San Francisco to London - Expat Interview With Julie

Published: 23 Apr at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,England
Julie Falconer is a London-based travel writer and consultant. She writes an award-winning travel and lifestyle blog, A Lady in London (see listing here), and runs a Europe travel website, VisitingEU. She has traveled to 90 countries. Julie is also an online strategy and social media consultant, public speaker, and freelance travel writer. Her work has appeared in publications like Lonely Planet, the National Geographic Intelligent Travel blog, and Time Out. Julie's expat blog is called

Meet Julie - American expat living in London
Meet Julie - American expat living in London

Here's the interview with Julie...


Where are you originally from?
I am originally from San Francisco. I grew up in in Silicon Valley and then lived in the city proper for a few years after college.

In which country and city are you living now?
I now live in the UK, specifically in London.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have lived here for almost five-and-a-half years, and I have no plans to leave.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I moved to London because I spent time studying and working in Europe in college, and liked that part of the world. I was working in finance in San Francisco when I decided to move. I wanted a change, so I quit my job at a hedge fund, got a visa (back then it was much easier!), moved to London, and started writing my blog, A Lady in London. I now run the blog full-time, and travel all over the world for it. It's great to be doing something I love! Quitting my job and moving to another country was a big decision and a huge change, but I haven't regretted it for a minute.

Feeding a lemur in Madagascar
Feeding a lemur in Madagascar
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
It was a big learning process. I knew that British culture was different from American culture, but the little nuances took some getting used to. Also, finding a flat and setting up basic thing like utilities and a bank account took much longer than I thought they would.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It was easy to make friends with expats. I got involved with the American university alumni community when I first moved here, and had a few American friends that came to London at the same time I did. Plus, almost everyone I knew back home had a friend or relative living in London, so a lot of people introduced me to new friends. Meeting Brits has always been a challenge for me and many other expats, but I have managed to convince a few of them to be my friends over the years!

British Museum in London
British Museum in London
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
London is so diverse and has so much to offer that anyone can find a community to join and things of interest to do and see. I love the city's history and museums, and could spend all day exploring the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and many of the city's parks.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love the diversity of the city and the fact that I meet people from all over the world. It makes London unique, enriches the culture, and makes being an expat much easier. I also love that every neighborhood has its own identity and that there are so many areas to explore that I could never get bored. I also like that London is a hub for art, music, and culture, and that all things world-class come through the city.
How does the cost of living compare to home?
San Francisco is not a cheap city, but London is still significantly more expensive. Things like rent, utilities, and eating out cost a lot more than they do in most American cities.

Historic architecture in London
Historic architecture in London
What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The weather is the biggest negative for me. Winters are long and cold, and it gets dark very early in the evening. Chronic public transport delays are also a frustration for a lot of people. If you can survive those things, you will love London.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Be patient. Things take a lot longer to set up here than they do back home. Finding a place to live and setting up bank accounts and utilities can be quite frustrating processes, but they all work out over time.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
See above.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
Be patient, be flexible, have a positive attitude, keep an open mind, and take advantage of the opportunities to get involved in your new community.

Feeding a giraffe in Kenya
Feeding a giraffe in Kenya
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started A Lady in London when I moved to the UK. Originally it was a way to keep in touch with family and friends back home, and to keep a record of my experiences and travels while I was overseas. After a year or so, it attracted quite a following, and I started writing for a broader audience. After two years I decided to work on it full-time. I mostly write about travel, with an emphasis on culture, food, and wine. I also write a lot about London from an expat perspective.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
My contact information is on my blog. I provide travel planning services for clients in addition to the other work I do for the blog, and I have helped a number of expats find places to live and plan trips once they arrive.

Julie blogs at http://www.aladyinlondon.com/ which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. A Lady in London has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here so add a review if you like! As mentioned in her introduction, Julie also runs a Europe travel website at http://www.visitingeu.com/. If you appreciated this interview with Julie, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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