Paris to London - Expat Interview With Jo

Published: 11 Feb at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,England
Jo always loved moving around. She met her Austrian husband while studying in Seattle and so moved to Vienna. Together they then went on living in New York City, Tokyo and Paris, her hometown. Having a baby certainly did not mean stopping the expat life and so, as soon as the opportunity came up, they all moved to England. A former consultant in management, Jo now is a blogger in London. The adventure continues as she is expecting her second baby this year and is looking forward to the adventure. She is sharing her British experience as a new mom and fashion addict on her blog, Britishette (won Gold in Expat Blog Awards 2012 for England! - see listing here)

Meet Jo - French expat in England
Meet Jo - French expat in England

Here's the interview with Jo...

Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in Paris, France

In which country and city are you living now?
I am now living in London, in the borough of Islington

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I moved to London in January 2012, so exactly one year ago. Not a clue for how long we are here (but that's the fun part).

Why did you move and what do you do?
I moved because my husband was sent to London for his job. I was a consultant in management, so going around quite a bit, but I stopped when my daughter Stella was born.

My family
My family
Did you bring family with you?
We brought along Stella who is now 2. The family is about to expand as we are expecting a little boy for March 2013!

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I have lived in other countries before (USA, Japan, Austria) and so moving to England was very easy for me.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
There is a huge French expat community in London (about 500 000 people) but I was not interested in meeting them (then I would just stay in Paris). But it's true that my friends are also expats, from New Zealand, Japan, etc. I've met them through my girl's nursery, as they are moms too.

Broadway Market
Broadway Market
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
I really wanted to live in East London as I find it very exciting and happening. We settle for Islington because it is both cool and kids friendly (parks, amenities, bars...). Also, my husband is a big Arsenal fan and he can walk to the stadium for the games...

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love love London. I find it much better for kids than Paris was. There are 3 parks just nearby, and when it rains (happens a lot), most museums are free and have activities for kids. The fashion here is surprising and exciting and it leads me to experiment more. Vintage is just unbelievable. Also, the music scene is great!

How does the cost of living compare to home?
The major change is the rent. It is a lot more than in Paris so you need to take that into account. I also noticed that the metrocard (Oyster card) is twice more expensive than in Paris (for the unlimited Metro option). Then again London is much larger than Paris. Other costs are fairly similar, though my husband would underline that the beer is much much cheaper than in France...

The rain!
The rain!
What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
I would say the cost of the rent is a negative. The other thing is the weather: in 2012, it rained everyday for 4 months straight. I couldn't believe it. I am hoping it was a bad year...

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
When moving to London, you really need to define your priorities to decide where to live (proximity to work, transportation, parks, activities, nightlife, etc.) as there are so many possibilities

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
I just really miss decent bread...

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I don't really plan on going back home anytime soon!

Columbia Road Market
Columbia Road Market
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Start preparing early: you can already study cellphone and internet deals before you move so that, you can get settle quickly. This way you can be reached and everything will be easier.
  2. Don't be afraid to ask people about what they think of this or that neighbourhood. When we were looking, we just stopped people who had a stroller on the street and they were happy to give their opinion.
  3. Check out that the metro works before you start a journey: in London, they often interrupt the service on one or more metro lines, especially on weekends.
  4. Check out local markets, they are more than just a place to buy groceries, with music and entertainment. My favourites include Broadway Market (on saturday) and Columbia Road Market (on sunday).
  5. Make a reservation if you want to have diner in a specific restaurant. They get booked incredibly fast, especially on weekends.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started Britishette when I learned we were moving to London. I shared first my moving experiences, from finding a house to finding a nursery. Now it's more a lifestyle blog, where I share my experience as an expat, a mom and a fashion addict, all that in the fantastic city of London. I also talk about the travelling we do, back home and everywhere else.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Check out my blog or via twitter @Britishette

Jo blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Britishette has a Expats Blog Awards GOLD winning listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Jo, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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