The alleged home of Blackbeard the pirate and the actual birthplace of Banksy, Bristol is fiercely climbing the ladder of desirable locations for expats and UK transplants as it continues to live a cultural and economic boom. Are you joining the ranks of the Bristolians? Here are 10 things you should know when planning a move to Bristol.
1. It’s creative
Bristol has its own pace and sense of identity. Drum and bass was created here – crafters, filmmakers, tattoo artists, musicians, and anyone who loves art and creativity in general, will find plenty to love in Bristol. Move over, London. Bristol is all-round kinder on the wallet and with just as much creativity – what’s not to like?
All that creative independence gives the city a young, buzzing vibe and a packed cultural calendar. While you’re there, check out the Harbour Festival (celebration of maritime history), Bristol Pride parade, St. Paul’s Carnival (a celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture), Open Doors Festival (where hidden and locked-away places are opened to the public), and the International Balloon Fiesta (a gathering of hot air balloons that just has to be seen to be believed).
3. Perfect base
Just two hours away from London, Bristol allows you to visit the capital without taking on the associated expense and busyness. It’s also just the right distance away for weekends in Bath, Stonehenge, Salisbury, Wiltshire, and the Cotswolds. Bristol also has its own international airport that serves an impressive lineup of destinations in Europe and beyond.
4. There’s an actual summer
You read right! This is a sunny English city – in fact, it’s England’s sunniest. Hitting a balmy average of 22 degrees Celsius (or 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in July, this is a place where summer is for enjoying. During the warmer months, hop down to Bristol’s waterfront to enjoy mornings and afternoons soaking up the sun or a cool drink terrace-side.
5. Food and craft beer
While you’re basking in the sunshine (any time of year!), be sure to sample Bristol’s noteworthy foodie scene. All tastes are taken seriously, from vegetarian to vegan and gluten-free. Choose between international fare, pop-up restaurants, food trucks, and award-winning restaurants. Oh, and don’t forget to finish off with a bespoke gin and tonic at one of the city’s micro-distilleries.
6. Get about
The quality of the city’s public transport system is a common gripe among Bristolians, but in the meantime the city is made for cycling and walking. There are a lot of hills, but also plenty of cycling infrastructure and joy to come from using it. If you do need to drive, do so with patience: there tend to be surprise one-way roads, roadworks, and traffic jams – not to mention the cost of parking to contend with.
7. Keep left
Now, on those roads remember that England (like South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, and other countries) observes left-hand drive. Depending on where your driver’s license was issued, good news: You may not need to obtain a UK license at all, or at least for some time. Check out this easy to use UK government tool to find out what you’ll need to drive in Bristol.
8. Work it
Varied and colorful industries have found a home in Bristol, from IT to finance, aerospace, defence, motor vehicles, creative media, a multitude of start ups, and of course, tourism. With lower wages than London, but a better cost of living to match, young graduates and professionals flock to the city for good reason.
9. Get banking
All these work opportunities mean you’ll need a bank account. Fortunately, opening a bank account is a pretty easy errand in England. Ask friends or classmates for their experiences with their banks to decide which to go with, then visit a branch of your chosen bank with the documents they outline. They’ll normally need your photo ID and proof of address (such as an electric bill or official letter sent to your home.)
10. The NHS
Chances are you’ve heard of the UK’s tax-funded National Health Service, and now, as an expat in Bristol you’ll be covered as well. To sign up, choose a General Practitioner or GP (basically, your local doctor) near your new home and make an appointment with them. They’ll show you what other steps you need to take, and will be your point of reference for any initial health-related queries.