Nightmare Before Christmas- My First Days In London

Natural History Museum Ice Rink
When I look at these pictures taken during yesterday’s walk, I smile. They remind me how beautiful the city is. They remind me why I’m here. And I desperately need such reminders as so far what we’ve been going through is nothing short of a nightmare. Stuck in a tiny and not as clean as you’d expect hotel room I try to stay optimistic but each day makes it harder.

Have you ever felt like the luckiest person in the world, running up the hill to reach the stars and then when you were at the highest speed, a thick brick wall hit you crashing you completely, breaking you into pieces? That’s how I feel. I am the luckiest person in the world, finally moving to my beloved city. The thick brick wall is bureaucracy, all the unbelievable laws, documents, ridiculous requirements and conditions you’re not able to meet.

To make it clear, I didn’t expect a design- furnished house in Belgravia (well, that would be nice), Michelin- star dinners and the Queen waiting at the airport with champagne but… I still though London would be slightly more welcoming.

Oxford Street
It all started with banking… I’d never thought opening an account would be such a big deal. And I’m not talking about some top banking, it’s just the good old expat-friendly Lloyds. Not anymore I guess. It’s all going wrong:

  • Queuing far too long just to hear you should first apply for the account online.
  • Filling in the form to get stuck on the ‘postcode’ section (which only accepted UK postcodes as your previous address).
  • Going to the bank again and queuing again to get some instructions.
  • Applying for the account online again only to find out that they are sorry but your application has been declined (without any explanation).
  • Going back to the bank to be told that you should make an appointment but they’re unable to see you until next month.
  • Calling expat services to hear, after 25 minutes of giving out all your personal details that you’re not able to open an account anyway without a proof of address. They understand that you only moved over 2 days ago and you’re not able to provide any bills to proof your address (which you don’t have) but it can also be a posted bank statement (!!!). Trying hard to get calm you kindly remind them that a bank statement is something you’d love to get but it may be difficult without having a bank account which you’re just trying to get. Then, they finally agree to meet you next Wednesday to talk about international account options. And yes,  they understand you start your job on Monday  and you need an account before that but there’s very little they can do.

Carnaby Street

I became very aware of the fact that there’s no chance I could win them over so I thought perhaps getting a nice, modern flat should be easier. Few hours later I edited that thought to getting any flat.

So yeah, imagine you’d be delighted to rent a flat but… of course, nobody wants to rent it to you without a proof of address. When after 2 days you finally find the agency (not the cheapest one but at least they understand your situation) who’s willing to cooperate, you feel on top of the world. You find a nice little flat and then it turns out… you need a bank account to pay for it! It’s more expensive than you’re prepared for, however your future company’s willing to participate in costs but… guess what? They need your bank account to transfer the money! You finally find a way to transfer the booking fee and then the agency tells you that actually your job contract is not enough and you’re expected to pay the rent 6 months upfront. Oh, you’re unable to do it? Well, there’s a 1000 quid resignation fee so you may want to try harder. Do I need to continue?

Carnanby Street, London, Christmas

After 5 days of the same old stories I’m about to freak out. I’m just super stressed and exhausted. I want this all to end. I want a tiny place to call home and a cup of tea under the blanket. Instead, I have two more nights in the hotel which smells more like a nursing home, running out of money and ideas. I want to cry, shout and slam the door. But then when I look at these pictures I’m absolutely certain London is magical. So I’m waiting for a  miracle to happen. It will be alright. It has to be alright.


  • Lisa

    Sounds like you’re not having a great time but stick it out you will get there

    • Thank you Lisa for your supportive comment, I appreciate it x

  • Aw, you will! You sound as such a powerful person.
    x, Kim |

  • Pamela Arsena

    It sounds like your first days in London were rough. The money problems would cause me the most stress. I enjoyed reading this as I plan to travel to London one day myself.

    • Thank you Pamela! It is all very stressful indeed but there’s a light in the tunnel at least with bank account so fingers crossed 🙂 x

  • Lindsey Andrews

    Your pictures are amazing! It’s been too long since I’ve been to London.

    • Thank you Lindsey, the city looks gorgeous at this time! x

  • Oh dear, I’m really sorry to hear of all the problems you are facing. And I am totally with you on the stupidity that is bureaucracy. I hope it all works out very, very soon.

    • Thank you so much Azlin, you just put a big smile on my face 🙂 It really means a lot to know that someone wishes me well. Take care x

  • Thanks Joy, that’s sweet of you but I’m sure you have enough going on in your life at the moment, coming back from the big trip, starting a new job. As for the bank account that’s actually exactly what happened here- was instructed that city centre-based branches make it easier to open the account as they are sort of used to foreigners working for big companies so yeah, they kindly instructed us what documents are needed and the appointment is booked for tomorrow so it should go smoothly. I have to say, my better half’s company has been extremely helpful in the whole processed, signing all the papers, they even offered sorting out F’s National Insurance Number for him so it’s a huge help.

    As for the flat, it’s been found on Gumtree, I didn’t know about other websites and since there were hundreds of offers there I didn’t really bother to look further. At the moment we can’t really resign (without financial consequences) from the one we initially applied for so we’ll have to stick with that one unless we fail referencing, then we’d get all the money back at least. It’s been the first time ever I deal with the 3rd party involved in renting so I had no idea about all the hidden costs and didn’t have a clue of what to pay attention to really. But yeah, lesson learned. Two more nights at the hotel paid and lets hope it’s enough to find out how to proceed further.

    Thanks again for all your kind words and tips, I’m sure it gets better soon!

    Mal x

  • I hope it all works out for you! This would be frustrating.

  • Karlyn Cruz

    It looks like you had a first week rough at London, but that place is such a beautiful.

    • True it hasn’t been easy but I’m sure it will be worth the hassle in the long run 🙂

  • Karlyn Flores

    What a great pgotos but it sounds like you are not in a good condition, I hope everything will be fine

    • Thanks so much Karlyn, really appreciate your supportive words x

  • Wren LaPorte

    So sorry you are dealing with so much. Luckily you have such a beautiful area to look at to lighten the mood some. Chin up, things will work out somehow!

    • Thank you so much! You’re right about the area, it’s absolutely gorgeous and I believe and this can’t last forever so yeah, fingers crossed 🙂 x

  • Thank you Tara! x

  • TravelingWellForLess

    Yikes, I hadn’t realized how hard it was to be an expat in other countries. It definitely gives me some pause on relocating. Hopefully things go smoother for you from now on.

    • Thank you so much <3 I have to admit it's stressful as hell but would I do it again if I knew all these? YES! It's just the effort one has to make to make things better I guess. Btw, the account is finally sorted out *yay*! It took quite a long visit at the bank (8:28-11:06 precisely!!!) but yeah, a small step forward 🙂 Hope you both have a fantastic day x

  • You will get through it in no time ?

  • Jasmin N

    Wow, that’s rough! I hope everything gets better soon 🙂 London is such an amazing city 🙂

    ~ Jasmin N
    Little Things With Jassy

  • Would love to visit London soon! … Isn’t it the worse to queue? I HATE waiting in lines. Not cool you had all the problems you went through 🙁 Be positive – things will go just fine

    • Oh well, queues aren’t bigger than in any other place i know really (unless we’re talking Black Friday 😉 ) Thanks for your supportive words! x

  • Robin Rue

    I have really wanted to go to London! It looks extremely fun and like there is so much to do.

    • Well… not so fun for me so far but there’s definitely a lot to do here.

  • Sarah Bailey

    I love going into London and exploring. This looks like it was a blast.

    • So do I! Hope to have a chance to actually do it soon when the rough beginning is over 🙂

  • theCuriousPixie

    Sorry to here you haven’t got off to a great start. Hopefully it will be sorted soon. On the plus side, your pics are brilliant!

  • kathycakebread

    Sounds like a nightmare! Getting The first bank
    account is the worst!

  • Digital Travel Guru

    Great Post enjoyed reading it.

  • Mía Andujar

    Wow, you’ve been through a lot. Love the pics & love your blog! Very vivid.? Looking forward in seeing more posts.

    • Thank you Mia, you have no idea how much that means to me <3 Take care x

  • Mike Socarras

    wow those are beautiful pics. love them. I need London!

  • Katja Knox

    Oh honey that sounds ludicrous! When I came over 15 years ago it was nightmare as well so very little changes. But I did have a friend who’d lived in London for years who helped me. I’ve long since moved up north but if I can help just give me shout.
    Katja xxx

    • Katja, this comment melts my heart- you’re far too sweet! Thanks so much!!! Well, it’s always easier when you have someone, and that’s what happened to me yesterday actually- a friend I haven’t seen for 16 years contacted me through FB offering help- my miracle did happen, we’re getting back on track! 🙂 Btw, I just checked your blog and I bookmarked it for my quiet evening- I absolutely LOVE your distance to yourself and the world around!!! You’re doing a ridiculously great job! x

  • Robin

    So sorry you’re going through this – I always get caught up in the romantic ideal of moving somewhere new, whether to another city or another country, and then I get so fed up with bureaucracy and red tape that I suddenly appreciate where I already am that much more ? You know exactly what you want, so I have faith that you’ll make it happen – as you said, it HAS to happen. Good luck!! (Btw the pictures are gorgeous!)

    • Thank you Robin <3 Life's slightly ironic though- I moved to London before, being a student, with 400 in my pocket, not knowing anyone and… it worked out just fine! This time everything was quite organised, I was financially prepared (or I thought I was, there are always some additional cost you wouldn't think of!) with what I thought was a good plan and it started unexpectedly. But it's getting better! Anyway, thanks again for this supportive comment, means a lot! x

  • Elizabeth Keck

    So beautiful to be causing so much trouble!! I hate that for you. I wouldn’t be able to leave the first pic long enough to get anything done, lol

    • Thank you so much Elizabeth, that’s very sweet of you x

  • Krystel Seijo

    I had a super similar experience in Paris. Their culture is so different. Def enjoy it while you can because now I look back with a smile.

    • Hahah, that must have been even more difficult- I spent only one day in France and was tired by the cultural difference (like people assuring you they don’t speak any English and only ‘reminding’ themselves they actually do when they realise you want to leave the restaurant not being able to order anything from French menu!). Still, I’m sure you can get used to it 🙂 x

      • Krystel Seijo

        They’re SUPER proud. It was the worst thing ever. I think they just want you to actually try speaking French. Not sure if that should be an expectation in such a touristy city.

        • You’re probably right! The only place where they actually accepted my order in English was Starbucks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure French cities have their charm, I just think it’s completely pointless to build such barriers. Best wishes x

  • I promise you she’s (London’s) worth it. It can be frustrating I know, I did the opposite moving from London across the world but stick with it. There’s so much to do and see and Christmas in London is awe-inspiring! Beautiful photos!

    • Thank you Ellie! I’m sure you know what you saying! Your move sounds far more adventurous so I shouldn’t complain. And yep, it’s been 3rd time I’m in London around Christmas and it’s probably the most beautiful 🙂

  • Sondra Barker

    Things will work out, honey. Moving to an entirely new place is always difficult, but hang in there.This is your dream city to live in so just remember that! I’m glad you have these photos to remind of the love you have for the city.

    • Thanks so much Sondra for your supportive words, they mean a lot! x

  • sure you’ll have a miracle very soon! have faith. those photos are amazing. I’ve never been to this city before but looking forward to it.

  • Yep, I imagine a lot of people go through similar experience. It’s just because I lived in London before (and that was A LOT easier) I didn’t really expect it to be so much hassle. You’re totally right though, it won’t last forever! Thanks a lot for all the support and encouragement x

  • Thank you! ❤️

  • mail4rosey

    Hokey smokes, I totally get it. A rocky start though usually means a fabulous ending!

  • lana

    We’ve all been through these problems, it’s almost a rite of passage (I lived in tiny places with little heat and mice in the beginning of my move to London). It’s never easy moving to a new country and starting life all over again. But despite all the hardships and problems in the beginning, it’s a great place to live even though it’s hard to think that way right now. It will be worth it after all!
    p.s. love your blog and post’s photos. Christmas is a magical time here…

    • Hi Iana, thanks so much for taking the time to write such a lovely comment <3 Sound's like you know exactly what I'm going through (no mice yet, luckily). I have no doubts it's worth the hassle (I did live in London before and I loved it) so I'm positive. Super happy to hear that you like my blog, I'll be sure to check yours when things get a bit less hectic (bookmarked). All the best!

      Mal x

  • Tania Potter

    Oh you poor thing! This is insane and I can only imagine what a nightmare it is actually living this catch 22. I hope your miracle has already happened.

    • Thank you for your sweet words, Tania <3 Luckily, it has! 🙂 x

      • Tania Potter

        Oh yay! So very pleased and hope it gets better and better from here on out.

  • Oh wow! My heart goes out to you as I’ve been there before when I first moved to the UK! It will get easier once the bank account is sorted so hang in there X

    • Thank’s so much, it’s priceless to know somebody understands what I’ve been going through <3

  • rizza smith

    Wow, what a beautiful place to visit and It really looks attractive, but it sounds like youre not in a condition. I hope you’ll be fine

  • Shubhangi Rane

    Miracles do happen, Lisa.

  • Pospitips Zone

    a wonderful city. Nice article thank 4 sharing

  • I totally understand how you feel. I transitioned last year from Canada to the USA and the process of getting myself settled here is still ongoing!! Keep going hun, it will all Love how festive everything looks there now tho 🙂

    • Oh my, did you say LAST YEAR?! That sound’s crazy, no envy here 🙁 I hope you get everything sorted soon. Thanks so much for your kind words, that’s very sweet of you x

  • Eugenia Nazarova

    Ohh, I’m so sorry to hear about your bad experience in London:-( Unfortunately, not everything always goes the way we planned, but no matter how terrible the situation might seem, try to find something good and positive! Believe in magic!

    • Hi Eugenia, thank you so much for these words, I really appreciate them. My situation is changing for better so yes, I’m certain magic happens! 🙂 x

  • Sana

    You’ve got some seriously amazing photos <3

  • Ance

    You take a beautiful pictures from London. I love London but I’m really sorry about what happened to you!

  • Thanks!

  • Oh, I can understand that but I’m sure it would be worth it! x

  • Thank you Mai, luckily, it’s the other way round now! 🙂

  • Thanks Michelle, all great now! x

  • Thank you Saranda for all your supportive words, means a lot! <3

  • ahh, I hope all works out well for you. I moved to UK last year, York and I still keep my bank account in America. I would check but I think it’s ok to do bank automatic payment for work until things get sorted out. I Wouln’t even begin to know what to do about rent up front as my fiance owns his home…. moving to another country is stressful enough and starting a new job is also stressful. Good luck to you in the new year, in a few months you love it and be more settled!

    • Thank you sooo, sooo much for all these supportive words! Now, over a month later, everything is perfectly alright <3 I'm loving London (although it's not the first time I live here) and each day only convinces me that moving here was the best decision I could make. The whole experience must be even more exciting for you, moving all the way from America when you can't just fly home for a weekend… How do you like Europe? Hope you're happy here. Wishing you all the best and a very happy New Year x

  • By the title I thought you were going to be talking about my favorite movie… Things do get better though. Not at the bank. Banks suck. It’s kind of like the DMV in the states.

  • Thank you so much for your kind words! Luckily everything ended well with a little help of some great people. Now, 8 months in we’re settled and happy, almost forgot how difficult it used to be. It was still a very valuable life lesson though, I think that when it’s really hard to get something, we tend to appreciate it more afterwards.

  • Kim Gammage

    I had a very similar experience when I moved to bangkok, things were so difficult to get around and you needed everything before everything else and all I wanted to do was cry, I was sick of living in a hotel and just wanted my own space. But eventually you get there!