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Why expats warm to Wales and cwtch: The Welsh hug

By August 20, 2018October 5th, 2023FinGlobal

Why expats warm to Wales and cwtch: The Welsh hug

August 20, 2018


As part of the UK, Wales is a popular destination with expats. The capital, Cardiff, is a relatively small city but it attracts many students and professional expats who are drawn to its lively atmosphere and rich culture. Here are some reasons why Wales is proving to be an attractive expat destination:

What you need to know about Cardiff, Wales

A mingling of cultures

Following the industrial revolution, Cardiff docks attracted ships from all over Europe and beyond, who brought goods to trade in Wales. As a result, multicultural communities were established around the dock area. Foreigners from all over the world chose to settle in Cardiff, including many Norwegians and the capital now has many communities whose ancestors came from places as far away as China and the Caribbean. Today expats continue to move to Cardiff, which has a relatively young population, with a higher average education level than neighbouring towns.


A wide variety of work

Financial services, insurance and call centres are strong service sectors in Cardiff as are tourism and retail. 10 % of the workforce is employed in the manufacturing sector in areas like pharmaceuticals. A new growth industry in Cardiff is TV and filmmaking, with companies drawn to the area by the lower production costs. Popular shows filmed in the city include Doctor Who, Torchwood and Casualty. Expats also move to Cardiff to work in IT and tourism. There are no requirements for expats to learn Welsh for employment in Cardiff – although if you do learn a little of the language it will be much appreciated by the locals.

UK employment laws apply

Citizens of the EU are able to work in Cardiff without needing to apply for a work permit. Foreign nationals from outside the EU will need to obtain a work permit for the UK. In most cases, foreigners from non-EU states are required to have an offer of employment before they are able to secure a work permit for the UK. When you have worked in the UK for 5 years as a permit holder, you can apply for permanent residence in the UK.

Get ready for cwtch

When you move to Wales, you need to be aware of cwtch – an intrinsically Welsh word that evokes a sense of home. Pronounced ‘kutch’, to rhyme with ‘butch’, it’s the Welsh word for a cuddle or a hug, but it means much more than that. Its second meaning is a cubbyhole, where something is stored safely. By blending the two meanings, you get a sense of what the word means.

Words like cwtch distinguish the national identity of the Welsh and it is a word often used by both Welsh speakers and English-speaking Welsh people to indicate that they are Welsh. In gift shops you will see many mugs and T-shirts with cwtch on them and statements like “Everyone can hug, only the Welsh can cwtch”

Cwtch was named as Wales’ best-loved word in 2007 and has been used in wedding vows. It’s a word that has more than just a single meaning and captures the welcoming, cosy way of life of Wales and the Welsh people.

If you are a South African living in Wales and would like to know more about how you can maximise your finances through financial emigration, accessing your South African retirement annuity and our tailor-made tax solutions for South Africans around the world, contact FinGlobal today.

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