Just last week we were talking about how gloriously happy we were in our current place. Great space, lovely neighbours, excellent location. So of course, we received a call today that the landlord wants to move back in, and won’t be renewing our tenancy when it expires on 31 July.
We have just shy of three months to find a new place. It’s not impossible, but it’s going to be very hard to find a place in our budget that gives us the space and location we love about our current digs. This is exactly the kind of thing I was worried about when we jumped on the renting bandwagon.
Not that purchasing a place is really possible for us right now anyhow.
As soon as we got the news, in an effort to not be unceremoniously punted out of our next place (and the one after that?), we called the bank to ask about buying. And being new to the UK has burned us again. I can not apply for a mortgage without being a permanent resident (known here as having Indefinite Leave to Remain – ILR). That’s in the process, but certainly won’t be done by the time we need to move. So we’d have to qualify on Neil’s salary alone. That doesn’t leave us much to work with in this neighbourhood.
It’s just another of the ways I’m feeling particularly screwed by the immigration process lately.
I am mired in the procedure and bureaucracy of the arduous processes to get a driver’s license, because they need to take my passport for a month to verify my identity. Unfortunately, the UKBA Home Office has it for the 6 months they take to process ILR applications.
I have basically given up on the idea of getting a credit card in my own name (I am currently a secondary cardholder on Neil’s), because I do not know a bank officer, doctor, postmaster or chartered accountant who lives in the UK, has known me for two years, and will sign a certified copy of my passport swearing that I am who I say I am for the anti-money-laundering regulations.
And, immigration-wise, we have it relatively easy. Neil is a UK citizen, so he has fewer hoops to jump through to get a driver’s license (though he does still have to pass a road test on a manual transmission). His company set up a bank account and credit card, so we’re ok on that front. He did have a hard time getting a national insurance number, though.
We’re even moving faster than most on the whole ILR thing; we coincidentally received my and Isaac’s visa just a couple weeks before they changed the rules, so it means we do not have to serve the mandatory waiting period (used to be 2, just changed to 5 years) before even applying for settlement.
I do not know how other people get through that period, to be honest.
I don’t even have a lot of the barriers many other immigrants do of coming from a totally different culture or language. I don’t look or dress like I’m ‘from somewhere else.’ We are allowed to drive here for a full 12 months on our Canadian licenses, and can exchange them for UK ones, even if it is only for automatic transmissions. Nobody recognizes my university or my degree, but I am at least able to practice my profession here (unlike foreign-trained doctors, etc.) Hell, I’m even allowed to vote here (thanks, commonwealth!) But just when I feel like I’m fitting in and settling down, I keep running into these roadblocks that make me feel like a second-class citizen.
The things I worked for, achieved, or had earned in Vancouver mean nothing here. No credit history, no reputation. Nobody cares. I am an unknown, and generally not to be trusted. It all feels profoundly unfair.
“Starting over” sounds aspirational and romantic. Mostly, it’s a logistical nightmare.
I have so much empathy now for anyone who makes a much bigger leap than we have, to begin a new life in a new place.
Anyhow, having this rental rug pulled out from under us, when it was one of the only things I was feeling really good and confident about, is hard. Really hard. Making me question why we ever bothered coming here hard. Making me want to cut our months of time and thousands of dollars in losses and just get out hard.
But I have never been one to do things the easy way.
And so we plod on.