Welcome back for part two of our interview special on Relocation: What’s it really like to move across the world for your career?!
We’re talking to Dani Louise Barkley about her time as a Brit in New York city, and gaining some insider secrets on everything you need to know!
Let’s dive back in…
What were some of the surprises of working in a new country?
The time difference was actually okay. I synced up with people back home. Their dinner time would be my lunchtime so I would FaceTime my family then. Finding a routine like that is super helpful.
Dealing with Visa processes is a whole different struggle in itself. My visa appointment was a very daunting experience. There’s one question that stood out for me that I found to be very hard to answer on the spot: ‘Why are we hiring you rather than local talent?’
When put in that position, you don’t want to say anything negative, so it’s a really tough question.
Having a great Visa team supporting you, you’ll be prepared for those situations.
There’s a lot of forms, a lot of proving that your intention is to come back to the UK, explaining why your position is so important that you need to move into the US, as they want to know why they’re hiring you instead of an American basically.
Another thing is bank accounts! You need an address which I was struggling to get. I went with Chase Bank in the end, and thankfully they were willing to let me put my office address.
You need a bank account in order to get your Social Security too. Having that information ready when you move to the US will be helpful.
What about any little British things you missed?
The sausages are not the same out there at all!
They have really funky ones like chili sausages and sweet sausages. Their breakfast sausages are as close to what you would class as a normal sausage here in the UK.
When I really wanted a proper fry up, they didn’t do a traditional British fry up. There are places and I did find some though, so I can ping them across to anyone that’s interested!
Great insider info, thank you.
That place does a really good roast dinner as well. That’s another thing that’s not as big there, which is surprising because Thanksgiving is very similar to what we would call a roast dinner, but they have really interesting other things on the menu there.
I confused so many people by putting milk in my tea. And dunking biscuits into my tea.
Actually American ‘biscuits’ are like pastry, cheesy baked things. So ‘cookies’!
I blew so many people’s minds and changed a lot of people’s lives as well with that little life hack.
I think a lot of what I missed was actually very food related, like British chocolate. I mean, you know, me personally, I love food.
Would you say there is such a thing as the ‘right kind of person’ to relocate for their job? And if so, what are the qualities that you need to make it work?
That is a very, very good question.
I wouldn’t say there is one type of person. What it fundamentally comes to is: Are you really prepared to chuck yourself into a situation like that?
I’m such an advocate of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, I do think you need to have that savviness about you, and grit to get up and do something like that. You need to be ready, there needs to be a part of you that is 100% dedicated to doing it.
When they say you’ll either make it or break it in New York, It’s so true. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. A lot of people try to give New York a go, and it chews them up and spits them out. It’s a very intense city.
But if you persevere, get past those pain points, build yourself a good support network and do it for the right reasons for yourself, it’ll be the best thing you could ever do.
So compared to London, is New York a lot more fast paced?
I always said it was just London on steroids and taller.
Everyone’s still got that get up and go mentality. Everyone’s on a mission to get somewhere. You could walk down the street crying your eyes out, no one would pay attention to you.
It’s one of the busiest places in the world and yet, it can be quite lonely. That is the harsh reality of it. But at the same time, sometimes you thrive in that. You get more ballsy, walking down the street, feeling like ‘I own New York’. You find a new strut in your step.
Do you have any other wisdom to share on ID, essentials, etc?
ID! I made the complete rookie mistake to always go out with my passport as my ID. On a night out, I misplaced my bag, which was returned with my purse and passport missing! Therefore I didn’t have a visa or a passport. It was an intense, very scary process. I wouldn’t be allowed to leave the US unless I was going to get a new appointment and get a new Visa because they can’t just stamp it in, I’d have to go through the whole process again.
So I cannot stress enough: Get a state ID.
And all you need to do is prove that you live there, you work there, show your visa, and prove your identity. It’s super, super easy.
Also have the New York State ID. I still have that now. And you get discounts, free library access, all kinds of benefits as well. So it’s actually really helpful to have that. My roommate actually told me about it. And it was the best thing I could honestly ever do. I definitely recommend getting that as early on as possible, so that you don’t face the same complications I did.
I feel like I’m a living testament to what could go wrong. But I’ve made it back. I still miss New York and I’d still be willing to go back.
What advice would you give to someone relocating with their life partner or whole family?
I don’t have any first hand experience, but I do know it’s quite a straightforward process for a spousal visa. If you’re bringing your spouse with you on a marriage visa, they are able to work anywhere in the US, basically living on your visa. If you were to leave, they would have to leave. They’re basically tied to you.
When you go for yourself, you’re tied to a business. You can’t leave that business and work somewhere else, unless you have a visa transfer and or you get a new visa. But your spouse has the flexibility to work where they want to. In some cases, I believe for six months, they’re not allowed to work. So you would have to provide for the family.
Again, you just need to make sure that you’ve got the right team helping you through that process, and a really good lawyer.
Thank you so much for Dani for all her insights, and hopefully anyone considering a big move has gained a huge amount of value from this interview.