Amy Heslop from Global Expatriate Tax Services (GETS) and Expatriate Tax Services London Ltd, official Expat Focus UK Taxation partners dealing with expatriate cross border issues, discusses why US expats are choosing to move to the UK.
The UK’s rich and abundant history stands out as a major attraction for Americans, making it a preferred destination for relocation. According to NYshipping.com, history ranks as the top reason for Americans moving to the UK, alongside other appealing factors such as labor market opportunities, employee protection, and excellent transport connections. However, what truly sets the UK’s history apart is its remarkable accessibility, as it permeates the very streets and surroundings of the country. The presence of numerous churches, museums, and stately homes means that captivating stories and diverse cultures from the past become an integral part of everyday life in the UK.
England’s capital is the most popular city for people to move to. When we think of the attractions and images synonymous with London, such as the Houses of Parliament, these we owe to the Victorian era. During this epoch, London expanded from a city still trapped inside Roman walls surrounded by fields to become an international trade and finance hub for the world. However, London’s social culture really blossoms way before the Victorian period, even before the Georgians.
The city’s redesign, after the 1666 Great Fire of London, brought about the mass construction of bricked terraces, public buildings, and landmarks such as St. Paul’s Cathedral and Kensington Palace. The buildings that appeared in the aftermath of the Great Fire made London more organised and modern than any other European city at the time.
There are also countless history hotspots where you can learn about London’s dramatic and exciting past. For example, you can visit the Tower of London, where many of Britain’s most notorious rebels were imprisoned. You could also go to the National Gallery, which is home to some of the best art spanning seven centuries. Another favourite is Buckingham Palace, which has been home to British monarchs since James I. With plenty of hotspots as well as incredible architecture and exciting cultural events, it’s not difficult to see the allure London offers for US expats.
Oxford also scores highly as a place people choose to live in. Nicknamed ‘The City of Spires’ this city is famous for its skyline of gothic towers and steeples, most of which belong to one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities: Oxford. The Thames and Cherwell rivers add to Oxford’s pull with classic scenes of the river sport ‘punting’, which has been a quintessentially Oxford activity since the 1800s. Oxford University itself was established during the reign of King Henry III in the 1250s. It made breakthroughs in translating the work of Greek philosophy, and that kickstarted Oxford’s cultural reputation for theology, art and science.
Oxford’s history became almost interchangeable with the university’s history as the two flourished together. Christchurch college (where many scenes from Harry Potter were filmed) is both a college and cathedral. It is open to the public with the university’s signature garden squares and bewitching halls and common rooms. Christchurch college was founded by Henry VIII and his influential advisor Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. The Tudor era also sees Oxford’s Broad street (home of picturesque bookshops and museums) as the site for burning Protestants at the stake! This would have been under Bloody Mary or Queen Mary I.
Edinburgh is also an in-demand city for expat relocation, often described as “where centuries of history meet a cosmopolitan urban expat scene”. Dugald Stewart (a pioneer of the Scottish Enlightenment period) and Robert Burns (Scotland’s national poet who has his own annual public holiday) are immortalised here. There are monuments to rival that of Greece, in the surrounding hills which frame Edinburgh. As well as 360-degree hill views, Edinburgh’s 200 odd statues also mean Scotland’s colourful past decorate the very streets you walk through. The statues range from depicting humans such as Adam Smith and Robert the Bruce to Wojtek the bear!
Britain’s Stuart period (think Gunpowder plot, Witch hunts and the Cavalier and Roundhead Civil War) begins with the first King of both Scotland and England. Edinburgh is taken to new heights under his rule. Interestingly, James IV himself is crowned with the stone of scone and the Scottish Crown Jewels – housed in his birthplace Edinburgh Castle.
The castle stands over Edinburgh’s thirteen neighbourhoods, each bursting with their own personality and historic identity. The Victorian Portobello is a contemporary contrast to the royal Old Town. Edinburgh’s ‘Royal Mile’ in the Old Town is comprised of the Castle and the Palace of Holyrood house. They stand proudly amidst gardens, festivals sites and restaurants. It’s a prime example of how city life blends with the remnants of a thrilling history.
Overall, it is the culture derived from Britain’s history that enhances the desirability of cities such as London, Oxford, and Edinburgh for US expats. The accessibility, architectural marvels, historical landmarks, and cultural events all contribute to the charm and fascination that these cities hold, making them irresistible destinations for those seeking to experience the richness of British history firsthand.