London Life | ONE YEAR ON

It’s hard to believe it but last week marked a year since Matt and I moved to the UK. When August 15th came, I was filled with a lot of mixed emotions: happiness in reflecting on what a incredible year it’s been, pride for what I’ve achieved, learnt and how much I’ve grown as a person since the move but also sadness that with year one passing, it means that we having only one more remaining on our visa.

A lot of friends and followers assume that Matt and I moved permanently and don’t realise that we have a time limit or that it’s not as easy as just renewing our current visa to stay longer. As New Zealanders, it a huge cultural experience to move to London in your 20s as we are able to get what is called a Youth Mobility Visa. This basically means we can work in the UK for 2 years while we are under the age of 31. It’s a relatively easy visa to get as long as all the paperwork is correct and many young kiwis take advantage of it when they want to spread their wings and see the world.

We applied after feeling like we were in a little bit of a rutt. We both had good jobs back home but the cost of living and housing prices were just depressing and there was still so much of the world we wanted to see! We felt like we had come to the point where if we stayed in Auckland, we needed to focus on saving for a house deposit which would have meant no more travelling for a long time. And at 26, I just wasn’t ready for that.

Afternoon Tea with Mum at Harrods

So we figured we might as well try London. My Mum had moved to Ireland a couple of years before by herself and was loving it so I think she inspired us to give it a go and she’s been a great support person to have on this side of the world. We’ve also been able to do lots of travelling together which is so much fun

8 months after we made the decision to go, we were on a plane to London, England. Neither of us had jobs lined up but luckily we had somewhere to live. When we initially discussed the possibility of the move, I didn’t even really think about it in a ‘career’ sense. I knew I wanted a break from hairdressing and thought I’d try to get a job in a vintage shop or in marketing. I honestly was open to anything as long as the pay was good enough to be able to live and travel once every month or two.

Our first European getaway – Stockholm in October

The idea of me being able to work full time as Miss Victory Violet didn’t even cross my mind. But when we arrived I got booked for some shoots, and then a few more and soon I realised that maybe I could hold off on finding a 9-5 job. One year on and now I have no idea what to say for my job! I model, I blog and I travel teaching Hair and Makeup Workshops, it’s pretty damn incredible and I’m so grateful. It’s not always easy juggling everything but I’m getting better at making everything work.

Modelling for TopVintage in The Netherlands

I’ve had the opportunity to be able to model for brands like What Katie Did, Voodoo Vixen, TopVintage and Campbells Crafts and invited to teach in beautiful countries and meet wonderful people along the way. Since arriving I’ve been to The Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, France, Czech Republic, Sweden and soon Denmark.

At the Vivien of Holloway Shop Lock-In

Exploring Prague in December

Even the area where we live is just ‘pinch myself’ worthy. When I say London, really we are on the outskirts and technically not in London city. But it’s beautiful down where we are, it doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s a very family orientated area and we have the Thames River, Hampton Court Palace, numerous parks and bike paths close at hand. Since neither of us have to work in London city, it’s suits us perfectly as I think that it has the potential to wear you down a little. Where we are we have the benefits of both worlds and I absolutely love it.

Our beautiful neighborhood

So what happens next August when our visa expires? I honestly don’t know. As much as New Zealand is home, the thought of having to return just makes me so sad. London and Europe has so much potential and opportunity and I feel like it’s allowed me to stretch my wings in a way that New Zealand never could.

I’ve made so many wonderful friends in London and Europe!

We can’t extend our visa, we would have to apply for a different type which is harder, expensive and not guaranteed. I hope we can find a way as this butterfly isn’t ready to give up her wings just yet. I know eventually we will probably find returning to New Zealand more appealing but right now I would give anything for another few more years. This situation has also made me realise how lucky we are that if we do have to leave, at least we return to a country that is safe- unlike so many around the world who seek sanctuary from their war-torn homes.

Afternoon Tea at Sketch with friends

London has been a truly amazing experience and I’m so grateful for everything the last year has bought – good and bad. Matt and I are closer than ever, we have wonderful friends and we’ve made so many cherished memories. It just goes to show that sometimes the scariest life changes can end up being the best thing you could ever have done.

So thanks for everything London, here’s to another year – you know I’ll be making it count.


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15 replies »

  1. Aww this is such a lovely post to read! I’m happy you like it so much here, it’s funny I’ve been a reader of yours for many years and when I saw you were moving to south west London I was like oh I wonder where? Turns out just down the road haha! I’ve seen you a few times but I’ve always been too shy to come and say hello! Best of luck with everything! Xxx

    • Oh please say hi next time! Maybe we could have coffee? I’d love a vintage friend in the area Hehe ❤️❤️❤️

      • Ditto! I think I bumped into you in a Mexican place one day but didn’t want to make a tit of myself saying hello. Haha.
        Glad you’re enjoying London. I moved here “temporarily” seven years ago and still haven’t left!

      • Of course! That would be wonderful! I’m so happy you’re liking it so far, I really love when people move to the area and just fall in love with the charm! Xxx

  2. Happy one-year Ella! I know exactly how you feel, every day Tom and I pinch ourselves for being able to live here. We absolutely love it. I’m so sad you only get another year though, it’s like you are just beginning your adventure and then suddenly it’s halfway through?! Time flies huh. I hope you find a way to stay longer, if not, maybe somewhere else nearby? Fingers crossed 🙂 xx

  3. It is hard to believe that you have been here a year already. I remember the day you made the announcement. I think you should try for the other Visa or even see if any other European countries have a similar Visa like the UK. It’s worth the look!

    • The hard thing is that to stay in the UK, we either have to be sponsored by a employer which isn’t a simple process or we could try for a Entrepreneur Visa but that requires £50 k pounds in investment! Another European city is a possibility for a year but ideally I’d love to stay in the UK

  4. Hopefully things can work out for you and you can stay in England. Thank you for sharing this post. Enjoy your year that is left and keep positive about staying in England longer.

  5. Hi Ella being a fellow kiwi here in the UK I totally hear you although I am lucky I have a husband who was able to get an Irish passport so we can tag onto that….which brings me to my question. You have mentioned you have European ancestry (Portuguese if I recall right) so I suppose you have looked into things from that angle? Also, whew can’t believe you have been here a year already, you have had such a blast thus far I look forward to seeing your adventures for the next few months!!

  6. I absolutely loved reading this post! I’m in the U.S., but it’s been a dream of mine for a while to travel to Europe, and hopefully live there for some amount of time. It’s been lovely getting to see you travel to so many amazing cities! It inspires me to do the same. I’m terrified to move across the world, but I love when you pointed out that sometimes making that scary leap leads you to somewhere amazing. I just started my own pinup blog this year, you are such an inspiration!

  7. I am so glad you love my home city as much as I do! I was just thinking that maybe a chat with an immigration lawyer might reveal other options for you guys to consider? Sometimes they know tricks that the rest of us don’t realise.

  8. Perhaps you could get another visa, but this time to the US? You seemed to enjoy your travels here so much, and the cost of living is very low, especially if you’re in a city in the south eastern part of the US. I don’t know if it’d be any easier for y’all to get permanent residency in the US than the UK, but it’d at least buy you some time from going back to NZ.

  9. Cheers from a german. Do check our visa options. Got some decent health insurance and social services plus it’s beer heaven. In london btw, ever been to paper dress vintage? Some lovely ladies working classy clothes there.

  10. Oh my God, I am here in London from one year too and I can understand your feelings!
    I follow you since I was in Italy and if I know that you are here in London and I will not see you I’ll regret it all my life! You come from NZ , my dream is to go there, I love fifties and I think we can talk together for days 🙂 I hope to catch you in the 2018 🙂 XXX

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