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  • Gary Rosewell

Introducing Lori Owen - Canada's go-getter extraordinaire in London's thriving expat community

Updated: 5 days ago

2020 has brought challenges for all echelons of society, not least expats caught in the crossfire of international travel restrictions and economic uncertainty. Luckily, the UK is home to some of the most hard-working expats in the world. In this short piece written during the second UK lockdown, we interview Lori Owen, a Montreal born travel enthusiast making it happen in the big smoke.

Q. Lori! How are you? Tell us a little about yourself and where you are from.


Hey! I’m from Toronto and moved to London just over a year ago. I’m a huge travel lover and have lived abroad four times now [UK twice, Australia and New Zealand], hence why I moved here to be able to explore Europe so easily (when not in a pandemic of course). I guess you can call me a professional expat. I enjoy being outdoors and walking among nature, practising yoga, listening to music and even playing the odd bit of ukulele from time to time.


Lori in Western Australia. The sense of freedom, positive energy and new experiences are just some of the reasons why she loves to travel.


Q. What made you decide on the UK as a home? Have you seen much of London / the country so far?


I moved here because I was able to apply for a special ancestry visa thanks to my grandfather who was originally from Wales. This allows you to live and work in the UK for up to five years. I have seen a bit of the UK and recently did a road trip through Wales which was fantastic, especially the hiking, but I still have so much of London and the rest of the country to explore! I also moved here to be able to travel to Europe easily – very much looking forward to doing that again.


Lori on a recent trip to the Brecon Beacons, Wales. All things considered, it was a pretty decent Summer for weather int he UK.


Q. What were your intentions when you arrived and how has the global pandemic affected things? What has it taught you about yourself?


My intentions when I moved here were to get a job in events management and live the London life. I was planning to venture off on weekend warrior trips around Europe to get my fill of juicy architecture and history while eating my body weight in culturally rich food.

The global pandemic has drastically changed the playing field, with the events industry in particular taking an enormous hit. I sadly lost my job and since then have struggled to find my feet again. Change brings new opportunities however and, after taking a temporary role working in a bakery (who would have thought it), I have now started my own freelance business as a virtual assistant.


Among other services, Wanderlush Media offers business administration support and social media expertise, as well as event planning services. I recently signed two clients and am in the process of building my website, so it is a very exciting time!


“if it wasn’t for the global crisis, I would likely not have had the push I needed”


Being my own boss, working remotely and having my own business has always been a dream of mine. It seems that the pandemic is not without a sense of irony as if it wasn’t for the global crisis, I would likely not have had the push I needed to begin the solopreneur journey.


Q. You also manage Wanderlush Travel. Tell us why readers should check it out and what travel means to you.


Wanderlush Travel is a blog that focuses on travel and living the expat life. Having lived abroad multiple times now, I have a pretty good insight into the challenges (and rewards) that come with living in another country.


“Freedom, living and love”


If I could sum up what travel means to me it would be freedom, living and love.


Freedom because when I travel, I feel free - free to explore and free to feel like my true self. In short, travelling lights up my soul!


Living because I do truly feel most alive when travelling. Experiencing new smells, tastes, sites and cultures is such an exhilarating feeling. The world is so big and exploring it is truly living in my view.


Love because travelling is something that I am truly passionate about – there are just so many strands to it! I love meeting new people, seeing new places and feeling the sense of adventure it brings. I think when you travel and really connect with places and people it is also a form of love that you share.


A selection of Lori's travel photos taken in Bali, Fiji, Australia and the UK


Q. Under normal circumstances, what suggestions / advice do you have for potential expats thinking of coming to the UK?


Weather:

Pack an umbrella haha! The rain and clouds can be a little disheartening, but I constantly remind myself that grey is an actual colour and not a shade - very important to still get out there! Consider also that the Brits really do celebrate when the sun comes out. The change in the seasons is palpable with everything and everyone uplifted and more joyful in the Summer months.


Finances:

I would definitely advise saving prior to your trip as 1. It can be very competitive finding jobs and 2. Living costs can be rather expensive relative to other countries.


Travel to Europe:

Travel as much as you can! Europe is so accessible and cheap to travel to, so plan in a few trips early on with EasyJet or Ryan Air. As the pandemic has shown us all, being able to travel so freely is something that we perhaps take for granted.



Thank you, Lori, for a wonderful insight into expat life in the UK and your thoughts on travel. All being well, we will all be able to refill our European travel experiences in the New Year.


Stay up to date with Lori’s journey living in Wimbledon by following her on Instagram here.