Top Do’s and Don’t’s when planning your Overseas Experience (OE) – Part 1
‘If only you’d told me!’ How many times have we all said that or been on the receiving end of that question? There’s nothing worse than making a mistake that costs you time, effort and money, only to find a friend had done something similar but failed to tell you. Actually, even worse, is then finding out there was a really easy way to avoid making the mistake in the first place. Sooo frustrating.
Well here at MyOE we think it’s our responsibility to fix this. Given we’ve helped thousands of Australian and New Zealand professionals have the overseas experience of a lifetime, we felt it time we share some of the rabbit holes, pitfalls and errors that MyOErs have made over decades of travelling to London and Europe. So below is part 1 of a series of ‘don’t do’s’. Some extremely sensible, some not, but we guarantee you’ll want to avoid all of them.
1. Don’t think you won’t be able to get as good a job in the UK as you have back at home.
Over the years we’ve put our head in our hands countless times and said ‘Why did they take that job?’ A senior software engineer in Brisbane taking a job they may have done 5 years ago at home, in a not very nice part of London, which is only served by one underground line, and the office is a 20 minute walk from the station. Why?
This is a common problem. The pitfall here is that despite having great experience at home, Australian and NZ professionals can sometimes think they wouldn’t be able to get as good a job in the ‘tough’ UK market. With that in mind, and thinking that they need to start earning asap, people can often jump to the first position they’re offered. This can undoubtedly bring some initial excitement and relief, but as they start to get used to their life in the capital they soon realise they could have done much better in what is a booming job market here in the UK.
So, don’t fall for it. We recommend you give yourself the space to get yourself settled in London so that you can become clearer as to how you want the coming months to pan out, and make your job choices accordingly. Sound good? Well, the key to that leads us to point No. 2.
2. Don’t arrive in London skint, without a plan.
We all the know the benefits of getting off to a great start in anything. Job, relationships, sports, holidays…….whatever it might be, it’s a fact that starting well often means it ends well. And the key to getting off to a great start in your OE, is ensuring that when you arrive you have the money that can give you the time to not only explore the wonders London and the UK can bring, but also gives you the space to find the right job for you.
So enough money is one thing. Another is a plan.
We would thoroughly recommend you look to establish a clear idea of how you want to spend your first 4-8 weeks, which should incorporate at least 3-4 weeks of getting to know London so you can get a good idea of what and where you want your lifestyle to be. Then, if you’re able to, we can’t overemphasise how useful it is to fully explore your network of family, friends, colleagues and connections to see how they can help you with that plan
With the right plan and enough money there is every opportunity that after 4-8 weeks you will be living in a great house, in a great part of London, with a great job, with plenty of disposable income to enjoy a new lifestyle in Europe. Now that does sound good!
3. Don’t keep converting money back to Aussie and Kiwi dollars.
It doesn’t help. Clearly it’s natural to try and translate salary, shopping, bills, even the cost of a glass of wine, back to your home currency, with the objective of establishing whether something is expensive, cheap or of value. However, in doing so, not only do you get an answer that falls short of the full story, it can also lead you to not enjoying your new lifestyle, or even deciding not to come to Europe at all. We’ve seen lots of professionals make poor decisions or get really frustrated because they’re not willing to let go of comparing the salary, price and value of everything to home. Some even decide not to come because they see a job advert for their skills, with a 15% lower salary than they have at home. “I’ll never afford and enjoy London on that.” That is simply not true.
So, don’t do it. Leave all that at home. Instead, arrive with a completely clean sheet in the knowledge it is only comparisons within the UK that are helpful. As you’ll find out in later points, London can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be, as is the cost of living, so the key is to just become really familiar with the UK market when you get here – back to point 2!
4. Don’t think it’s always cold, wet and miserable in the UK.
Because it really isn’t. Sure, we get a good dose of wet and cold days, but that’s easily evened up by crisp and sunny autumn and spring beauties, and long periods of sunny, hot (but not humid) weather in the summer. And when the sun comes out, we in the UK really know how to take advantage of it. London pours out onto the river, the pub gardens and the great parks of the capital, leaving many a MyOEr to say there really aren’t many better places on the planet than London in the summer.
As for the winter, well…….that’s why we have such great pubs :).
5. Don’t over-pack.
So many times people come to the UK with their 20kg + of luggage on the plane and then send extra belongings over via courier. Whilst we aren’t saying don’t come with anything warm to wear, we’re just saying don’t expect the materials or quality to live up to the UK weather (except summer clothes of course). What most people find is their “Aussie/Kiwi” winter woolies don’t live up to the UK weather and end up just throwing them out or never unpacking them.
6. Don’t arrive in the UK without already having an appointment set up with a bank manager.
You need a bank account to sign up for a tenancy agreement, but you can’t get a bank account without a UK address – it can be a never ending, hugely time-consuming vicious circle. So if you wait to organise an appointment until you arrive, you can delay everything from your first accommodation in London to even landing a job.
So make a plan (back to point 2 again!) and fix up a bank account. That’s something we can help you with, free of charge, at MyOE. Contact one of our OE experts in Australia or in the UK for an informal chat on what your next steps should be.
So, that’s the end of part 1 of the ‘don’t do’s.’ All of the above points are holes that many Australian and New Zealand professionals have fallen into and regretted. So ensure you don’t fall into the same traps. For further help and advice on taking an OE, Download our handbook and get planning!