“I hope they have this in London!”

Since conducting my recent research on how best to battle Home Sickness, it’s got me thinking about what will potentially trigger mine (other than the obvious case of missing my mum and dad like crazy).

The faster I find my moving date charging towards me, the more I seem to hear the words ‘I hope they have this in London’ coming out of my mouth. Constantly.

Now I know London is not a third-world country, nor is it located in the middle of a lost desert or at the end of the world, but I’m starting to stress out that I may not be able to find some of my favourite things in life – mostly (sadly) centred around food.

I was happily working my way through a pack of dark chocolate Tim Tams over the weekend, and thinking to myself ‘My GOD they better have these in London’. What about fizzers (you know those sherbert-y stick lollies)? What if the milk tastes funny? The water will most definitely not taste as good as Melbourne tap water. Will the stores stock Milo (only the best chocolate drink in the world) or my favourite flavour of Nespresso coffee capsule? Do they have electric blankets in the UK? I hope I can find stockings in my favourite shade of tan. OH MY DEAR GOD WHAT IF THEY DON’T HAVE RAISIN TOAST?!! That’s ridiculous, everyone needs raisin toast.

The list is never ending – Vegemite, Allens lollies, Bonds knickers, the new Olympus camera that I’ve had my eye on, those cute environmental coffee travel mugs, it goes on and on.

Due to the fact that I only have a total of 23kg’s to transfer my entire life from Melbourne to London, I can’t quite afford to stack up on these items purely because I’m not too sure if I can get them in the UK. I need to CULL CULL CULL and much to my own dismay, bringing my own take-away coffee mug doesn’t quite fit the definition of culling.

I also often find myself staring off into the distance, pondering about how certain things operate on the other side of the world, such as gym memberships – how much do they cost? Can you pay week by week or do you have to pay per annum? Or mobile phones – what kind of contracts are there? Are they expensive? Do they have ‘caps’ like we do here? Will my facebooking addiction be included in the free 3G data?

Don’t get me started on bills – what the hell is a council rate bill? In Australia that’s the landlord’s responsibility to pay all of that. How much is electricity? And I hear that the VAT tax is 20%. That’s just crazy!

Does Stawberrynet.com deliver to the UK? Does everyone wear ASOS meaning I can’t shop there anymore? Can I still buy my contact lenses online? I hope that my GHD hair straightener will work with the power conversion. How am I going to change my iTunes set up from Australia to UK without wiping out all of my stuff?

One thing I’m not stressing about is my very recent, new found love of tea. I understand that the UK will have more tea than I can even feast my eyes on. Oh, and Nutella. Europeans love their Nutella – not that I can indulge anyway as it has been banned from my household due to my complete lack of self-control around the hazelnut-chocolate-y goodness.

My endless curiosity is probably the exact reason behind why I’m such a planner. Since I started writing this post, I have already googled gym membership prices, phone contract options and iTunes info. I have also managed to have a Skype-whinge to my sister living in London, who has reassuringly emailed me a picture of a tin of Milo in her local supermarket (phewwww, I can wipe that one off the list). I feel better already. I’m not sure if this much stress over silly things is normal, or even necessary really, but I’m willing to work with that.

To anyone who has ever/ is currently living away from home, what do you miss the most? Do you ever receive any ‘care packages’ from back home with a bunch of your favourite things inside? Should I dedicate any of my precious 23kg’s of luggage to bringing something over from Australia that they don’t already have in London?

The London New Girl

x

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34 Responses

  1. Ananasa says:

    We can relate to this feeling completely, as we feel the same being expats. It is partially one of the reasons we created Ananasa.com- “A Home For handmade”. An e-commerce site that deals in handmade items from the US, London and the ME. Being far away sometimes is not easy and while owning a piece of handmade may not be the solution it does warm your soul in a different way. Owning a piece of home in your new home with a handmade item made with love can sometimes give you a sense of comfort. Some of the simple pleasures in life that can make us smile…

  2. Ananasa says:

    We can relate to this feeling completely, as we feel the same being expats. It is partially one of the reasons we created Ananasa.com- “A Home For handmade”. An e-commerce site that deals in handmade items from the US, London and the ME. Being far away sometimes is not easy and while owning a piece of handmade may not be the solution it does warm your soul in a different way. Owning a piece of home in your new home with a handmade item made with love can sometimes give you a sense of comfort. Some of the simple pleasures in life that can make us smile…

  3. Gym memberships – you can pay by month instead of annually, but it will be more expensive.
    Mobiles – you can either have a contract and pay by month (for a certain number of texts/calls/data) or you can do pay as you go.
    Did you know that you will need a TV license? 🙂 I’m actually not sure if this is paid by you or your landlord as I’ve never rented here.

    • TV license? Is that for pay TV or all TV? How strange! There seem to be so many additional costs to just basic living. Do you know how much this license costs?
      I had a look at the Virgin Active gym online, I’m hoping that I just happened to stumble upon the most expensive gym as it was over £30p/week which is a lot.
      Well, at least this is all very motivating to keep saving hard for the next 9 weeks!
      Thanks for the tips 🙂

      • We pay a TV licence fee which covers keeping the BBC ad free. Archaic, I know. The cost is £145.50 a year. I think as a tenant you are responsible for this. http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/

        London will be much more expensive than elsewhere in the UK. Gyms around me are about £35 a month.

        Happy to help if I can although as you will have gathered I live in a small town and am not a renter! 🙂

  4. Gym memberships – you can pay by month instead of annually, but it will be more expensive.
    Mobiles – you can either have a contract and pay by month (for a certain number of texts/calls/data) or you can do pay as you go.
    Did you know that you will need a TV license? 🙂 I’m actually not sure if this is paid by you or your landlord as I’ve never rented here.

    • TV license? Is that for pay TV or all TV? How strange! There seem to be so many additional costs to just basic living. Do you know how much this license costs?
      I had a look at the Virgin Active gym online, I’m hoping that I just happened to stumble upon the most expensive gym as it was over £30p/week which is a lot.
      Well, at least this is all very motivating to keep saving hard for the next 9 weeks!
      Thanks for the tips 🙂

      • We pay a TV licence fee which covers keeping the BBC ad free. Archaic, I know. The cost is £145.50 a year. I think as a tenant you are responsible for this. http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/

        London will be much more expensive than elsewhere in the UK. Gyms around me are about £35 a month.

        Happy to help if I can although as you will have gathered I live in a small town and am not a renter! 🙂

  5. Luckily London is such a multicultural place that I’m sure you’ll be able to find most things (food-wise, anyway) SOMEWHERE! 🙂 I’d be happy to answer some questions for you regarding phone contracts, council tax (ridiculously expensive, sometimes paid by you and sometimes included in your rent), electricity bills, etc. Feel free to email me if you can’t find an answer online and I’ll do my best!

    iTunes is important so I’ll answer it now – I purchase from the Canadian store and the UK store and have not had a problem. I still have all my files. Hopefully that’s the answer you found on Google so you can rest assured that it should be fine!

    I bring back maple baked beans and Tim Horton’s coffee. When I move back to Canada I am not currently planning on taking anything with me but that’ll probably change.

    Even if they don’t have exactly the same things in the UK, I’ve found quite a few are pretty comparable. Except the Oreos. The Oreos over here are awful even though they look the same, are packaged the same, etc. They do not taste the same!

    • That’s interesting about the Oreos because I don’t really like them too much, so that makes me think maybe we have the same as the UK – I need to try these Canadian oreos pronto!
      Thanks for all your advice 🙂 I’m still not happy about this council tax, hopefully I can find a place where it’s included in the rent. The whole concept is a bit strage, in fact the whole rental market seems a little strange to me, things are so different to Australia.
      Can I ask how you found your place? Through a real estate agent or on one of those websites like gumtree? Or some other way that I don’t know about yet?

      • Unfortunately, even if it’s included in the rent, you’ll still be paying it – your rent will be higher. Landlords aren’t responsible for it so no landlord in their right mind is going to swallow the cost for their tenant. I’m not sure what CT is like in London specifically, but ours in Cambridge is £115 per month, on top of rent of £725. There are two of us here so we split it, but it’s like paying £840/month in rent alone and we don’t even live in the city centre! It’s very expensive, and we are in the second-to-bottom bracket. 🙁

        • We found our place online. We used sites like findaproperty.com and Zoopla. There are quite a few websites that combine listings from lots of different estate agents. We did look on Gumtree, but didn’t have much luck. Just beware of letting agents, which always charge an upfront fee when you are signing the contract (£75 our latest was – each). The best experiences I’ve had over here were with private landlords. Letting agents… well, they were rated the most hated people in England last year in one of the newspapers (don’t remember which one). I don’t know how they are viewed in other countries, but they have a terrible reputation here. We have had some awful experiences with those guys and our current place is no better. So maybe check classifieds in the paper, Gumtree, maybe local message boards at coffee shops or something to see if you can find a place to live with a private landlord too. I’m sure you’ll do just fine, but I did want to warn you so you’re not surprised – take pictures, keep notes of damage or phone calls you have with your agency once you move in regarding how many times you have to ask them for things, make sure your deposit is kept with a third party company (I believe this is a legal requirement now), and if at all possible get the landlord’s telephone number in case of emergencies. Sometimes they don’t want to give you this but if your ceiling is leaking from the bathroom upstairs in the middle of the night, it’s worth having because their office is going to be closed! This was a personal highlight, in which the letting agents didn’t even call us back the next day! 🙂 I don’t know what letting is like in Australia, perhaps you already have experience dealing with these guys. As long as you cover your back (as we’ve now learned) you’ll be totally fine! 🙂

          • That’s awesome, thanks so much for all the info!
            I have heard a few horror stories about rentals in London, so taking pictures etc. def sounds like a good idea.
            In Australia it’s very regulated with strict rules and laws so tenants are looked after pretty well, so it may be a bit of a shock I think! I’ve been browsing through those sites you mentioned, it’s good to get an idea of what’s around and learn the different areas, etc.
            £115 p/m is a LOT for council tax. I’ll have to keep that in mind when looking too! I hope it doesn’t take too long to find something decent …!

          • I’m sure it won’t take too long, London is a huge city! But yeah, make sure you have a bit extra per month to cover council tax because it can be a big surprise! Students don’t pay it, so I didn’t pay any the first four years I lived here, and then suddenly I had to pay it every month on top of rent.
            Good luck!! 🙂 Sorry for the bombardment, we’ve just had such terrible time with letting agents and I wanted you to be prepared!

  6. Luckily London is such a multicultural place that I’m sure you’ll be able to find most things (food-wise, anyway) SOMEWHERE! 🙂 I’d be happy to answer some questions for you regarding phone contracts, council tax (ridiculously expensive, sometimes paid by you and sometimes included in your rent), electricity bills, etc. Feel free to email me if you can’t find an answer online and I’ll do my best!

    iTunes is important so I’ll answer it now – I purchase from the Canadian store and the UK store and have not had a problem. I still have all my files. Hopefully that’s the answer you found on Google so you can rest assured that it should be fine!

    I bring back maple baked beans and Tim Horton’s coffee. When I move back to Canada I am not currently planning on taking anything with me but that’ll probably change.

    Even if they don’t have exactly the same things in the UK, I’ve found quite a few are pretty comparable. Except the Oreos. The Oreos over here are awful even though they look the same, are packaged the same, etc. They do not taste the same!

    • That’s interesting about the Oreos because I don’t really like them too much, so that makes me think maybe we have the same as the UK – I need to try these Canadian oreos pronto!
      Thanks for all your advice 🙂 I’m still not happy about this council tax, hopefully I can find a place where it’s included in the rent. The whole concept is a bit strage, in fact the whole rental market seems a little strange to me, things are so different to Australia.
      Can I ask how you found your place? Through a real estate agent or on one of those websites like gumtree? Or some other way that I don’t know about yet?

      • Unfortunately, even if it’s included in the rent, you’ll still be paying it – your rent will be higher. Landlords aren’t responsible for it so no landlord in their right mind is going to swallow the cost for their tenant. I’m not sure what CT is like in London specifically, but ours in Cambridge is £115 per month, on top of rent of £725. There are two of us here so we split it, but it’s like paying £840/month in rent alone and we don’t even live in the city centre! It’s very expensive, and we are in the second-to-bottom bracket. 🙁

        • We found our place online. We used sites like findaproperty.com and Zoopla. There are quite a few websites that combine listings from lots of different estate agents. We did look on Gumtree, but didn’t have much luck. Just beware of letting agents, which always charge an upfront fee when you are signing the contract (£75 our latest was – each). The best experiences I’ve had over here were with private landlords. Letting agents… well, they were rated the most hated people in England last year in one of the newspapers (don’t remember which one). I don’t know how they are viewed in other countries, but they have a terrible reputation here. We have had some awful experiences with those guys and our current place is no better. So maybe check classifieds in the paper, Gumtree, maybe local message boards at coffee shops or something to see if you can find a place to live with a private landlord too. I’m sure you’ll do just fine, but I did want to warn you so you’re not surprised – take pictures, keep notes of damage or phone calls you have with your agency once you move in regarding how many times you have to ask them for things, make sure your deposit is kept with a third party company (I believe this is a legal requirement now), and if at all possible get the landlord’s telephone number in case of emergencies. Sometimes they don’t want to give you this but if your ceiling is leaking from the bathroom upstairs in the middle of the night, it’s worth having because their office is going to be closed! This was a personal highlight, in which the letting agents didn’t even call us back the next day! 🙂 I don’t know what letting is like in Australia, perhaps you already have experience dealing with these guys. As long as you cover your back (as we’ve now learned) you’ll be totally fine! 🙂

          • That’s awesome, thanks so much for all the info!
            I have heard a few horror stories about rentals in London, so taking pictures etc. def sounds like a good idea.
            In Australia it’s very regulated with strict rules and laws so tenants are looked after pretty well, so it may be a bit of a shock I think! I’ve been browsing through those sites you mentioned, it’s good to get an idea of what’s around and learn the different areas, etc.
            £115 p/m is a LOT for council tax. I’ll have to keep that in mind when looking too! I hope it doesn’t take too long to find something decent …!

          • I’m sure it won’t take too long, London is a huge city! But yeah, make sure you have a bit extra per month to cover council tax because it can be a big surprise! Students don’t pay it, so I didn’t pay any the first four years I lived here, and then suddenly I had to pay it every month on top of rent.
            Good luck!! 🙂 Sorry for the bombardment, we’ve just had such terrible time with letting agents and I wanted you to be prepared!

  7. kEz says:

    http://www.australiashop.co.uk/ – Cures all home sickness!

    • Wooh, Australia shop. Thanks Kez, I actually never realised until I started browsing through this site that apparently everything I love is made by Arnotts! Even Monte Carlos 🙁 🙁 Nooooo.

  8. kEz says:

    http://www.australiashop.co.uk/ – Cures all home sickness!

    • Wooh, Australia shop. Thanks Kez, I actually never realised until I started browsing through this site that apparently everything I love is made by Arnotts! Even Monte Carlos 🙁 🙁 Nooooo.

  9. yizhivika says:

    I’d never heard of Tim Tams before today, but perhaps this website will provide some reassurance 😉 http://local.trueknowledge.com/tim_tam/london/

    • That website is amazing – thank you for tracking the Tim Tams down for me! Very exciting news 🙂 If you ever come across Tim Tams, be sure to buy a pack and try them, they’re delicious!

      • yizhivika says:

        Okay, I’ll seek them out, in one of the local shops featured on the website, and will let you know how well they go with a cup of English tea ;).

  10. yizhivika says:

    I’d never heard of Tim Tams before today, but perhaps this website will provide some reassurance 😉 http://local.trueknowledge.com/tim_tam/london/

    • That website is amazing – thank you for tracking the Tim Tams down for me! Very exciting news 🙂 If you ever come across Tim Tams, be sure to buy a pack and try them, they’re delicious!

      • yizhivika says:

        Okay, I’ll seek them out, in one of the local shops featured on the website, and will let you know how well they go with a cup of English tea ;).

  11. Iwona says:

    You miss the people most. Your family and best friends.
    You miss the flowers, the smell of air, the landscapes, the seasons. You miss your culture and traditions. Luckily you won’t have to miss your language or the left-hand traffic 🙂

    • Very true about the language and driving skills! I think the smell of the air I will miss too, and the weather, but I’m looking forward to a snowy Christmas in Poland with my family 🙂 I wonder if the things I miss most will be the same as yours were/are?!!

  12. Iwona says:

    You miss the people most. Your family and best friends.
    You miss the flowers, the smell of air, the landscapes, the seasons. You miss your culture and traditions. Luckily you won’t have to miss your language or the left-hand traffic 🙂

    • Very true about the language and driving skills! I think the smell of the air I will miss too, and the weather, but I’m looking forward to a snowy Christmas in Poland with my family 🙂 I wonder if the things I miss most will be the same as yours were/are?!!

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