“Do you think you made the right decision?” It’s a question that I’m sure anyone who’s upped sticks and moved country hears a lot. I’ve been asked it on three separate occasions just this week, and it’s got me thinking.
As a rule, I try to avoid thinking whenever possible, it never ends well, but for the sake of this blog, I decided to make an exception. See the sacrifices I make for you?
So, what’s the answer? Erm… yes… maybe… perhaps… I don’t know…
I had a good job in the UK, I did it for ten years or so and for eight of those years I really enjoyed it. I kind of fell out of love with it though. I think it went the same way as some marriages… I just started hating it, resenting every single thing about it. Even the simplest of tasks would annoy me. I was like a bear with a sore head every time I was in the office. And that’s not me. I hated being like that. Something had to give.
Of course, I could have just found another, similar job. But that would be like divorcing the wife you’ve started to hate just so that you can go out with her twin sister. What’s the point? I’d stopped enjoying that type of work and the thought of starting afresh somewhere else doing exactly the same type of thing filled me with dread.
I used to travel a lot. I got to go everywhere, from arctic Sweden to Turkey, the French Riviera to the Atlas mountains. This was the best part of the job, but it was also the part that eventually finished me off. It meant my time wasn’t my own. If someone called on a Friday night and said you have to go to Spain tomorrow, I’d spend Friday night booking travel and then off I’d go. I could never make any plans, and I could never fully relax.
So, yes, giving up my job was the right decision. Sure, not having a steady income can be a bit stressful and it’s probably not for everyone, but I have my life back. If I want to go away for a few days or make plans for the weekend, I can. I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission (except maybe my wife…), and I think that’s how it should be.
Is moving country the answer though? I’m less sure on this one. We didn’t do it because we wanted to get out of the UK, or because we particularly wanted to be in Italy. We did it because we saw an opportunity to create a more fulfilling life for ourselves, and we couldn’t do it in the UK.
We’re both realists. We didn’t for a second think that Italy would be perfect or would be the answer to all our problems. We knew it would be frustrating, expensive, annoying and noisy (have you heard how loudly Italians talk!?), but we were happy to accept that in exchange for the change of lifestyle.
I think if people are leaving their country to get away from some sort of problem, or because of the weather, or just because they think somewhere else might be nicer, things could be more problematic. Nowhere is perfect. Your problems won’t go away simply by virtue of changing country, you’ll just have those same problems in a slightly warmer, sunnier place, but with fewer friends to help you through.
There’s a lot that I miss about the UK, my family and friends for one, but also pubs, and the English countryside, and being able to talk to people without sounding like too much of an idiot. But it’s only a two-hour flight away.
On the plus side, I don’t miss the emphasis that is placed on work, I don’t miss rainy rush hour on the M4, and I when I wake up in the morning I open the curtains and see vineyards and mountains bathed in sunlight, rather than peering through the drizzle to see the family in the house opposite sitting down to their Rice Krispies.
I guess it all just depends what you want to achieve by moving abroad and what your expectations are. For us, it’s a good thing… so far. And if it doesn’t work out, we’ll go back to the UK safe in the knowledge that we gave it a good go.
There’s a whole range of great quotes about seizing life’s opportunities that I could end with, but I’d rather go with one from my under 12s football coach: “If you don’t shoot you won’t score.”
Of course, you could take the metaphor a step further and say that if you do shoot you run the risk of missing and the rest of your team shouting at you for wasting the opportunity, but isn’t it better to take the chance? What if you manage to pull out a screamer into the top corner or get a lucky deflection that bobbles past the ‘keeper? You’ve got to try…
So, in conclusion, we should all be more like Frank Lampard. No, wait a minute, that’s not it…