Finding Fulfillment in London

Cadesha, 32, shares her experiences leaving her home in Toronto, Canada and moving to the UK.

“The most rewarding part of my journey as an expat is literally the experience! I knew I would regret not taking the leap in this adventure. I have learned so much about myself and I have experienced so much personal growth.

Let’s start at the beginning: Where are you originally from? When did you move abroad and where did you move abroad to?

I was raised in Canada, specifically Toronto, Canada and I decided to take the leap across the pond to London, UK in 2019.

How were you able to migrate? (Job, Visa, Spouse, Family or another channel?)

I applied for the Youth Mobility Visa and got approved!

Why did you decide to move and did you know anyone there?

To be perfectly honest, I felt unfulfilled in my life in Canada. I felt that there was much more for me to see and I felt I was limited living in Canada. I had initially wanted to move to the US, but with the current state of the country, I quickly felt that the US wasn’t ideal for me. When I first visited my family in London back in 2016, the city was not on my radar of places to relocate; but then I started researching and I learned about this visa agreement between Canada and the UK and I thought why not?! What could I possibly have to lose? This was my moment to see what I am made of and I took it and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.

How did you find the job searching process? Was there anything about working overseas that surprised you?

I was extremely nervous and excited when my visa application got approved. I knew the job market in London is highly competitive so I started reaching out to people via LinkedIn and networking. I started as soon as I got approved and I had six months to prepare for my move. To be honest my job searching process was pretty smooth as I utilized my network to land a job before relocating, I would say I was quite lucky and blessed and I am extremely grateful! But I do know the job market in London is highly competitive especially in the climate of covid-19. Working overseas is a great experience especially when learning about a new culture and practices. Certain words and expressions can cause language/cultural barriers; yes even in the UK and yes even with English being my native language lol I also find that taking time off for vacation and to heal when sick is encouraged and it boost productivity. I really don’t understand why North America only provide 2 weeks vacation, people are overworked and it is not beneficial for employers to have employees who are burned out.

How was the experience finding a new home?

My transition to the UK was pretty smooth as I do have family living in London. The housing market in London, just like the job market is highly competitive and if you don’t act fast when you find a place you like, you could risk losing it to another individual. London’s housing market is a landlord’s playground!

How is the social scene? What was your experience making friends?

Honestly, I didn’t know how LIT London was until I actually moved here! There is literally so many new, different and quirky things to do here! And if you are bored of the city (which, I highly doubt you ever would be) you can hop on a cheap flight and two hrs later be in a totally new city/country exploring it! Since moving to London I don’t believe there was a day when I have been bored! Its that amazing! My experience making friends has also been amazing! I’ve met friends from all over and hilariously some of my best London friends are also Canadians! London is extremely multicultural! So you will make friends from all over the world. This has been my experience. Some people may have it harder making friends as London is a large city filled with lots of expats/immigrants from all over the world and may tend to move around quite often. I recommend joining a club or participating in activities that you find interesting and soon enough you will be going to brunch at the Shard with a new friend.

Did you date overseas? If so, what was that experience like? Any memorable stories you can share?

Dating in London lol where do I start?! I would say my dating experiences in London hasn’t been the best as like many major cities in the world, people want things quick and easy or that instant gratification without making the effort. I am however hopeful that they are still good men out there filled with chivalry, ready to date and spoil me. My dating experience in London however hasn’t been as bad as my dating experience in Toronto. I’ll leave it at that.

Do you feel your race impacted your experience? If so, how?

This is a really good question with so many layers to unpack. The quick answer is yes professionally and personally. Professionally, I find being Black and a woman, you are not taken seriously when you put forth an idea or you have to work your a** off to get half the respect you deserve! You have to be so mindful of how others perceive you on top of that you cannot fully be yourself. You have to censor yourself and that in itself can be soo frustrating. In my personal life (I could write a whole novel about this), but I do find alot of men (SADLY including Black men) not taking me as seriously in terms of courting as they would other races and some may argue against my point but its something I have experienced and seen around me; again too many layers.

What has been the most challenging thing about moving abroad?

The most challenging thing about moving abroad for me is not being able to be with my friends and family during major occasions such as birthdays, engagements, births, Christmases etc. There have been times when I do get home sick and not being with my friends and family is my major sacrifice during this whole process. Their support means the world to me and I miss them everyday.

What has been the most rewarding?

The most rewarding part of my journey as an Expat is literally the experience! I knew I would regret not taking the leap in this adventure. I have learned so much about myself and I experienced so much personal growth. I was able to take my first solo trip to Italy last year and it was one of the best trips I had taken in my life! While enjoying my own company! Experiences that I would have been afraid of taking 10 years ago, I am now living! That to me is priceless!

Tips & Advice for the Her Expatise Community

What in your experience would you say is the minimum monthly cost of living?

£1500 – £2000 (based on your lifestyle)

Any advice on the visa/migrating process that could help someone else’s process go smoother? 

Research, Research, Research and give yourself lots of time to apply for the visa. Also; save, save and save some more! Hidden costs will eat you alive!

Any insider tips on a place you enjoy going to or an activity you enjoy doing? 

Living in London, one of my favorite things to do is visit museums and it is an amazing activity you can do FOR FREE! Majority of the museums here are FREE! London is also filled with beautiful parks with unique features that you can visit for FREE!

Finally, If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice before you got on that plane to move abroad, what would it be? 

I would say be open, but stay true to yourself, no matter what.

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