Table of Contents
- 1 Visa application
- 2 Neighborhoods popular with digital nomads
- 3 Cost of living and cost of living arbitrage
- 4 Accommodation
- 5 Utilities
- 6 Groceries
- 7 Internet
- 8 Best co-working spaces
- 9 Crypto community
- 10 Nomad community
- 11 Local nomad job opportunities
- 12 Popular recreational activities and fun spots
- 13 Transportation
- 14 Is London a safe city?
- 15 Cultural and social norms
- 16 Political and economic stability
- 17 Language and Language Barriers
- 18 Health Sector
- 19 Electronic standards
- 20 Telephone plans and cost
- 21 Payment services and infrastructure
- 22 Climate and seasons
- 23 Cuisine/ food
- 24 Tax requirements on digital nomads
- 25 Common concerns
London is an exciting and diverse city that welcomes digital nomads from all over the world. Its multiculturalism, historical sites, cultural attractions, and several other aspects offer a unique experience for digital nomads. Whether looking for a place to stay, a job, or exploring, this city has something for you.
For digital nomads planning to stay in London, this comprehensive guide can help you move around the city and maximize your stay.
Digital nomads hoping to stay in London City have a few visa entry options. The UK gets quite a significant number of visitors, with the latest stats showing that 31% of visas granted were for visit purposes and 18% were for work.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any Digital Nomad visa in the UK. However, standard visitors can work remotely for foreign-based businesses while staying in the UK.
Entry for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens
EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens can enter the UK for short trips without a visa. You only need a valid passport for your entire trip and can stay for up to 6 months.
You can also use your national ID card to enter the UK until 31st December 2025 if you:
- Have a settled or pre-settled status under the EU, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man’s settlement schemes.
- Possess an EU Settlement Scheme family permit or an equivalent from Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man.
- Are a Swiss national and possess a Service Provider from Switzerland visa.
- Own a frontier worker permit.
- Are an S2 Healthcare Visitor.
You can’t do paid or unpaid work for UK companies during your visa-free stay.
Those with EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen national ID cards who have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme can use them to enter the UK while their application is being processed.
The Common Travel Area (CTA)
The Common Travel Area (CTA) comprises the UK, Ireland, and Crown Dependencies (Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man). With the CTA arrangement, you won’t always go through UK immigration control if traveling to the UK from other CTA locations. Citizens from any CTA location have the right to study, work, and live or access social security, healthcare, and public services in other CTA countries without applying for permission.
However, you may need to show a document confirming your identity and nationality, such as:
- A valid passport.
- An expired passport that is proven to have been issued to you originally.
- A copy of your passport.
- Evidence of having citizenship.
- Your driving license.
- An armed forces identity card.
Countries with visa-free entry
Citizens of roughly 50+ countries not listed as part of the visa-required countries may have visa-free entry to the UK.
Some of these countries include:
- New Zealand
Citizens from such nationalities generally can visit the UK as Standard Visitors for up to 6 months without a visa. They can only do certain business activities if they work for something other than UK companies.
Countries with visa exceptions
Even for visa-required countries, certain exceptions apply to various groups of citizens from such countries to get visa-free entry into the UK.
Such groups of citizens include:
- Nationals/ citizens of the People’s Republic of China holding passports issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
- People holding Service, Temporary Service, or Diplomatic passports issued by the Holy See.
- Citizens of the United Arab Emirates with diplomatic or special passports issued by the United Arab Emirates.
- South African nationals with diplomatic passports issued by South Africa.
- Indonesian nationals with diplomatic passports issued by Indonesia.
Electronic Visa Waiver
The Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) Document applies to Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates nationals/ citizens only. With the EVW Document, you don’t need a visa for entry for 6 months or less.
To get an EVW Document, you must provide the required biographic and travel information through the online government portal. Your EVW Documents will also be issued in electronic form.
Requirements for an EVW
The EVW allows you to visit the UK for tourism, study, business, or medical treatment.
To get the EVW, you must fulfill the following requirements:
- Apply from 3 months to 48 hours before traveling.
- Provide your current passport.
- Give a UK address where you’ll stay.
- State the details of your journey (departure and arrival dates and times).
Process of applying for an EVW
The application process for an EVW is straightforward but must be done properly.
Follow these steps:
- First, enter your details on the UK government portal and ensure they match your passport exactly.
- If someone applies for you, they must provide their contact details apart from yours.
- After applying, you’ll receive an email within 24 hours with a download link for your EVW.
- Show your EVW when traveling to the UK (print it or present it on an electronic device).
- Use your EVW only once.
Cost of an EVW
You’ll pay £30 for an EVW.
Global Talent visa
The Global Talent visa lets you work in the UK for 5 years if you’re a leader or potential leader in digital technology. This includes financial technology (FinTech), cyber security, gaming, and artificial intelligence. You can also qualify for the Global Talent visa if you win an eligible award.
This visa allows you to be an employee, self-employed, or a UK company director. Therefore, it works well for digital nomads who qualify.
You can apply either as:
- A leader (‘exceptional talent’): You’re recognized by others as a digital technology leading talent within the last 5 years.
- An emerging leader (‘exceptional promise’): You’re recognized by others as a potential talent in the digital technology field within the last 5 years.
Requirements of the Global Talent visa
This visa has no language or minimum salary eligibility requirements. Moreover, you don’t need a job offer beforehand.
Your professional background can be either:
Technical: Includes developers, engineers, or data scientists.
Business: You may have investment, commercial, or digital product expertise in a tech company creating software or hardware, or processing data.
The required documents include the following:
- Your CV: Include your career, and relevant publication history typed on 3 sides of an A4 paper.
- Provide 3 letters of recommendation.
- Proof of any digital technology business you built or were a senior member of within the last 5 years.
- Evidence to support your eligibility criteria.
Process of applying for the Global Talent visa
This application process can only start 3 months before travel – not earlier.
You’ll first need to apply for an endorsement proving that you’re a leader or potential leader in your field. The UK Home Office will send your application for review by Tech Nation, and you’ll get a decision within 5 to 8 weeks. If your application is ‘fast-tracked,’ the decision will take 3 weeks.
After submitting your endorsement application on GOV.UK, complete the application form on Tech Nation. This will include a personal statement explaining your expected contribution to UK digital technology.
If you wish to stay longer, you can renew the visa as often as you like. You can even apply to settle permanently (indefinite leave to remain) after 3 years (applying as a leader) or 5 years (applying as a potential leader).
Cost of the Global Talent visa
The Global Talent visa costs £608.
Generally, you’ll pay the fee in two parts:
- £456 when applying for the endorsement.
- £152 when applying for the visa.
This cost also includes a healthcare surcharge, usually £624 per year.
Youth Mobility Scheme visa
The Youth Mobility Scheme visa applies to people aged between 18 and 30.
It’s also only applicable to citizens of:
- New Zealand
- San Marino
If you come from Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, you must first be selected for the Youth Mobility Scheme ballot. For Indians, a similar India Young Professionals Scheme visa applies.
The visa lets you live and work in the UK for 2 years.
Requirements for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa
The requirements of this visa generally include the following:
- An age range between 18 and 30.
- Have a bank statement showing at least £2,530 in savings.
- Fulfill the eligible nationality requirement.
- Provide a valid passport or other document showing your identity and nationality.
- A certified translation of documents that are not in English or Welsh.
- Besides those documents, you may need to provide extra documentation depending on your specific circumstances.
The application process for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa
You can only start the application process 6 months before your travel – not earlier. Make sure to allow extra time if you need an appointment during the process (you’ll be informed if you need it when starting the application). Once you’ve completed the application, you’ll likely get a decision within 3 weeks.
Cost of the Youth Mobility Scheme visa
The costs for this visa involve the following:
- An application fee of £259.
- The healthcare surcharge (usually £470 per year).
Standard Visitor visa
Citizens of countries that require a visa can get the Standard Visitor visa. With the Standard Visitor visa, you can visit the UK for tourism, business, and study for up to 6 months. This period can be extended for various situations like medical treatment.
The visa doesn’t allow you to do any work for UK companies, even as a self-employed person.
Requirements for a Standard Visitor visa
This visa has several eligibility requirements, including:
- Have a passport/ travel document valid for your whole stay.
- Proof that you’ll leave the UK when your visit ends.
- Show that you can financially support yourself and any dependents during the trip (or you’ll get funding from someone else).
- Evidence that you can pay for your return trip (or get funding from someone else).
- Show that you’ll not have frequent or successive visits and won’t make the UK your main home.
Other eligibility requirements may apply depending on your specific travel goals.
Process of applying for a Standard Visitor visa
Follow this simple process to get the Standard visa:
- Start the application process 3 months before your travel date.
- Apply for the visa online before traveling to the UK.
If you’ll visit the UK regularly, apply for the long-term Standard Visitor visa instead.
Cost of a Standard Visitor visa
For a Standard Visitor visa, you’ll pay £100.
Difficulty in Visa Application
Applying for a UK visa might be challenging at times. Several issues may result in an application being delayed or refused. Some common issues include incorrect documents, failing to meet eligibility criteria, or giving false information. Also, GOV.UK provides general guidelines on processing times for visa reviews that may vary from actual waiting times, depending on individual cases.
Fortunately, if you believe immigration/ visa rules or policies weren’t followed correctly in rejecting your visa application, you can make a reconsideration request.
Neighborhoods popular with digital nomads
London is a hub for digital nomads, with many neighborhoods to choose from. It has something for every digital nomad, with 32 boroughs and 48 neighborhoods offering unique experiences and opportunities.
The Times mentions Crystal Palace, New Malden, King’s Cross, Hanwell, Teddington, and Victoria Park as some of the best living areas.
According to The Times, Crystal Palace was the best neighborhood in London in 2022. The southern suburb has a sense of community with parks, indie shops, cool cafes, period mansions, and strong schools. It’s well-connected to central London: trains reach London Bridge in 20 minutes and London Victoria in 28 minutes. Plus, the Overground trains stop at various Hackney hotspots.
Bohemian types found inspiration here as far back as the early 1870s when Camille Pissarro, the renowned artist, lived on Westow Hill. The three streets making up the Westow Triangle create a welcoming impression. And there’s an Everyman cinema, a bookseller, a fishmonger, and multiple antique shops. Most importantly, you’ll find roomy family-friendly homes in the area.
Here, you can freely enjoy outdoor activities like cycling, dog-walking, jogging, and paddleboarding on the Thames. Besides that, you’ll find plenty of dining options, including Café Benedict and the Anglers Pub.
Although Teddington is in travel zone 6 (the furthest zone from central London), it has easy access to central London with the Teddington Railway Station. You’ll get 35-minute trains to London Waterloo at 15-minute intervals and bus services to central London from Broad Street.
One more great location is King’s Cross, London. The area features multiple institutions, such as the Kings Cross Academy and two outstanding universities nearby. It has excellent transport links with two mainline stations and six tube lines. The St. Pancras International station also provides direct access to Paris or Brussels via Eurostar.
Overall, this neighborhood is cool, cultured, and central and offers varied cuisine. It has significantly improved since 1997 when people would only pass through as quickly as possible. This place was even identified as an Opportunity Area, a key location with potential for large-scale development estimated at 25,000 new jobs and 1,000 new homes by 2041.
Cost of living and cost of living arbitrage
London has a relatively high cost of living, but digital nomads can lower some costs through various strategies. For instance, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is £2,041.75 per month (roughly $2,457.04), while outside the city center, it is £1,430.05 (about $1,720.92).
Moreover, London has a lower cost of living than roughly 80 other cities, including Lausanne, Switzerland; Santa Barbara, CA, United States; and San Francisco, CA, United States. Roughly 10 other cities have higher rent for one-bedroom apartments within the city center compared to London, including New York, NY, United States (£3,233.30/ $3,890.95); Singapore, Singapore (£2,852.49/ $3,432.68); and Hamilton, Bermuda (£2,730.76/ $3,286.19).
You can even get lower prices for various grocery items in London than in other cities. For instance, the price for 1 liter of milk in London (£1.18/ $1.42) is lower than roughly 150 other cities, including Victoria, Canada (£2.17/ $2.61); Hangzhou, China (£2.06/ $2.48); Trondheim, Norway (£1.84/ $2.21); and Honolulu, HI, United States (£1.60/ $1.93).
There are many accommodation options available for those visiting London. You can search for the best accommodation through websites like Airbnb, Gumtree, and SpareRoom. Airbnb offers a convenient option for short-term stays, while Gumtree and SpareRoom are better for longer-term stays. Serviced apartments are also available for digital nomads who want a fuss-free solution.
Other options include B&Bs, hotels, and self-catering apartments.
Here is the average monthly rent you can expect, according to Numbeo:
- one-bedroom apartment in the city center: £2,041.75 ($2,456.68)
- one-bedroom apartment outside the city center: £1,430.05 ($1,720.68)
- three-bedroom apartment in the city center: £3,833.81 ($4,612.93)
- three-bedroom apartment outside the city center: £2,531.35 ($3,045.78)
London City offers a variety of co-living spaces for visiting digital nomads. The Collective, Gravity Co-Living, and Locke Living are some of the communities you can check out:
- The Collective: They offer two locations in London: Old Oak and Canary Wharf. These locations feature co-working, living spaces, wellness, and cultural events. And the studios offer cheaper prices for long-term stays compared to short-term periods (for example, £1,690 ($2,033.74) per month for 12-month stays or £1,924 ($2,315.34) per month for 6-month stays).
- Gravity Co-Living: Gravity has locations in Finsbury Park, West Court, and others. These locations offer regular cleaning, linen change, gym, spa, and sauna. You’ll find monthly prices starting from as little as £1,175 ($1,413.99).
- Locke Living: You’ll find their co-living spaces in Tower Bridge, Dalston, and other locations. They offer fully furnished apartments that include weekly cleaning services. Here you’ll get a cheaper rate as a member (for example, £111.38 ($134.03) per night as a member instead of £123.75 ($148.92) per night).
This city has all the vital infrastructure you need as a digital nomad. Electricity is supplied through the National Grid, with various energy suppliers. Similarly, gas has various energy suppliers, such as British Gas, EDF Energy, and Ofgem. And Thames Water is the main water supplier and wastewater management company.
Additionally, waste management services are provided by local authorities. These services include recycling, street cleaning, and household waste collection.
The average cost of such utilities (electricity, cooling, heating, water, and garbage) is roughly £289.10 ($347.85) for an 85m2 apartment.
London has many options for grocery shopping, including supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Morrisons. There are also local markets offering fresh produce at reasonable prices. Some great markets include Borough Market, Camden Market, Covent Garden Market, Old Spitalfields Market, and Portobello Road Market.
With some research, you’ll find the most affordable options for grocery shopping. Here are the typical prices you can expect to pay:
|chicken fillets (1kg)||£6.65 ($8.00)|
|banana (1kg)||£1.26 ($1.51)|
|domestic beer (0.5-liter bottle)||£2.01 ($2.41)|
|tomato (1kg)||£2.46 ($2.96)|
|water (1.5-liter bottle)||£1.15 ($1.38)|
As a digital nomad, you’ll be glad to know that London boasts high-speed broadband throughout most areas. There are various types of connections, including cable and satellite services. And the main broadband providers include BT Broadband, NOW Broadband, EE Unlimited, Virgin Media, Plusnet, TalkTalk, Shell Energy Broadband, Sky, Vodafone, and Hyperoptic.
You can expect the following Internet speeds:
- Mobile Internet: 67.01 Mbps median download speed, 8.67 Mbps median upload speed, and 29 ms median latency
- Fixed Internet:79.13 Mbps median download speed, 20.91 Mbps median upload speed, and 10 ms median latency
And here are the typical prices you can expect for 500Mbps or lower broadband:
|Provider||Package||Av. Speed (Mbps)||Term||Price|
|G.Network||Full Fibre 150||150||12 Months||£24.00 ($28.88)|
|Sky||Ultrafast||150||18 Months||£30.00 ($36.10)|
|Plusnet||Full Fibre 145||145||24 Months||£29.99 ($36.09)|
|EE||Full Fibre Max 100||145||24 Months||£35.00 ($42.12)|
|Shell||Ultrafast Fibre Plus||290||18 Months||£46.99 ($56.55)|
You can also find free Wi-Fi hotspots at some cafes and shopping centers. Some businesses, such as McDonald’s UK, offer free Wi-Fi too. Plus, the City of London offers a free Wi-Fi network across the Square Mile (the City of London) with up to 200Mbps.
Best co-working spaces
London is a hub for digital nomads, and several co-working spaces in the city offer productive working environments. Some spaces have a chic boutique hotel vibe, while others offer open-plan designs fueling creativity for young businesses or digital nomads.
Various options include:
- Us&Co: Here, a co-working day pass is £25+VAT/ $30.08+VAT per day.
- Regus: A co-working space in the Trafalgar Square location starts from £259/ $311.68 per person/month.
- Plexal: Plexal members get a reduced rate on hot desks at £15+VAT/ $18.05+VAT per day, while non-members pay £30+VAT/ $36.10+VAT per day.
A recent study by Recap identified London as the world’s most crypto-ready city for businesses and startups. The study examined eight key data points necessary for the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies, including:
- The number of crypto-specific events (the city recently hosted the largest crypto and blockchain conference)
- crypto-specific companies (800+ companies)
- Crypto-related jobs (in 2022, 2,608 people were employed in crypto)
- The number of crypto ATMs (in 2022, London was the only UK city with more than 10 Bitcoin ATMs)
London outranks many other cities on those measures.
Size of the local crypto community
The capital of the United Kingdom is home to a thriving tech and finance industry, making it a hub for the crypto community. London is home to the UK Forum for Digital Currencies, an alliance that advocates for better policies, practices, and regulations around digital currencies.
Recent research by Gemini, a cryptocurrency platform, shows that the UK had an 18% crypto ownership rate in 2022. Another study by TripleA shows that approximately 6.2% of UK adults currently hold cryptocurrency, which is approximately 4.2 million people. The same study also revealed that most cryptocurrency owners are within the 18-34 age group (56.48%). Only 4.6% of crypto owners are aged 55 years and above.
There are also several cryptocurrency groups in the United Kingdom, including:
- Crypto Mondays London: A community sharing a passion for crypto and how it’s likely to change the world dramatically.
- Crypto Curry Club: Hosts the UK’s community and networking events for crypto, blockchain, and fintech.
- Meetup.com groups: Includes crypto groups and events.
The legal status of crypto
Recent developments in the UK suggest that the government is actively working to create a legal framework for crypto assets. For instance, the City of London partnered with the Digital Pound Association and other trade groups to promote good crypto policy and support the digital currency industry. Moreover, the Law Commission has proposed a new category of private property law for digital assets like cryptocurrencies. Britain even set a draft law giving regulators powers to use stablecoins in payments, with further consultation on regulating other crypto assets.
So far, cryptocurrency is legal and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can buy and sell cryptocurrencies. However, the FCA banned the marketing, sale, and distribution of crypto derivatives and exchange-traded notes to retail customers. And crypto exchanges must either register with the FCA or apply for an e-money license.
Crypto startups based in London
Here are some notable crypto startups:
- Ripple: Founded in 2012, Ripple is a leading enterprise blockchain company serving hundreds of commercial users across 50+ countries.
- Coinrule: A tool that automates crypto investments across multiple exchanges such as Binance and Coinbase.
- Unsigned Research: Develops profitable, low-frequency quantitative trading strategies for crypto assets.
- MoonPay: A financial technology company building payment infrastructure for crypto.
- Other crypto companies worth mentioning include Footium, Multis, and TriCron.
Taxation on cryptocurrency
Visiting digital nomads should be aware that crypto assets are typically subject to capital gains tax in the United Kingdom. This means that any profit realized from the sale of cryptocurrencies is taxable. The UK tax authority, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), is also actively working with leading cryptocurrency exchanges to gather personal information from users to promote tax compliance.
HMRC guidelines split cryptocurrency taxation between capital gains and income, with gains over £6,000 being taxable. If an individual reports crypto income as income, it will count toward their income tax, with tax bands ranging between 0% and 45%. The HMRC provides comprehensive guidelines for filing taxes on cryptocurrency in the UK, covering various crypto activities, including payments, trading, income, gifts, mining, and business activity.
Therefore, digital nomads should consult a tax professional to ensure compliance with applicable tax laws.
Bitcoin ATMs in and around London
Bitcoin ATMs are quite popular today, providing a convenient way for individuals to easily buy and sell cryptocurrencies. In London, several Bitcoin ATMs are available that allow users to transact in various cryptocurrencies.
Here’s a rundown of some of the Bitcoin ATMs located in the city;
Bitcoin ATM Bagci Food Centre (Central London) – This Bitcoin ATM is located in Bagci Food Centre in Central London and is operated by General Bytes.
- Operator’s name: Big Sea Coins
- Phone: +442071646638
Isradem Limited: This machine is located at Isradem Limited in the UK and is operated by General Bytes.
- Operator’s name: Digitalnet
- Phone: +37124847562
Expo International Supermarket – Another Bitcoin ATM by General Bytes, located in the Expo International Supermarket in the UK.
- Operator’s name: Digitalnet
- Phone +37124847562
London Sweets and Grocery Convenience Store – Operated by General Bytes at this store.
- Operator’s name: Digitalnet
- Phone: +37124847562
BB’s Coffee & Muffins – Operated by General Bytes and is located at BB’s Coffee & Muffins in the UK.
- Operator’s name: Cryptomatics
- Phone: 0207 050 0824
Ambrosia – Located in Ambrosia in the UK, this Bitcoin ATM is also operated by General Bytes.
- Operator’s name: Cryptomatics
- Phone: 0207 050 0824
UK at Roast&co – General Bytes operates this Bitcoin ATM at Roast&co in the UK.
- Operator’s name: Spt m trading ltd
- No phone support
Watford at Premier Nathwani off Licence – This one is located in Premier Nathwani off Licence in Watford.
- Operator’s name: Digitalnet
- Phone: +37124847562
Wembley at Exotic Off Licence & Groceries – ATM Located in Exotic Off Licence & Groceries in Wembley.
- Operator’s name: Digitalnet
- Phone: +37124847562
Edgware at Costcutter – This one is also run by General Bytes and is located in Costcutter in Edgware.
- Operator’s name: Digitalnet
- Phone +37124847562
Harlow at Fireaway Pizza Harlow – ATM Located in Fireaway Pizza Harlow in Harlow.
- Operator’s name: Cryptomatics
- Phone: 0207 050 0824
These Bitcoin ATMs allow users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Lightning BTC, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, Dash, Litecoin, Zcash, Monero, Dogecoin, Tether, and Ripple. The convenience and accessibility provided by these facilities have made them increasingly popular in London, providing an easy way for individuals to enter the world of cryptocurrencies.
Now you know precisely where to buy and sell cryptocurrencies while in London.
According to Statista, London was the most popular destination for remote workers in 2020, with over 1.2 million visitors. This trend remained the same even in 2022 since London was the most visited city by digital nomads in March 2022, with roughly 2.5% of survey respondents saying they visited the city.
London is known for its vibrant startup scene, with many co-working spaces and networking events that cater to entrepreneurs and remote workers. Additionally, the city is a global financial center and home to many multinational corporations, making it an attractive destination for business travelers.
The city is considered a great place for remote workers due to its safety, internet speed, and co-working spaces.
Local nomad job opportunities
Note that the type of entry permit you have in London, UK, will feature certain restrictions on what you can do within the city. If you have a visa such as a Youth Mobility Scheme visa, you’ll be allowed to seek local jobs.
Tech companies are more likely to offer remote work options. Knowing this can improve your chances of finding local job opportunities. Other industries likely to offer remote work include information and media, administrative and support services, professional services, education, and financial services.
Fortunately, various websites and job boards help digital nomads find remote work opportunities within London, UK. For instance, Indeed.com features a section for Digital Nomad jobs in England. RemoteUK.co.uk is another website that lists remote working jobs in the UK. You can also check out Remote OK for various remote positions.
Popular recreational activities and fun spots
London is a city with endless possibilities for recreational activities. There are plenty of opportunities to explore without breaking the bank, including visiting the markets, cycling around parks, and walking around the city.
Some outdoor activities include taking a hop-on hop-off bus tour, visiting the Dare Skywalk, alfresco dining, and visiting theme parks. There are also many parks to visit, such as Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, St James’s Park, Richmond Park, Victoria Park, Greenwich Park, Hampstead Heath, and Kensington Gardens. Additionally, there are social and recreational activities offered at the International Students House.
For those who enjoy theater performances, you’ll find immersive theater and dining experiences, innovative theater and performing arts shows, and musicals. With diverse cuisines from around the world, food lovers will also have a great time.
London’s transport system fully caters to international and local travel needs.
Here are the available options you’ll find.
Global digital nomads can choose from six major airports to enter the city: London City, London Gatwick, London Stansted, London Heathrow, London Luton, and London Southend. London City Airport is one of the easiest and most accessible, just 9.5km (6 miles) east of central London. Meanwhile, Heathrow Airport is 32km (20 miles) west of central London. Heathrow is one of the most visited airports worldwide and the busiest in the UK.
For your local transport needs, London has one of the world’s most extensive public transport networks. It features integrated underground (the Tube), train, and bus systems spanning the city. For digital nomads in London, this is one of the enjoyable parts of living in the city: the public transport system can take you from any part of the city to another quickly and efficiently.
Transport for London (TFL) manages the entire public transport system. They manage a bus fleet of roughly 9,300 vehicles across 675 routes, with 50 bus stations and 19,000+ bus stops. As for the London Underground, it has 11 lines across 402 km which serve 272 stations and handle up to five million passenger journeys daily. During peak times, more than 543 trains go through the capital.
You can buy an Oyster card or a Visitor Oyster card to pay for public transport. These electronic smartcards are accepted on the Tube, trams, buses, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), and most National Rail services within London. Buy a Visitor Oyster card online before visiting London and have it delivered to your home address. It costs £5 plus postage, and you’ll choose how much credit to add.
To help you navigate the public transport system, you can use such apps as Citymapper. The app provides real-time information on all public transport options within London.
London also features many taxis, also known as black cabs. You’ll find these iconic vehicles throughout the city. Tipping is customary (it’s polite to round up the taxi fare to the nearest pound when using black cabs and licensed minicabs). Such London black cab fares are metered, with a minimum charge of £3.20. However, additional charges apply if taking a black cab from Heathrow, booking by phone, and traveling on Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve. Licensed minicabs have metered fares but may offer fixed prices on some journeys. Alternatively, you can use ride-hailing apps like Uber or Bolt to book a taxi.
You can also explore the city using Santander Cycles. These bikes are available for hire from 800 docking stations with 12,000 bikes. The first half hour costs £1.65.
Transportation costs vary depending on the type of transport, zones, and day of travel. Generally, these are the expected costs:
- The typical bus fare is £1.75, and bus-only travel for a day costs a maximum of £5.25.
- For the Tube, London Overground, DLR, and Elizabeth line, the adult peak pay-as-you-go fare within Zone 1 is £2.80, and the adult off-peak pay-as-you-go fare within Zone 1 is £2.70.
Here’s a more detailed overview of fares for the Tube, London Overground, DLR, Elizabeth line, and National Rail services based on different zones (for adults):
|Zone||One Day Off-Peak||One Day Anytime|
|Zone 1 & 2||£8.10||£8.10|
|Zone 1 to 3||£9.60||£9.60|
|Zone 1 to 4||£11.70||£11.70|
|Zone 1 to 5||£13.90||£13.90|
|Zone 1 to 6||£14.90||£14.90|
Is London a safe city?
The UK capital is quite a safe city for digital nomads looking to stay for an extended period. According to a survey conducted by US insurance company Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, the city was one of the top 10 safest in the world for travelers. The city also ranks fifteenth on the Economist’s 2021 Safe Cities Index.
The Economist’s 2021 Safe Cities Index measures safety across digital, health, infrastructure, environmental, and personal security categories. London ranks 12th globally for digital security, 8th for health security, 23rd for infrastructure security, 14th for personal security, and 33rd for environmental security. The report notes that the city has a relatively low crime rate compared to other major cities, although it faces various challenges. Fortunately, the city implemented various measures to address those challenges, including increased police presence and surveillance cameras in public spaces.
The crime rate, especially among expatriates
Although London is incredibly safe, visitors should take basic precautions and avoid walking alone at night, especially in East London areas. Pickpockets and scam artists can be found around tourist landmarks and crowded areas, so vigilance is important. Enjoy the safety and beauty of London while remaining vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Also, take precautions when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
In case of emergencies, call 112 or 999 for the police, fire, or ambulance services. If you have a non-urgent crime to report, call the police on 101.
Dos and don’ts
London is a safe city for digital nomads to stay and work, with effective law enforcement and high levels of security.
To avoid any unexpected incidents, try to follow these important safety guidelines:
- Keep an eye out for pickpockets in crowded places, and always keep your belongings safe.
- Only use licensed taxis or minicabs (don’t use unlicensed vehicles).
- Stay in well-lit areas (avoid walking alone at night).
- Be cautious when using cash machines (avoid sharing your PIN with anyone).
- Be careful when using public Wi-Fi networks (don’t access sensitive information such as online banking while on public networks).
- Plan your route so you don’t get distracted along the way.
- Always keep to well-lit main roads.
- Don’t wear headphones so you can be aware of your surroundings.
The City of London has a diverse population with over 300 languages spoken. There is a great cultural scene to explore, from live comedy shows and visual arts to 800 bookstores and 325 public libraries. Moreover, 84% of Londoners believe the city’s cultural scene is vital in ensuring a high quality of life.
Some basic social norms and expectations include good timekeeping, punctuality, politeness, and dressing formally. It’s important to be aware of British etiquette and manners to avoid unintentionally offending others. For instance, being late is considered rude by many.
“Hello” or “hi” are common greetings when meeting someone. “Alright?” can also be used as a greeting, which does not necessarily require a response. Mobile phone etiquette is also important, and it’s advisable to put your phone away when talking to someone or eating.
How you might be expected to behave
As a visitor, you should be respectful of local customs and traditions.
Let’s look at some of the behaviors you can adopt:
- Respect other people’s personal space and avoid unexpected personal contact.
- Queue in an orderly manner.
- Use formal titles when appropriate.
- Avoid discussing sensitive topics such as religion or politics unless you know someone well.
- Say “please” and “thank you” frequently.
- Be polite in social interactions.
- Respect the diversity of cultures and backgrounds in London and avoid making assumptions or generalizations about people based on their appearance or accent.
Cultural dos and don’ts
To fit in, you’ll need to avoid some habits and develop new habits in line with most Londoners.
In that regard, these useful guidelines can help:
- Be punctual for appointments.
- Greet people with a handshake.
- Since British humor can be self-deprecating and sarcastic, understand the context of jokes before responding.
- Don’t discuss religion or politics in public.
- Avoid being too loud or boisterous in public places.
- Don’t ask personal questions about someone’s income, religion, or politics.
- Don’t chew with your mouth open.
- Don’t smoke in enclosed public spaces.
Political and economic stability
London is a stable city with a strong economy and diverse opportunities for digital nomads. It’s actually among the oldest of the world’s great cities. Moreover, it’s Britain’s largest transportation, economic, and cultural center.
This city is highly regarded internationally based on its output, educated workforce, and attractiveness regarding business or lifestyle. To retain its place on the world stage in the future, the city has set up the London Futures program, a multi-year initiative to examine the current state of London, explore possible futures, and work with Londoners to create a shared vision up to 2050 and beyond. The program was formed in partnership with the Mayor, the national government, London’s boroughs, charities, businesses, and universities.
The nature of politics and government
The Square Mile has a long history spanning nearly two millennia. It’s the capital of the United Kingdom and home to the UK government.
London, UK, is run by the Greater London Authority (GLA), consisting of two main parts: the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. While the Mayor of London is directly elected by citizens and sets policies or strategies for Greater London, the London Assembly has 25 elected members holding the Mayor accountable.
Regarding politics, in 2021, the UK scored 0.54 points on the Political Stability Index, higher than the world average of -0.07 points.
London is a thriving global business hub with 587,000 workers. From the pre-pandemic period of 2019 to 2021, the city’s jobs grew by over 8%. And an interesting fact about the city is that it has one of the country’s youngest, most highly skilled, and international workforces.
Besides boasting of £85bn in annual economic output, this city accounts for one in every five financial services jobs within Great Britain. This is expected to grow further into the future since data shows that London experienced a 210% increase year-on-year in investment.
Language and Language Barriers
Visiting London as a digital nomad doesn’t have to be intimidating. Although 300+ languages are spoken here, English is the de facto official language of the UK and is widely used in London. Therefore, you should not have any significant language barrier.
According to UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), English (English or Welsh in Wales) is the most commonly spoken language within the United Kingdom, being the main language for 91.1% of the population (52.6 million people). Another 7.1% of the UK population (4.1 million people) was proficient in English without speaking it as their main language.
Besides English, some of the most common main languages were:
- Polish (1.1% of the UK population/ 612,000 people)
- Romanian (0.8% of the UK population/ 472,000 people)
- Panjabi (0.5% of the UK population/ 291,000 people)
- Urdu (0.5% of the UK population/ 270,000 people)
Regarding the healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS) provides public healthcare to all 58 million permanent UK residents. Healthcare coverage is free when needed and funded by taxes or national insurance contributions. The NHS offers various medical care services like emergency departments, cancer centers, maternity units, children’s hospitals, and mental health units.
Note that most overseas nationals don’t qualify for free NHS treatment, except for emergency treatment in the UK. This means that most visitors would be charged for NHS services except for those from countries with reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK.
Here is a brief look at the state of health in London and the wider United Kingdom:
- In the UK, the average life expectancy at birth is 80.4 years.
- The main risk factors for mortality are tobacco, blood glucose, high blood pressure, and diet.
- The death rate in London due to drug misuse is lower than the wider England.
- England and Wales had an infant mortality rate of 3.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2020.
London’s Air Quality
London’s air quality has been a concern for many years due to high levels of air pollution caused by various factors such as traffic, industry, and construction. The city’s air quality index (AQI) is generally good, with a current score of 29 on the US AQI scale, indicating that the air quality is healthy and poses no significant risk to human health.
However, the main pollutant in London’s air is PM2.5, which refers to tiny particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. These can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause respiratory problems, heart disease, and other health issues.
The concentration of PM2.5 in London is currently 7 µg/m³, which is within the annual air quality guideline value set by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, it is worth noting that the PM2.5 concentration in London is 1.4 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value, indicating that there is still room for improvement in the city’s air quality.
Efforts to improve air quality in London include;
- implementing low-emission zones
- encouraging public transport use
- promoting electric vehicles
These efforts have led to a gradual improvement in air quality over the years, but a lot more should be done to ensure that London’s air quality meets the WHO guidelines and that the health of its citizens and visitors is protected.
Common infectious diseases
Traveling to London as a digital nomad can expose you to various infectious diseases. However, it’s interesting to note that the most common illness found in air travelers arriving in the UK is acute gastroenteritis. Fortunately, the risk of transmission to other passengers is relatively low on commercial flights, particularly for tuberculosis. Moreover, infectious illnesses like tuberculosis and malaria are uncommon in the UK.
That being said, some common infectious diseases found in the UK include measles, mumps, meningococcal disease, rubella, whooping cough, chickenpox, and viral gastroenteritis. Infectious diseases such as measles or mumps are spread by sneezing, coughing, or touching contaminated surfaces.
How to protect yourself from common diseases
Visiting digital nomads can protect themselves from common diseases by following local health guidelines.
Such healthcare guidelines include:
- Practice good hygiene habits like washing hands frequently.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Get vaccinated against respiratory illnesses.
- Avoid sharing personal items, especially with infected people.
- Advise your friends to cover their mouth and nose using a tissue or sleeve (not hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Using standard cleaning products, clean and disinfect frequently touched objects or surfaces regularly.
- Stay indoors if you are feeling unwell.
Clinics vs. hospitals
Hospitals in London provide a wide range of medical care services (both emergency and non-emergency). They fall into two categories: those operating within the NHS offering free healthcare and independent for-profit or nonprofit hospitals.
You can find NHS-managed hospitals on the City of London website, including:
- Royal London Hospital, located at Whitechapel Road, London E1 1BB (020 7377 7000)
- St Thomas’ Hospital, located at Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7EH (020 7188 7188)
- University College Hospital, located at 235 Euston Road, London NW1 2BU (0845 155 5000 or 020 3456 7890)
- Homerton University Hospital, located at Homerton Row, London E9 6SR (020 8510 5555)
- Guy’s Hospital, located at Great Maze Pond, London SE1 9RT (020 7188 7188)
Digital nomads visiting London should purchase global health insurance policies that provide flexible coverage wherever needed.
For European visitors (the EU, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland), you can carry your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) for emergency medical treatment in NHS hospitals. You’ll also need the following:
- Travel or health insurance to cover the duration of your trip.
- An S1 form, if eligible for use in the UK.
- An S2 form if you have one.
- Check if you should apply for an S2 Healthcare Visa.
The vaccinations required when traveling to the UK vary depending on your risk factors and activities. The CDC provides various recommendations for specific vaccines and advises that you visit your doctor one month before your trip.
Here are some of the routine vaccines recommended by the CDC:
- Chickenpox (Varicella)
- Flu (influenza)
- Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
Other vaccines that may be applicable in specific situations include:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis A
- Tick-borne Encephalitis
Residents in the United Kingdom use a plug type G. This plug has three rectangular pins placed in a triangular pattern. And the United Kingdom operates on 230V supply voltage at 50Hz. Take note of this if visiting with electronic devices from countries like the United States with lower supply voltage. You’ll need a voltage converter or transformer in the United Kingdom.
You won’t need a converter or transformer if you have a dual-voltage rated appliance with an input voltage range of 110-240V. Only a travel adaptor may be necessary.
Telephone plans and cost
Both visitors and Londoners have multiple phone plans to choose from, including monthly contracts (includes the cost of the handset), SIM-only (monthly bundles without the handset, which start from as little as £5 a month), and pay-as-you-go plans.
By the end of 2024, free 4G Wi-Fi will be accessible across the London Underground. And this will likely involve all four UK mobile phone providers: EE, O2, Vodafone, and ThreeUK.
Here’s a general overview of the expected mobile phone plans:
- EE: The best EE plans give unlimited texts, calls, and data, start from roughly £45 per month.
- O2: An O2 plan offering unlimited minutes, texts, and 100 GB of data per month is priced at £21.
- Vodafone: For Vodafone, the Red 150GB plan gives 150GB of data, unlimited minutes, and texts for a monthly price of £23.
How to register for a SIM card
You can conveniently buy a SIM card in the UK from a local store or even order it online and send it to your home country before you travel. As an international visitor, getting a UK SIM card for easier access to the internet and local communication is better than using a SIM card from your home country. You can bring an unlocked phone to the UK and use a UK SIM card since there are various SIM-only mobile phone plans.
To register a SIM card and activate a mobile phone contract, you may need the following:
- Proof of identity: Identification like a passport or driver’s license.
- Proof of address.
- A UK bank account.
Payment services and infrastructure
London has well-developed payment services and infrastructure. Pay. UK operates UK’s national retail payment systems, including Direct Debit, Bacs (Bankers’ Automated Clearing System), Faster Payments, and the Image Clearing System. They enable billions of pounds of payments. The Bank of England’s Financial Market Infrastructure Directorate supervises Pay.UK and the Payment Systems Regulator regulates it.
According to the UK Payment Markets Summary 2022 report by UK Finance, debit cards were the most used method of payment in the UK in 2021. Debit cards accounted for 48% of all payments. Moreover, forecasts indicate that card payments will account for 61% of all payments in the UK by 2031. The combination of debit and credit card payment volumes totaled 57% of all payments in the UK.
Other notable findings in the report include the following:
- Total payment volumes in the UK in 2021 were 40.4 billion.
- Cash was the second most frequently-used payment method in the UK in 2021.
- Direct debit was the third most frequently-used payment method.
Popular domestic payment services
Many payment services are available in London, with 1,917 providers recorded in the UK in 2023.
- Credit Cards
- Amazon Pay
- Debit Cards
- Revolut Pay
However, specific options are preferable for local shops. Here is the share of online stores offering the main payment options in the United Kingdom in 2021:
- Visa: 98.5%
- Mastercard: 98.5%
- Paypal: 77.3%
- American Express: 63.5%
- Cash in advance: 12%
International payment services
Digital nomads have a range of international payment services at their disposal in London. Online banking services, digital currencies, and other payment services can be used to send money and receive payments from clients.
Here are the most common online payment options in the UK in 2022 based on the percentage of respondents who use such options, as revealed in a survey:
- Debit card – 66%
- Online payment services like PayPal or Amazon Pay – 59%
- Direct debit – 58%
- Credit card – 44%
- Prepaid cards/ vouchers – 15%
- Cash on delivery – 12%
- Invoice – 9%
- Cash in advance – 7%
Currencies and exchange rates
Once you get off your plane, you can exchange your currency at the Airport, which offers a wide range of foreign currencies. ATMs around the city can also be used to withdraw local currency (as of September 2022, the UK had 51,272 cash machines). Using an ATM without currency conversion is recommended to get the best exchange rate.
Various currency bureaus to exchange currency include:
- Travelex: Has branches at Selfridges on Oxford Street, and all Heathrow Terminals
- Moneycorp: Found in Gatwick airport.
- Eurochange/NM Money: Has branches all over London, including Liverpool Street Station, Leicester Square, and Paddington Tube Station CurrencyOnlineGroup: Located in Waterloo, Central London.
Plus, the Post Office is another option.
Like most other major currencies, the Great Britain Pound (GBP/ pound sterling) has a floating exchange rate that fluctuates over time. To determine the fairest exchange rate, check the mid-market rate (the interbank rate/ spot rate). As of 14th March 2023, 13:05 UTC, the exchange rate was 1 GBP = 1.218705 USD.
Climate and seasons
London is a temperate maritime city with mild winters and cool summers. Summer temperatures average around 18°C (64°F) and even go above 30°C (86°F). In spring and autumn, temperatures are around 11°C to 15°C (52°F to 59°F). Both spring and autumn seasons have mild weather, with longer daylight hours in spring. Finally, when it gets to winter, temperatures average between 2°C and 6°C (36°F to 43°F).
Regarding rainfall, the rainy days (days with 0.25+ mm rainfall) are fairly consistent all year. You can expect between 11 and 15 rainy days each month. And the highest rainfall comes in November (64mm) and August (59mm), while the lowest comes in March and April (37mm each).
Snowfall is rare, though it occasionally occurs in winter. Therefore, pack clothing suitable for cool and warm weather, and remember to carry an umbrella or raincoat!
London offers a variety of international cuisines with many types of locations to enjoy different delicacies.
Here are some different locations to try out:
- Traditional British cuisine at restaurants like Rules, The Dining Room at The Goring, and Wiltons.
- Diverse Borough Market restaurants and street food, including Arabica Bar & Kitchen, Padella, Tacos El Pastor, Bao Borough, Flor, and Rabot 1745.
- Michelin-starred restaurants with fine dining like Amaya and Hakkasan.
- Food and drink events such as cocktail festivals and cooking classes.
You’ll get a diverse range of foods and varying cuisines in different parts of the city. Residents in West London prefer Italian and French cuisine, while North Londoners enjoy Greek and Middle Eastern food. In addition, London is known for its classic British foods such as Cornish pasties and jam pudding. Furthermore, London has become one of the world’s most diverse dining destinations, with influences from Caribbean flavors, primarily Jamaican.
Tax requirements on digital nomads
Digital nomads enjoy various exemptions from taxes that apply to permanent residents. Since your permanent home is abroad, you may not have to pay tax on your foreign income. You’ll only pay tax on any UK income.
Note that you’ll be considered a resident for tax purposes if:
- You spend 183+ days in the UK within the tax year.
- The UK is your only home for 91+ days in a row, and you visit or stay for 30+ days of the tax year.
- You work full-time within the UK for 365 days, and one day of that duration was in the tax year.
In certain instances, you may be taxed on the UK income you make in your home country and the UK. This can be avoided if your home country has a ‘double-taxation agreement’ with the UK. With such an agreement, you can get either partial or full relief before tax or a refund after being taxed.
Here are the expected income tax bands in the UK:
|Band||Taxable Income (£)||Tax Rate (%)|
|personal allowance||0 – 12,570||0|
|basic rate||12,571 – 50,270||20|
|higher rate||50,271 – 150,000||40|
While it may offer many opportunities and attractions, London has several downsides that may make it challenging for digital nomads.
Firstly, London is infamous for being one of the most expensive cities in the world. The high cost of living may be daunting for digital nomads who are trying to make a living remotely. The cost of accommodation, food, transportation, and entertainment can quickly increase, making it challenging to save money or meet ends.
Secondly, London’s weather can be harsh, especially during winter. It can get very cold and damp, which may not be ideal for those who prefer a warmer climate or find it difficult to cope with colder temperatures.
Moreover, London is known for being a bustling metropolis that can feel crowded and overwhelming, especially during peak hours. The high population density can make finding personal space or quiet time to work challenging, which can be a significant drawback for digital nomads who rely on their environment to focus and be productive.
Currently, no specific “London digital visa” is available for digital nomads or remote workers looking to visit or work in London. This could be seen as a drawback for those looking for a streamlined process to enter the country and stay for an extended period.
Without a specific visa for digital nomads, individuals may have to apply for a standard tourist visa, work visa, or other options discussed in this guide’s visa segment.
These visas may have different requirements, such as proof of employment, sufficient funds, and a specific duration of stay. This can make obtaining a visa more complicated and time-consuming, particularly for those who have honestly disclosed their visit intentions.
Furthermore, the lack of a specific digital nomad visa could also limit opportunities for individuals looking to work remotely while in London. Some countries, such as Estonia, Portugal and many others, have introduced digital nomad visas that allow remote workers to vacation and work in their jurisdictions for extended periods. These visas often come with benefits such as tax incentives and access to co-working spaces, which can be appealing to digital nomads.
Last but not least, some digital nomads have observed that making friends in London can be daunting, especially for newcomers. The city’s fast-paced lifestyle and competitive work culture may not be conducive to building strong social connections. It can take time to find like-minded individuals and form meaningful relationships.
Fortunately, such problems can be balanced out by various beneficial aspects, like:
- Great internet speeds and wide internet connectivity.
- A very well-organized public transport system.
- Many co-working spaces in London.
- An advanced crypto infrastructure.
Other areas digital nomads appreciate London for include good safety and security standards, safe roads, modern hospitals, a high English Proficiency Index, and much more.