The next instalment in the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. If you’re interested in taking part, or want to see a certain place featured let me know!
My latest interview is with Joanna from The World In My Pocket. So many people move to London when they move to the UK, and I’ve decided to try and showcase some of the alternatives! Joanna made the move to Poole after falling in love with travel when she received a free ticket to travel in Europe from Wizz Air! Check out her story below.
Tell us about yourself
I am a 29 year old (oh gosh, can’t imagine I am almost 30) world lover. I was born in the capital of Romania during the communist regime, but I grew up in the beautiful town of Sibiu, in Transylvania. After I finished highschool I moved back to Bucharest, to live with my grandma and follow the courses of the Journalism University.
In 2007, almost 20 years after communism fell and my country started to “move on”, we were accepted into the European Union and, with that, we got the opportunity to travel freely to all the European countries. That was the time when Wizz Air also started flying to Romania and they had a huge event in one of the squares of Bucharest, where they gave away 2000 free tickets to anyone who came dressed in pink (their colour). I used that ticket and went to Rome, and I fell in love with it straight away. I was fascinated by being in a new country and my heart was filled with so much joy and happiness experiencing this beautiful city. This is how my love for travelling started. I suddenly wanted to see more, wanted to explore more, wanted to know more.
What made you decide to move to Poole, England?
I continued travelling and because of it, in the end, I lost my 4 year long stable job that I had in Bucharest. I wanted to go to find myself after my grandma’s death so I left for Asia for 2 months. When I came back, my job was gone. Not long after, I got involved in the Couchsurfing community and met a hostel owner, so in no time, I was the new manager. This is where I met my current employer, as we used to work together on a project.
When things didn’t worked out anymore, I got an offer to start working for them and leave the hostel, in a marketing position. Back then, I didn’t know anything about marketing. But slowly I started to learn and after a year, I got invited to move to the United Kingdom and work on more serious projects for the company. This is how I ended up in Poole, a quiet little town on the south coast of England.
Tell me about the cost of living.
I had a shock when I moved from Romania to England. The cost of living here is about 6 times higher than in Romania. The rent for a one bedroom flat can be anywhere between £500-£750 and, if you include all the bills, it can easily go up to £1000/month. A bus pass is around £60 for zone 1 of my town (which includes the nearby villages) and food costs about £200-£300 a month.
If you live alone, the council will give you 25% off council tax which for a small flat like mine is about £100 a month. You can also save money by buying a bike to use instead of the bus. You can recover your investment in about 4 months and you will also stay fit by cycling to work and back every day, saving the money you would pay for a gym pass for example.
What’s the social scene like? How easy is it to make friends?
Poole is a quiet town compared to its neighbour, Bournemouth. All my friends live there, as Bournemouth is a student town. I have made friends through the Couchsurfing community. At the beginning I found it very hard to find friends here but once I started to join different events I also started to meet new people.
What’s the best thing about living in Poole, England?
The best thing about living in Poole is the beauty of the area. The town is pretty small but it has a beautiful Quay with a few cute coffee shops where I enjoy having brunch on Sundays. The beach is only 20 minutes away by bicycle. Poole is actually the start of the Jurassic Coast, where I sometimes go and hike, at Old Harry Rocks, Durdle Door or the Dancing Ledge. Poole is also one of the main harbours for ferries going to the Channel Islands and to France.
What’s the hardest thing about living in Poole, England?
This is a good one. I have to admit, I hate the wind here. Every day when I wake up I look at the tree in front of my house and notice which way the wind blows. I mentioned that I cycle every day and the wind here can be very powerful sometimes.
How is your new home different from your old one?
My new home is bigger than the old one and because I’ve only lived here for 3 years, I don’t have a lot of stuff, which makes my apartment very airy. I tend to get attached to things and keep them, especially when I bring them from other countries, as reminders of my trips. I love that I have managed to add a bit of my personality to this flat, something that I didn’t manage to do back home. Oh, and the most obvious difference are the taps from the bathroom sink, one for cold water and one for hot water – it’s an English thing
If we had just one day in Poole what should we not miss?
If you only have one day, you shouldn’t miss starting it with breakfast on the Quay, at the Deli on the Quay and then take a boat trip to see the Jurassic Coast. In the afternoon explore the old town and have a fish dinner at the Guildhall tavern, the best restaurant in town.
Can you share your best local/insider tip about where you live?
Even though I live in a small town, there are plenty of events taking place, all summer long, mainly on the Quay. Every Tuesday we have a motorcycle meeting on the where you can admire thousands of different types of motorcycles, every Friday there is a car show and, every Thursday during the school holidays we have a beautiful fireworks display at 10PM. My tip is to jump on a boat (tickets vary between £5-£10) and watch them from the water. They are spectacular when you sit right underneath them.
You can also go for a boat ride from Poole during the famous Bournemouth August air show and enjoy it from the sea. Not many people know this. The boats have a bar where you can buy drinks and snacks and it’s a very enjoyable journey. During the air festival a lot of people come to Bournemouth and by watching it from the sea you are avoiding all the crowds and you also have the best seat possible.
If you could give one piece of advice to people looking to live in Poole what would it be?
I would recommend that people looking to live in Poole find a job here first and then move. I have met quite a few people that have come here without a plan and they failed. Poole, and the South of England in general, is an expensive area.
Check out more about being an expat in England on Joanna’s blog, The World In My Pocket, and follow her adventures on Facebook and Instagram.
Know anything about moving to Poole, or moving to England in general? Share below!