Two years ago an amazing opportunity presented itself to our family based in Melbourne, Australia. My husband was offered a job in London. I’m quite sure there are a lot of people who would think we were crazy to move half way around the world with 10 month old twins but for us it was an easy decision to make. Here are the considerations we weighed up and the reasons why we decided to move, including some I only discovered recently.
Opportunity to travel
Living in Australia is amazing and I highly recommend that you try it sometime. The challenge with my beautiful country is that to go anywhere else you have to commit yourself to very long and expensive flights. This means family trips have to be planned out a long time in advance and you can be limited on the time spent away. Living in London means we can make the most of being on Europe’s doorstep and we have done just that.
I’ll never regret our trips for a moment even though there have been scary events that meant we stopped to think about whether we were doing the right thing. You can read all about our travel adventures on this blog.
Meet interesting people and make new friends
You never know who you could meet grabbing a coffee in the local cafe or park or via other friends. I’ve been lucky to make some great new friends, clients and acquaintances in our 18 months here in London. We have even met some Italian relatives we had only spoken to on the phone. All our lives are the richer for that as we get different perspectives on all aspects of life. We’ve been invited to weddings, birthday parties and all sorts of other celebrations and I know many of these people will be friends for life.
Try all the food
As a family with a strong foodie and Italian heritage I can tell you that being able to visit Italy, France, Spain and beyond to get a taste of the local cuisine was a considerable factor in choosing to move. As amazing as the Melbourne food scene is, there is nothing quite like tasting the local pasta varieties in Italy or the regional french cheeses.
Experience art and delve into history
Europe’s history is rich with art and culture. You can barely move for standing on the soil of a significant event. As a student of history and someone who loves art and visiting galleries and museums there is no better place to be than London and on Europe’s doorstep. We are soaking it up and hopefully the kids are too.
Different career opportunities
Honestly I was a bit confused on the path I wanted to take with my career after our children were born. I knew that if possible I did not want to go back to full time employment straight away. But I had no idea of what shape my life would take. Moving put those decisions on hold for a bit and I’m grateful for the pause. I’m now freelancing, blogging and looking after the children. I have some amazing clients and am enjoying the varied life I lead. I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to do that had we stayed in Melbourne.
We have absolutely loved having our friends and family come to stay and share our London life. We have been able to show them different experiences than they would have had if they had stayed elsewhere. Most importantly to me, we are able to forge stronger bonds with them as we share meals and wine at a slower pace than our often hurried catch ups at home. We have each others undivided attention and that’s a special benefit I did not expect when we made the decision to move.
Getting used to a new culture and language can be trying even if you speak English as your first language. Some phrases I use and the way I talk are completely lost in our new home. I can only imagine how incredibly frustrating it is when English is not your first language.
Wherever you go administration and bureaucracy need to be dealt with – from paying taxes to organising healthcare and figuring out how to recycle your household waste. I underestimated this. It took us ages to get our internet sorted out and it drove me completely nuts. I am in awe of people who move to countries where their first language is not the main language spoken.
But of course the most difficult thing is missing the support of family and your oldest friends close at hand. It’s the thing I grapple with the most to this day. And great as they are for helping us stay in touch with everyone at home, Skype and Facebook can’t replace a big hug and a debrief over coffee or wine.
Our move to London was driven by a career opportunity but our decision to go was based on much more than that. Despite some reservations about missing our family and friends we realised and still believe that in many ways there was really no better time in the children’s lives to take this opportunity. The kids are little but they are also not locked into a school routine so we are able to travel out of peak times easily. We are loving living our expat life in London and making the most of this amazing opportunity. If you have a similar choice and are uncertain the path to take I’d be happy to discuss it further with you.
Read more posts about expat living in London with young children
How to decide where to live – click here
Building your network – click here
Accessing healthcare – click here
How to enjoy living in London in winter – click here
Day trips from London – click here
London experiences – click here
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