Living On $227K A Year In London, England | Millennial Money

One of my goals has always been to
live abroad, so when I got the opportunity to move to London, it was
kind of a dream come true, even though it was somewhat unexpected. My name is Imani Change, I'm 28
and I live in London, U.K. My salary is comprised of both a
base salary and stock and investments, which comprises of money that is
paid in pounds but also U.S. dollars. Last year I was actually promoted
to my current role as a senior operations manager, and I became one
of the youngest senior operations managers here in Europe at that time. Hi, welcome to my living room. So this is actually a space that
converts into a second bedroom when I have friends and family visit. This is my kitchen. I definitely spend a lot more time
in this space now that I've been cooking more at home. So I think the biggest expense that was a
bit of a surprise for me when I moved here to London, is that it
is very comparable to New York City.

It's very expensive. Renting is not as easy as it was
when I had lived in Baltimore previously. When you're looking for a place, the
listing price is not necessarily what you'll get it for. They do a whole
bidding process to be able to secure a place. And if it's in a high
demand area, the price might be very different ultimately to be able
to secure the location. What they wanted to see is that I
could definitely pay my rent, so I ended up paying the first 12 months upfront
and then after staying in the place for one month, I
paid another four months.

Ultimately, that's obviously not something
that's easy to do. A big part of being able to do
that was getting some support in terms of what my relocation package was. Welcome to the bedroom. So it is a separate space from
the living and kitchen, which I really love. It gives us a separate area. We actually just passed the half bath
that I'll use when I actually have guests staying with me. And then, you'll kind of get to see
the space, it has lots of closets, which is not very common
in the U.K., I find.

And then right behind me is where we
have the full bathroom that I use on a daily basis. My dad actually had
a background of finance growing up, and he always would try to teach
me best practices for managing money. Saving, I actually started at the age
of five when I had my allowance. I had to save 50% of the
allowance that I made for college. And it really helped me not only see
the value in kind of having this practice of saving some of your income
for future things, but it also just allowed me to have a
better relationship with money. One thing that makes me a little
bit different than many students is I don't have student debt. It definitely was made possible through some
of the support of my parents, the saving that I had done when
I was younger and also scholarships. I actually moved here expecting to be
spending more money and having a bigger budget for my day to day life,
but what I'm finding is that because I'm in a pandemic, there's a lot
less stuff to spend money on, entertainment, etc.

So I actually end up spending about
40% less than what I had previously budgeted for. I would say the U.K. is a little bit more expensive. Big things driving that is my
rent is definitely more pricey. When I was living in the U.S., I
actually Airbnb'd out my second bedroom in the place that I was living in. So that covered the expenses of
my housing and my rent. The other thing is that I have
to pay something called council tax here, which is basically a tax for
the services of my neighborhood. And then I also find that I
pay a little bit more in utilities. My water bill is more expensive here,
but outside of that, things are pretty comparable. Some of the other nice surprises
is that groceries are way cheaper. You're able to get a good trip with
just £35, whereas in the U.S., I couldn't get a decent trip until
I paid at least $80. Overall, my expenses are definitely higher here,
but it's a big part of just choosing to live abroad
and have a different experience.

Last year, I became one of the
youngest senior operations managers at my company, which is something that was
extremely exciting for me, especially since when I started at my company about
five and a half years ago, I always saw this as a role
that was kind of unattainable. And I didn't really see people who
looked like me doing this work. It was really just figuring out how do
I get there, how do I grow within, not only my role, but as a leader and
how do I help other people also move into these spaces that maybe they don't see
a lot of people that look like them. And that's kind of been a big
goal of mine within growing within my career and hopefully bringing
people with me. I do have different cash, so
I have my pounds here. I then have my U.S. dollars here that I use if
I end up back home. I also have some euros which have saved
me in a pinch when I was traveling around Europe for work and ended up in
a taxi that was cash only and then some South African rands hanging out.

And then I think I think that's it. For my everyday spending I
actually use my U.S. credit card. I'm a big traveler. I actually have a card that
has a no foreign transaction fee. So I still use it here because it
has way more benefits than the credit cards they offer in the U.K. So I'm able to get a lot of
cash back, I'm able to use my points. So overall, I get back about $1,000 a
year by using my credit card here instead of using
something that's U.K. based. Previously, before the pandemic, I
would try to go somewhere completely new, at least
two times a year. And I think one of the biggest things
that's tough right now is I actually get more time off or annual
leave here in the U.K.

And it sounds like a wonderful thing,
but it's actually really hard to find time to use all of it. So right now, I'm trying to figure out
what I'm going to do and how I'm going to use the time, I
think it just might look different. I might be taking time
off to stay at home. When I was in the U.S., I was
actually doing a max contribution to my 401k and they have a similar
program here in the U.K. called a pension plan. However, I do contribute less to it. I only contribute the amount
that my company will match. And the main reason why is because I
don't know how long I'll be here and I want to definitely have some
more control over my funds. Should I move away from the U.K., I
don't want it to be super complicated to get access to those funds
when I'm in my retirement age. I have two different things I would say
splurge on, one is sometimes I will get the nice designer item, but that's
something that I feel like once you have a staple in your closet, you can
kind of just keep with it and pair it with different outfits.

Now, my
splurge has become app games on my phone, which sounds really dorky,
but there's nothing better than when, especially during a pandemic where you might
be just hanging out at home, to be able to play
different games on your phone. And they honestly get me
with the in-app purchases sometimes. So I'm trying to be better about it. But the one that I'm currently really
getting into is one called Redicor, where you basically feel like an
interior decorator, but you're not actually decorating, you're just
decorating on your phone.

So it's kind of fun for me. One of my personal goals is to
hopefully figure out how to become a millionaire by 30 and buy a
home by the age of 33. A big part of that is me
figuring out how to perfect saving money. How can I allow the money that I make
to work better for me to make more money? And hopefully it will give
me the opportunity to achieve these things and show people
that it's possible. And a big part of that is me trying
to just kind of take some tips of how I made it simple for myself. And then I'm actually trying to start
a website to help share some of those tips and tricks with others. It's called Mo Money No problem. M-O, money, no problem, dotcom. It's something that I'm pulling together
to hopefully help represent women of color who are trying to
do their thing in the workspace.

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