Hey there, friends! I’ve finally made it to London and finally have my energy back! I’m so happy to feel reset and recharged after my big move to London last week! It was quite the whirlwind trying to get ‘all the things’ done. I basically lived in casual jumpsuits, bralettes and cozy knit cardigans all week [as seen in today’s post photos] while getting everything ready to go! I found this green one from Walmart a few weeks ago and it’s definitely going to be an around-the-house and travel day staple for under $30! They have tons of really cute and affordable Spring pieces right now!
I will definitely miss snagging Scoop and Time and Tru pieces over in England but, I’ll do my best to keep you guys up on their new arrivals from time to time! Do you remember this pink sweater from my birthday post? I snagged it at Walmart, as well! If you’re looking for warmer weather pieces, I would take a look at this beautiful white cotton dress. It’s so classic and will last forever!
So, since I am finally on the other side of this hectic move – well, at least the first part of it – I thought it’d be a good time to go ahead and tackle some of the questions y’all may have for me about it.
how long is your visa valid for?
My visa is valid for three years.
because of you have a visa, does that mean you can apply for citizenship in the UK?
No, it means I can stay in the UK and operate as it says I’m allowed to under my particular visa for a certain amount of time. Once you have been under the same visa designation for five years, you can apply for what’s called ‘indefinite leave to remain’ or ‘permanent residency’. Once you acquire that, you will no longer have to apply for a visa to stay in the UK. Twelve months after acquiring permanent residency, you may start the process of becoming a UK citizen. So, I have a long way to go! Ha!
Can you share the parameters of your temporary visa? Do you have to come back at all?
No, I don’t technically need to come back. That’s completely my call. My temporary visa was stamped in my passport when I arrived and all I’m waiting for now is my actual biometric residence permit [BRP] card that is my actual visa. I’ll need to have that with me every time I travel in and out of the country to prove I have a visa. John and I will be going to the post office in a neighboring town over the weekend to see if it’s come in yet – as I was told it’ll be in within 10 days of my clearance being granted. So, I’m waiting to make my plans until I have that in my hand and also with the latest coronavirus information in mind.
can you share what visa you got, the steps to get it, etc?
I applied for one of the business visa options. The steps were many and it’s not really worth listing them all out here, to be honest. If you’re interested in figuring out the path that fits your particular situation, I’d advise speaking with an immigration lawyer to help guide the steps that make the most sense for you.
was your immigration attorney based in the U.K. or the US?
She’s based in the UK. I’ll actually be meeting with her on Friday afternoon to go over next steps that I’ll need to do now that I’m here re: the business.
you mentioned you were going back to the states at the end of the month … how has the new travel ban affected that timeline? does it affect coming to get the boys?
If you missed the update on the boys and when they’ll come over, watch the highlight on my Instagram profile called ‘re: the boys’. They are hopefully going to come over at the beginning of April. My hope is to go back to the States at the end of March to tie up all the loose ends that this quick move left at the townhouse and to get the boys’ paperwork all set and ready to go! More to come on how that plays out in the days ahead but, as for today …
I’d be lying if I said waking up to the travel ban news didn’t make me a little nervous about what the next few weeks have in store for me, this move, and the boys. I haven’t been worried about the coronavirus too much. [Of course, I hate that it’s affected so many people. Don’t misunderstand what I mean by that.] But, over the past few weeks, I’ve been making every effort to stay calm and diligent about basic hand washing hygiene, cleaning my phone daily with an alcohol wipe, and avoiding crowds, when possible. I have also been collecting information from multiple reliable news sources in order to not get caught up in false reporting and misinformation that is causing global turmoil over the COVID-19 pandemic. And, I think the best move forward, right now, is to continue to do just that.
After collecting more information about the travel ban, I’ve found that it doesn’t include the UK and it also only applies to foreign nationals and not to American citizens who have been screened before entering the country, similar to the restrictions he placed on China last month. It only applies to people coming to America from countries within the Schengen Zone. Of course, things can change but, for right now, my plan is still in place to go back at the end of the month. I’ll take care of all the things I left at the town house to sort through before I need to be out and to also get the boys ready for travel. I have contacted a pet relocation company to potentially make this easier for both the boys and myself as it is a huge undertaking, and a stressful one. So, with the information I have right now, I’m confident I’ll be able to continue with the plan I shared the other night but, as always, I will alter them based on new information as it arises.
Let’s all play our parts right now to lessen the likelihood of this virus continuing to spread so, follow the guidelines set out by medical professionals. Wash your hands [with soap & warm water for AT LEAST 20 seconds]. Self contain if you need to. Don’t go to work or out in public if you’re sick. Avoid crowded places if you can.
how / why did you move so quickly after getting your visa? i’m amazed!
I tackled this on IG stories the other night so head to the highlight titled ‘re: the boys’ for the lowdown. Essentially, I wanted to give my assistant as many free weekends throughout the month of March as possible for her to be available for anyone interested in buying furniture being that there are so many pieces in my home that we are looking to sell. Most people can’t come during the week to check out furniture they’re interested in so, we figured having weekends open without me there [I’d likely be trying to get packed and the place would be a mess if I was there] and without the boys there. Believe me, I did not get everything done in a week. There were tons of things that were left undone for me to tackle when I get back at the end of the month. [fingers crossed and Coronavirus willing]
will you still create the same content as a blogger that you did before?
Yeah! Absolutely! Once life is a little less hectic and I’m more settled, I think you guys will see that I’m going to be doing things I normally do – create blog posts & YouTube videos centered around your needs and requests. I’ll continue to share new outfits, new beauty finds, and provide y’all with fun styling and beauty tutorials. If anything, I think living here will provide my American audience – which, is most of you, ha! – with more interesting content. When I ask what y’all want to see more of from influencers, many of you say you want us to share ‘different’ clothes or make comments saying we all share the same things. Living here gives me an opportunity to share new things and new retailers with you guys. And, I think you’ll be surprised at how easy it is, as an American, to shop global brands that are more popular in the UK and Europe than you might think. Just because the retailer is more well known or popular in the UK … doesn’t necessarily mean you guys can’t shop there. Many of those retailers do offer free shipping to the US when you spend around $60 and shipping time is around 3-5 days. So, keep an open mind when you see new retailers pop up in my outfits because I think you’ll be surprised at how attainable things will be for you guys. It’s harder for people here in the UK to shop US brands but it’s so much easier the other way around. Also, I will definitely be continuing to style US brands so, don’t worry guys! I’m still going to be helpful to you guys!
With London being so expensive, do you think you’ll have to give up something that you like?
Ha, yes! SPACE! It is really expensive to buy and rent in London and the surrounding areas but, more than that, the money you spend doesn’t go as far when it comes to space. I spent around what I pay for my 2-bedroom, three story townhouse in Atlantic Beach as I paid for a small studio flat in Zone 1 in London back in 2016. And it was a tight space. But, something that my time in London has taught me … or helped me unlearn, rather … is that we actually don’t need all the space we have so readily available at our fingertips in America. Is it nice? Absolutely! But is it necessary? No. I’ve shared before just how much ‘stuff’ I’ve acquired over the last few years, partially because of what I do for a living, and how I am excited to aim for less. Going through all of my stuff last week truly made me never want to own that much ‘stuff’ ever again. And, thankfully, living in London, it just won’t be possible. I’ll always be minimizing and downsizing, which I’m excited about. Do I hope John and I can find a bit of a bigger space for us and the boys? Yeah, for sure! We definitely need more space for all of us but, no matter where we go or what we find, space will definitely be something that I’ll be giving up [willingly!] while calling London my home.
Are you selling your townhouse?
I actually never owned it. It was a rental property. When I moved out of my apartment a few years ago, I debated long and hard on whether I should buy because of how much money I’d potentially save. But, there was something that just didn’t feel right about it. I’ve always had apprehensions about putting down roots and maybe it’s because I didn’t really want anything holding me back or making it difficult for me to move if it ever did happen. So, I went month-to-month in October of 2019 and put in my 30-day notice last week. I have to be out by the end of March. Timing could not have worked out more perfectly so as to not have to pay for a partial month or whatnot.
How long do you plan on living with John? I know you initially said you’d be looking for your own place after a little while.
Yes, that was what I initially decided and shared with you guys but, since then, we have had multiple conversations about our future and what we both want and have decided it makes more sense for us to live together. If I’m being honest, it can be a little disconcerting to share these decisions with you all because everyone has a different opinion on what they would do or think I should do based on what you guys do know about me. I’ve shared this with a few of you who have asked over the last few months [I have nothing to hide] and one person responded with ‘Wow, that really surprises me. I always saw you as an extremely independent, self-sufficient woman. I’m just a little taken aback that you’d give in to living with your boyfriend, outside of the city, when it’s been your dream to live in London.’ I can’t tell you how hurtful that was, even though I was assured it wasn’t meant in a rude way. I believe that person. I do [somewhat] understand where their comment was coming from. But … I don’t think that acknowledging where you are in a relationship with someone and agreeing to move to the next step [as it makes sense for the both of you] – even in the midst of a dream coming true – means that I am no longer an independent, self-sufficient woman. For me, I find this to be such a beautiful time in my life where God is fulfilling multiple desires of my heart at one time. I’m literally bursting at the seams about it all. And, while not everyone who believes in God will also believe this is the right choice, that’s okay. The truth is I am an independent, self-sufficient and confident-in-my-own-choices kind of woman and John & I are both responsible, level-headed, and realistic human beings who love each other, want to be together, and found this to be the next best step for us. You don’t have to agree with the decision. And, if you don’t, you also don’t need to tell me you don’t agree. I live by the saying ‘to each their own’. I think we all need to do a better job of just letting people live their own lives. If it looks like how we’d live ours, great. If it doesn’t, so what?
I also don’t want to lose sight of the fact that a lot of you will be excited and happy for us so, if that’s you, thank you!
have you ever lived with a guy before? how has the transition from being long distance to living together been?
No, I haven’t! And, honestly, it’s been super easy! John and I enjoy being with each other and have really complimentary personalities. We are both busy and have a lot going on with work so we’re always excited about the time we get to spend together in the mornings and at the end of the day.
You mentioned you having to commute into the city. Do you foresee y’all moving closer to the city?
Yes, actually! John has known, since day one, that living in London has always been my dream and my goal. He loves London, as well, and would love to live closer. He purchased his flat in Surrey because it was a good move financially and it’s near where he grew up and where a lot of his friends have settled down and started raising their families. But, he isn’t against living in London again. We both would love to live on the outskirts of London, probably staying either west or southwest of the city, and have talked about potentially seeing what we can find in those areas to rent within the next year. He could easily rent his flat out and then we could split the cost of a bigger place with a nice backyard [known as a ‘garden’ here]. Of course, buying is ideal but, honestly, it’ll likely be awhile before we could even think about that being that I have no credit history here and work for myself. Literally, two big strikes against me, ha! But, one step at a time. There are lots that I’d like to see happen between us before we buy a place together 😉
Did you leave anything in storage?
Yes! There’s tons in storage right now because of we’re prepping for the big moving sale, which is tentatively scheduled for the end of April. [More details to come.] I’ll also be storing boxes of items that I’d like to eventually move over to the UK but don’t necessarily need to come over right now.
are you shipping anything?
I’m trying to prevent shipping things as much as possible. It’s not cheap to fly with multiple suitcases but it’s more cost effective than shipping boxes of stuff and it’s all out of my pocket so, trying NOT to.
What were some of the hardest things to part with?
My mother’s urn is something that I absolutely love having in my possession. I won’t be able to bring her with me but, she’ll be in my brothers’ good hands. Not nearly as dear, or as important, but I also love the home decor and furniture pieces that I took quite a bit of time to acquire. I’m sure there were other things but … it’s funny. It’s potentially hard in the moment to part with things but, later on, when you try to think of what those things were, you can’t put your finger on it. So, keep that in mind if you’re going to be decluttering soon.
what has been the hardest part of the move so far?
Being away from the boys. Those littles are my everything. I love them so so much. And, especially now, I’m keeping my cool but the mom in me feels like something big could make it impossible for me to have them with me and that’s really disconcerting but … I am believing that it’ll get worse before it gets better and I’m just happy that they’re safe.
How often are you allowed to travel outside of the UK on your visa?
You’re allotted quite a large amount of time to travel outside of the UK. However, if you intend to reapply for a visa at the end of your visa’s term, it’s best to keep your travel on the lower end of that allotment. I can’t remember the exact amount of time, to be honest, but the Home Office [Immigration Office] will want to see – when decided on whether to renew your visa – that being here in the UK and investing in their economy was a priority for you. They want people to be here who want to be here, if that makes sense.
Alright, y’all! That does it for the latest installment of the Moving to London series! There are lots more questions but I think I’ll save some for next weeks’ Ask Alyson Haley newsletter! Be sure to check out Walmart’s Spring fashion pieces as well as their travel section! There’s lots of great things in both! Thanks for stopping by today, lovelies, and stay tuned for my second closet clean out / declutter video going live on YouTube [hopefully] later today! xo.