Moving to Brighton
Brighton, a coastal city in the south east of England, is famous for its piers, pavilion and alternative vibe. It has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the most relaxed and welcoming cities in the UK, and this is reflected in the fact that it is home to one of the country’s largest gay communities.
On sunny summer days, hoards of day-trippers head down from London, which is only a one-hour train ride away, to relax on the beach and enjoy the many pubs, restaurants, and nightclubs that make it the best nightspot for miles around.
It is also a fashionable city known for its fantastic shopping, especially in the Laines, where you will find boutique stores hidden away in tiny alleyways that are ripe for exploring.
Trendy, vibrant, and exciting, the city is a thriving multicultural center that is large enough to have everything an expat could want, while being small enough to feel welcoming. It is also surrounded to the north by the beautiful South Downs, which provides plenty of opportunities to discover southern England’s stunning countryside at any time of the year.
Brighton is home to a booming digital sector. A large number of digital agencies have popped up over recent years, and there are over 1,000 technology and digital companies. According to Brighton and Sussex Universities’ research, the digital sector is growing much faster in Brighton than nationally, and a fifth of jobs in the city are accounted for by creative industries.
There are over 25,000 self-employed people in the city, so self-employed expats should feel right at home. And because the creative sector often work with overseas clients, there is also demand for multilingual employees.
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The latest unemployment rates are slightly higher in Brighton than nationally, at 2.4% of the working population. The number of unemployed people was 3,540 in February 2015, down from 4,790 the previous year.
American Express is the largest private employer in the city. Its European headquarters are based in Brighton, and it employs about 3,000 people, so this is a good option for expats seeking work.
Other big industries are retail and tourism. Lots of tourists visit Brighton throughout the year, and especially in the summer months, including tourists from the UK as well as overseas. Bars, restaurants, shops and hotels all provide potential job opportunities for expats. Tourism in the city is also expected to increase following the opening of the i360, a 162-metre observation platform on the seafront.
Brighton is also home to a large number of language schools. During the summer months, students from across Europe stay in the city to learn English, providing job opportunities for qualified ESL teachers.
Overall, Brighton is one of the more expensive destinations to live in the UK. However, it is still cheaper than London, making it a popular destination for commuters who can travel into London quickly without paying the higher London prices.
According to NatWest’s Cost of Living Survey in 2015, Brighton came in 16th place for cost-effectiveness for students out of 25 university cities.
Restaurants are available in all price ranges, with a cheap meal starting at about $15, and a mid-range meal for two costing in the region of $50. Groceries are on a par with other UK cities.
Brighton has an excellent bus network, and a single journey in the city will cost between $2.50 and $3.75. Taxis are also plentiful, and you can expect to pay between $6.25 and $12.45 for short journeys in the city.
If you intend to travel to London frequently for work or leisure, the train journey from Brighton to London takes one hour. An off-peak day return costs around $35, an anytime day return costs $61 while a single costs $22.
The average rent per month for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,095, and a three-bedroom apartment is $2,110. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,572 a month, and rent for a four-bedroom house is $2,240. Rental prices have risen by over 6% in the last year, which compares to 11% for London. Competition is strong, with three people competing for every room that comes onto the market.
House prices are rising in Brighton, and they have gone up 11% in the last year. This compares to an average rise of 6.6% in East Sussex. The average price is now $345,902, compared to the average of $225,450 in England and Wales, and $598,230 in London.
Most of the apartments throughout the city have been converted from houses. However, many houses still remain that have not been converted into apartments.
When it comes to home ownership, 23.4% of residents own their own home, 29.9% have a mortgage, 28% rent privately and 14.9% live in social rented accommodation.
According to official Housing Market Reports, the advertised cost to rent is $1,085 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,862 for a three-bedroom house. The average cost of one-bedroom apartment is $261,895, and a three-bedroom house is $511,710.
Brighton has a number of attractive neighbourhoods, all of which have their own unique characters. From the trendy to the family-friendly, there is something for everyone.
Family-friendly: Hove Park is a popular option for families. Houses here are mainly semi-detached Victorian and Edwardian properties, and it has a reputation for being one of the grandest areas of the city with lots of space and an affluent feel. The Dorothy Stringer comprehensive school is just one of the private schools nearby. Preston Park is another popular area where you will also find good public schools. It is located north of the city center, and it has large terraced houses and detached houses. It also has its own station. The area surrounding Queen’s Park north of Eastern Road is also popular with families, where you will find a selection of large detached and semi-detached Edwardian properties as well as terraced houses.
Upmarket: Some of the most prestigious addresses are in the Regency squares that you will find along the seafront, including Brunswick Square, Lewes Crescent, and Palmeira Square. These are mainly apartments, and apartments with balconies are particularly popular. Montpelier Villas is another exclusive address, and in 2009 it was came in ninth place in a ranking of the most expensive streets in Sussex.
Hip & trendy: Kemp Town is known as the hippest place to live in Brighton. It has a shopping area of its own, a vibrant café culture, lots of bars and clubs, and it is near to the beach. This cosmopolitan neighbourhood is popular with student and young people, and it is also the heart of the gay community. It is mainly made up of converted apartments.
Up & coming: Hanover is one of the areas seen as up and coming in Brighton, and it is currently a popular place for students. Poets Corner is a fairly affordable neighbourhood made up of terraced houses. It could be the perfect choice if you are looking for value for money, and it is also fairly quiet compared to the more central neighbourhoods.
Cost of moving
Based on the cost of shipping a 20-foot container, here is the cost of moving for the average family of four from the following major cities:
Schools and education
There are a number of public and private schools in Brighton, both primary and secondary. In total there are:
- 39 public primary schools
- 9 public secondary schools
- 6 special schools
- 5 private primary schools
- 5 private secondary schools
Notable schools include Brighton College, which has subsidiary British-curriculum schools around the world that are under licence to the college, and Varndean College, which offers the International Baccalaureate to students from 16 to 18 years old.
Universities in Brighton
Brighton is also home to two universities. The University of Sussex is one of the best universities in the UK. It is currently ranked 14th in the UK and 111th in the world, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
The University of Brighton has campuses in the city as well as in nearby towns. It was founded in 1859 and is one of the top research centers in the UK. The Complete University Guide ranks it 76th in the UK 2016.
Ranking against the world
Brighton is known far and wide as one of the most lively and bohemian cities in the UK. Many people who want to live in the south east of the country choose to live here as an alternative to London because they can enjoy lower prices, great access to the countryside, and the beach. Although it is more costly to live than places like Manchester and Liverpool, compared to London it remains a cost-effective place to live.
Brighton is popular with families and professionals, and it is a popular city for expats. It is a very tolerant place, and people of all nationalities are welcomed. Expats looking for somewhere they can fit in and be welcomed into the community will instantly feel at home.
A day in the life
Brighton’s main attraction is its beach, which is popular with locals and visitors alike. During the summer, the beach becomes packed with sun worshippers and watersports enthusiasts. The seafront is lined with cafés, bars, and nightclubs, and you will also find volleyball courts, a play park and shops, making it the central hub of the city during the summer months. In short, you could easily spend the entire day here without ever stepping off the beach.
Feel like shopping? Residents have a fantastic range of shopping throughout the city, from the Churchill Square Shopping Center to the fashionable boutiques in the Laines, where you can get lost in the tiny streets and find some unique items in the independent stores.
If you simply want to spend the afternoon in the park, Brighton has a good selection of pleasant parks to relax in, including Queen’s Park, Preston Park and Hove Park. If you want to head out in the evening, there is a lively cultural scene, with the Theater Royal and the Komedia comedy club being particularly popular.
Residents of Brighton also have fantastic access to the beautiful surrounding countryside. The South Downs are right on the city’s doorstep, providing lots of countryside to explore in close proximity to the city, which is ideal for weekend walks and family outings.