The Expat Diaries 1: The Decision

For us (well, for me at least) the decision to move to Edinburgh was relatively easy. I’d lived here for 6 months whilst on exchange, and I loved the city so much I came back for another 2 months before my Honours year began. Alex had visited the city for 2 weeks after my exchange ended, and loved the city almost as much as I did. I wanted to take some time off between Honours and Masters, and the idea popped into my head to move over to Edinburgh, at least for a little while. Alex wasn’t too difficult to convince, and so in December 2016 we got on a plane with 3 suitcases between us and moved to the other side of the world.

There are, of course, a few things to consider before picking up your life and plonking it down in a new country.

  • Is it actually possible for you to live there? Most countries have all sorts of visas on offer, but it’s always best to check. For Alex and I it was pretty easy. I’m a British citizen, and as an Australian Alex could get a 2 year youth mobility visa to live and work in the UK. Obviously, you need to check you can actually get a visa (and what that visa entails) before decided to move overseas.
  • Can you speak the language, or are you willing to learn quickly? Everyone in Edinburgh speaks English (well, Scottish English, which is practically English). If we’d been thinking about moving to Austria, or Chile, or Japan, it probably wouldn’t have been quite so straightforwards.
  • Can you just pick up and go? Everyone has a different situation. For us, things were pretty simple. I’d just finished uni, Alex was happy to leave his job, we have no mortgage/pets/children/commitments to keep us in Australia, and our families are (touch wood) healthy. It made perfect sense for us to go now. Two forty-year olds with children, pets, and a mortgage might have to approach things with a bit more planning.
  • Will you be able to find housing/a job? We moved to Edinburgh with no permanent accommodation lined up, no job offers, and no idea what would happen next. Although this worked out fine for us, it’s probably not the best way to approach an international move, and it’s not even an option for certain countries. Basically, do your research, and work out if rocking up to a foreign country and having to sort everything out at once is something you’re ready for (future spoiler: we weren’t, but we survived).

There are obviously lots more things to consider, but those are probably the big ones. Once we decided to go (and worked out that it was actually practical/possible), it wasn’t all that complicated. I’m a bit of a planner, but Alex is definitely the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of guy. Combined, we made a perfect pair. We booked one-way flights, sorted out visas etc, organised an AirB&B for the first two months, packed our suitcases with a few clothes and personal items, and that was about it. It was relatively simple, really. Obviously, that’s not including all the stress, the tears, the second-guessing, the difficulty leaving behind family and friends, and everything else that comes with moving, but they can all wait for another post.

The easiest thing in helping us make our decision to move was one simple question: What would we regret more – going, or staying? In the end, the answer was obvious. No matter what happened (or happens), we’d always regret not chasing our adventure when we had the chance. So that’s exactly what we’ve done.

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