Influx Of U.K. Expats Is Turning East Manhattan Into Little Britain

More U.K. residents choose NYC’s kindred creative spirit over British post-Brexit reality.

By Jeff Vasishta December 2, 2016
Photo courtesy of Luis Llerena via Unsplash

Brexit or Trump? That’s the question many Brit bankers are weighing up. And deliberations have resulted in a mass exodus from Blighty. The decision to leave the EU will have tremendous ramifications on the financial industry in the UK, with many banks already planning on moving to mainland Europe. For many Brits, moving to New York as part of a relocation package, where English style schooling, no language barrier and a cosmopolitan lifestyle similar to London, is a big draw.

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DNAInfo reports that a growing number of U.K.-based firms have opened New York offices in the twelve months, luring Brits to apartments from the Upper East Side down to the Lower East Side. With Second Avenue subway just about ready to open for business and a slew of luxury new developments in the area that only the well-heeled can afford, many U.K. expats are buying and renting in clusters, turning swathes of Eastern Manhattan into Little Britain.

“The British are really coming,” says ex-Londoner David Mathews, marketing director with Mdrn. Residential, which has a growing roster of British clients.

“It’s happening more and more.”

Mathews previously worked for Golin, an international marketing firm that opened an office on Third Avenue and East 45th Street nearly two years ago. He brought over several high-level employees from its London office since that team was outperforming most of the offices it had in the U.S. market.

“They wanted the New York market to be the pinnacle,” he said.

At a UK banquet for City business leaders on October 27th, London Corporation’s Chairman Mark Boleat laid out the threat New York posed to the British banking sector:

“It is already apparent that the biggest beneficiary of any job losses in the U.K. will be New York, and some employment will simply stop as the volume of business can no longer be supported by the higher costs,” he said.

In his view, a third of jobs lost in the City could move to New York alone, with an equal amount being dispersed among European cities and a final third simply evaporating.

An American accent is big fear for a British parent. Avoiding one is best achieved when their kids are surrounded by others of their ilk, a huge selling point for elite private British schools setting up shop in NYC. England’s Wetherby-Pembridge School, which educated Princes William and Harry in London, is setting up its first American outpost in the fall on East 96th Street, bringing many of its British traditions with it like its iconic gray uniforms with red trim. Brokers predict that the school, which will cost $45,500 per year, will draw even more well-heeled Brit-packs to the area.

But it’s not just the British landed gentry who are landing at JFK. Many UK residents from all sectors, particularly, the arts, are seeing New York as a kindred creative spirit. Touring musician and recruiter at a music college from Lancashire in N.W. England, Adam Wishart-Taylor told Yahoo! that he’s considering leaving the UK for New York.

“Being a touring musician is what concerns me most,” he says of leaving the EU. “The strong possibility of having to gain visas to enter Europe for touring is going to become expensive and discouraging. The threat to employment is another major concern.”

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There are other Brits, however, who would prefer to stay where they are than face the prospect of being governed by President Trump.

Jamie McGee (31) who lives in Manchester has an American fiance and an opportunity to immigrate to the U.S.

“I don’t want to live anywhere that elects Donald Trump,” he told Yahoo!

He’s not alone.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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