Today marks my 4 year anniversary of living in London. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been here forever, sometimes like I just arrived yesterday. I remember too well the 27.06.2013, the day I arrived to live in this city for an undefined period or time (maybe even forever). Before boarding the plane to London, I have been to the city once – when I was 13.
I was on a school language trip in Cambridge and we went to the capital for a daytrip. I can’t remember too much of that day. After all, we just spend a few hours in London, rushing from one attraction to the next. I was thinking about moving to the UK for a few years – I would imagine my live in Brighton, maybe even Bristol. But never London. To me London was too big, too intimidating and too anonymous.
How did I end up in London?
I did a lot of research before leaving Austria for the UK. I didn’t want to do it all by myself, which is why, I looked at agencies that help you with organisational matters (NI number, bank account etc.). The only support I could find for the smaller cities was for live-in hospitality work or au pairs. While I didn’t mind having to work in hospitality, I didn’t like the idea of a live-in job.
It seemed like the best option for me was to move to London initially. I figured it would be easier to get a job in the capital and start setting up my life in the UK. If I didn’t like it, I could simply pack my bags and board a train to Brighton or wherever I wanted to.
So, I quit my job in Austria, moved out of my flat, booked a one-way ticket to London and packed my bags.
I remember arriving at London Victoria Station from Gatwick Airport, with my 2 bags, all sweaty from carrying them. I was overwhelmed, it was rush hour and the train station bigger than I was used to. I had to find the tube. The hostel that I had booked over the agency was located near Kings Cross. I had my journey planned out. Nothing should go wrong.
But it did. From the speakers, a voice announced that the line I was supposed to take was suspended “due to a man under the train”. I was shocked, I had never heard an announcement like that. In Vienna, things like that are “medical emergencies” or “technical issues”. On top of that, I now had to find an alternative route. I managed (of course), but I had to change several times. Usually that wouldn’t be a problem but trust me, it’s a challenge, if you have to carry all your belongings up and down the stairs and through the stations.
When I arrived at the hostel, I was really looking forward to a shower and a bed. Turns out, my booking couldn’t be located and the hostel fully booked. I had to wait until around midnight, to see if other guests wouldn’t turn up, so I could take over their bed. For one night only though.
Hostel-hopping & finding a place to stay
The next day I had a viewing at a flat share in Wapping. Considering my situation I was really hoping that I would get lucky and could arrange my move asap. The room (and the flat) was not how I expected – small, dirty and they hadn’t mentioned some of the extra costs in the ad. In addition I felt like the flatmates weren’t to keen on living with me (a sympathy thing on both sides…). Disappointed, I made my way to a café to use the internet. I tried finding a place to stay for the next few nights. It proved quite difficult – after all, it was the end of June and a lot of people visiting London. I found another hostel near Kings Cross – but for one night only. Not ideal, but good for now.
Later that day I moved into my new accommodation. I spend most of my time there (not that that was long anyway) in the common room on my laptop, writing to people on spareroom and finding another hostel for the next few days. I was worried by the number of responses I got (not too many) but I kept on trying. I had to. Failing in the first week was not an option.
I managed to secure a viewing. It didn’t sound promising but what options did I have. Flat on Commercial Road. No. Next. Flat in Stepney. No. In the evening it was time for me to move hostel again – the one I found this time was in Island Gardens. I could stay there for 3 nights. What a relief. I liked the area a lot more than Kings Cross – the hostel was right next to the Thames, it was green, nice to walk around and a bit less stressful. Thankfully, my luck didn’t end there – the next day I found a flat. The building didn’t look great from the outside, the flat itself wasn’t the best either but the people all seemed really nice and the price as amazing for the location. I moved in and moved on to organising my bank account and NI.
Exploring “my” new city & the start of day-to-day life
Now that I had found a permanent home, I could finally explore and enjoy the city. I “did” all of the touristy things you can, walked through Central London, explored my neighbourhood. It turned out, that moving in the summer time has been a great idea – there were a lot of things going on and the weather was amazing. A friend of mine even came down from Nottingham to hang out with me and show me around a bit more.
After a few days, I started applying for jobs. Somehow I needed to earn money. I wasn’t too stressed, as I had enough saved but obviously I didn’t want to spend my savings on being unemployed. After 2 weeks I found a job – not necessarily my dream job but it paid the rent and ended up being a valuable experience. And so, slowly my day-to-day life in London started…