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Wanderlust
Sat 2-Jan-10
3:30 pm
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SOL
UK

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Hello, I have a question more than a statement.

Having reached a cross roads in our life, a do or die (regret it forever more if we dont...).

I am wondering, for all the peeps who dont live in the uk and for expats.  What makes the place you have decided to make your home- well home to you?  Did you find that moving to another country was traumatic or a great adventure?  What steps did you take before you moved?  Or did you just forget all reason and go for it?

And for the peeps in the Uk, what makes your part of the world good for you?

I worry that I cant live a sustainable life style in the UK as the house prices are so high, that we have to work 60 hour weeks (plus pb on call), to afford to live. 

does any one else think like this?Steam

Sat 2-Jan-10
4:14 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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Lol I have moved three times in the last 7 years, first to Denmark then to Colorado, America and now I live in Latvia. Each move had its challenges but we don't regret any of them. We feel more at home now than we have done in years but I think that is as much to do with being able to live off savings and being able to experiment, neither do we have a mortgage. Each move we have made we have either made friends through a local church or we have had friends from previous visits as in here in Latvia, this makes the move much easier and gives a circle of friends from the start.

Denmark was interesting and a good introduction to moving, problem is that people could speak English very well but were a bit upset that we weren't fluent in Danish after three years. I could actually hold a conversation with someone as long as they knew no English and had a great deal of patience - few and far between in Copenhagen. If we had stopped we would have moved out to the countryside.

America was difficult culturally, we have a wry sense of humour that can be lost on the Americans, although some understood it and some learnt it. We enjoyed the lifestyle in Colorado, plenty of open spaces and lots of sunshine -it can be three foot of snow one day and shorts the next. Again we would have probably moved further out of town if we were to stay.

Latvia we live in a village, we grow our own veg as do most of the folk here. It is wonderfully quiet, except when the boys in our apartment come home from school and then they only play annoyingly noisy music for about an hour then they shut up (or does someone flick their electricity LaughLaugh). We now lease 33 acres and we are going to start experimenting with that.

Cons of living here in Latvia is not many speak English (but than can also be a blessing), the wages are not high so earning a living maybe difficult but we love it, we love the people, and we are enjoying ourselves. I think that is enough for now

Sat 2-Jan-10
5:45 pm
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Michelle from Oregon
Oregon, USA

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Hey Joanna,

I have been curious for some time, why all the moves? Have you shared that story and I missed it, or would you be willing to share it? I'd love to hear it if you'd like to tell.......

If you can't be a shining example, be a terrible warning!

Sat 2-Jan-10
7:05 pm
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SOL
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yes please do tell.  we have moved all over the UK because of PB's job.  Moving every 6 months at one time.   But never outside the UK

Sat 2-Jan-10
8:15 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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My hubby's job initially for the Danish and American moves. He has quite a lot of experience in diagnosis of leukaemias. The company he joined in Denmark wanted folks to relocate to Amercia and then two years later sold the division so it was either work for an American company without all the perks that went with a secondment and a possibly much reduced salary, move back to Denmark where no job existed because they had relocated his division to America or resign. They kindly relocated us to Latvia (cheaper for them in the long run). We have been very lucky/blessed with the housing market and so able to experiment for a few years and I am studying but online, I am doing a Masters in Managing Sustainable Rural Development.

Oh yes why Latvia? We have been visiting since 2000, Christian children's camps at first and then visiting friends and then we bought a flat (apartment) here while we were still in America so we had a place to come to that hadn't got someone living in it. We could have gone back to the UK I guess but that just wasn't on our heart. Well that is the short version!!! Tea

Sun 3-Jan-10
1:40 pm
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veronica
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wow, I'm impressed with your adventures Joanna, and interested that your husband's company would relocate him to Latvia.

We have been more timid 🙂 We bought the house we live in now (in a small village in southern France)  as a holiday home and for 2 years spent all our holidays here. It was always a wrench to leave, as we loved the place, the lifestyle, and the friends we had made.  We struggled to think of ways of spending more time here and in the end, on New Year's Eve 1996, we resolved that I would give up my job (my husband was already self-employed and working from home), sell our house, and move here to set up our own web development company. We put the house on the market soon after we got back, and it sold in a week (gulp). So I handed in my notice for my well-paid job, and we moved here on 4 July 1997 (date chosen specifically!). We have never regretted it for a moment, although the first 18 months were hard going, since nobody here had even heard of the Internet except as a vehicle for porn and credit card fraud! We just knew that this was something we wanted to do, and we'd regret it forever if we didn't try. I should say that by the time we moved here we both spoke  good French, and we knew the area well because of the holidays we'd spent here. So it wasn't a leap in the dark. Although if we'd known we were going to move here so soon, we'd have bought a bigger house with a garden 🙂

I can't really imagine returning to live in the UK; although we like visiting, we feel like foreigners there now, and we  finally got French nationality last year. We've never had an extravagant lifestyle, and we can live well here on not too much money. Nowhere is perfect and France has its faults, but I prefer the French faults to the British ones 🙂

Sun 3-Jan-10
2:46 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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I agree with you Veronica regarding faults and feeling like a foreigner - put me on an English road I am getting nervous, far too much traffic. I think your comment on the point that if you didn't try it you would regret it, and that is what we would say, even if the whole adventure had failed we could say that at least we had tried. I also think that it is important that you spent time in the country before going - well if you have the chance that is, we didn't for Denmark and America but then we were supported as such by the company that hubby was working for, unlike here in Latvia where we are more on our own apart from of course the friends we have made before.

On Monday evening I will post another blog where I will run through the last decade more to remind myself how much has changed as anything else (thejourneytosomewhere.blogspot.com) MagicMagicTea

Sun 3-Jan-10
9:36 pm
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SOL
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Thanks guys this is good stuff.  If you are wondering where we think we would like to go.  It is definitely France.  We just dont know where and what is on offer.  in 2004 we drove around France in a beat up renault 5, searching.  we camped everywhere, that made it a long year. 

So we havent just decided over the Christmas period.  We have already been ready-ing ourselves for the move.  Slowly cutting myself off from my family...  Still talking to them but not going to see them. Free-cycling all unwanted things.  selling stuff.  Saving saving saving.  I am having French lessons one to one.  Apparently I speak French like the french police man in Allo allo.  PB speaks French, so that is some help. 

What makes it that any place is the right place?  Would it be worth renting somewhere out there and seeing first or just trying not to over think it (as I always do)?

We like you veronica, will have to stay in England for about 5 years more, but I am keen to buy there now, so we can slowly build it up ready for when we move.

So maybe my questions are a bit backwards.  and maybe I should be asking everyone, what type of property would you buy to make your life more sustainable?  And do you think woodland is worth buying or another head ache?  what is the ideal parcel of land, to live more sustainably, as in grow most of your own food and keep some Chickens (shudder)?

And Joanna and Veronica, this question is for you as you have replied.  Would you keep a house here in England? (how ever small it would have to be)Confused

Sun 3-Jan-10
10:10 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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S.O.L. – yet another great topic that you have started. This is relevant to an awful lot of people in the UK right now, even if they have not got to the point of having to make a decision yet. Like Fiona and I, a change in circumstances could suddenly propel us to the kind of decision we never envisaged two years ago.

We know three couples who left our village over the past five years – two went to France. J+G's one regret (moved due to being made redundant in his 50s) was that they had not done it years earlier because the prices in France had risen in the meantime and they could not buy the larger property they needed and could have bought five years earlier.

E+C went in their late 60s and chose a balance of property and capital that meant they bought a small property in a remote location. But both spoke French. Sadly, E died three years later.

T+E are in their mid 30s and more affluent. They moved to the NL for T's job and rented out their house in the UK, which covers their rental costs in the NL while they make up their minds.

I love Italy, it would be my ideal choice and I can speak the lingo, but it is expensive.

I have seen house prices in parts of the US (like rural PA) that are very affordable if you can find a job or make a living.

Our choice would be NZ if we really were forced into a move. I saw a TV program while I was waiting for my car's annual MOT cert in a service garage a few months ago. It was one of these Move House items, where the UK couple were flown out to view a selection of properties, with job offers available. I know it is an awful long way from home but the Internet is everywhere these days and we could still run the blog, and maybe get jobs.

But the biggest attractions of NZ are that it is English speaking, the scenery and lifestyle is massively attractive and the value is double (you can buy twice as much or more for your GBP£ in real terms).

Never knowingly underfed

Sun 3-Jan-10
10:24 pm
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SOL
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You see we could also go to Canada.  But there wouldnt be the opportunity to live more sunstainably.  The only difference would be that PB had more family around him.  Other than living in Saskatchewan... were I think it is a lot of farming.

I am getting angry again with my self for thinking about it all too muchSteam

Sun 3-Jan-10
11:11 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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S.O.L - please don't get angry at yourself. It is a really big decision.

One of you has to take a lead and collate/present well thought out choices (not make, or force, the eventual decision, just gather the facts and the educated opinions of others).

What does PB think? Or is he fixated on remaining in the UK? Who knows, it might be the best or correct option. I know that our preference is to remain here, unless we are forced abroad by circumstances.

Never knowingly underfed

Sun 3-Jan-10
11:35 pm
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KateUK
uk

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Having lived abroad myself and knowing quite a few people who still live abroad...just ask yourself where you wish to be when you are old and infirm and make sure you plan to take that into account. It is really exciting being somewhere else, but when every aspect of life is in a foreign language it is also very hard work and somewhat stressful doing even the everyday things that you currently take for granted, especially if you are there on your own. Do not underestimate the complexity of adjusting to living in a different culture, even if it is a familiar one, everything is different. Even milk cartons....

Kateuk makes things at http://www.etsy.com/shop/finkstuff and sometimes she does this too http://www54paintings.blogspot.com/ and also this http://finkstuff.weebly.com/

Mon 4-Jan-10
5:33 am
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JoannaS
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Kate is quite correct, everything takes a long time. For anyone who has moved abroad the recognition that even going shopping takes hours and not necessarily because of the cosy chats in the shops but because it takes ages to work out what it is you want and end up going back about three times before you have it - not so important at first but more so after a few months and you really fancy something English or a change in your diet. America is no better by the way on that score, you think you know the language but...... An Amercian friend of mine had a far harder time trying to work out what was in the shops here in Latvia than I did because the types of things for sale is so different to the States, whereas if you are used to shopping in places like Lidl or Netto you become familiar with other products.

Next is the bureaucracy, sometimes it is easier and sometimes it is not. Getting registered here in Latvia was about the same as getting registered in Denmark but getting sorted in America was not and that was despite preparation work by the Company hubby was working for. You also have to remember that you don't have credit history elsewhere, not as much of a problem in the EU but a complete and utter point of frustration in the US and we had a pot of money we could use. Land can be cheap in the US but you have to remember that places like the mid-West are actually very dry and farmers have to bid for the water unless water rights come with the property (don't get me started on that one). I would first find a place you know you like, and spend a winter or better still late October/November there (or equivalent in the Southern Hemisphere), that will give you the most miserable time of the year, the next is February the worst weather month, if you can manage then, you can manage the rest of the year. Here in Latvia height of the bug season is August (and they like me Cry). I guess if it is a warmer clime you should also spend the height of summer there and see if you can hack the heat.

As for renting that is what we did, it always gives you somewhere to return to if everything was to go pear shaped (for my American friends that is to go wrong), after nearly 7 years abroad we are in the process of selling a house in central Sheffield (long story) which will cut our ties with the UK as far as property goes. Also no matter how great it is in the place that you move to, there will be times that hit you when it is hard and frustrating and you might feel like going "home", this isn't failure but just part of the adjustment process and moving away from the feeling of being on an extended holiday to the reality of being embedded somewhere.

Mon 4-Jan-10
9:25 am
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veronica
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I second everything that Kate and Joanna say. You need to feel sure you are doing the right thing, but also you have to be realistic and think carefully about what you are getting yourself into. Things *will* go wrong, and you need to be prepared to cope with them. We burned our bridges by selling our house, but we knew a lot about where we were going, and the money from the house sale provided us with a much-needed cushion while we got the business going; we couldn't have afforded it otherwise.

There are loads of horror stories of British people moving to France based on a rose-tinted glasses view from a few holidays. I always remember reading about a couple who moved to Avignon apparently on a whim, with their school-age kids. They had a great time over the summer, then reality struck as winter closed in, and they soon moved back to the UK. "We didn't realise we'd have to speak so much French," they whined. Helloooooo! This is France, not the home counties with sunshine 🙂

Also remember that other countries/cultures do things *their* way. The fact that this way is different from the UK doesn't make it wrong. You need to respect their rules, just as you would if you were a guest in someone's house.

Mon 4-Jan-10
4:07 pm
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JoannaS
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veronica said:

Also remember that other countries/cultures do things *their* way. The fact that this way is different from the UK doesn't make it wrong. You need to respect their rules, just as you would if you were a guest in someone's house.


That is so true and the one thing above all that people need to remember. No matter what the purpose is for being there, even if you are there to try and help, helping must, must, must be within context and with some understanding of the culture, otherwise it is what we term on the courses I have been doing as "neo-colonialism", ie colonialism under a different guise, and that is no good for anyone. Steam

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