Let's go do this life thing. Because I suck at titles.
April 20, 2012 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Let's go do this life thing. Point the way and boot me up the nethers, mefites.

Right then.

I want to shift out of my hometown in Derbyshire, move to London, get a job, and spend my time practicing martial arts and messing with computers and writing and discovering all the weird things that are out there in the world.

I also want to help my brother, who is 29, had kidney failure almost three years ago after ten years of immune system problems, and has been unemployed and essentially home-bound ever since. I want to be able to get a flat in an interesting place so he would have somewhere to get out of our parents' house, out of our hometown (he's never lived anywhere else) and get the opportunity to do new stuff. Yes, that's a vague plan.

Eventually I would like to travel for a year in Australia, although I don't want to shift out of the country without helping my brother first. (For those that know dialysis, he's on overnight peritoneal and is shifting to Hemo in a few weeks' time).

Job-wise, I have a year's experience in data entry/administration and two and a half years in bartending.

Volunteering-wise, I spent a year and a half as an Oxfam shop assistant, three months as a volunteer proof-reader and editor for an online amateur publishing company, two weeks as a publishing assistant for Random House publishing, and two weeks as a volunteer journalist for my local newspaper and the regional newspaper that owns them.

I have a 2:1 degree in English (and won a minor prize for my work) and volunteered as the university Scuba club's Membership Secretary and Treasurer. I graduated in 2008.

I'm 26, living with my parents, very annoyed at myself for this, have £10k in savings, no attachments to consider, no contacts to speak of in London (although I've been down there several times and I quite like the place), would prefer to live alone, and have no fricking idea what the best way would be to set this whole wheel rolling.

How would you set this whole wheel rolling, mefites? I think I would make a competent bar manager if I could find a trainee position, but I'm not fussed about any kind of work if I can find it. I have currently been applying for jobs through the net, but that hasn't borne much fruit and frankly I would bet all my aforementioned savings that it's not going to. I would move down and look for work after if I was sure that I could find a job and afford to live on it, but I keep hearing that's a Very Bad Plan from several careers-coaching people I've spoken to. If this isn't actually a bad plan, awesome! Let's go! If it is a bad plan, what would a good plan be instead?
posted by Fen to Work & Money (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well you're in Derbyshire, not Neptune, so I do think that finding the job should be higher up your list than moving.

You say you want to help your brother by having somewhere interesting for him to go. I see you also want to live alone. Would you consider getting a place with him? Presumably he has some income from benefits; that would go a lot further if the two of you were sharing a place, wouldn't it?
posted by tel3path at 3:59 PM on April 20, 2012

i wonder why those people think it's a bad plan? sure, it's hard to go from somewhere you know to somewhere you don't, and hard to get a job when you don't have one, but it's not IMPOSSIBLE. people do it all the time. i wonder if these career counsellor people are in london or derbyshire? it takes some courage to leave the place you have always known, but you can do it.

can you give yourself a time limit? say x amount of pounds or x amount of months you spend in London, trying to find a job. during that time you live SUPER cheaply in a flat in the general area that you want to live in, with lots of other roommates. maybe you get a sublet so everything is furnished, maybe you even couchsurf for awhile (like at couchsurfing.org) where you meet and befriend all kinds of interesting people who know people who can help you find work. you are super charming and always doing the dishes and more than your share of the housework, so they really like you and want you to succeed. every day you pound the pavement and talk to as many people as you can about getting some work. if it's not in writing or computers, maybe you spend your evenings doing writing or messing with computers. or you take on freelancing contracts for proofreading or teaching english or something, i dunno.

meanwhile, you go to all the martial arts places reasonably near to you and see if there's work for you mopping the floors or doing whatever in exchange for martial arts (classes? time on the mat? i don't know anything about this.)

once you have a job and income, you get a small place of your own and move your brother in with you. after a few years of living large in london, you quit your job (or keep it if you work remotely) and travel to Australia. maybe you go wooffing to save money, so it's not so out of reach financially.

etc, until you have accomplished everything on your list. by which point, of course, there will be new things you never thought of putting on the list, and new surprising updates that will be scarier and more exciting and easier and harder and sadder and more joyful than you thought they could be. you can do this!
posted by andreapandrea at 7:03 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I suspect the reason people are advising you not to move until you actually have a job is that London is really, really expensive. I lived there fore two years as a student. I lived in a shared house with 3 others and I was paying about £650 for my rent and bills. If I weren't a student I would have had to add an extra £50 for council tax. I didn't have any travel expenses because I walked a 2-hour trip to college and back every day but if you need to use public transport then you can add an extra 100-300 pounds per month depending on where you live and what you want to use. Of course this all depends on what area you live in, who you live with and how nice a place you have.

It does depend somewhat on what sort of job you want - bar jobs won't just be in the centre so if you can live where you work then your travel costs will be much reduced. Be aware that London is a big, big place and if you live a way out in the north it will take you an hour to get to the centre and at least a couple of hours to get to anywhere in the south. If you have anywhere you want to be able to go regularly then you need to bear that in mind.

I think living by yourself is quite a big goal, given how expensive it would be. Housemates are often a good way of not being too lonely in a big unfriendly city when you don't know anyone.

Why does it have to be London? Any of the other big cities would be much less expensive and still have things going on and opportunities for you to gain work experience. Several of my London friends have moved to other cities because they can pretty much halve their living expenses and commuting into London maybe 4 days per month doesn't cost much more than a monthly travel card.

Good luck whatever you decide. London is great but does have challenges.
posted by kadia_a at 12:39 AM on April 21, 2012

Seconding kadia_a's question of does it have to be London? Jobs are not all that easy to come by there, and living costs are high.
posted by Idcoytco at 8:06 AM on April 21, 2012

I don't know much about living in London, but looking at your situation from here in the US, things look pretty solid for you, assuming you have no debt. I would say go for it, but carefully.

In other words, find some compromises that will make it easier. Maybe find a place besides London, as mentioned by others, and consider taking a roommate who can help you pay the bills.

But as for the moving part - go for it. It's easier (at least in the US) to get hired in person than online. If a place needs someone today, they are going to give preference to the guy who walks in today, not to the resume from someone out in the sticks.

Also - network like crazy! Make friends, volunteer, get your ass out there doing things that you are enthusiastic about. This will reap dividends eventually.

Finally, prepare a careful, very pessimistic budget, and stick to it, update it, obsess over it, and always know how much time you have left based on your income (or lack thereof) and savings.

Good luck!
posted by natteringnabob at 8:16 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

First off, Derbyshire is surrounded by several great cities; Sheffield and Manchester are both thriving metropolises that you shouldn't rule out because of not being London. Looking at somewhere closer by might allow you to be in touch with your family more.

Of course, these places aren't London. But they do have the advantage of not being as mind-blowingly expensive - if you move to London, you will have to share accommodation for a few years, possibly more, before you find the right situation for you.

As for jobs, sign up with a lot of agencies, and make it clear you're willing to do anything. Go into the interviews and impress them with how nice, normal, and competent you are. I once got an offer of a placement by saying the word 'linux' in a pub, but I can't guarantee you'll get the same. However, some technical skills might come in handy, as people who work in offices are often confused by the magical innards of computers.

Finally, this article about moving to New York has some good hints about moving to a major city - namely, prepare for a two year slog of uncomfortable living.
posted by The River Ivel at 10:38 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

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