Cheerio Friends: Relocating Abroad as a Young Professional
There comes a time when everyone has to say goodbye. That time for me is coming soon. After careful deliberation, I’ve decided to leave. That’s right my virtual friends… I’m out of here and off to the United Kingdom! No expat. This move is entirely on me. After discussing my situation (and complicated love life) I have received approval to relocate to London, England… permanently (or at least for the foreseeable future). The word HR used is ‘indefinitely.’ Whatever they call it, it’s going to be for a few years at least.
Leaving has been a long time coming. I looked outside of my current company, even considered winging it and moving to the Netherlands without a job, but I’ve decided the best fit for me is the same company. Interestingly enough, that was also the easiest way to do it. I guess that’s a real NewlyCorporate lesson: before you do anything stupid, talk to your boss. It might surprise you how reasonable people are. Lessons aside, after some HR wrangling, I finally have the green-light to make London my home.
After my approval, my initial excitement has given way to apprehension as I navigate the maze of visa applications and international-personal finance. As if balancing my budget wasn’t hard enough with my extravagant beer spending and frequent trans-Atlantic trips, I now have to deal with exchange rates and international wire transfers among other expat concerns.
To spare you the nauseating details, I’ve listed a few of my major concerns and actions to date below:
Visa: currently working with an immigration firm to gather required documents. Mostly my work history, information about my new role, etc
Banking: it’s a nightmare to get an account in the UK since you need an address first. HSBC has a program called Passport that is supposed to help with this. I have yet to be contacted by them, they said it takes a week. I think it’s been three business days, I’m not holding my breath.
Personal Finance: I still have bills to pay and Roth IRAs to fund in the USA, so I’ll need to keep an account active in the US. This itself is no problem, but I’m struggling with the best way to transfer money between both accounts without choking under crappy interest rates and international wire transfer fees.
Cell phone: I’ll need a local cellphone plan, but I have no UK credit history (or credit cards). I sure hope I don’t have to use pre-paid. Pre-paid service is for the plebes, ugh.
Housing: Probably the biggest issue for me. Living in London is $$$$ing expensive. The cost of living is 48.7% higher according to the latest CPI. If I want to live in a cool place downtown, I’ll have to shell out £800/$1600!! (hehe, I just learned ‘£’ = Alt + 263, thanks NewlyCorporate) for a SHARED(!)
apartmentflat (or settle for the ‘burbs, gross). If I’m going to London, I’m going all out. I’m looking at Paddington and Marylebone for places to live in London. Work is out west so I need to be close to Marylebone station for the overland or suffer from 1hr+ rides to work on the tube.
Salary: I still haven’t heard from HR on my pay. I’m not getting a COLA (cost of living adjustment) so I’m sure I’ll be flat ass broke after covering rent and food.
Transportation: Travel from zone 1 to zone D is £245 a month. That’s how much I’m paying for a 2007 Audi A4 and insurance. Speaking of my car, I need to sell it now, and probably will still owe $1,700 after the trade in.
Money: I’m going to need some mega reserves if I’m going to max out my 2007 Roth IRA, pay first months rent and deposit (£800 x 2 = £1600 or ~$3200), pay to move my stuff, fly over to UK, buy adapters for the few items I’m bringing
Clothing/Housewares: Simple. Clothes only. I may even sell my desktop and 23″ monitor (any buyers?). I’m flying to Amsterdam for New Years so I’m going to cache ~60 pounds of clothes for my girlfriend to bring to London once I get settled. This means everything else is going, including my beloved brewing supplies. It’s going to be a fire-sale that should bring some much needed cash, but for pennies on the dollar. It’s sad to start over, but I’ve only been working three years, I don’t have that much amazing stuff.
These are just some of the things I have to think about when moving. As I said before, I’m elated, but nervous at the same time. I’ll be in the UK in about 6 weeks… there’s a lot of open water to cover before then.
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