Little did I know that my one year ‘travel break’ would result in me becoming a Canadian expat in London.
Leaving my job of 10 years, and renting out my apartment in Vancouver to travel for an entire year definitely raised eyebrows at home; and although most people seemed to be supportive I had the feeling that some thought I was making a mistake in throwing away my future security.
It was not an easy decision and I mulled it over for two years before making my final decision. But when an idea sticks with you and doesn’t leave your mind, I believe you have to go for it and make it happen otherwise you always have the “what if?” question hanging over you.
My Year Of Travel Changed My Life
It was the best thing I could’ve done and I don’t regret making such a drastic change in my life.
People seem to make a big issue about what you can and can’t do based on your age and what stage of life you’re in; and expect everyone else to live within these confines.
After travelling for a year to 14 countries and living and working in Spain and Malta during that time (due to having European citizenship); I met the most amazing and interesting people from the ages of 18 to 70; people who all had different stories about how they ended up traveling and working in different places. I saw that I was not the only one who had the desire to change and explore…and that there was nothing wrong with that, no matter what your age.
As a child of immigrants I have always had the travel bug, having been to Europe and South America to visit family several times from a young age. Once I got older and started travelling on my own or with friends, work became a means to get me to my next vacation. Travel has always been my top priority.
My year away from home was quite planned out as I had specific destinations and activities that I knew I wanted to see and do before my one year break was up. More importantly, one year was all that my budget could handle!
London Calling: An Expat Life Begins
Once the year and the money were gone I spent a month with friends in the UK contemplating my next move. My gut was telling me that I wasn’t ready to head home yet so I decided I’d give it a month to find a temporary job so that I could make a little money to buy my plane ticket home and enjoy London for the next six months.
By the time my six months was coming to an end I still didn’t feel like going back. I had made good friends and was able to take some great and affordable travel breaks from London which just isn’t possible from Vancouver.
Living in a new city or country isn’t all smooth sailing, but for me it wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined. I went from the rainiest and one of the most expensive cities in Canada to the rainiest and most expensive city in Europe so it wasn’t that hard of an adjustment. Both cities are very multicultural and have a lot of excellent international food options.
Life in London Begins: The Good & The Bad
I joined some meetup groups, participated in creative activities and met a few people who then introduced me to other people and I have managed to make a group of good long term friends in London, some of which are from Canada as well.
Although I had many friends in my hometown, most of them were married with their own families and I really struggled to meet new and genuine people to spend time with. Perhaps I found it easier to meet people here because London simply has a much larger population and there are more people who are in the same situation as you are to relate to.
The biggest adjustment for me has been flat sharing since I had lived on my own for so many years and I really appreciate having a home space to myself. I didn’t really like my first permanent job but I managed to find something new that I enjoy now and I have wonderful colleagues.
The opportunities are there, it just takes time, patience and effort to find them. I really feel that I can build up my CV and work experience here to help me with future job prospects. Socially and culturally, London has by far exceeded my expectations. There is always something to see or do if you want to get out.
Of course, like every expat, I miss friends and family from home and it’s sad when people you meet have to move on but it’s so easy to keep in touch nowadays that people don’t seem so far away and there are always chances to visit and meet again.
I am now fast approaching my second year in London and who knows what the future holds? But for the next few years for sure I will take advantage of my time here and continue to explore the UK and Europe.
Check out Linda’s travel blog Merry Traveller, which provides tips and ideas on travel destinations to inspire and help you plan your next adventure.
Enjoy this story? Check out Francesca’s experience of living in Milan, Italy from Glasgow Scotland here.