I spend my free time mainly with family and friends. We travel around the country, fly to Russia once or twice a year, and once a year we bring our parents to visit. Sometimes my wife and I hire a nanny and spend time together. I also read, take courses, solder. I have enough communication, but I would like to find friends among the locals: they are friendly, but they are in no hurry to make friends with visitors.

Timur: In my free time I either go in for sports (running, swimming pool, gym) or programming. In general, I have enough communication – there is always the opportunity to meet with colleagues after hours. And the locals are open to communication.

Andrew: I spend my leisure time in theaters, pubs, programming, traveling or watching vidos on YouTube. I am not the most sociable person in the world, so communication is quite enough for me.

Mikhail: I can hardly be called a very sociable person, I spend most of my free time with my family, and that suits me. My wife is much more difficult in this regard – she lacks friends and relatives who have remained in Russia.

How did your parents and friends relate to your move?

Alexey: I took part in the hiring event Badoo: I had an interview and received an offer on the same day. Almost nobody knew that I was going to this event, so for many it was a shock when I called in the evening and said that I was moving to London. I come to Russia on average once every four to five months, there have never been problems with tourist visas for friends and relatives, so everything is fine in this regard.

Pavel: Friends reacted positively. Parents at first thought it was not serious and not for long.

Timur: Parents fully approved my decision to move, my friends too. Many of them have already managed to come and visit local sights.

Andrew: This is not my first move, so the attitude was calm. From Novosibirsk, I first moved to Thailand for a year and a half, and then to Peter another four.

Michael: Parents and friends miss, we too.

IT Jobs in London: 5 Stories of Expats About Living in London 5
Peter Perepechenko

Has your quality of life changed? Tell us about financial and other aspects.

Alexei: The quality of life has improved markedly. This mainly concerns housing and food. But you need to understand that renting a home will take up a significant portion of the salary.

Pavel: In London, my wife and I are calmer, more comfortable. This feeling affected the financial aspect. In Moscow, we had to constantly compensate for the discomfort with expenses: we almost never ate at home, eating in restaurants and cafes, constantly went somewhere to drink coffee with friends.

Now we don’t even want all this, we don’t break down at the cinema at one o’clock in the morning to watch no matter what. On the one hand, in London it is much more expensive, like the entire service sector, on the other hand, we now feel comfortable and have a constant need to escape somewhere, there’s simply no distraction.

Ivan: At the first time after the move, I did not know what awaited me, so I approached all expenses with caution, checked how much was spent, how much was left. But even during this period it was impossible to say that I was denying something to myself. About a year later, there was a feeling that there was enough for everything, enough money – and we looked at the apartment more expensively with a garden, bought a car, began to travel, we had a second child. I’m definitely more comfortable here than it was in Russia.

Timur: The rhythm of life has changed: London is much calmer than Moscow. Housing conditions have improved significantly. In general, the financial situation also improved slightly.

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Andrei: Financially, the quality of life dipped slightly, mainly due to sharply increased costs for rental housing. But if you do not look for a dream apartment, then you can get comfortable.

Michael: The quality of life after moving is likely to have deteriorated. You can live pretty well on the IT specialist’s salary in Moscow. We still have our own apartment there, there was no need to rent a house, so with the advent of this expense item the difference became noticeable. In addition, in general, we became less free in movement: we cannot go on vacation when it is convenient for us, because we have to adapt to the school schedule.

IT Jobs in London: 5 Stories of Expats About Living in London 6
At the office of Badoo

You are satisfied? If you could once again decide to move, what would you do? And what does your spouse think about this?

Alexey: Am I satisfied? Of course, yes! I moved to London, never having been here before, immediately with all things. This is the only point that has been controversial. But I had no expectations: I knew that it would be different (no better and no worse – just different), so there were no special problems. But potentially, of course, it is better to go see the city in advance and understand how you feel.

Pavel: I ’m quite satisfied. If I had the opportunity, I would have done it before. My wife in general is in solidarity, the more she also found work in London.

Ivan: I approached the move consciously, so I do not regret it. My wife did not like it at first, but now she is very happy.

Timur: Totally satisfied. If there was an opportunity to repeat, he would do the same. As for the wife, everything here is not easy. I divorced, but already managed to get married again. So all is well.

Andrei: I am satisfied, but I would be glad to do otherwise – to move a few years earlier. The wife is also happy. She really helps communication with the wives of my colleagues, they have a kind of club here.

Michael: I am pleased that I decided on this step. Now I know everything from my own experience and can objectively compare life in Moscow and London. I initially understood what I was losing and what I was gaining. I am glad that my child now speaks English better than me and without an accent. As for the wife, she has not yet been able to fully adapt here.

Are you planning to return?

Alexey: Hardly, but not sure that I will stay in London forever. After a year of living here, I realized that I see no reason to live in one country all my life. Even such close countries as Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, which have common borders, are so different that it is simply amazing. It would seem that 200 km – but a completely different mentality, architecture, weather, food.

Pavel: No, I do not plan.

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Ivan: Before moving, I understood that this could be temporary, I was ready to stop the experiment at any time and just put it in the “Interesting Experience” column. My wife did not like much, I wanted to go home. But at some point, everything passed. I love coming to Russia on vacation or at work, but there is no desire to stay. As well as looking for an alternative to London.

Timur: Not yet. I like living in London, I have a desire to integrate more into the environment and develop.

Andrew: No thanks. One of the advantages of moving was access to Amazon (and especially to Amazon Fresh – food delivery), now it will be difficult without it.

Michael: We are considering such an option. But we have not decided yet, we are not burning bridges yet.

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