Expat life / Travel

Expat Advice: A Canadian Moving to London

I am a member of the Expat Blog website and often get questions about moving here.  So I’d thought I’d start to share these questions and my answers as this is precisely the reason I joined the site when I first wanted info about making my move.  So here we go:

So I was wondering, how did you get to England? Are you a student or something? When i graduate in about 3 years i want to move there but I don’t know how it willl work.I need to know is it as fab as i think it is? Pros & cons? Well thanks one canadian to another

I originally moved to London in 2008 as a student.  I intended on just staying the length of my course (2 years) and then move back to Canada.  Almost 3 years later I am still here, have taken a break from school and I am currently working in the social work/care field.

Bad thing is the UK is trying to greatly reduce its immigration.  They’ve actually been doing it since I arrived but have taken more aggressive steps towards that goal this past year.  The caps placed on each category now are much higher.  Don’t despair though, you can still make it here but it may take a bit more flexibility than previously needed.

Kariya Park - Mississauga, Canada

I’d say the best way to start is to check out the UK Border Agency website and see your options for a visa.  The criteria are quite high on a lot of the working visas except for the Youth Mobility Scheme.  This is the visa I am currently on.  You have to be at least 18 but not older than 31 when applying, Canadian (or a national from one of the other countries that participate in this scheme), and have £1600 cash maintenance funds.  This visa is granted for two years.

Now the most important part of your question, it is as fab as you think it is?  Well how fab do you think it is?  Remember visiting a place and living there are two vastly different things.  I didn’t have a largely ingrained idea of what London would be like before moving here.  I honestly thought it would be a bigger and more exciting Toronto.  That is part of it but of course there is much more.  I had never visited before moving here either which helped me stay ignorant to what it would actually be like.  SO in these 3 years make a trip across the pond!

Initially I really disliked London but that had more to do with my living situation and feeling horribly homesick (something I stupidly didn’t anticipate).  Once I moved and started exploring the city and making friends I ended up loving it and still do.  There is so much to do here that yes the famous quote does ring true – that if one grows tired of London they must be tired of life. However, living here will not always involve visiting historic sites and shopping on Oxford street. As obvious as that is to say people don’t balance the good and the not so good enough.  I know I didn’t.  I also think that how you initially get on in London has a lot to do with how big or small the city is that you come from.  I see that you are from Alberta but I have no clue about the size of your town/city.  I’m from Mississauga, about a 25 minute drive west of Toronto.  Just thinking about the Canadians I know who have or still live here it has mostly been true that those from the smaller cities love it right away.  It’s not that those from the big cities dislike it but the general big city qualities are something they are used to.

So now some pros and cons.


Cheap travel – London is a good base to get to everywhere, lots to do – (clubs, pubs, bars, theatre, day trips), transportation – well-connected, weather – is meant to be temperate but as climate changes there has been more snow but of course nothing like a Canadian winter, diverse people


Weather – it does rain a lot and is grey and dreary in the winter, dirty!, people aren’t as open initially though this is mostly a London thing, transportation – interruptions in service, dirty

If you check out my old blog here and the posts from 2009 you will get some more info and my impressions of pros and cons of living here.  Good luck with it and feel free to ask more questions.


8 thoughts on “Expat Advice: A Canadian Moving to London

  1. Nice post. I liked it and found it useful even though I am not Canadian nor am I thinking of moving to London (anytime soon anyway).

    I am interested in social work and youth work. I was a social worker previously before I moved. I didn’t know they allowed foreigners there to enter that type of work. Interesting.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, glad you found it useful and I suppose it’s alright that you aren’t Canadian 🙂 Tons of people come here specifically to find work in the field as there is so much available. While currently you have to take into account the recovering economy even with that there are still many jobs out there for qualified social workers.

  2. Waaaaaait a minute… You’re from Mississauga?!!? So am I! I’m thinking we’re about the same age or maybe I’m a bit older than you? (I’m 28)… Which high school did you go to? I went to Xavier! That’d be freaky if we knew some of the same people…

    Anyway, thanks for the informative answer- I’m moving to London in the fall and need to start preparing and researching job opportunities and the like!! Which area of London are you in?

    • Hey Oneika, I knew you were from the Toronto area from your blog but didn’t know it was sauga! I went to Erindale (or Erinjail as we affectionately called it). I’m 28 as well.

      Totally small world if we do know some of the same people, BUT I don’t keep in touch with that many people from HS. Most of my close friends are from Uni days.

      If you look at a tube map my stop is Tooting Broadway, zone 3. So just south of Clapham on the Northern line. What area are you going to be moving to? Also, are you looking to teach here? If so there is tons of work in that field.

  3. Oh gosh that is absolutely crazy! I didn’t know too many people from Erindale but I definitely had friends of friends who went there. 🙂

    Small world though! But like you, I’m not really in touch with many ppl from my Xavier days. Did you go to uni in Toronto as well? I went to U of T St. George!

    I remember the Northern line (I think), that’s the black line, right? Is Angel Station/Islington on that line?

    When I was in London this past summer my boyfriend was living next to Algate East tube (Brick Lane) but he’s since moved to Richmond. When I get back we’re probably going to look for something in the same area or close to The City so he can walk to work.

    If you are still out there when I get there I would love to meet up! Not every day that you meet a fellow Mississaugan in London. 🙂

    • I went to U of Guelph, I thought about UofT but I wanted out of the house! Yes Northern is the black line, good memory. Angel is also on that line as well.

      I haven’t been out to Richmond but it’s nice, just a bit far from the city. So yes move in closer! I will still be here and I would love to get together. i’m so jealous of your travels before you settle here, have a good time.

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