Moving internationally to London: Liana’s story

International moving is not without its challenges. We spoke to Liana Ciatto about moving to the UK and her past experiences of relocating. As well as some of her top tips to help others thinking about moving internationally.

Why did you decide to relocate?

Moving to the UK was driven by a new work opportunity. I was moving from a regional APAC role into a global role so from a time zone perspective it made sense to be in the middle of the world. I relocated from the US to Hong Kong back in 2014, having previous experience of moving internationally helped us be prepared. 

Top tip: I found it super helpful to tap into expat communities on social media! They are a great way to get advice and also start connecting with people in your new location.

How was your experience of the visa application process?

Overall the visa application process was quite easy for moving to the UK. My consultant helped to identify the documents that I needed, put together my application and made the necessary appointments for me to submit to the authorities. The BRP collection process was a new experience for me. You have to collect it from post offices in the UK but they were not traditional post offices that I expected having lived in the US and in Hong Kong. I picked up my residence card and some sweets all in the same trip!! 

Top tip: I would recommend travellers really leverage the checklist that their mobility advisor provides. This helped keep me on track and ensure I had all the documents needed.

What was your packing story?

Researching the area that you are moving internationally really makes a difference. When we moved from the US to Hong Kong we knew that our oversized furniture was never going to fit into typical Hong Kong apartments so we decided to rent a furnished home. 

In London, while you can find furnished apartments, they may not have all the furnishings you are looking for so it gave us an opportunity to purchase a few pieces before we left Hong Kong. Now we are prepared with all that we need to make our new place feels like home. As well as being able to have reminders from our four years in Asia.

The crew used their new e-packing technology which I didn’t have during my last move and made things so much easier. There was less paperwork which my husband and I both appreciated as we are really focused on minimizing our waste consumption.

Do you feel settled in to your new home? – How long did it take?

Yes! We love our new home but it wasn’t an easy road. The London real estate market is quite dynamic so while we saw lovely places online they tended to be let quite quickly. It was really important that we knew upfront what our must haves and negotiable items where so we could make quick decisions and know where we had to compromise. We are still acclimating to the weather as it is quite different from Asia but we are enjoying autumn and seeing the leaves turn colours.

Is there anything you would recommend to anyone moving to the UK?

Absolutely! We choose to live in a neighbourhood that has a vibe very similar to my husband and I. We do a lot of walking so we wanted to be close to parks and we also really have a passion for art. There is a lot of galleries close to us that we tend to meander through on a Saturday or Sunday. This has also been a great way to make connections with like-minded people in our community. Honestly, I would just tell people to embrace the opportunity!

Be open minded, try something different when moving internationally and never turn down a chance to strike up a conversation with someone. Some of our closest friends have started with random small talk over a new beer, a piece of art or even just commenting on the weather. We feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to live in three regions and we love the worlds that we have been able to experience.

Thinking about moving internationally? Check out our UK destination guides to help get you started.