Dreaming of moving to an English multicultural and full of opportunities city, but don’t want to give up the sea?
Living in Brighton is the ideal choice for many: just less than an hour distance from London, it is a full-sized town which offers all the benefits of a large city: Brighton has two universities, large multinational companies such as American Express for those looking for job opportunities and many independent shops of all kinds for shopping lovers.
Brighton and nearby Hove together form the Unitary authority of Brighton and Hove, recognised as a city in 2001 and which today has almost 300,000 inhabitants. The city is located in the county of East Sussex, in the south east of England, and is a stone’s throw from the South Downs national park.
The coastal town is famous for its non-conformism: known for its large LGBT community, Brighton is an extravagant city with a myriad of independent shops and bars, where the lifestyle is much more relaxed than the capital; it is precisely for this latter point that more and more people working in London decide to choose Brighton as their residence.
How to get to Brighton
The most convenient airport is certainly Gatwick, located halfway between Brighton and London, and half an hour away by train from the coastal town. You can possibly consider other London airports such as Heathrow, Luton and Stansted, and from there to reach Brighton via London by train, or by taking a bus (National Express is the best known and often very cheap company).
The bus will take you to Old Steine, a stone’s throw from the sea, while the train station is located in the heart of the city: in both cases you will not be far from the bus stops that will take you to your destination. To find out which bus to take, you can download the Brighton & Hove Buses app on your mobile phone, which will also allow you to check timetables and buy your ticket online.
Transportation in and around Brighton
Staying on the subject of public transport, it is important to know the costs of the various passes. The car parks in the city center are few and very expensive, so the inhabitants very often prefer public transport. As indicated above, the Brighton bus company has a smartphone app through which you can buy tickets for single use, passes for a full day, for a week, for a month and for 90 days. Prices vary widely depending on the company you use, your destination and time (buses cost more at night), but in general the price for a monthly ticket is around £ 80. There are reduced rates for university students and special tickets for groups and families; you can find a list with all rates on this site.
As indicated above, Brighton offers a much calmer and more relaxed quality of life than London, and for this reason many people decide to live in Brighton while working in the capital. However, the peace of the sea has a cost: the monthly season ticket costs almost £ 400. The train will not only take you to London: Brighton is also well connected to the east (Lewes, Eastbourne) and to the west (Shoreham, Worthing, Littlehampton).
Do not forget the bicycle, one of the most economical and ecological methods of getting around the city: most of the main roads in Brighton have a lane dedicated to cyclists. For those who do not have one, Brighton offers the possibility to rent one of their bicycles through the BTN BikeShare Scheme: prices are 3p per minute (plus one pound to ‘unlock’ the bicycle) or £ 72 per year, for thirty minutes a day.
As you may have understood from the costs of transport, living in Brighton is not cheap, but the most important cost is rent. Although not at London levels, rents in Brighton are among the most expensive in the United Kingdom: on average it counts £ 500 for a room in a shared house, £ 700 for a studio apartment and £ 800 for a one bedroom flat, to which you will have to add bills and council tax.
While not a big city, Brighton has very different neighborhoods, and prices vary according to your requirements. If you prefer calm, but with the sea at your doorstep, the Hove area will do it for you; if you prefer green instead, Preston Park is also a very calm and pretty area. The Hanover neighborhood, located to the east of Brighton, is famous for its colorful houses and is highly appreciated by both students and families. The center is, without a doubt, the liveliest and most expensive neighborhood.
On Facebook you can find many groups of people living in Brighton and you will often find information on available rooms, roommates with whom to share an apartment and furniture and furnishings for sale.
Working in Brighton
As everywhere in England, in order to work you will first need to apply for the National Insurance Number, and write a CV in the British format. Knowledge of the English language is essential; finding work without it is almost impossible. The predominant sector is tourism: in the summer jobs in restaurants and hotels are in great demand, all jobs which involve contact with the public.
Many jobs, especially in large chains such as supermarkets and clothing stores, do not accept paper CVs: if you are interested in working in this sector you can search for jobs and apply directly on the company’s website.
In case you don’t have a specific job in mind, or are simply looking for a job to improve your knowledge of the language, there are many websites and places in the city where you will find ads and help in your search. If you are looking for help in person, you can go to the Job Center on Edward Street or to one of the many recruitment agencies scattered throughout the city.
Study in Brighton
Brighton is a popular destination for students from all over the world, both for attending university studies and for learning or improving their English. For those who wish to attend higher studies, you can choose between the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex: both universities offer three-year courses, masters and doctorates in almost all subjects. Although not located in the heart of Brighton, they are well connected to the center by bus and train. For music lovers, the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM) has a college in Brighton.
For those interested in a short stay to attend English language courses, Brighton offers several language schools. Some of the most popular are:
- Intensive School of English ISE Brighton (34 Duke Street BN1 1BS);
- Sam’s School of English (32 New Road BN1 1UG);
- Castle School of English (12 Dyke Road BN1 3FE);
- EC Brighton English Language School (Dolphin House, Manchester Street BN2 1TF)
Where to eat in Brighton
There is no shortage of good food in Brighton. On the waterfront and almost everywhere in the city you will find vendors of the famous fish and chips, one of the inevitable dishes of every British coastal city. In the most central neighborhoods, in particular North Laine, The Lanes and Kemptown, you will find numerous cafes where you can taste fresh, local and homemade dishes, with many vegetarian and vegan options. An inevitable place for burger lovers is Burger Brothers, a place that at first glance looks like a classic fast food shop, but which is very often described as one of the best places in the city.
If you are a lover of Italian food, you will not feel lost: the city offers numerous pizzerias and clubs where you can taste aperitifs and local specialties.
The best known pizzerias in Brighton are:
- VIP Pizza (19 Old Steine BN1 1EL) ;
- Fatto a Mano (77 London Road BN1 4JF, 25 Gloucester Road BN1 4AQ, 65-67 Church Road BN3 2BD);
- Purezza (12 St James’s St BN2 1RE);
- Nuposto (14 West Street BN1 2RE);
- Al Duomo (7 Pavilion Buildings BN1 1EE).
For those looking for something other than pizza there are:
- Franco’s Osteria (4 Victoria Terrace BN3 2WE);
- Monjibello – aperitifs and Sicilian cuisine (24 Duke Street BN1 1AG);
- Grazie Mille – breakfast, lunch and appetizers (169 North Street BN1 1EA);
- La Mucca Nera – ice cream shop and aperitifs (107 St James’s Street BN2 1TH).
For everyday shopping, in Brighton you will find all traditional supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Aldi etc.). There are also several independent foods such as Infinity Foods and Hisbe, specializing in local, seasonal and vegetarian / vegan foods, and for fresh and cheap vegetables and fruit you can go to the Open Market, open from Monday to Sunday.
Shopping in Brighton
Brighton is also very well equipped in this category: with a shopping center in the city center and two pedestrian zones plenty of original and independent shops, it is impossible to go home empty-handed.
The Churchill Square shopping center is a five-minute walk from the station and consists of three floors where you will find clothing stores (Topshop, Urban Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret), home stores (Lakeland, Tiger), restaurants and various types of fast foods (mostly located on the top floor).
If more traditional shops aren’t your thing, head to North Laine and The Lanes neighborhoods, both located in the heart of the city. In North Laine, Snooper’s Paradise is a must, a two-storey store with many vintage items of any kind, where you can get lost for hours. In the Lanes you will find above all jewelers, luxury clothing stores and restaurants.
Art and culture
Brighton has an important music scene: many internationally famous bands and artists, such as The Kooks and Fatboy Slim, are originally from this city. Emerging singers and bands often perform in pubs, such as Prince Albert on Trafalgar Street and The Hope and Ruin on Queen’s Road. The main concert halls in the city are Komedia, Concorde 2, the Brighton Dome and the Brighton Center.
Two major cultural events are organized in Brighton each year, the Brighton Fringe and the Brighton Festival. The two events often take place simultaneously and last from early May until early June. Brighton Fringe is England’s largest art festival and one of the largest in the world, with more than 1000 events in hundreds of different locations. The Brighton Festival, created in 1967, is a celebration of music, art, theater, literature, with events suitable for all members of the family, from the largest to the smallest.
If you are in Brighton the first week of August, you cannot miss the Brighton Pride, one of the most important events of the year, with almost 500,000 visitors from all over the world. The event takes place from Friday to Sunday, with the traditional parade on Saturday. In recent years, Brighton Pride has launched a music festival, Pride in the Park in Preston park, which recently welcomed international artists such as Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue.
Monuments and places to visit
Like almost all seaside cities, Brighton has a pier, the Palace Pier, an emblematic symbol of the city and one of the most famous piers in the United Kingdom. 525m long, on this pier you will find restaurants, a games room, a funfair, and you can admire Brighton and its beaches. In reality Brighton has two docks: heading west you can see the skeleton of the West Pier, disused for several decades and ruined by two fires in 2003. Along the coast there is also the British Airways i360, a tower 162m high from which you can admire Brighton and its surroundings.
Another emblematic building is the Royal Pavilion, built under George IV in Indian (external) and Chinese (internal) style. You can visit the palace by paying a fee while the garden that surrounds it is free. Very close from the Royal Pavilion you will find the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery; the museum tells the history of the city and you can often visit exhibitions on various themes. Other museums of the city are the Brighton Toy and Model Museum, located at the station, and the Sea Life Center, an aquarium located close to the Palace Pier.
If you want to know what to visit in Brighton in one day read this post.
If you have more time, the surroundings of Brighton are well worth exploring. Starting from the center, you can take a bus that will take you to the cliffs of the Seven Sisters, have a walk in nature and contemplate breathtaking landscapes. These cliffs are part of the South Downs National Park, a 1627m2 national park that surrounds Brighton. For countryside and small typical villages lovers this place is a must.
Are you planning to move to Brighton? Share your experience with us in the comments!