Monday Musings

I’ve been feeling like I should be in England lately. I didn’t realize until just the other day that it’s been almost a year since I was offered a teaching position in England, and, after a really difficult decision-making process, declined the offer. 

I know, who decides against living abroad after being offered gainful employment? I know, right? 

I really struggled for some time after having made my final decision (I’m still struggling). I wondered how much of my choice was driven by my inate second-guessing, worry-wart, scared-to-jump mentality or legit financial concerns. 

I’m a huge fan of those girl-has-devastating-break-up-and-career-let-down-at-the-same-time-so-she-hops-on-a-plane-to-her-dream-get-away-locale-and-despite-having-eight-dollars-and-thirty-cents-and-no-change-of-underwear-she-somehow-lands-a-job-apartment-and-dreamy-new-man-chick-lit-books, because, duh. 

Isn’t that every girl’s dream-to move abroad on a whim and it’s just like in the Lindsey Kelk books? 

I’d like to hear of a real life situation where this scenario works out, because I had $800 in my pocket and I knew that would only get me as far as Toronto. 

When I first started seriously considering working on obtaining a teaching position in England, I didn’t think it would be so easy. Or quick. I figured it’d take a few dozen tries, I’d have time to really mull over legit moving to another country, and that I’d have plenty of time to save and get my finances in order. 

I was so mistaken. One minute I was dreamily planning how I’d decorate my make-believe tiny flat with decor from TK Maxx and the next I was using Skype for the first time, going over classroom management with a head teacher in Oxford (this was the first of two interviews I had. I didn’t end up getting the teaching position in Oxford). 

Let me just break it all down for you in an easy-to-read timeline:

4/17/16: Applied for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

5/3/16: Application for QTS was approved, received login to view/print certificate 


5/6/16: Emailed application to Stanwell Fields CE Primary School, among others 

5/9/16: Received email response from Stanwell Fields Business Support requesting I fill out application

5/13/16: Received email from headteacher inquiring about availability for phone interview

5/19/16: Phone interview with assistant headteacher 

5/23/16: Received voicemail from headteacher offering the job (I was too scared to pick up. What a noob)

I still have the voicemail…

So, in a little over a month, I had gained the necessary qualification to teach in England, interviewed at two schools, and was offered a position. 

Just typing this now, I’m feeling the excited, heady warmth in my stomach one gets when exciting things are on the horizon. 

It was all fun and games until shit got really real. 

Just in case the headteacher at Stanwell Fields ever reads this (though it’s highly unlikely), I’d like to make it clear that I was genuinely serious about teaching abroad. That is, until I realized I was crazy to think I’d ever be able to afford it. 

I had naively assumed that since England was in need of teachers, they would possibly offer a sign on bonus, much like many districts do in the U.S. when they have a teacher shortage. Or, they would assist with getting a visa. 

Nope.

Schools aren’t profit-driven, and the sad reality is that many are in desperate need of teachers, but have no extra funds to entice educators to move countries. 

Not that I needed enticing. No, I just had no money and thought I could move my life abroad with $800 and my already-reaching-the-limit credit cards. 

So, after researching the cost of a work visa (roughly $800, currently) and the cost to rent a one bedroom flat in the south of England (around $1000 a month), I realized I was in over my head. 

Despite the fact that the school offered me an extremely nice pay raise, the cost of living in south England, coupled with my current bills, that would be traveling with me, made it so I simply could not afford to live. 

Not only would I need enough money to live once settled, I’d need at least $800 for a one way ticket to London, money for a hotel or hostel once in England, a deposit for a flat, and funds for many other travel and moving expenses. 

My mom and I estimated that I’d need at least $3000 to move and get settled (and it always ends up being more costly than you calculate beforehand). 

Did I mention I had $800 in my savings? I’m amazing at adulting. 

It was really depressing. Really, really dismaying, and not at all like my favorite chick lit books. 

These were some of my biggest concerns:

  • The cost of living in the area was too high (I’d be paying triple what I was currently paying in rent)
  • Many available flats were unfurnished-I’d need to buy furniture (at minimum, a bed)
  • Despite the pay raise, due to certain taxes in the U.K., the pay would be roughly the same or less than my current pay, yet cost of living tripled 
  • I’d be too strapped for cash to travel (travelling to other parts of Europe was a big reason I desired to live abroad)
  • It would have been necessary to drain my savings and rack up further debt for moving expenses (I was already in a significant amount of debt to begin with)
  • I would have needed to sell my car after having it less than a year (if I couldn’t sell it, it would have been another expense I couldn’t afford)
  • I’d barely make enough to save for a plane ticket back home, had that been necessary or desired 
  • I’d have zero teaching supplies and shipping them over would have been too pricey

Regardless of the fact that I had very real financial concerns, I still feel like I let an amazing opportunity go. It didn’t help that I had so many people telling me that debt didn’t matter. YOLO and all that crap. 

Big decisions and I have never been friends. Usually, when faced with a big, life-altering decision, I just bury my head in red sand and fail to make a decision, if at all possible. 

I’m a master of the what-if discourse. I can go all day and go circles around anyone. 

Yet, deep down, I know I made the right decision for me and my present financial situation. 

I also know that I’ll never stop dreaming of England and doing what must be done to make it back. 

For real though, how do most people move abroad? Are you in a better paying field than me or did your company pay for your move? Did you get a huge inheritance?  Are you just in massive debt due to the move? Do you know some magic trick to making fast travel cash? If anyone who’s done it cares to spill the beans, I’m all ears! 


Author: fattymccupcakes

Just a thirty-something girl trying to love herself the way she is: fat, rolls, cellulite, and fabulousness.

29 thoughts on “Monday Musings”

  1. The school system in England is kind of crumbling so they will always be looking for teachers, if you ever change your mind/are in a better position and decide to make the move. I know many fellow expats who are teachers!

    Moving abroad is difficult and expensive… I estimate that it cost me around $4000 (in Canadian dollars). I am a lucky Commonwealth citizen so getting a visa was not too hard for me, but still a hassle. I also moved my cat with me which was REALLY expensive! I was lucky that my boyfriend lived here and I already had a roof on arrival – we still had to find our own house after a few months and that’s much more complicated here in my opinion as you have to go through estate agents, but we did it on a good but average salary. By the way, we’re not in a much better field. I work as a copywriter and web content admin, the boyfriend is a web developer/in charge of marketing for a small family business. I had savings to move but I arrived here with barely nothing… And no prospect of a job. It took me 6 months to find my first job and another 3 to find my second job after I quit the first.

    I think making the move needs courage and a bit of money, but I know people who came here on a visitor visa and applied ‘from within’ (with no guarantee of getting said working visa), no cash, and stayed in hostels or AirBnB for weeks. It all goes down to who you are… Some people don’t mind the debt but I know it would have stressed me. I have to renew a visa soon and that’s stressful enough for my anxious self!

    It also comes to doing research. My boyfriend lived and had a stable job in Lincoln so I didn’t have to do research on where to stay, but it’s an important factor for most people. London is crazy expensive! But schools up north (I’m in the East Midlands) need teachers too. It might not be as iconic as London but England is charming all over. And you and I both come from huuuge countries so I’m sure you’ll agree when I say a two-hour drive/one-hour train journey to London is nothing!?

    Anyway… I’m writing you a novel here! I’m planning on an Expat Guide series for the blog but if you ever have questions, get in touch! I’ll be happy to help you as much as I can. And I have a second bedroom if you ever need a place to stay for a few days… πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This was hugely helpful! Thank you so much, friend! I was given advice to stay in the south and I was dumb and didn’t do my research. Had I done that, I’d have realized that the northern areas of England are much cheaper. Also, I have friends in Scotland, so that should have been a route to pursue. You live and learn! Yes, I’m hoping they will always need teachers. I just might take you up on that offer of a place to crash someday!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re always welcome to crash at my place, as long as you bring a few North American grocery items along… πŸ˜‰ Seriously though, I would never live in London. It’s not only expensive, it’s busy and so competitive on the job market. And since it’s a small country, even when you’re not in London, you’re never really that far… Let me know if I can be of any help! πŸ™‚

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      2. Yeah, I wasn’t even looking at living in London, but it was close enough to still be crazy expensive! Do you work in London?? If so, what is your commute like? Also, I have some questions about copywriting! Maybe we can chat via email? I will DEFINITELY bring North American food!!! πŸ˜‹πŸ˜œ

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I live in Lincoln, so two hours north of London. I also work in Lincoln and the commute is horrible! Commuting is probably better in London since people use the underground (subway) instead of their car… I’d be happy to chat to you! Feel free to add me on Facebook or DM on Twitter and I’ll give you my email. πŸ™‚

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  2. I really think you made the right decision. That tough decision alone is what being an adult is all about. Had you up and gone with a “I’ll figure it out” mentality, that would have been really bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We’re about to move (in the other direction from the UK to Canada) and we had similar money problems!
    In the end my husband’s job is helping us with some of the costs, but we didn’t know if that would be possible, so we spent a couple of years saving before we asked about the possibility of moving. We figured we’d have to buy furniture and a car when we arrive, so it *is* pricey.

    Have you ever thought of teaching in Japan? I did the JET programme when I first graduated and it was amaaaazing. I still have so many friends from those couple of years. The pay is really good especially when compared to the standard of living. https://jetprogramusa.org/ I cannot recommend it enough!! You’d be an assistant teacher, so it would be less work than a normal teaching job – but that means you have more time to explore, make friends and travel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Once we get back to the UK in a few years, you can totally stay with me if you move to the UK!!
      By the way, most rental places here are furnished (or at least it is the same price to have furnished vs unfurnished!) so you probably wouldn’t have to buy lots of furniture!!

      Also, the cost of living is so, so soooo much cheaper outside London! My husbands brother is renting a house in Nottingham for less than half what it would cost us to rent a teeny studio.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awww you’re so sweet! Thank you! Yup, I definitely discovered how much cheaper it is more north. Do you know why that is? I mean, I get why it’s expensive in London, but why is it cheaper in the north??

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Jobs pay less sometimes up North, but I think often the quality of life is better (as you can afford to *do* more!) They have some amazing scenery in some places and some amazing grim-ness in others!!

        There are more jobs in the South East, so more competition to live there …so higher prices.

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  4. Que Sera, Sera as Doris Day would sing! Everything happens for a reason! I teach in Oxford. Oxford County Council want to close my school down because there’s not enough funding for the school and they want to build houses on the land! (Quite frankly ridiculous! Sadly, it feels like Education is more of a business now. Good luck though if you decide to come this way! πŸ™‚ xx

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  5. It’s so sad when logistics get in the way of living your dream 😦 I’ve encountered that a few times already – like you I just can’t jump blind into something and hope that it’ll be alright, I need to have a plan and know that I can at least manage!
    I now live in Cheltenham in the South-East of England and love it here. I am originally from the Midlands and also spent 4 years in the North-West when studying for my degree. Definitely don’t limit yourself to London, it’s often the go-to place for expats but there’s so much more to England. If the swanky city-life if what you’re after, Manchester in the North-West is a great place to be – plenty of cool bars, events and an incredibly creative, cultural city.
    Sounds like you’ve now got a couple of offers for accommodation thanks to the lovely people above! Then when you get here you can figure out which part of the country you like most and find your way from there πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey! Thanks for your comment! Yes, logistics are a total bitch. Yeah, I definitely won’t limit myself to only London. There are so many amazing parts of England! Thank you for your suggestions and help! I’ve not been to Manchester yet-but it’s on my list now πŸ‘β€οΈ.

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  6. Hi! I moved abroad last year (but to Japan…just a little different haha!) as a teacher. It was scary at the start. Most of us that moved over had to save up before being able to move, and then we had a bit of a break financially the first year since we didn’t have to pay taxes then. However, when it comes to housing, try checking out a sharehouse if you don’t mind living with other people. It saves a lot of money, and you meet some really cool people. You’re smart to not just YOLO it, but if you really want to go, theres no reason to not keep looking into ways to get over there and start saving up money. Good luck!! Also, if you are interested, I’ve been writing about living in Japan on my blog. Feel free to check it out!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience! I definitely will look into a house share! And, I love travel/living abroad blogs! I’ll totally check yours out β˜ΊοΈπŸ‘

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