Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

Destination in Focus: London

Practical advice on finding a job and a place to live London, with useful links to Irish organisations, social and business networks and emergency assistance, prepared in collaboration with the London Irish Centre.

Thu, Dec 1, 2011, 07:00


Prepared in collaboration with the London Irish Centre.

As Ireland’s closest neighbour, the United Kingdom has long been the most popular destination for Irish people looking to move abroad. The last census revealed that there are almost 870,000 Irish-born people living in England and Wales, though as emigrants from Ireland don’t need a visa to work in the UK, it is difficult to know how many Irish people have moved there in recent years.

Visas and work permits

Irish citizens do not need a visa to work as an employee or a self-employed person in the UK. Citizens of countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) need to apply for a visa. See for more information.

Find a job

Recruitment agencies can be helpful if you are looking for a job in a specialist area: Kelly Services, Adecco and Hays are some of the biggest, with offices in all major UK cities. Websites such as,, and are also useful.

Find a place to live

One of your first considerations when moving to London should be what type of accommodation you will need, where you want to live and, most importantly, what you can afford.

Although accessing accommodation is comparable to Ireland, what is striking is the high cost of privately rented accommodation, the level of competition, and large difference in price from one area to another.

Good properties do not stay on the market in London for long. If you find a property you like, you will need to have a deposit and documentation in order so you can proceed immediately. If you delay by just a day, the property may be given to someone else.

Landlords and estate agents usually request two references, one professional and one from a previous landlord. Have these ready.

Useful facts

Private renting rates in Central London can be double that of outer boroughs. Central boroughs include Westminster, Camden, Islington, Southwark, Kensington and Chelsea.
According to Homelet in August 2011, London tenants paid an average of £1,202 per month in rent. This is an increase of 12.2 per cent compared to the same month in 2010.
The average house price in London was £348,686 as of August 2011 according to the Land Registry House Price Index.

Council Tax

Once you have found your property, Council Tax can be a considerable expense when living in London. The Valuation Office Agency website ( contains information on how much Council Tax you have to pay within each London borough.

Before agreeing to rent a property, make sure you establish whether you are responsible for paying Council Tax. If there is a written Tenancy Agreement, it should state whether the landlord or tenant is responsible. If your Council Tax evaluation is high compared with other similar properties on your street, it is possible to have it reviewed. See the Directgov website for more information.  

Social Housing

The waiting list for social housing in the UK is extremely long, as London and the South East of England are facing a housing crisis. The pressure on the government to provide accommodation means that they often will not consider demands from recent immigrants, unless your conditions are very severe. In any case, you will have to prove that you are currently homeless and have local connections, i.e. that you have been living in a particular borough for 6 out of the last 12 months, or for 3 out of the past 5 years. You will also have to be particularly vulnerable to qualify. Each borough council has a housing allocation policy, which details how they allocate social housing. Further information on this can be found on the borough council websites.

Social and Business Networks

London Irish Network:

Irish International Business Network:

London Uilleann Pipers Club:

Irish Arts Foundation:

Irish Ceilis in London:

The Glas London, social and business network and advice forum:

Irish Youth Foundation:

Irish websites:

Irish in Britain:

Irish goods in the UK:

Young Irish Professionals Abroad:

Irish Organisations and Support Services

Federation of Irish Societies, lists all Irish societies and organisations in the UK by area:

Irish Housing Association:

London Irish Centre Camden:

Crinklewood Homeless Concern:

Irish World Heritage Centre:

Cara Housing Association:

Immigrant Counselling and Psychotherapy:

Irish in Greenwich:

Celtic and Irish Cultural Society:

Irish Diaspora Research Unit:

Conradh Na Gaeilge:

Brent Irish Advisory Service:


Irish Embassy in London:

Safe Home (return to Ireland):

Aisling holidays and care for older Irish:

Safe Start, employment, accommodation, training and advice:

Irish Chaplaincy:

GAA in the UK:

North London Gaelic Football Club:

London Irish Rugby:

London Irish Amateur Rugby:

London GAA at Ruislip:

Croydon Camogie:

UCC Diaspora football team:

Irish News

The Irish Post:

The Irish World:

This guide to moving to the UK was prepared in collaboration with the London Irish Centre, which has been providing a “home away from home” for the Irish community in London for the past 50 years. They are currently working on a research project to examine the needs of recently arrived Irish people in London, the largest project of its kind ever undertaken. If you have been in London for less than 12 months, please take 10 minutes to complete their survey:

If you have any tips or suggestions for new arrivals or those considering a move to the UK, please add them in the comments section below.