Moving abroad is a major life event for anyone who is brave enough–and lucky enough–to take the leap. While being an expat is exciting, fun, and eventful, it can also be challenging. From making friends to figuring out where to buy groceries, the difficulties of living in a foreign country can feel insurmountable at times.
One of the most difficult struggles for first-time expats is settling into a new country. While sorting out visas and packing for an overseas move may feel like overwhelming challenges at the time, they pale in comparison to the many hurdles of adapting to a new culture.
It’s no secret that the average cost of living in London is one of the highest in the world. Before we moved here from the US, I did a ton of research on monthly expenses in London. Knowing what to budget for was so helpful, especially when it came to finding a London apartment that wouldn’t cost 70% of our salaries!
My first year living in London was a whirlwind. It’s incredible how much I’ve learned in 12 short months, like how to eat with a fork in my left hand. And though I did a TON of advanced research before we arrived, there are some lessons I learned only after moving to London.
In April 2018, my husband, dog, and I moved to London from the US. Starting a new life abroad had been a long time dream of ours. And while we did plenty of research and self-reflection before the move, there were a few surprises waiting for us across the pond.
Making friends as an adult is hard. But making friends abroad is even harder. Aside from the potential language barrier, you’re also a cultural outsider. And if you’re naturally shy, this feeling of not belonging can steer you down a path of Netflix binges instead of friendship building.
So you want to move to London: congratulations! Moving to London from the US was one of the best decisions of my life. But it didn’t come without its challenges, especially with Brexit looming in the near future. That’s why I’ve compiled a detailed moving to London checklist to help other expats navigate the process.
Our quest to find a flat in London was nothing like an episode of House Hunters International. Unfortunately, it was a lot more involved than spending an afternoon looking at attractive properties and choosing our favorite of the three. London’s rental market is competitive and pricey, and as expats with no UK credit history, my husband and I were at a disadvantage.
The very first Google search I did after my husband was contacted about relocating was “bring dog from US to UK”. We both knew that having to leave our beloved dog, Albus, behind was a deal-breaker. Luckily, moving abroad with pets is not as impossible as some might think. But it does call for plenty of planning ahead, a knowledgeable vet, and some serious reflection.
London is home to more than 3 million foreign-born residents, making it one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Between its rich history, diverse cuisine, and easy access to the Continent, moving to London from the US brought plenty of excitement to my life.