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Moving from California to London


Hi all!

Long time reader, first time poster. I currently work for a Technology MNC based in Palo Alto, CA and am in the beginning stages of accepting an offer to work out of Bracknell and live in West London. My girlfriend and I have done a ton of research so far but clearly have a million questions that I hope you may be able to help with.

1. My company will be sponsoring me to move/work to England (but not sponsoring my girlfriend), is it difficult for her to get a work Visa and come with me? She currently has her Masters degree (in Speech Therapy) and will be leaving her current job to look for work in London. How long would this process take and what are the requirements?

2. We are both in our mid-20's, looking for a fun/safe place to live in West London. We have heard of the expensive places like Chelsea and Notting Hill, any other recommendations that might be slightly less expensive but just as fun/safe?

3. I've mapped it and working in Bracknell and living in West London is roughly a 50 minute commute. I would assume that this commute is opposite to the flow of traffic, would the traffic be way worse than I am anticipating? Is there anywhere else we should consider living that isn't in London that has a similar vibe ad is close to Bracknell?

4. I will try and get my company to help me either rent/lease/buy a car. After we acquire the car, is it difficult as an expat to get insurance (I have an excellent driving record in the US but no history in the UK)?

5. Any other things that we should think about in terms of paperwork, process stuff that isn't mentioned above that someone in my shoes has experienced?

Thanks in advance for your replies, this is definitely a lot to take in!