Expat Tales: Cheers to London

Walk along the Thames and enjoy the sights.
Katie Shepherd

Walk along the Thames and enjoy the sights.

What is your full name and where are you from?

Katie Shepherd. Muriwai Beach, New Zealand.

What inspired your move, and how long have you been there?

Hyde Park: One of London's green spaces.
Katie Shepherd

Hyde Park: One of London's green spaces.

We've been in London about 18 months. We decided to make the move to get "world" experience to help further our career opportunities. A great role came up for my partner while we were discussing moving, so he applied for it and was successful. Of course the chance to travel around Europe while we were still young was a big draw as well. 

What do you do there? 

I'm a sub-editor for a financial magazine called Wealth Manager.

A day spent exploring Hampton Court is worth the train ride.
Katie Shepherd

A day spent exploring Hampton Court is worth the train ride.

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What are the greatest advantages to living there?

The opportunities to travel – it's easy, cheap and fast to get pretty much anywhere in Europe.  

Enjoy the tourist experiences London is known for.
Katie Shepherd

Enjoy the tourist experiences London is known for.

Disadvantages?

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Everything is done by post! Including receiving your pin for your eftpos card, which arrives about two days after the card. 

How expensive is it compared to New Zealand? How much is a beer? 

Housing is a lot more expensive – £950 (NZ$1664) a month for a small studio apartment in zone five. Supermarket shopping is cheaper, which is great. A pint at our local pub is reasonably priced (for London) at around £4-£5 (NZ$7-NZ$9). 

What do you do in your spare time?

We travel when we can, explore London or go bouldering. I'm looking forward to going on more hikes around Kent now the warmer weather has arrived. 

What's the local delicacy and would you recommend eating it?

Fish and chips and a pint. It's all right for the novelty of enjoying a pub meal in London, but it doesn't beat fish and chips on the beach.

Easiest way to get around?

Public transport – although it is expensive it is a great network that will get you almost anywhere you need to go. We haven't had a car since we've been here and it hasn't been a problem. 

What's the shopping like?

Oxford St is great and there are plenty of markets around as well. 

Best after-dark activity?

A pint at your local pub or a visit to one of London's many theatres. 

Best time of year to visit?

June and July if you want warm weather and less crowds. 

What are the top three things you recommend for visitors?

Stay somewhere with good access to trains/buses. Get yourself a walking map of the underground. TFL (Transport for London) have just realised a great map with the walking time between stations – it's surprising how often it's equal to or faster to walk.  

Take the time to venture to the places a bit further out of the city centre. Hampton Court and Kew Gardens are definitely worth the train ride.

Go to a show at the Globe Theatre – the current season is The Summer of Love – the adaptation of Romeo and Juliet was fantastic. 

Besides family and friends, what do you miss most about home?

The beach, evergreen trees and open spaces. Even if you visit a common there are always a lot of people around. 

How easy is it for you to get back to New Zealand?

Not very – about 32 hours with at least one stopover. 

For Kiwis looking to move there, which industries are seeking fresh talent?

The London OE is very common among Kiwis – I wouldn't say there's a particular industry seeking people, but if you've got an interest in finance there's no better place to get experience. It's also probably the easiest place visa-wise in Europe to base yourself if you plan on working to fund your travels. 

If you know an expat who wants to share inside knowledge of their home away from home, email escape@star-times.co.nz with Expat in the subject line.

 - Stuff

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