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Moving to London as a Software Engineer in the UK

If you’re a software engineer in the UK who’s never lived in London, there’s a good chance you’re curious what the city might offer from a career perspective—regardless of whether you’ve just finished your computer science degree or you’re a seasoned engineer. This guide can help you sift through some of the questions you might have about getting a job, negotiating your salary, and relocating to the UK’s vibrant capital city.

Getting the job

There’s no doubt that you’ll run into strong job competition in London, which is home to nearly 400,000 software engineers (the highest number in any European city). But don’t let this discourage you: When asked about their ability to recruit skilled workers, London-based companies were amongst the least optimistic. This suggests that, despite a high amount of competition, there are still plenty of great opportunities for talented software engineers in London—perhaps in part due to the fact that there are nearly 5,000 tech startups in the city. 

In addition, it’s worth noting that the outcome of Brexit may impact companies’ ability to hire developers from the rest of the EU—potentially creating more opportunities for British engineers looking to move to London.

When it comes to finding and landing a dream London job, there are a number of tactics you should consider employing simultaneously to increase your chances of success. To begin with, many tech companies use job platforms like Hired to identify and hire talent, so take a look at the various options and spend some time creating a strong applicant profile before beginning your applications. 

In addition, in-person interactions can be invaluable when it comes to building relationships with people at your dream companies, so consider spending some time in London to increase the amount of face time you get with potential employers. The thriving tech ecosystem in London means there are tons of free meetups, events, networking opportunities, and even job fairs, particularly in east London and around the Old Street area. 

Financial expectations

The good news is that salaries in London tend to be higher than in the rest of the UK, so there’s a good chance you’ll experience a salary bump when you make the move. It’s also important to keep in mind that there can be a significant amount of variation between roles, even within London. According to Hired data, embedded, blockchain, and data engineers see the highest average salaries in London.

Hired 2019 State of Software Engineers Report 

These averages are a good starting place for negotiating a salary offer if you feel it’s not fair—particularly if you’re offered significantly less. On the flip side, however, don’t let averages constrain what you ask for. If you’re an experienced engineer, you can probably expect a salary well above the average, and it’s worth the effort to negotiate for it. 

In addition, keep in mind that the cost of living in London tends to be higher than in other UK cities, so don’t be limited by your salary in previous roles. For example, consumer prices including rent are more than 50% higher in London than in Manchester, so someone on a Manchester salary would more likely struggle to make ends meet in London. This might be another point to bring up in a salary negotiation—after all, your future employer should want you to be comfortable enough financially that you’re not distracted from work because of financial constraints.

While the London job market can be competitive and cost of living might seem prohibitive, the demand for software engineers in London and higher salaries in the capital city make the city a great option for many engineers looking to advance their careers and enjoy the benefits of living in a major international city.