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…
- Researched everything I could find out about visas on the UK Gov website
- Emailed a bunch of companies to find out about job opportunities, internships and sponsorships
- Networked with anyone and everyone I had a relation to in London
- Joined Facebook groups and meet-ups with expats
- 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.