Why I Left London

Flare Magazine

Photo: Flare Magazine
Today marks the 3rd year anniversary that I got laid off from my day job, a day that pushed me into blogging full time.

Instead of marking that day by re-hashing it, I am instead answering the question that I get asked either in person or via emails by readers: how/why I moved from London to New York – so here it is:
The why:

The reason I moved to New York was because of Michael – my now husband. He was my boyfriend at the time.

How I did it:

I have something to tell you guys that I haven’t said before in public: From a girl (around fourteen?) I always knew that I would end up living in New York. Not ‘somewhere in America’ but New York specifically. Don’t ask me how I knew it but it was an unexplainable feeling. When asked back then by school friends what I wanted to do ‘when I grow up’ I remember telling them that I wasn’t sure but I knew to myself that I would not be in London. I had no idea how it would happen or even why. I just knew that it would. I remember sitting at the kitchen table at my old home in East London and I told Mum. She said: “oh really? ok, that’s nice.” I don’t think that she believed me.
Fast forward years later and I meet Michael (how we met will be reserved for another post). So I would fly to New York and line up loads of job interviews. Usually, I’d get to second and third stage interviews at a company but I was never hired because I didn’t have a work visa which costs time and money. Why hire me when they can hire a local? After three months I would fly back to London and line up more New York job interviews then book another flight and repeat this cycle. When in New York all I knew was Michael. I didn’t have any friends that I made myself. With not much money I would take rides into Manhattan (I live in Queens) and check out random no name boutiques and shops. Read my About Me page for the fuller story.
I flew on the cheapest flights possible (thanks Air India) from London to New York for job interviews for almost one year solid.
At one point I was even called into ‘the room’ by a New York customs officer at JFK airport because of how much back and forth I was doing: “Do you know why we’ve pulled you in here?” he said. “No” I replied thinking; so this is what a customs room looks like, expecting to see chickens flying over people’s heads. He continued: “It’s because we see that you keep flying in and out of New York and it’s a pattern that suggests that you want to stay here.” I told him that I didn’t (lie) but that I had a boyfriend I visited. He warned me to consider lessening my trips into the country.

I had to get a job. Fast.

On one of the following New York interview trips where I was now desperate to get something, Michael’s friend’s husband was looking for an executive/personal assistant. Over dinner, the four of us met and the next day the husband Gary – the Chief Operating Officer of a company – said he wanted to hire me. I couldn’t believe it. I packed up my things in London and told Mum and friends. I was expecting Mum to explode but instead, she said casually: “oh really? well, you always said that you would.” I never forgot my friend Diane in London: “What’s the worst that could happen? if it doesn’t work out, just come back.” I thought to myself: she’s right. So I left.
I initially worked under a student visa at the Manhattan printing firm. Then I switched to an H1B working visa which is what I really wanted because it lasted for years. All of this took a ton of paperwork and fees and required me flying back to the US embassy in London to have it renewed when it came close to expiring. A lot of people prefer to get in via a J1 Advisory Opinion visa, but I wanted the flexibility of the H1B. And as for the hassle? I didn’t care, I was in New York. It was just what I had wanted and without doing the quick route: “Why don’t you just get married?”

Did I like the job? No but it was a way to be in New York and earn money. Now that I have been blogging for a while now, the idea of earning money isn’t as tough as I initially thought. Even by simply looking into how does affiliate marketing work, you’ll get a better understanding of how bloggers and various of influencers find alternative ways of earning a bit of extra cash.
During all of those years at this company, my dress sense stood out like a sore thumb. It was different to everyone. I learned from my one semi-close work colleague that I was the butt of co-workers jokes and was being called ‘the spice girl’ behind my back. I took it as a compliment.
Eventually Michael and I got married – read the announcement (here), right before the company started laying off it’s workers. By then my hobby had started a couple of years before. My hobby was this blog.
You can read (here) for the rest of this story but I wanted to share with you the why and the how I finally moved from London to New York in the first place.


  1. Sandy says:

    Great story!

  2. Tamara Chloé says:

    I so love this post!
    Like you, I have always wanted to live in the US and I did for eight years in Los Angeles.
    Now back home in Amsterdam, I am desperate to move back to the US and I will this upcoming spring:)
    NY is one of those cities I would love to stay as well.

    Thanks for sharing your honest and incredible story.

    xx Tamara Chloé


    • Karen says:

      Good luck and wishing you the best when you come back over again. The world is a lot smaller than it used to be so living in different countries isn’t as hard as maybe our parents generation or further back.

  3. Patricia says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. As an American, I am not aware how hard it is to get into this country. I’m sorry about your customs experience. It sounds horrible and not at all in the spirit of the Statute of Liberty!

    • Karen says:

      eh its not your fault, no need to apologize. I’m sure customs is a bitc* in England too for people wanting to live there

  4. Sinead says:

    Fascinating story, Karen. I suspected that you moved here for love (as so many people do) but I always wondered how you made it happen. It always surprises me when people move here (yes, I know, not the thing for an American girl to say, but there it is) because for me, so much of the rest of the world is so wonderful. I lived in Europe for many years, and although I don’t know how or when, I know that I will go back some day and live out my life there. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world had open borders and we could all be true citizens of the universe?

    In any case, I’m glad you made it here. We could certainly use more people like you! <3

    • Karen says:

      You are the one that asked me the question a year ago about how I made it happen so you were the reason I was inspired to tell my story.

      I didn’t know you lived in Europe too. I know open borders. I hope people’s minds will just be more open if borders aren’t.

      Thank you as always : )

    • Karen says:

      thanks lovely

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am happy you moved to your dream city…and you have such a positive/determined ethic of work….You are a positive role model for doing a blog/figuring out how to make a “bad situation” (getting fired), good (blog)….

    I confess, I moved to Las Vegas for love..alas…it didn’t work out. I stayed. I did end up getting married to someone I love dearly and he and I
    knew of each other for years before we started dating….(thanks Joe)… Love is a crazy thing…

    Lindsey via Vegas..

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am happy you moved to your dream city…and you have such a positive/determined ethic of work….You are a positive role model for doing a blog/figuring out how to make a “bad situation” (getting fired), good (blog)….

    I confess, I moved to Las Vegas for love..alas…it didn’t work out. I stayed. I did end up getting married to someone I love dearly and he and I
    knew of each other for years before we started dating….(thanks Joe)… Love is a crazy thing…

    Lindsey via Vegas..

    • Karen says:

      You know love is a crazy thing. I’m sure your initial move to Las Vegas somehow in some way you can’t know led you to who you’re with now anyway : ) I swear the universe is one giant magician sometimes.

  7. Anonymous says:

    lovely !

  8. Diana says:



    • Karen says:


  9. Britchick2008 says:

    Our stories are identical – especially the customs bit, I thought I was going to die when they took me to that room – I was told get a ring or get a visa!!! I ended going back home and waited 7mths for a fiancé visa – so I got the ring, a visa & eventually the green card! Now a London girl in Philly.

    • Karen says:

      oh wow!! you did it too!? ha ha i know right that customs room. I swear I lost about 5 pounds in body weight of worry just being ESCORTED into it. Congrats that it all worked out in the end.

  10. Axagrl says:

    I moved here from Las Vegas in 1988 to be with my BF (now husband of 24 yrs). It was a great adventure that worked out. So glad it worked out for u too!!!

    • Karen says:

      oh wow was definitely worth the move then!!!

  11. Lainey says:

    I am so fascinated by you and your stories. Your blog post about the day you were laid off will forever be ingrained in my head. I always wonder though, how bloggers make a living. Especially in such an expensive city like NYC. It’s something I’ve always been curious about.

    • Karen says:

      ahhh thank you. yea the post about being laid off was emotional for me because I was so emotional on that day. So scary. NY is definitely not cheap. It’s all about the hustle.

  12. Bohemian Chick says:

    Great story. I love reading about how people make big changes. I need to make one soon myself, but no money and no guy! 🙁

    • Karen says:

      When you have a big enough motivation you’ll surprise yourself on what you will do to make it happen.

  13. Christina of Profresh Style says:

    babe, I love so much that you shared this story. Bravo babe, and congrats on kicking ass for three years, kicking ass doing things that drive your passion, fill your soul and allow you to express. xo

  14. lalaG says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I love it. Such a boss move!

  15. PinkCheetahVintage says:

    I love the fact that you knew you’d end up in New York when you were 14 <3

  16. delirious-drey says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, Karen! Such an inspiration and i think it’s really cool you didn’t just get married and get a visa.
    I’m from Singapore and I’ve always wanted to live in London but no money to keep flying there (sets me back a lot whenever i visit lol) and not enough work experience to justify why they should hire me over the many of their own grads! And it’s not like i specialise in a specific skillset which is in shortage either. =(( Pulling out your own teeth sounds easier than getting a visa! :O

  17. lily of the valley says:

    I think I’m probably the butt of my students jokes (I’m a uni lecturer) for the same reason and i def take it as a compliment! Ha! Thanks for sharing your story Karen. Xxxxx

  18. Parul at OAK Jewelry says:

    Such a great story! Love that you knew you would live in NY, sometimes we just know.

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