Six days into 2018 we moved out of our house and over to Resham and Jill’s place for a few days so we could get it ready for our renters. Nine days into 2018 we woke up at 2:15 A.M., corralled Jameson and Tigger into kennels and dropped them off at cargo at 3:30 A.M., then spent the next 18 hours traveling to London, our new home.
It has been a wild ride this year. I documented a lot of it over on my site SeattletoLondon.blog in the hopes of helping out others who choose to make the move from the US to the UK. Banking was harder that expected. Finding a place to live was easier than expected, but figuring out how to pay for the deposit and first months of rent without a bank account was challenging and involved three different wire transfer services. I left my full-time job, but was able to work remotely for the same organization for nearly six months (which was critical for our finances and my mental health).
I watched my partner try to find his place in a new job that wasn’t entirely as expected (though, to be fair, what job turns out exactly as imagined?) I also struggled with what I wanted to do with my life. Moving to the UK meant essentially giving up my career, which on the one hand, yikes, but on the other hand, sweet. I was good at emergency management planning, but I didn’t like it, and the UK system differs enough that I couldn’t really find work in my field even if I wanted to. So, what to do? Try to build a writing career? Find a 9-5 job that pays the bills? Be a stay-at-home wife and learn to make all our clothes and food since salaries in London are much lower than in Seattle?
Ultimately, I was lucky enough to get my foot in the door of higher education, a field I’ve wanted to get into for many years. It’s basically entry level professional, and that’s good. I’m getting to see all sides of the field, learning how things work and what the big issues are. I’m only three weeks in, but I’m liking it.
Moving across the world can be hard on friendships. I have done it before – leaving Seattle for NYC, NYC for London, and London for Seattle. Because of that experience, I did know what to expect. Plus, social media is way more of a thing now than when I last moved, and services like WhatsApp mean I can text friends in the US for free. But many of my friends are in different places is their lives now, and they don’t have the time they used to. I left Facebook for a few months but ultimately returned because I didn’t know what was going on with some of my friends, and that was the easiest way to see what was up. Some US friends text with me weekly or daily; one friend sends me updates on my niece (we even managed to have our annual Christmas tea even though we’re eight hours apart). Others reach out with the occasional Facebook message or email, and I try so hard to do the same.
Given all that, this move has definitely been helpful in accepting that friendships change over the years. And it’s also reassuring, because even though I’ve been away from my London friends for years, with most of them it seemed like no time had passed! From my weekly lunches with Sumedh, to my WhatsApp group with Lesley and Alissa, to texting with Simran (who is now not only a friend but a coworker). I’ve not seen as much as I’d like of other friends, but that’s how life goes sometimes.
It’s also been a time of figuring out how to adult on a whole other level. In addition to the aforementioned banking frustrations, we also became landlords, as we didn’t want to sell our Seattle home. We found FANTASTIC tenants, but still had to deal with stuff like utility companies refusing to transfer bills to our tenants, figuring out how to collect rent when we’re overseas (may I recommend Cozy.co to any similarly situated folks?), and managing a contracting job from 6,000 miles away when the dishwasher broke and screwed up our floor and the ceiling below. In 2019, we’ll also have to shift to having paid property managers, which means we might have to cover some of our mortgage with savings. But it’s worth it.
With my writing I try to be honest, and this year-end review has been a bit heavy on the challenges, so allow me to indulge in recognizing the awesomeness that was this year as well:
- Jason and Kelly already had plans to visit London, which meant we got to see dear friends just a month after moving here
- Amanda came out for a long weekend (and was a trooper, given she was at the start of her second trimester)
- Don and Judy visited us after spending some time in the midlands
- We spent five days in Lisbon, Portugal celebrating our five-year wedding anniversary
- Allegra, John and their two children spent a couple of nights with us before heading over to Italy
- We met up with Jamie, Mike, Jesse, and Jamie’s parents in Paris
- We hosted Stephanie and Gavin for a few days, then traveled with them to Iceland for a long weekend
- We met up with Danielle and Darren in Berlin and explored Christmas markets
- We spent an entire week in the Hebrides in Scotland over Christmas
- I joined a football club and play two-three days a week
- Austin helped START A UNION and is serving as its first Secretary
- I ran my first half marathon in seven years
Next year we’re going to see the Women’s World Cup in France with two sets of dear friends, spend a week in the US with Austin’s family, and spend the holidays back on the west coast. We have a list of places to visit in Europe and in the UK. Austin will be busy with the union. I’m still writing, and How Not to Be A Jerk When is still chugging away. I’ll keep trying to find an agent for the book I wrote four years ago. We’ll both keep doing our best at work. And of course, I’ll still be reading and reviewing books for Cannonball Read.
Despite the challenges, I’m happy our little family decided to take this leap. This year — this move — has been, and continues to be, an adventure. Here’s to more of that in 2019.