#Help – An American enduring lockdown in London

There are probably a number of Coronavirus diaries floating around the internet. But right now, I need to share my personal lockdown experiences with those who have still hung around (and may stumble across my blog).

I call myself an American expat in London. That term, expat, is subjective, but I’m using it to describe myself.

I moved to London from the Bronx officially in November of 2018. Cut to 2020, the Coronavirus has landed.

International travel and typical interactions (running to the store for snacks without facing a line, or riding the tube without a care) are a thing of the past. Nothing is normal and everyone could be a carrier.

Well, that’s how things have been playing out in London. Until today, when Boris made the announcement that more common spaces and trips to other households would return to a new normal. It feels so arbitrary if I’m being honest. I want things to go back to normal but are things really safe? What can we really expect to happen and will I find myself back at the office in no time flat? Is it bad of me to say I enjoy working at home (mostly).

As an American in London during these times, I find it particularly interesting. Not only am I going through lockdown, further removed from friends and family in NYC, but I’m also witnessing the Black Lives Matter protests around George Floyd’s murder. It’s startling. It’s jarring. And I find myself questioning everything about race and what is and shouldn’t be – much more than I typically question race.

Conversations of race were a point of conversation at work for a few days during the pandemic but not so much anymore. I ask myself if I should be annoyed by this or hopeful that work is being done behind the scenes. I’d like to believe the latter but I never really know what’s happening.

Sometimes I don’t even know what people are thinking and I spiral into thoughts that second guess what I think is happening, and what should be happening, and what others say should be happening. It’s a vicious cycle.

But I digress, untangling some of my feelings about race is a separate blog. This is about being in lockdown in London.

What is it like? I imagine it’s similar to being in lockdown in NYC. People choose whether or not to wear masks out in public and gloves aren’t mandatory. People are told to line up outside of supermarkets, standing 2 meters apart, but not everyone follows those rules. They sometimes pretend they don’t see lines and have the audacity to try to skip ahead of people. Legit had a guy try to skip me after I waited roughly 30 minutes to get into Boots (a local chain pharmacy).

Others seem to blatantly disregard the rules, not trying to keep any distance on the sidewalks, or sit out in parks chatting with their friends in the sun. I saw people tanning outside my apartment in the small patch of grass near my cul de sac and friends having a communal rooftop gathering across the way. Was I jealous? Maybe. I was definitely annoyed that I have been following the rules while others just do what they please.

But at this point, it doesn’t matter anymore, as Boris made it so people could go outside for more than their one time a day exercise. They can also meet up with six people outside as long as they mind social distancing guidelines. And starting July 4th, all hell will break loose.

However this time to sit in and reflect in lockdown has felt so weird and nonexistent. I don’t know what to reflect on, what to look forward to and what hope I should have. I also haven’t had any time to reflect. I’ve been so busy at work that I’m too tired to assess what I’m feeling. And let’s face it, if you’re forced to be indoors, who wants to feel forced into confronting feelings of inadequacy (or whatever you have floating in your mind).

But don’t get me wrong, I still have hope. Hope to meet up with people. Hope to go back to NYC. Hope to travel to far away places again. But I’ve also felt stagnant. Lost without a real sense of what’s next but clinging to the idea that there is something ahead (and I do know that in my heart there’s something ahead).

I think a lot of people have been feeling that way in London (and around the world), stuck. Not sure of what to make of their futures and the future of their family. Some have felt that planning life is over while others have felt inspired to do, make, launch. I can’t put my finger on the London vibe but if I had to call it, I’d say nonchalance. Everyone here seems blase and just ready to have their lives restored. That quiet British way of saying, “World, we’re right and we’re fine because we’re British.”

I’ve also felt connected and disconnected. Everyone has been forced to interact online which is great for me. It’s like everyone in my family or friend group is living abroad. But at the same time, I feel like people in NYC are doing their own thing, separate from me. That’s ok but it’s weird how you can feel a little disconnected.

But that’s enough for now. Lockdown in London has been a lot. Things are changing however so I hope to see more positive things come from this.

It’s been a while (again)

It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post. Not because I haven’t wanted to but because I’ve been lazy.

I could make excuses but I wont.

Did life get in the way? Has work been super busy? Has Coronavirus turned the world on its head? Has the mind been boggled by current events around Black lives matter? They’ve all been a part of my life but it’s still no excuse.

Continue reading

5 Ways To Kickstart Your Move Abroad

Have you been bitten by the wanderlust bug? Are you daydreaming about what it would be like if you could move abroad? Or to London? Well, you aren’t the only one dreaming. In fact, in a mean way, you’re not special. There are others wishing that exact thing right now. I was one of those others. And trust me, making your moving dream a reality takes effort.

To make the process a little less daunting, I’m sharing my top 5 tips to help you kickstart your move abroad. If you’re an undergrad student or someone looking to move your career to a new city, this is for you.

The road is long and tough but there is always hope. With my tips, it’s my aim that you get an additional leg up in making your dreams come true.

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Inside of Worcester College at Oxford University.

1. Try Getting Your Masters

One of the easiest ways to live abroad (especially the U.K) is getting your masters. When your accepted into a masters program, you can then apply for a student visa which grants you entry to study for a little over a year. You’re also granted working rights so you can take a job legally and make some extra cash.

I seriously thought about this route when I first tried to move to the UK but wanted to try another way (see next tip) as I had finished my undergrad four years prior and wanted to continue earning money.

You can check out the list of universities and various masters programs on this site for starters. It’s a nice way of understanding how the masters programs work and even offers a little guidance around funding your next level studies.

What’s important to remember for this step?

  • Look into the costs of attending a program. Scholarships, loans, savings and more are vital when it comes to assessing how you’ll fund your degree.
  • Pay attention to dates. Deadlines for applying to school. Deadlines for student visas. All the deadlines. Set little alerts using Google Cal to say ahead of everything.
  • Essays and documents. Make sure you write your personal statement, get recommendations and have your passport prepped for any next steps.

 

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Job Interviews in London

2. Apply For Jobs on the Approved Sponsor List

This is what I tried first as I had about five years of working experience. I figured I could qualify for a Tier 2 skilled worker visa and using my comms skills to sell myself into a role. But this was hard. I applied anywhere and everywhere but I should have been more focused.

I’ve mentioned this in previous posts but one way you can sort of shortcut your search is to look for positions within companies that have already been approved as a sponsor. Why? To get a working sponsor in the UK is much harder than you think.

As a hopeful applicant, you need to prove how worthy you are over any other applicant in all of the UK (and Europe as of this post). The job poster all needs to prove they’ve advertised this role for a certain length of time, showcase to government why you’re worthy of the role and must hold a license to sponsor foreign workers.

The license bit can cost a business a lot of hassle with all of the paperwork and money involved, so starting your job search with companies on the list I mentioned will make it less stressful. Beginning there means you don’t have to worry about a company ultimately denying you an offer because they can’t actually finance a sponsorship. If you secure the job and sponsorship, you can live in London with no issues.

What’s important to remember for this step?

  • Draft loads of emails to inquire about job opportunities. Not every company will have open jobs so sending a note to their HR or info email will help you start a conversation.
  • Make your resume sparkle. Take time to edit your resume and make yourself sound  like the bees knees. You need to standout!
  • Make sure you tell employers upfront about your right to work status. Hiding it during interview stages does no one any good as you’re wasting your own time in the end.

3. Talk To Recruiters Abroad

The first two options fall apart? Seek the help of a professional. Research recruitment firms abroad and draft notes with your sparkling/cleaned up resume. They know the rules of recruitment in the UK (and elsewhere) and can tell you what you need to do to make yourself look better. They also know who’s hiring and what companies may be seriously interested in sponsoring you.

It’s always in a recruiters best interest to find job placements for anyone they take on so there is hope with this step. Will all recruiters take you on? No. But certainly try it because it can help your dream come true.

What’s important to remember for this step?

  • Follow up with recruiters. One email is not enough to make them take notice.
  • Look for a recruiter that specializes in the industry you’re looking for work in. This is a list that give you a good start, sharing agencies from a few different sectors.

4. Specialist Visas

Have a talent? Are you a budding entrepreneur? Do you have experience in technology? There are a few visas you can apply for like a talent visa (model, actor, sports player), tech talent visa (skills in the tech industry that can vary from comms to finance to engineering) and many more. Some visas are even available to people who work in a profession that the country has a shortage of labor.

Caveat, some of these are short term working visas and even qualifying for them are an uphill battle but if you fit the bill, go for it. You can take a look at the specialists working visas here.

What’s important to remember for this step?

  • You mainly need to make sure you fit the criteria for whatever specialist visa you’re after. That’s it.

5. Seek A Job Transfer

If you’ve had the forethought to plan for your London move years in advance by working at a global company, kudos to you. HOWEVER, this is not guaranteed but it’s worth a try. Check out your company to see if they have any openings in foreign locations or tell your manager that you’re interested in any new positions abroad. This case usually works if you’ve been at a company for five years or more so this isn’t a quick fix. But in some cases, it really can work for you.

What’s important to remember for this step?

  • Make your want to work abroad known early. The sooner you do this, the sooner you’ll know the exact steps you need to take to fast track a possible transfer.

Any questions? I’m sure you must, so let me know in the comments or feel free to send me a note. Hopefully you can get a leg up on the competition with these tips.

How You Can Move To London

Lately I’ve been receiving a few direct messages about my article on Shut Up and Go. The messages have all asked me one thing, how? How did I make it to London?

Before I get to the how, I think it’s important to establish why I left NYC.

Why I left NYC

In an effort to live out my ever evolving dreams, I thought it was necessary to leave everything I knew behind. I wasn’t leaving NYC because I didn’t appreciate it but I was frankly, quite tired. I was tired of everything I was supposed to do and the ways I wasn’t measuring up. I was tired of disappointments and how nothing felt quite right. Call it a quarter-life crisis but I made my exit plan and took action in 2016.

Now it’s 2019 and the single, NYer working in PR has transitioned into a married NYer in London, still developing her career. Along the way, I’ve picked up more tips and tricks to making it in the world and overseas but it’s all still VERY hard. But let’s talk more about the how now because I want to try to help as many people as possible make their dreams a reality.

How I left NYC

People say that youth is to be admired as it’s one of those times when you’re most reckless.

The first thing I’ll say is that you can go after anything you want no matter your age. If you’ve always wanted to learn a language, visit a country, move to a new city, try on a new career, etc. – you can do it! The level of difficulty you’ll face will vary, but it is all doable if you want it.

Now the actual steps I took. I…

  1. Researched everything I could find out about visas on the UK Gov website
  2. Emailed a bunch of companies to find out about job opportunities, internships and sponsorships
  3. Networked with anyone and everyone I had a relation to in London
  4. Joined Facebook groups and meet-ups with expats
  5. Reviewed UK grad school programs

That was a very high level overview of my activities. This process took about 2.5 years and ended up with me moving through marriage of all things (something I never in a million years would have guessed).

How you can move to London

If you’re trying to move, I want to make it easier for you by sharing what I think can help you. Why? Because deciding to move to London and making it happen is extremely hard. So many things will make you want to give up along the way so staying motivated is something that’s just as vital in this journey. So my tips for moving to London are as follows (some of this may only work for you if you’re American as I’ve only researched from that perspective).

Student Visa

One of the quickest ways in is through a student visa. It requires the least amount of maneuvering and can come to fruition within a year. What I mean is, let’s say you decide you want to move to London in 2020. You can start looking for schools and programs that interest you, work on your application and hear back about acceptance all by early next year. Once you’ve been accepted to a school, it’s a matter of visas fees and paperwork and then boom, you’re in London.

I recommend this route if you want to pursue higher education (masters programs) and want to make your move quick. You’ll get a year minimum in London and once you graduate, you have a window to find a company that will sponsor you.

I would think carefully about this because it will require a financial investment for school.

Work Sponsorship

This is hard but not impossible. I recommend this only to people who have worked in their profession for at least 3 years (and even that’s short). Why? In order to be sponsored (as of this blog post), a company needs to prove you have skills that exceed those of any UK or EU person. Having more years of experience under your belt kind of proves that for the sake of appearances.

Other things that make it hard include:

  • The company needs to already have a sponsorship license
  • The company needs to prove that they have advertised a role for a certain length of time
  • Companies have a limited amount of work visas they can give out each year

How I’d go about this is looking on this list of companies with a visa sponsorship license (getting an offer at a place that doesn’t have one is nearly pointless as they have to pay a sum of money to be licensed. Not to mention the paperwork involved). Once you go through the list, you can begin looking for open positions (not entry level roles) on their websites or emailing relevant contacts for a chat about roles. I figure it doesn’t hurt you if you do so respectively. You’re after your dream after-all.

Another way you can get this outside of experience is through a skill. If you have a skill that’s on this list, the chances of you successfully landing a job will improve.

Neither of these routes are a guarantee however, you need luck on your side.

There’s also’s the long game approach. You can work at a company in the US that has a UK office and apply for a transfer. BUT, this is a really long game and may not pan out. First, I believe most transfer policies require that you work at a company for at least 5 years before you’re even eligible. So you need to wait for 5 years and then hope you get what you want.

Tech Talent Visa

If you work in tech or the startup space, you can apply for a tech talent visa. There are a finite number of these they can give out each year and the competition is tough but it’s a viable option. You can work in tech pr, app development, tech marketing, etc. As long as you prove you are advancing the startup space, you have a shot.

This was the option I was last pursuing before I ended up getting married.

The Cheat

This isn’t a way to move to London but it’s a way to stay for an extended stay. Keep in mind you’ll have no official rights, hence why I’m calling this a cheat.

As a US Citizen, you’re allowed to visit the UK for up to 6 months. You can’t stay any longer than that but that’s practically half a year. You do need to make sure that you have enough money in your savings account to support yourself and a return ticket but as long as you have that, you’re golden.

I say you need that because if you use this time to hop in and our for the country, you may get questioned at the border and having that info (return ticket and money) will make it less of a deal. HOWEVER, the UK has now updated some of it’s airports so if you’re a US citizen, you no longer have to deal with people. You can breeze through an eGate with no questions. So, perhaps you don’t technically need it but better to be safe than sorry.

Marriage

I don’t recommend this. If you’re only marrying for a visa that is. I was adamant against doing that because it’s fraud and also because of my moral compass. The reason why I married was because I met a guy I started dating while doing “The Cheat.” We actually got a long really well and started doing long distance which evolved.

Not to mention, marriage requires so many steps, so much evidence and so much money. It’s not out of this world expensive but it does cost quite a bit. Only marry for love I say and if he or she happens to be a Brit – bonus points!

Those are my current tips. So I say go forth and give it a shot. Nothing you want is ever easy, sad fact of life.

 

 

My Travel Writing Was Featured On Bustle

So it may be a bit late but I’m someone who is pretty modest. I share my accomplishments from time to time but for someone who helps promote others, I can be bad at promoting myself. I tend to fall on the humble side. But as it’s never too late to do what you want, I wanted to share that my story on female black travel went up on Bustle a few months ago!

Why should you read my piece? Aside from working really hard to interview, write and create the narrative around the travel retreat space, it’s a really great read telling the stories of three women seeking to make travel more inclusive while making themselves even better. Some other reasons why you should read:

  • Learn about three great retreats happening this year that you can sign up for
  • Find out more about my personal experiences traveling through Europe
  • Discover how these women are changing the narrative in the female retreat and wellness space
  • Fantastic imagery of myself and the other women living their best lives traveling
  • Stay current with what some women like myself feel and think about traveling abroad and inclusivity

There you have it. End of shameless plug! Go read my article on Bustle and give it a share if you are feeling what I and the three other women have to say.

Your First Job Is The Same As Your Next

There’s a line people say about being careful in fear that history may repeat itself. But is that the same when it comes to finding a new job?

I’m on the hunt for a new job and after eight years of working, one would think it would be easier. You’re more experienced. You have skills. You know how to navigate people or at least understand where politics come into play in the office. And it is easier… in some respects. There’s a certain cache and confidence you build and bring with you to every application or interview. But the more I talk with friends/family/acquaintances about work and career, the more it appears that finding your next job is just as hard as finding your first one.

There are exceptions. There are some people with all the luck and the connections. Just when they think about leaving a job, someone is waiting with what seems to be like an even bigger and better job for them. To those people, I hate you! Jk. But darn you and all your god damn luck.

Everyone tells you that you should be able to find a job easily now that you’ve got years of experience under your belt. But that doesn’t matter. The more time you spend working for and with other people, the more you realize that you refuse to go back to what you’ve suffered. You’re not willing to make less money. You’re not willing to start at the bottom. You’re less willing to take on menial tasks. You’ve put in so much work and you can’t see it disregarded. Just think, how many times have you heard a friend say that they refuse to take a new job that will pay them less or make them run ragged like some assistant? You feel you’ve paid your dues and it’s time to reap the benefits.

I know I feel as if I’ve paid multiple dues. I’ve learned the ins and outs of press releases (though you can always improve), how to put together events, how to budget, how to strategize, etc but it doesn’t matter unless you can convince others of your value or skill. And then, there’s trying to standout in a big application portal that literally sees thousands of applicants that could be as good or better than you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very optimistic about applying for jobs and finding a new one that could be a great fit, but I’m nervous. That same bit of nervousness you feel when you just enter the career game. Nervous about influencing others. Nervous about making a great impression. And ultimately, nervous about choosing the job that will offer you the career progression/benefits/salary you deserve.

You look on Linkedin or Indeed (job portals I recommend BTW) and you’re greeted by hundreds upon thousands of jobs. But overtime, they all blend together. Nothing seems original. Nothing seems perfect. Nothing seems like it will ever measure up to what you think you want and deserve. It all just feels like you’ve been thrown out to sea by college and you’re sticking your hand up with the hopes someone will grab onto you and say “you’re the one I want.” I just can’t with that and that feeling. Alas, that’s how things work.

So go ahead and enjoy your new and improved skill-set. Sell it to the company you want to work for. Sell it to the interviewers who are making judgements. Sell it to yourself! But in the end, to me, job searching will always be like looking for your first job. Full of hope, wishing that the great and powerful recruiter and hiring team will realize you are the one for the job.

I’m Not In A Rut But Things Are Confusing

I hate being vulnerable. In any forum. I don’t want my words to be used against me so I refrain from saying too much in case some lurking evil wants to throw my words back in my face. It keeps me out of trouble (for the most part) but it can also be quite isolating. Currently, I feel ok with sharing what’s about to come next.

Truth is, I’m feeling a bit lost and as if the wind has been knocked from me. My work life is not what I want it to be and in a matter of weeks, things will be very different.

The short of it, my fixed contract job that was intended to transition into permanent has not worked out. Not for any lack of effort or skill but because of slick plays for increased profit. No one has bothered to really explain it all so I’ve chocked it up to greed. This business maneouver has left me with one option: get out and find a new job.

This isn’t the end of the world. I know this. Why? The job wasn’t really panning out before this bomb was dropped. The work I was doing was not challenging and my manager wasn’t the most helpful (I’ll be polite). Leaving was inevitable. What’s different is that I don’t have the option to decide.

This forced move has changed my current and future decisions for 2019. Not momentously but my dissolving role has already had tiny affects in my life.

The first change – I’m on the job hunt. Interviewing and putting myself on display. I feel like I’m performing in order to show these new teams and companies that I have what it takes. I’m also simultaneously trying to assess each business to ensure I don’t make a mistake. It’s exhausting.

This pressure I’m putting on myself has made me very nervous about my very being, my skills, my everything. I know I’m my own worst critic but the way things have played out at work, and with my manager have been hard on me, its been a roller coaster. I’m holding on tight while my ego is constantly being bashed along the way.  I know that despite it all I’m valuable and intelligent, but it’s hard to remember this mantra. Especially whilst I try to remind myself and prove this to others during the interview process.

I feel like my manager never saw my value. With all the effort I put in, she really made me look inward and second guess myself. It wasn’t a reflective “She has made me better” look. More of “Do I have what it takes at all?” The answer is yes. A million times. But again, oh so hard to remember and reinforce in myself when I have to keep telling others why I’m worthy and face a few rejections while doing so.

What I mean is during the interview stage you have to hear people say you aren’t the right fit or you don’t have what your competitors have. It can be hard to hear. Especially when you’ve already got a case of self doubt.

My first venture into the world of “London career life” has sort of flopped. I didn’t want this. I kept writing down my goals but having things play out the way that they have, this wasn’t my vision. Or at least, it wasn’t how I thought my vision would go. Perhaps my vision for my career is playing out in the best way possible but while going through it, it’s kind of hard to see how. I know that I have what it takes to succeed and it just takes a few turds to get to that next place.

How does this relate to being an expat? I think the uncertainty of it all is the how. Work was supposed to be the place where I find a comfort zone. A place to make friends. Build my career. Get a sense of stability and trust.

I mean, work isn’t this all knowing place that drives you but I think it can offer something in your expat journey that makes you feel like you  fit in better.

I hope this blog of random feelings helps others in their career journey or expat adventures. I know it can seem scary and confusing but I honestly believe there is a light at the end and it’s going to be awesomely bright.

Staying Motivated As An Expat

Have you seen Mary Tyler Moore? The opening credits where Mary is in NYC and so excited to be living her dream that she throws her hat in the air? That’s me trying to live my best life in London. But just as real life happened to me in NYC, real life happens in London too. What I mean is, things don’t go according to plan and sometimes you have to adjust. Sometimes you have to tweak what is your now and figure out how to move forward, despite reaching your goal. And that’s hard. It can often feel ten times harder as an expat.

As I’ve said before, moving to a new place as an expat can be difficult. Things are, for lack of a better word, foreign. Every thing is a new discovery for you. Some good and some bad. Take for instance, when I first arrived in London I found out that you could get a sandwich, drink and a snack for £3. Lunch is a steal! But then I also found out that traveling around the city is not one fixed rate. Goodbye monthly metro card for $178 and hello monthly pass for zones 1 -3 at £160. Yikes!

Recently, I feel as if I’ve been holding onto some fails or unpleasant surprises. I’ve felt tricked and belittled and devalued and disrespected. Unfortunate things that make you reevaluate your life and who you are as a person. I’ve had a few wavering thoughts about my abilities from time to time because of these unexpected disappointments – the disappointments I may have been able to see had I not been an expat. And in those moments, it can be quite difficult to see that silver lining. It can be hard to remember that you’re living the dream and this was something you chose. How do you stay motivated when those thoughts float into your head?

My must do to stay motivated is to V-E-N-T, vent! I love to trash talk the people and the things making me go into a tailspin. Only to the most trusted people who can’t report back my frustrations to the source. Less work friend and more sister in another country. Ok, I’m paranoid. I keep my feelings close, especially if they can come back to cause me more drama so I’d recommend being careful about who you vent to as well. Be wary of the never-ending vent that will cause you to spiral too. It can make you really second guess everything but I love to have what’s on my mind out of it. The bad stuff doesn’t need to stay.

Also write. In a journal. On a piece of scrap paper. Any place! It helps visualize what could be driving you insane or causing you self doubt or demotivating you. I honestly can’t stand being wrapped up in my head by the people who do me wrong or trick me and I’m sure you don’t either. By letting it out on paper, you can see where this wrong doing really fits in your life and understand that, nine times out of ten, it’s minor.

What’s most important when you feel like you’re lost or undervalued is believing in yourself. It’s so cheesy but it’s so important. As a regular non-expat, you always need to remind yourself how awesome you are but when you’re an expat, it so much more important. You need to tell yourself why you matter and remind yourself of your impact. Your world and value is more important than what people think about you at work or on the train or in a cafe. Hearing the kind words of how you feel about yourself and what you can do is an amazing motivator.

Do you find it easy staying motivated when a blow or negative change happens to you? What do you to keep yourself on track? Let me know in the comments below!

3 Smart Ways To Find Work Abroad

You’ve moved abroad to the country you’ve been dying to live in for weeks, months, years! Not on a work visa but somehow you’ve made your way to XX country of your dreams with a legal right to work and start living your life. But where do you turn to find work abroad? What can you do to ensure that you give yourself as much of a head start as possible to line up interviews and secure the job (and the bag) that will help inspire and financially support your move?

Working abroad can be easy but finding the right place can be hard.

As an American who has moved to London on the spouse visa, I’m sharing three smart ways I’ve used to line up interviews and secure a job within a short period of time. They may seem obvious but it’s always worth remembering. Keep reading if you want to know how you can make finding work a bit less stressful!

1. Say It Loud

Think James Brown.

Have you heard the saying closed mouths never get fed? This applies when looking for work. Whatever your industry or skill set, make it known on your social networks that you’re moving, looking for work and up for any recommendations. That means sharing this news on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram. You may even want to throw in one or two relevant hashtags that as that might help your post get spotted by someone who is looking to hire.

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It may seem like a shot in the dark but so is sending your resume to some random hiring manager or creating a profile on a work portal. You’ll be surprised who your friends or acquaintances may know and how generous they might feel in regards to helping you out.

It can never hurt to ask or just put a general ask out into the air. Why? Because the worst response you can get is no.

2. Scan Linkedin

Everyone scans Linkedin so you might think that this is so obvious. But the way you can really use Linkedin for the better when looking for work abraod is by using keywords. They are key!

So what I mean is if you’re a creative director or designer looking for work in the UK, don’t just type in creative director to find job opportunities. Search for other keywords or responsibilities that you want to find in your new role. Try design or creative to see what may pop up. When you’re in a new country and don’t know the lay of the land or all the companies that exist, Linkedin is truly a gem.

And make sure you use the parameters such as location, experience level, etc. Just with online dating, you want to be specific but you don’t want to be so specific that you don’t have any options.

In general, Linkedin is a great resource these days for real job leads across industries. If you’re not on it, maybe rethink that. Also make sure your profile is updated and you’ve added a photo, work experience, skills and if you can, get some recommendations from past employers and employees!

3. Join Groups on Facebook

Some of the best places to find a job abroad is Facebook. Specifically, Facebook Groups. I’ve joined plenty of Groups in the past to make friends but I’ve also joined groups that are specific to my industry but also specific to my location. I can’t tell you how many job postings I’ve seen in an industry specific group I’m in from individuals looking to build out their teams.

I’ve seen jobs posted to work at Google, Etsy, Pinterest, Uber and more. And not just job listings, people who asked for candidate recommendations and would be happy to refer those individuals to the hiring team.

I think that those Groups are very valuable so it’s important to join a few. But first, make sure that the Groups are legitimate. There are some on Facebook that are really just forums for people to advertise their business or sell you something so just vet them and if you think they aren’t for you, leave!

 

Those are my three ideas to get you started on your job hunt abroad. They are simple but you’ll be surprised about the kinds of offers and opportunities you’ll come across.

 

A Comprehensive Guide To Moving Out In London

You’ve finally made it to London as an expat. A cultural city full of people from around the world, living and experiencing in all the traditions of tea cakes and Sunday roasts as well as pub nights, free museums and english men. But where do you rest your head at night? What do you call home?

It’s hard to find the perfect spot, especially as a foreigner with no real concept of the vibe of each neighborhood. London is small yet so big and it honestly can feel like a challenge to find the ideal location to live.

As an expat who has had to overcome hurdles to move into my own place with my husband, I’ve decided to share a comprehensive guide for anyone looking to make a move to London and secure their own flat. I firmly believe that knowledge is power so hopefully you won’t be caught off guard when it comes time for you to rent or “let” as it’s called over in the UK. Check out some of my tips and let me know what other info might be helpful to you on your journey.

Scouting The Perfect Location

London can be huge! There’s north London, West London, East London, South London and then all the other directions in between plus outer London. There are iconic locations like Kensington, Soho, Shoreditch and Notting Hill to name a few. Then there’s Walthamstow, Hackney, East Croydon, Highbury and Islington and so much more. Ok, I guess you get it.  I can stop naming areas in London. The point is that there are so many locations that it’s hard to know where to start but this is my advice: pay close attention to the travel zones and where you will be working. I feel like that’s obvious but you’d be surprised how many people overlook.

The way to pick the perfect location in my book is to think about where you’ll be working or commuting to the most and think about how long you’d be willing to travel. 45 minutes is apparently the standard commute time in London so anything shorter than that means you’ve hit the jackpot. Once you’ve figured out how far you want to commute, mark where you work on on a map and then use Google Maps or CityMapper to determine how long your commute would be from a neighborhood you’re eyeing.

Then look at what zone that neighborhood falls in. You might be only 25 minutes to work but is your new potential spot in zone 4 while you work in zone 1? The farther out you live with regards to zones, you will have to spend more money on transportation. Is your £1300 a month flat worth it if you have to pay £194 a month for a 1-4 travel card. Think about it.

I’ve primarily spent most of my time in South London and bits of the East but not too many other places. You can check out some of my neighborhood glimpses of Wimbledon, Brixton, Camden and Greenwich to give you an idea of some of these locations but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Flat Must Haves

What do you want in your flat? A dishwasher? A balcony or garden? Charming English attributes? Start by looking on rental sites like Zoopla, Rightmove and Spareroom (more for room rentals but still good if you’re on a tight budget) and setting their filters to include what you’d want and need (probably reverse that order).

You’ll be surprised to know that a washer, dishwasher and even a bit a patio or garden space aren’t too outrageous to hope for.

On these sites you can set parameters on where you’d like to search and what things are most important to you. Here, you’ll see what is actually in your budget in the area you’re searching in and if you need to get more realistic. Is a balcony overlooking the Thames a pipe dream? Maybe for the time being but there are other options like communal garden space or scrapping the outdoor space in favor of more square footage and living closer to a park.

Trust me that some things aren’t as pricey as you might think. There are some luxuries you can totally fit within your budget but just do your research and get real with what you want vs need.

Making An Offer

This is important. The money. So you can let or rent a flat but did you know the asking price doesn’t have to be the price you pay? There is room to negotiate even though you’re not buying. So if you see something at £1300, you can suggest paying £1250 if you think that it’s more reasonable. You can also ask for things to be included and/or removed. This may sound obvious to some but in NYC, I never encountered this as a renter (though I only rented once).

And to make sure you have enough to cover the rent, this is the figure I’m using as the agent didn’t tell me a specific measurement: monthly rent x 10 +£10,000. I know it’s not a measurement that everyone uses but this is as good as I have right now.

It’s also critical that you’re aware of your job contract. The UK has lots of jobs offered on a fixed contract so if you’re trying to let and your contract doesn’t last as long as the rental period, you could run into trouble. Most agencies want a guarantee and in that case, you may need a guarantor so just keep that in mind. Maybe you want to bypass this and just do a room share rather than let your own flat.

When you are ready to rent and you’re renting with an agency, be prepared for the following fees:

  • 6 weeks deposit (they list rent as weekly fees out here but you only pay monthly)
  • Referencing fee (to run your credit check which appears to just see if you have a job that pays you permanently)
  • Agency fee
  • One month’s rent

This varies pending the agency you use but you can pretty much expect something very close to this.

Bills in London

Did you know you have to pay to have a TV? In London, the following are bills you can expect to pay:

  • Council Tax (monthly) – neighborhood maintenance
  • Rent (monthly) – paying for your flat
  • Electric (monthly) – this covers electric and heat (if you’re in a new build. If not, gas/heat may be separate)
  • Water (monthly) – all your water usage
  • Wifi (monthly) – internet
  • TV License (monthly) – owning a TV
  • Renters Insurance (monthly) – covers your flat incase of theft, fire, tsunami

Yes. Council tax and a TV license are new to me (coming from the Bronx).

Apparently the council tax is a number that depends on the neighborhood you live in. You pay monthly in order for them to keep up the roads and streets and all the other neighborhood maintenance. The nicer the neighborhood, the likelihood of your council tax being a bit pricier goes up. And then there’s a TV license. They offer free TV out here in the UK so if you get a TV and tune it, you will end up with some channels which is not how it works in America. You need to pay for cable. Here you pay for certain packages and access to networks like Sports Networks or movie channels. You can get away without paying for a license (or so I’ve heard), if you don’t tune your TV and only watch Netflix and Prime. That’s all most people use TVs for these days anyways so I think you could bypass this.

Finding Furniture

This is a strange one for me to get used to but a good deal of flats in the UK come furnished or partly furnished. You can find flats that are pretty much set up like an Airbnb or you can find some that have closets and beds included. To this I say, decide on what you’re comfortable with and how much money you want to invest in new furniture.

Coming from NYC, I’m skeptical about other people’s furniture because NYC has a bed bug problem. London is ok with regards to furniture. But you still might want to add your personal touch. Check out places like IKEA for low cost basics to get started or to least get inspired. Their room arrangements are such a smart concept because it really helps you visualize how to use small spaces and ways to decorate it. You don’t have to but furniture there if you don’t want to but definitely use it for ideas.

If you want a sofa, you can try out places like Sofology, Dunelm, DFS Sofas and Next Home. In Dunelm and Next Home, you can find other furniture basics like bedding, utensils, bathroom bits, etc. It’s like Bed Bath and Beyond or Crate and Barrel in the US. Lots of things to make your home standout and feel like you.

They also have places like Wayfair out here and Amazon so you can order things online. And then there’s the ultimate free, FreeCycle where you can grab people’s free things that they no longer have use for.

Misc.

So everyone loves a washer dryer out here. In London though, you have to beware. Apparently they set off your bills to an unruly level (or have the potential to). I have a washer dryer but have yet to use. Time will tell how much they change the bill but I will let you know once I do figure it out. If you don’t have a dryer, you can use the free clothing racks. You can dry your clothes using air and it’s even better if you have a balcony to do it on.

Cleaners. I personally think this is a wasted expense. Absolutely frivolous unless you have a huge house or a lot of people in your house messing up. For one person, two people or even four people sharing a flat, you should be able to clean up after yourself. Not only is it a good skill but it can you help save money. I’m not looking down on having a cleaner but for any budget conscious person, this isn’t the way to go in my mind. However, it seems to be a little more common out here than one would think. When I was looking for shared flats a while back, I saw that almost 80% worked in cleaner costs into the bill. Um, pass.

Parking. A lot of people have cars out here so street parking may not be your friend depending on your neighborhood. Think about how much you want to pay for having a car and if finding a place with designated parking is a priority. Do you really want to park on these small streets?

This is my guide. It’s as comprehensive as I could get for now but I will certainly come back to this as I experience new things and get more information to update. Hopefully this helps. Let me know if I left out anything and I’d be happy to answer!