Here are some more of my thoughts and information I have gathered in regards to settling in. Sit tight, it is a long one!
So you remember how last time I mentioned that I had to wait for my bank card to come in the mail? Well it was supposed to only take five business days. Those five passed, and then another passed and still I had not received my bank card. Finally, I contacted Britbound to see maybe if they forgot to send me an email saying my card had been delivered there, but no such luck. However, they did point out that perhaps it had been sent to my hostel. Which I had not even considered because I was adament at my bank appointment that it be sent to Britbound…
Funny story, that is EXACTLY what happened. I called up Astor Hyde Park, and they had SIX letters waiting for me. SIX! I was annoyed and relieved at the same time. So now that it is all said and done, I have my pretty blue bank card and have had no issues using it. It is quite convenient and seems to be the most popular method of payment here.
I also went into a branch closer to my new home, and they were super friendly there to change my address and get my online banking fixed. They were so friendly at this branch, so that is where I will be returning.
So during my weekly recaps I did mention that I had found a room to rent within four day of being here. I think that I was the exception and it was only because I had made it a firm mission so that I could be out of the hostel lifestyle as quick as possible. So I certainly do not think that should be the expectation when moving over here. On average, I have been told it takes up to two weeks – pending on your budget and requirements.
I knew long before I moved that I would only be seeking out to rent a room, in an already established flat. Mostly because budget, but also because I just did not want the hassle of setting up things, or dealing with all the things you deal with when you rent by yourself. I just wanted to rent a room, have some shared living space and pay one monthly total for everything. Easy enough.
I used http://www.spareroom.co.uk for my search. It was the website that had the best reputation and the filter options are perfect to narrow down specifically what you want, what your budget is and what location you want as well. I also used their “Room Wanted Ad” feature, and set up an ad about myself and what I was looking for. This option actually turned out great, I was contacted by so many people that I really did not have to do much searching myself and it was actually how I discovered the room that I am currently renting now, as the land lady contacted me and it just all worked out from there!
So what kind of budget should you set? What should your expectations be?
If you want to live within London (whether that is Zone 1 or Zone 4), I would say the minimum you are looking at is 500 pounds Per Calendar Month. This is what I used as my base and it seemed to work out. Without knowing what your budget is, you want to lowball it until you can get your income sorted out.
Now that amount is what I am paying to live in a double sized room with access to all living spaces, in Zone 3, and this takes me about 20 minutes to get to central London via the tube. For me it works just fine. The closer to central London you get, the much higher at rent you are looking for – and in some cases, the less amount of space you will get.
Just a few other things to note: get used to places being old, like much older then Canada old. There is going to be cracks in the walls, and yes even a bit of mold in the washroom (just be careful to the extent), there are bugs, and sometimes mice, and the heating system can be different (radiator heaters -ugh). My point is, don’t go in expecting something shiny and glamorous (unless you have the funds for it then go you! Can we be friends?) and you won’t be disappointed 🙂
My other tip is try not to get locked in to anything. If you can find a place that is a short term lease, or even better a month to month then try to aim for that. Just because until you are really truly settled, you won’t know what your situation will be like a couple months down the road.
I wish I could write more about my “Flat Hunt” but the truth is, I took the first place I looked at. Partly out of desperation, but also because it suited what I wanted and my budget. I liked the look and feel of the location as well. So I took it. Will I stay here for the full two years? No. Will it suite me for a few months? Yes. It is providing me a comfortable and cozy living situation, and it is also giving me time to work out my actual budget and find a place that is perfect for me.
I just want to say in here that if your dream is to live in London, do not let anyone tell you that it is not possible! Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, your physical living space probably won’t be anything to write home about. BUT if living in this amazing city is what you want, then DO IT.
I mention this because I was getting somewhat discouraged and frustrated by other SWAPPERS who kept stating that living in London was impossible, you should look elsewhere, no can afford it etc etc. It really brought me down. I appreciated my friends advice about seeking accommodation outside of the city to save some money, because that was awesome advice but I got upset at the mention of “can’t” and “don’t” in regards to where I should live. Don’t state something is impossible if the opposite is quite true! (Rant Over).
Yeah, you sacrifice a certain standard of living to live in this city BUT the other benefits of it outweigh it so much. So I say, if you are moving here because you want to live in London and experience what this city is all about, then ignore the haters 😛
Ah the job hunt! So much fun. Not. Even more stressful in another country where things are just handled differently. Right up to your CV (not the same as a resume!) to how an interview is handled. It took me a month from when I landed to the day I started work. However, I did not try very hard until the end of week two-beginning of week three. So I feel that it is better to say that the whole process took about two weeks, which is really great if you ask me.
Note: Anything mentioned here for the job hunt is catered towards the professional field. Not bar work or retail work.
The BIGGEST difference job hunt wise here is that majority of it is all done through a recruiter. You don’t really apply to the company itself in almost any situation. Which has it pros and cons I suppose. So my process when like this:
– Formatted my CV in the template that Britbound gave me.
– Sent it off to Britbound whom forwarded onto the recruiters they work with.
– At the same time, I posed it on reed.co.uk.
– Wait to be contacted.
– Be contacted by a large number of recruiters at once.
– Decided which ones to meet with that would work best for me.
– Meet with them, take some skills testing and wait for them to find me a position.
After about a week of having my CV in their hands, my chosen recruitment company (Sheridan Maine) found me a potential position. So I went into a practice interview first with SM, and then onto my real interview (which was one of my best ever!). After that you wait for the recruitment company to work it out with their client, and fingers crossed, you get the position, which I did!
It is an ongoing temp position, which means I have work until they decide I don’t. But it was agreed that I would be kept until the New Year, so that worked out quite well!
NIN is your National Insurance Number. The equivalent to a SIN back home. It is something that you need to have done, but not something that is required to work. You just pay higher taxes at work until you receive that number. The process is quite simply and Britbound is there to help you with it. (Kind of.)
At your orientation, you fill out a form for them and decide where you want the paperwork mailed too. I used their address as I had not had a permanent home at that time. They make the phone call for you to get the paperwork started, and then you wait to receive the application in the mail. Like my bank card, the ten business days went by and I did not receive my paperwork…so after speaking with Britbound, I called the application centre – they were very friendly and were not sure what had happened but were happy to send out a new application, which I literally received the next day at my home address. Anyone care to notice the fishiness in that? I won’t speak ill of Britbound as I have no proof but I find it interesting how quickly things happened when I made the call vs. “them doing it for me.” Anyway…
The application is super easy. Fill it out, mail it off and then wait six-eight weeks to have the number. Although I have heard from others that they got it back within two weeks. So there you have it.
Well if you are not exhausted yet, good for you! I probably made this sound like more work then it really is. In truth, the last month has gone very smooth and all the bits and pieces came together nicely. There is a bit of a support system out there through Britbound and previous Swappers, so don’t get to overwhelmed with all the technical stuff! Even if it at times it seemed stressful, it was in reality, a lot easier then I thought it would be.
As always, I am here for help 🙂
– xoxo Veronica