Mildly Inadequate

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I just found out that one of my volunteers here at office-job who is 21, has $50,000 in the bank.

Today is just one of those days where I feel hopelessly inadequate.

Good for her, sure. But man, that makes my $6,000 look like pocket change. Yikes.

Well, I'm off to the zoo for the afternoon with K. We're going to take some pictures and enjoy the 10C weather.

Some people have asked how this came up in conversation. Well, she was talking about how she applied to a Sheriff's position (basically court police) but she was worried that they were going to reject her application based on the fact that she didn't have life experience. I asked if she lived at home, and she responded with "Yeah, but i've got $50,000 in the bank." I'm not entirely sure what she was trying to say, but I gather that she was saying that she could afford a place of her own, but didn't want to. I just nodded and said "Well, at least that shows that you're responsible." That sure is a lot of money. Yikes. However, she does work a well-paying job, in the scheme of at least $30 an hour with bonuses. She works shift work, 12 hour shifts, with lots of overtime. Sigh. I hate being jealous of people.

Why I am moving to London

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Canadian Saver made an interesting comment on my blog entry yesterday:

Canadian Saver said...
I dunno if you've mentioned this on your blog before, but why do you want to move to London? Have you gone over there a lot in the past? How long can you legally work there for?I'm curious because I'd love to do something similar, except for me it would be France... but not permanently (maybe 3 months to 6 months tops).

I never realized that I didn't mention why I am moving to London! Doi!

Hmmm, now, how far back do I go?

I was in my 2nd year at the Criminal Justice program when I heard of the opportunity to take a 'class' that involved travelling through Europe for 3 weeks. I hadn't really considered travelling before, and I don't really know what prompted me to sign up for this class, but sign up I did.

The cost was $4,000 for three weeks. We were set to visit Germany, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, and, of course, England. During our trip we were going to have lectures, discussions and presentations from 'famous' Criminal Justice people all over Europe, as well as some tours of some prisons overseas as well. I got credits for the class as well, and I haven't ever had an easier class! During the preparation of the class, the option of extending the airplane ticket was offered. We could extend the ticket up to one week extra with no cost. I thought about staying in London (our last stop) for an extra week.

The more I planned and researched London, the more excited I got. Originally several friends wanted to come over and visit me for the week, but all of them fell through. I decided to just go it alone.

Well, needless to say that I had a great time on the trip. However, I had an even better time alone in London. I visited all sorts of stuff, and loved the freedom of doing what I wanted, when I wanted it. I had so much fun, took so many pictures, and felt like I really had a connection with the city.

I returned to Canada with every intention of returning as soon as possible. 'Soon as possible' turned out to be the following spring (spring 2007) when I decided to drag my sister to both London and Paris. She had spent the same summer I had over in Wales with a friend, but had never been to Paris. We stopped in Paris for a day while we were on the tour, but I felt like there was so much more of the city that I hadn't seen.

We had made plans to fly into London and 4 hours later, hop on the Eurostar to Paris. It was much cheaper than flying directly to Paris and I was trying to save money. Of course, I didn't count on the fact that Air Canada would lose my luggage in Toronto, there would be major delays on the Piccadilly Line, and we would get to the Eurostar terminal with 10 minutes to spare.

I've never cut anything so close before. But, luckilly we made it on the train, and we arrived in Paris just fine. My luggage arrived 3 days later courtesy of Air Canada, but since then, I have a deep paranoia of airlines losing my luggage. (BTW, The Air Canada british guy said that Toronto airport is notoriously bad at making connections: Note to self, don't fly through Toronto...)

Paris was nice, but it was when I went back to London that I really felt at home. When I am in London, I feel like I belong. I love the culture, language, even the money!

And, ever since I got home, I have considered moving there to work. Now, at least, I'm making it into a plan. I feel like now would be the best time; I have no sig. other, no children, no car, no mortgage, and few possessions. I have recently graduated and once this contract at office-job is up, i'm a free gal again.

For those interessted in the specifics. I'm going to the UK on a Working Holiday Maker VISA. It's a VISA that lets you enter the UK for up to two years, but only work a maximum of 12-months. You don't have to work that 1 year all together, it could be a month here and a month there, whatever. The VISA, according to what I've found, costs a whopping $470 bucks.

There are other VISA types, such as the Highly-Skilled Migrant VISA (which, alas, I do not quality - I don't have enough experience), or a work permit (I don't have a company to sponsor me, although if I find a job I love, I could apply for one later).

As I find out more and more about the VISA thing, I'll let you know. There's a lot of information out there, all you need to do is google "UK VISA" or "France VISA" for any information you'd need.

I'm planning on keeping this blog as long as I'm in the UK as well, so look forward to many more travel entries! And hey, maybe i'll see you in London!

The Challenges of Moving to a New Country...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

As many of you know, I am planning to pack up in the fall and move all across the world to London, England. The move is sheduled for mid-September. I have been looking into jobs and apartments and all of the fees associated with moving and man, it's really adding up!

The minimum wage in London is £5.05. Yes, that's right. £5.05. Per hour. Now, people always say, Oh, but that's like making $10 here. Yes it would be like making $10 here, except that I am not here. I am there. A bottle of water that costs $1 costs £1 there. So I am making the equivalent of $5 an hour. Yikes.

Now, most of the minimum wage sales jobs that I've found are paying around £6 to £7 an hour. A little better. Ideally i'd like to find something in my Criminal Justice field, and if I can, most jobs are then paying £9 to £16 an hour - much better. Either way, I cannot bet on finding a great job right away, so I am working on a budget that will allow me to live on minimum wage.

In a perfect world, I'd like to live in my own, little, one-bedroom apartment. I simply cannot afford that (for now), so I will be looking to rent a room from someone. Most apartments in London (in the cheaper areas and no, I haven't checked whether these are in the 'bad' areas of town...yet) are going for between £75 and £125 a week. Some included utilities and council tax, while others don't. Ideally I'd like to find an apartment with wireless internet (I'll be bringing my laptop) and in-house laundry (even if it's coin - saves the trip with my dirty clothes!)

Ideally my job will be close to where I live - maybe even close enough to walk. If it isn't, I'll have to face the hoards that ride the London Tube and Buses. Monthly passes will most likely be my best option should I work full time. Depending on where I live (which zone) and where I work, I'll be paying between £15 to £62 a week for a Tube pass. If I chose to take the buses (they don't run on zones), I'll be paying a very reasonably £12 a week.

I made a couple sample budgets:

If I make £6 an hour; after taxes that will work out to £4.2 an hour.
My monthly take-home pay will be £678, or £168 weekly.

My housing costs would be £100 (including utilities).
I would budget £40 a week on food and groceries.
And I would buy a bus pass for £12 a week.

This brings my weekly difference to a miniscule £16 left for fun. Yikes.
That £16 is left to buy toiletries, entertainment, cab-fare and any other bills, such as cell phone, etc. That is pretty close to unmanageable.

Now, of course, I'm leaving out my savings and 'fun fund'. My savings will be at least $10,000 (roughly £4,800), and my 'fun fund' will be $5,000 (roughly £2,400). I also have another fund to cover my flight there and the VISA fund - hopefully there will be enough left in the bank to cover my eventual flight home. I anticipate using between £500 and £1,000 of my savings to get set-up. This includes hotel/hostel if I don't have an apartment automatically waiting for me, payments for bank accounts, or cell-phone activations, getting around, fees for recruitment agencies, etc, etc. That will leave me with at least £3,000 to cushion my wage and give me a decent standard of living. That will leave me with a monthly ration of £250 to put towards housing costs. Now, in reality, that could cover a portion (if not all) of my rent. However, ideally I'd like to only have to dip into this savings when neccesary.

My 'fun fund' is set aside for all things fun. Things like, hosting friends and family when they visit, admission to events and museums, jet-setting around the country, etc. Monthly it would be £200, but again, I'd like to use it as less as possible.

Now, let's pretend that I'm working at a professional job, earning £12 an hour.
That's £8.4 after taxes (I'm estimating heavily on the taxes in order to not over-budget).
And a weekly take-home pay of £336.

I could, probably, in this situation, afford my own apartment at £200 a week. This is something i'll have to consider. Most likely I'll end up renting a room, since it's easier. I don't have to worry about phone lines, internet, all of that stuff since my roommate will (hopefully) already have that sorted out. But, I may find a nicer room to rent somewhere more central, at, let's say £150 a week.

I would still budget £40 for groceries, but I might throw in the occasional fast-food or restaurant meal at an extra £15.
I also might spring for a Tube pass (which also works on the buses), for, let's say £20 a week.
My cell phone (most likely a pay-as-you-go) would probably cost me around £10 a month, so £2.5 a week.

This brings the difference to a more manageable £60 a week in the positive. The best part, is that I feel as though I could really do that without dipping into my savings at all. The savings could then be used as both an emergency fund, as well as an occasional fun-fund.

All in all, there's a lot of things I'm going to have to consider. I have a feeling that finding a decent apartment will be much easier than finding a decent job, although I am remaining hopeful.

I found this great website called Moving2London, and I really learned so much this morning from it. It is meant for Aussies moving to the UK, but the information regarding the UK works for everyone. I spent part of the afternoon looking at recruiting agencies, and, to my surprise, they have recruiting agencies aimed at Criminal Justice proffesionals! So, my dream of working the field are getting closer.

I am looking for a lot of apartments through facebook as well. Many people in London are advertising apartments, and I think that if I could make a deal while I'm here to have an apartment waiting there would be the best situation. Plus, if I find an appropriate apartment, once the seller and I are in contact, we can both peruse each other's facebook page to get an idea of what we are like - which sometimes, I think, it's a better idea of who you really are than a 15 minutes, face-to-face meeting. We'll see.

If you have any advise, suggestions, contacts, comments, anything!, please post them here! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

What a Weekend!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Yikes! Time sure flies by when I am not paying attention! This weekend was a whirlwind of sickness, working and hanging out with friends.

I got sick on Thursday, which soured my mood. My sister and several people in both jobs have been sick on and off and since it had been about 3 weeks or so and I hadn't gotten sick, I thought that I was in the clear - yeah not so much. I felt it comming on Wednesday night, and as such, I popped over to the local Zellers for some cold medication. Well, thursday morning I work up and BAM! - The cold smacked me right in the face. All of thursday I felt completely rotten. Friday was slightly better, but since Friday, i've felt almost 100% better! I almost never get over a cold so fast! I still have a bit of a cold, but other than that, I'm feeling like myself again.

For the first time ever, I tried ColdFX - and, honestly, I think it worked! I'm usually such a skeptic when it comes to these so-called 'miracle' products, and, of course, it's hard to absolutely say it was because of the ColdFX, because I have no way of knowing how long I would've been sick had I not taken it, but it seems to work very well. I bought the 3-day extra strength stuff, and started taking it on Wednesday. I finished on Friday and haven't taken any more since. My theory is, that the ColdFX stuff gets the cold in and out quickly - that's why I got it so fast, and partly why I think it left so fast. I'm going to keep this stuff around and see what happens next time I try to use it!

Suckers not cheap, though, a three-day supply cost me $11.97 and the larger bottles are much more expensive. Although, if it continues to work as well as it seems to, I figure it's the price of staying healthy during the cold season.

I spent Saturday laughing so hard I thought I was going to burst. I spent the day with a couple of friends that I went to college with. We were inseperable in college, but since then, it's hard to get together. Two of them have husbands, one has a 2 year old, and we all live in opposite corners of the city. It was great to see them, and S and I had a nice conversation on the way home.

We were talking about how difficult it is not to compare yourself with those around you. Her and I are both in a little slump right now, with no logical reason for it. We've just graduated college, basically the whole world is ahead of us, but we're both struggling with the feeling that we don't yet belong anywhere.

For example, here are the situation of the 4 of us:

Me: 23-years old. Just graduated. Working two jobs. Still living at home. No spouse/sig. other/children (thank god!). Currently have $6,700 in bank. Moving overseas in the fall.

S: 23-years old. Just graduated. Currently only working part-time. Looking for a new job. Won't settle for less than $32,900 a year. Still living at home. No spouse, but currently has bf. Currently has $9,000 in student loans, but is paying it back slowly every month.

S.M.: 29-years old. Graduating in the fall. Working 1 job making $10 an hour due to difficulties at last job (job was pushing her around, being dicks, she quit with a big f-you to all of them). Currently living in grandmother's home as rent on previous home was upped to $1,100 a month. Has a husband and a two-year old. Luckily for her, parents babysit during the day. Unknown how much debt, but I know money is tight for them. Trying for a second child in the fall.

L.B.: 24-years old. Just graduated. Working full time making $35,000 at a shelter. Has a husband who works from home. Owns a home in a small community outside of big-city. Just bought a new car. Unknown money situation, but she's pretty well-off. Planning to start a family in the fall.

S and I were taking about how we compare ourselves to other people. L.B. and S.M. both have homes (renting or owning), cars, husbands and/or children. Now, having a husband or a child isn't on my to-do list for the near future, but it would be nice to own a home or even a car!

At the same time, almost everyone says to me "I'm so jealous that you're moving to London." And I'm sure some people wish they could still live at home rent-free to save money. So I guess, everyone's got something someone else wants, hey?