It’s been nearly three months since Simon and I moved abroad, so I thought I’d give a quick update on our new life!
Many expat blogs have a post entitled “Expectation vs Reality.” This tends to be where they debunk all their grandiose visions of moving abroad and discuss the struggles they faced in the process. Of course, I, too, have had times of loneliness and feeling out of place, but I can genuinely say, moving abroad was exactly what we needed for our life.
Selling the house, though it was a hit financially, was the best decision we’ve ever made. It had become an all-consuming money pit, sucking up all of our time and energy. (To give an example, I spent my birthday last year scrubbing mold off a kitchen wall.) We weren’t ready to be homeowners and the house seemed to know it. Besides just the house, it seemed the whole city was pushing us out. The weather was dreary. Simon was commuting nearly two hours a day to a job he hated. There were good parts about our lives, but they didn’t quite balance out the negatives.
Since moving, I’ve felt so much lighter! There’s no more stress about the house or money or Simon being unhappy. We are able to prioritize ourselves and our relationship. We’ve started reading more, making time for creativity, and exercising. We use our free time to enrich our lives and make ourselves better people. If something breaks in the flat, we call the letting agent and its fixed for ‘free’ within the week. Our heads are no longer bogged down with worry and frustration. They are free to create, learn, and absorb our surroundings.
Our jobs have turned out to be everything we had hoped for. Simon is respected, trusted, and revered for his talents. I have finally found a career that uses my strengths without exhausting other parts of my life. And the benefits are great, too! (Though they are more expectations than benefits!) The companies encourage you to take your full lunch hour and go on holidays. Upper management is even a positive role model, taking week long trips with their families periodically throughout the year. My boss goes out for long runs on his lunch breaks! He’s a perfect example of valuing the importance of fresh air, time away from the office, and staying healthy. But even if you do get sick, my company offers six months worth of sick days! Of course you need a legitimate doctor’s note if it gets that bad, but it’s so nice not to have to worry if say you had to have a surgery or something. AND you don’t even have to lie about being sick to get days off, because you are allotted so many holidays!
Going off of that, they have universal healthcare! It eliminates any latent what ifs that can sit in the back of your mind stirring up worries. If anything were to happen, we wouldn’t be paying off hospital bills for the rest of our lives.
But going back to work, it has also been really great for my social life. I’m an introvert, so meeting new friends in a new city is very daunting and intimidating. Being thrown into a social work environment with a manager who values building relationships has been amazing for me. From day one, I instantly felt like I had friends and a community. Everyone looks out for each other and is there to support one another, both in work and life.
I feel very grateful. Grateful to live in a safe and beautiful city, full of history. Grateful to have found a job I truly enjoy, among wonderful people. Grateful Simon is happy and excelling in his work. Grateful for a society that values work/life balance and supporting its citizens. Grateful to have had the opportunity to move abroad! I am so happy to be living this life.