When you first came to the UK, where did you expect to live? Many of us land at Heathrow and head to the usual expat stomping grounds of Fulham, Clapham or Notting Hill: it could be because we are uncertain of what lies outside of London or because we are initially searching for familiarity. Or it might just be that is where our friends live. We sometimes do not realise that stepping a few miles outside of London can open up new worlds and professional opportunities.
London is a transient city – a financial, business and entertainment hub. Many of us are drawn to its bright lights and big deals.
When we tell our family and friends we are heading to the UK, what most of us mean is that we are heading to London. However, many professionals who decide to settle in the UK have discovered that life outside of London has a lot to offer.
Aussie business coach pushes the expat frontier
I spoke to business coach Gail Gibson about her move to the UK from Australia and how she ended up living in Swindon, 130 km from London.
Ms Gibson is originally from Perth and moved to the UK in 1996. Ms Gibson was drawn to the West country, having worked and lived there during a previous working holiday in 1994/95.
“My husband and I decided to set up a new life around Swindon, in the lovely market town of Highworth, Wiltshire – The Gateway to the Cotswolds,” she said.
Ms Gibson lovingly explained that: “Wiltshire is a beautiful and magical county, filled with quaint villages and market towns, wonderful open spaces, and friendly people. The Highworth community is very welcoming and as a local business owner, there is a good network of support and opportunities”.
What does living outside of London mean for business?
Since setting up in 2005, face to face networking was Ms Gibson’s number one marketing tool of choice to connect, explore opportunities and collaborate. There is ample opportunity to network for business.
“I attended various networking events in Wiltshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, and London.”
Ms Gibson points out that: “you can be in Oxford in 30 minutes, Bath, Bristol or Gloucester in less than one hour, and Birmingham or Cardiff in under two hours”.
By having a wider reach than just London, Ms Gibson established an excellent support network of trusted colleagues, clients, suppliers, and friends. So passionate is she about networking and connecting, Ms Gibson has written a book on how to network effectively to build better business relationships.
Throughout her years of living in the UK, Ms Gibson has gone against the grain. The closest she came to living in London was Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Living outside of London does not mean being denied of what the capital has to offer. The West country, for example, is very central in location, with train commuter time to London being one hour, and there is excellent access to the M4 and M5 motorways.
Ms Gibson says that she has the best of both worlds. She is a regular visitor to the capital to soak up the great atmosphere, history and architecture, and of course people watching.
Despite London and all its offerings, Ms Gibson says: “The best reason for living outside of London is the fresh air and open spaces — perfect for inspired thinking!”
London does sometimes feel like the centre of the UK. For many of us, we come to the UK to be in the centre of everything. We land in London and travel, yet only venture to the rest of the UK on weekends.
Just as all Aussies who come to the UK are unique and diverse, so is the UK. London is a great city and for the moment it is home — but London is by no means the whole of the UK.
Gail Gibson is a successful business coach with proven results in enabling professional women and female entrepreneurs to break through the frustration of stagnant business growth by teaching simple, incredibly effective techniques she’s honed and developed that can take any business owner from amateur to pro in record time. Visit GailMGibson.com
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