As a London removals company, we often hear what new arrivals make of life in the UK. We also hear a lot from people moving back home after living here for a while. It’s really interesting to find out what people’s expectations were before they got here.

To get a more scientific understanding, we polled more than 500 people to get their opinions on life in the UK and how it compares to what they were expecting before they came.

On the whole, almost half said life in the UK was better than expected, 15% said it was as expected and 37% said it was worse than expected with the weather, the nightlife and friendly locals most impressing new arrivals.

Better than expected

57% of respondents said the UK weather was better than expected, although this year’s summer heatwave may have something to do with the generally positive perceptions.

More than three quarters said the nightlife and entertainment was better than expected.

The people of the UK appear to have made a good impression too. The UK’s work ethic, sense of humour and attractiveness were all rated as better than expected.

But it was the UK’s friendliness that really impressed, with 92% saying the UK was friendlier than expected.

Worse than expected

It wasn’t all positive though. 57% said the food was ‘as expected’ and 28% said it was worse than expected. The UK’s culinary offerings exceed expectations for just 15%.

Public transport was the biggest disappointment for new arrivals. 74% said it was worse than expected, 16% said it was as expected and 10% said it was better than expected.

Regan McMillan, director of Kiwi Movers who moved to the UK from New Zealand in 2007, says:

“The UK should be proud at just how much it exceeds expectations. There’s a reason people leave behind great places like New Zealand, Australia and America to experience UK life. We help a lot of people from New Zealand and Australia move back home after staying in the UK and the vast majority tell us they’re sad to leave.”

Although McMillan warned that the study shouldn’t be taken to reflect the views of everyone who moves to the UK.

“The majority of those who took part in the survey came to the UK from English-speaking countries, like New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the States. They have the advantage of shared culture, common language and large expat communities that act as an important support network.”

Full study results

Worse than expected As expected Better than expected
Cost of living 59.69% 2.11% 38.20%
Weather 38.39% 4.61% 57.01%
Food 27.83% 57.39% 14.78%
Nightlife/entertainment 19.96% 3.65% 76.39%
Public transport 73.90% 15.93% 10.17%
Attractive 31.48% 29.75% 38.77%
Hard-working 40.50% 9.21% 50.29%
Friendliness 2.30% 5.37% 92.32%
Sense of humour 38.39% 17.08% 44.53%
Intelligence 33.40% 9.21% 57.39%


About the study


Between the dates of September 22nd and September 24th, we polled 521 adults who moved to the UK in the past five years, some of whom have since moved away from the UK. Nationalities polled were; Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, United States of America, Canada, Spain, Zimbabwe, France, Sweden, China, India, Pakistan, Poland, Czech Republic.