10 July 2013

The Perils of the UK Working Holiday Visa and being an Expat

Tower Bridge and the Thames at twilight, London
Tower Bridge and the Thames at twilight, London.

The perils of the UK working holiday visa and being an expat in London is that eventually, you have to say goodbye. As an Aussie, I'm lucky enough to qualify for a UK working holiday visa. Back in September 2011, i was jumping around the house like a kid waving my brand new Tier 5 working holiday visa (or Youth Mobility Visa as it is officially known) excited about the prospect of making the move to London and adopting it as my home for two years. The problem with this visa is that it cannot be extended and has to end after two years no matter how much i love London or how much i want to stay (despite the weather!).

Regents Park, fountain, flowers, grass, sunny day, London
A sunny day at Regents Park, London
This sunny weekend i realised that my visa deadline is looming. It is barely 5 months away. Eeep! I feel as though I've barely scratched the surface of this city or the travels i could have. I need more time! So, what are my options? Sponsorship. Short of coming up with a business idea and finding funding for an entrepreneurship visa, that's about it. Ive been speaking with my umbrella company about that but i wont find out either way till sometime in August.

Currently I'm resisting the urge to panic. I really enjoy living in London. Yes i do miss Sydney, its my home, but London is my travel home and its such a great place to base yourself for travel anywhere. Even if you don't go anywhere, there is always something going on in London, always something to see, do, experience.

London Eye lit up with blue lights at night, London
The London Eye at night

I have survived living in a hostel, slowly built up friendships, endured the crazy house share/house market quirks of London and finally landed on my feet where I'm not struggling as much as i used to.
Travel wise, being in London has let me jet off to some great places. Ive fallen in love with Japan and the beauty and majesty of its cherry blossoms, managed not to kill myself on the slopes of Borvets in Bulgaria, seen a glimmer of the Northern Lights in Iceland, became enchanted with Venice, travelled through Italy, ate my way through Athens and Santorini and soon I'll be not sleeping in New York City.
Even inside the UK I've walked the city walls of York, dragged a friend to Edinburgh, visited the beautiful Lakes District, been blown away at Brighton, repaired a snowman in Oxford, punted along the Cam in Cambridge, and fell in love with a non-Shakespearean play (A Soldier in Every Son)  at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Big Ben lit up at night, Westminster Underground station sign
Big Ben and Westminster Underground Station, London

If i cant get sponsorship, I'll be OK to go home...after trying to fit in as much travel as possible in warmer climes. If i do, brilliant, it just means I'll have loads more to blog about and share with you all.

Either way, I'll keep you posted. Keep your fingers crossed for me!


  1. A sad prospect for you. But maybe my maths is not like it used to be. Two years from approximately September 2012 is September 2014, right?

  2. Well spotted! If only i had till then! Unfortunately its just a typo, it was supposed to be 2011. Thank you!

  3. Has it really been almost 2 years since we had that fair well for you?? Gee time flies!!

    Feels like just yesterday you embarked on your adventure to London.

  4. Awww sounds amazing. I'm thinking of doing this (I'm Canadian). Was it easy for you to find a job there?

  5. Hi Rose,
    It took some time as the market here was only just starting to recover, and i had to work out how the recruitment market worked. Dont let it discourage you though, you will find something, even if it is a temporary step to something better. Best of luck if you do make the move.

  6. Hey it was interesting to read your experiences in London on working holiday visa.Could you please share more about the work opportunities you had while on this visa and also whether you were able to meet others on a similar visa type?

  7. Hi Sam,
    Nice article, I come from Europe (Italy), now living in Australia under sponsorship, hoping to get the permanent residency, and I was thinking how curious can be that while we fight everyday to be able to stay in this country, a lot of Australian friends dream to go living in Europe, which can be UK, Germany, Italy, France.

    Sometimes life is just strange... ;) It looks like we always want to live somewhere else but the country we grew up in.
    All the best!