By Selga Berzins
I’ll start off by saying that as an Aussie expat I am absolutely loving living in London, persuing my career dreams. But since moving in July 2012, I have learned a few valuable lessons that are worth passing on to others contemplating taking on this great city.
I arrived in London after quitting my job as a television news reporter in Adelaide, Australia. I’d always wondered what it would be like to work for an international news organisation and what better place to go than the epicentre of Europe.
Tips one should know:
Tip #1 – Start off your London adventure when the weather is at its best. First impressions last, so you don’t want to be battling the chill and clutching your umbrella the second you arrive. I came in the height of summer, just weeks before the Olympics. The city was alive, even the normally glum tube commuters were smiling as they reached for their sunglasses instead of their brollies.
Tip #2 – Try to lock in a job or at least a job interview BEFORE you arrive. I had been promised work with BBC World News via email. However, they wanted to meet me first before signing any contracts – fair enough. Some friends have come without a head start and say it can take weeks, even months, before getting a job. It’s definitely worth having enough savings to get you through that period. So if you can, sow some seeds before you arrive.
Tip #3 – Accommodation!!! This is perhaps the most important thing to sort out before you arrive. London is a huge city, so do some research into what areas suit you and your lifestyle. East London is swarming with eclectic bars and shopping districts for 20-30 something year olds. South-west London is great if you’re craving some peace and quiet. Go north if you want a village feel. Hampstead is full of cosy cafes, pubs and boutique stores set amongst tree lined streets. Generally speaking, rents are cheaper if you commit to a 12 month lease and a few house mates. Anything less than six months is usually considered a short let and will cost you nearly double the standard price. Anything less than three months is virtually impossible to find. Luckily for me, friends in Adelaide let me rent their London flat for a great rate. However, when they arrived for a holiday and I had to move out for 7 weeks, it was almost impossible to find a new roof over my head. After many sleepless nights trawling the internet, I found a studio for £420 a week. That’s $650AUS!!! The room was 4m x 3m – a shoebox!
Tip #4 – Don’t hold back! If you have the slightest urge to dig your heels into this amazing city, then do it. You won’t regret it!