A lot of people decide to move to London on a whim. They apply for a visa or a new job and the next thing they’re packing their bags, ready to go. There’s a certain romanticism to making such huge life decisions on impulse. The spontaneity, the excitement, the unplanned adventure.
That’s not my story.
I knew I wanted to move to London for a long, long time. And I knew exactly what I wanted my experience to be like too – authentic, not rushed, career-focused and totally life-transforming. I wanted to be Bridget Jones 2.0. Wearing terrible Christmas jumpers, hosting dinner parties with blue soup and being whisked away to the English countryside by Mr Darcy (or Hugh Grant, tbh) on weekends. So I created a 3-year life plan to make it happen. And while it was far from a romantic, spontaneous decision – you know what? It worked.
WHEN I DECIDED TO MOVE TO LONDON
Born in Melbourne to two Polish parents who emigrated in the early 80s, I always felt an enormous gravitational pull to Europe. Raised by my single mum, she was an expat herself who prioritised taking my sister and I back to Poland as often as financially possible. We were so lucky to spend many wonderful summers and Christmases with our extended family in Warsaw. I loved this part of the world like the second home that it had become.
Right after my 21st birthday my feet were itching to go back. So, I delayed my final semester of university and went on my first solo trip to Europe. Over 3 months I fell in love with the continent in a totally new way, experiencing the beauty of travel and independence for the very first time. Europe had me hooked. On returning home I finished my final semester, worked my butt off for 6 months at a job I absolutely despised just so that one year later I could return for another 4 months of travel.
I got back home to Melbourne in 2009 very broke but ready to do it all again. Again. Only this time I wanted it to be a little more permanent. So the moment my feet hit Australian soil, I got to work on my life plan to move to London.
MAKING A PLAN
The decision to wait 3 years was purely down to career and life logistics. I wanted to work at least one year in my entry-level job, get a promotion and spend another 2 years working my way up. I wanted to save some money to visit my sister who was living in New York. Then I needed at least 6 months of hardcore saving and planning to work towards a London move. All while coordinating 12-month rental contracts which could be very expensive to break early. Every big decision that I made had London as the end goal.
2012 rolled around, everything had gone to plan. After 1 year of entry-level work I got my promotion and worked for 2 years in my new job. I went on that holiday to the States and visited my sister in New York. I’d enjoyed living my best Melbourne life for 3 years and my latest 12-month lease was coming to an end. My unwavering, resolute ambition to move to London defined those years and I’d given myself no choice but to hit all my goals, knowing that any delays would just delay the start of this new life that I craved to begin.
Finally, it was time to start planning my move to London.
LONDON NEW GIRL WAS BORN
Now in early 2012, blogs weren’t really a ‘thing’. There was nowhere that I could find everything that I needed to know for my move. So I attended some evening talks run by expat companies and sourced some businesses that specialised in moves who could send me pamphlets and information. I went for coffee with people who were living, or had lived, in London to smother them with questions. Google became my best friend as I spent months searching for UK-based companies to try and find out any snippet of information about what I could expect to find when I landed in London.
I needed to know everything from how to find a place to live to setting up my bank account and getting a local phone number. Or how much I’d spend on grocery shopping each week and whether my favourite foods existed on the other side of the world. I wanted to know everything there was to know about London, probably out of the sheer excitement more than anything else. But no doubt that nerves had a little something to do with it too.
It took me months to pull together as much as I could yet I still had so many unanswered questions. I was so frustrated at the lack of information out there and how hard it was to get my hands on it! Determined to learn more about London, I started to write everything down. That’s when London New Girl was born.
If you’re wondering then yes – I was inspired by one of my favourite TV shows at the time, New Girl! 😉
London New Girl was a space that I could put all my research into one safe spot knowing if I could help just one other person save the time and stress of having to find the info themselves, it was worth it. Not only that, it was also – a little more selfishly – a place where I could share my worries and my excitement, connect with other bloggers and find inspiration.
THE EVOLUTION OF LONDON NEW GIRL
The blogging continued after my move to London and I’m so grateful for writing so many things down. Those old posts have become like an online journal for me to read back on. When I re-read them now it honestly feels like a different person and a different lifetime. Like a real journal, I can’t help but cringe my way through so many of my old posts!
But nevertheless, I’m keeping them there. Because at some point they’ve connected me to a whole lot of amazing women who’ve taken on the same journey and gone through the same ups and downs. Even the most out-of-date advice can often spark some inspiration in others to help them on their adventure.
The blogging and social media space has evolved unrecognisably since 2012, and so have I. Yet the goal of London New Girl remains the same. It’s a guide for moving to London. It’s a source of inspiration for those living in London. And it has blossomed into an amazing, supportive community of women living in London. Women like you and me who want to connect and share their experiences with others.
WHAT MY MOVE TO LONDON HAS TAUGHT ME
Living in London has taught me more than I could ever truly give it credit for. It has completely shaped the adult that I’m proud to be now. It has taught me the importance of working hard to reach my goals, and the importance of taking time off to relax too. It’s made me realise my passions and taught me to take life a little less seriously. It helped me live more in the moment and open my life up to so many new and wonderful people.
It certainly was not all roses though – far from it. Expat life has its own set of unique challenges. London showed me just how hard it is to start life somewhere new. And perhaps most crucially – how imperative it is to have a support network around you. Which in turn made me realise how hard it is to build one. So while London New Girl has always focused on moving to London, it’s also grown to become a resource helping women to find their own support network and nourish that. Because in a way, it’s easy to move to London. Surviving and flourishing in London is the hard part and when we really need the most support.
So I truly hope that London New Girl will help you not only find that practical information for your move, but also to find that inspiration, the support and the friendships that you need to make your time in London some of the best years of your life. Like it has done for me.