Life

My Journey to Living in the UK

January 14, 2020

From the Big Apple to the Big Smoke…

Time is a funny thing, isn’t it? I simultaneously feel like I’ve been living in the UK forever, and only for a few minutes. In fact, it’s been five years… which means, I’m on the cusp of applying for my final visa so that I can live here in the UK permanently. It’s been a real wild ride, so I thought I’d share a little bit about what the journey has been like. Five years on, and honestly, I feel like I’m a whole different person! Moving to the UK was the scariest thing I’ve ever done but it’s been an amazing journey!

I was very emotional on the morning of my move. A very early flight, and slight hangover from my going away party the night before didn’t make it any easier! My bags were so overweight to the point that my mom had to buy another suitcase for me to use. Bless the check-in attendant who didn’t charge me any extra (for the weight or for the bags). Though that might be because my mother and I both started crying as we said goodbye. Plus, it was about 5:00 in the morning…

I still remember that feeling of knowing I was on a one way flight to a whole new life… Five years later, I can honestly say I feel happy and settled. The good news is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of my legal settled status as well!

Even though I married a British citizen, the process isn’t simple. It’s also expensive.

In April of 2020, I’ll be applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain. You know, so I can make the UK my forever home. It’s the 4th and final visa in a long  and expensive process, so that I can be with the person I love! No regrets on that front, but I don’t think people always realize how expensive it is…

There was a visa to enter the country, and two visas to stay in the country. We were legally required to marry within six months of my arrival, so we had to pay fees for that as well. By the time I apply for my final visa, I’ll have spent over £6000 to live in the UK with my husband. Worth every penny!

Even with all of this, life carries on! Mr. Actually and I had another wedding, I got a job (and then another), and we adopted a cat! We’ve even found the time to have a holiday or two, including back to New York once or twice! But, there’s something a little bit hindering about not having a ‘settled’ status. I do feel a bit like I’ve put things on hold, until I know for sure I can stay…

Once I’m Living in the UK For Good…

I do admit that even though I meet all the criteria for my visa, I do still have that fear that something might go wrong. Honestly, it’s prevented me from living my life to its fullest. Silly as it sounds, there are definitely things I’ve put off doing because I just want to have that final box ticked.

My priority over the last five years has been maintaining a steady income because of the financial responsibility of paying for my visas. As a result, I’ve not travelled as much as I’ve wanted. I’ve not pursued some career changes that I’ve wanted. Mr. Actually and I have even been talking about whether we want kids or not! Until that final visa is in place though, I can’t really think about it.

I know it’s unlikely but I regularly play worst case scenario in my head. Maybe I’m putting too much stock in it, but having this final settlement visa will definitely makes things real! Still, I am really excited to be able to really explore more and settle into this life I’ve created for good. I’m not planning on going anywhere!

Living in the UK, and making my home here has been pretty wonderful over the last 5 years, but we’re down to the final hurdle now. It’s a little bit daunting, but I’m also so glad the light is at the end of the tunnel.

My journey has been a very rocky one. The transition was very hard at first (I wasn’t allowed to work, and didn’t really know anyone, so really struggled with that) but I’ve eventually found my feet. I’ve found a wonderful group of friends, who I’m so thankful for. Mr. Actually and I are very happy with the little life we’ve created.

It’s kind of a strange thing to be in limbo about how long I can stay in the place I’ve made a home… Still, I’m staying positive and looking forward to the weight being lifted!

  • Reply
    Teresa
    January 15, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    Oh wow, so happy to read your story and that you feel so at home in the UK! I totally understand how you feel, even though for me it’s a bit reverse: what’s the level of distance I can have to my home country before I lose my social security rights there (which basically is like losing your nationality). Seems the answer is quite a lot of distance 😀 Best of luck to you with the last hurdle, surely it’ll all go flying through! x

    Teresa Maria | Outlandish Blog

    • Reply
      Ghenet
      January 17, 2020 at 5:30 pm

      Yeah, it’s a strange one isn’t it? Where I’m from is still very much a part of my identity, but now that I call a different country home, that plays a part as well! Fingers crossed it does go through!

  • Reply
    Ellyn Rebecca
    January 17, 2020 at 9:37 am

    As a born and bred Londoner, I think the only city I could ever live in that wasn’t London would be New York! I really hope that everything goes well and London gets to continue to be your forever home!

    Ellyn x | Life Of A Beauty Nerd

    • Reply
      Ghenet
      January 17, 2020 at 5:30 pm

      I would struggle to live somewhere that wasn’t a thriving metropolis like London or New York! I hope so too!

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