Have we made the right choice?

Miniature Schnauzer, Scarf, Langhe, Piemonte
Otto is a patriot. He misses the UK.

“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.

Lionel Messi, Barcelona, Wembley, Champions League Trophy
On reflection, going to the Champions League Final every year was probably the best part of my job. I miss that.

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.

Snowboarding Madonna di Campiglio, off piste, powder
I never once did this on a Tuesday morning in the UK
Walking Matterhorn in summer, Cervinia, Italy
Or this…

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.

Appledore, Beaver Inn, Devon
You don’t get to spend an afternoon in the pub with the Queen in Italy though

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…

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29 thoughts on “Have we made the right choice?

  1. HA! I LOVE this… I was feeling melancholy yesterday about leaving and also missing my family but that’s really not what my point is… As I was reading this, my neighbors’ (their bathroom window faces my patio!?) were having a fantastic, all out, LOUD verbal brawl. Even the kid was arguing with them. All I could think for a moment was, “I can’t wait for my Mom to hear this shit next week when she visits…” They were talking too fast for me to make much out but your post made me laugh out loud and they stopped. So, Ringrazie!

    1. Thanks very much, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I don’t particularly like getting all reflective, but I think writing things down can help put your thoughts in order sometimes.

  2. Great logic built all the way through that post, you’ve convinced me. Have you convinced yourself? 🙂 Avoid people who ask you if you think you made the right decision – it’s a daft thing to do at this stage in the proceedings. Head down and go for it, you can do it!

    1. Thanks! I’m pretty sure we’re doing the right thing, it just helps to write the thought process down sometimes! A couple of the people who asked are considering doing similar… We’re inspiring whole swathes of the UK to quit work 😉

  3. The thought of dropping everything to start something new in a new place must run through my mind at least once a week, but I don’t know if I’d ever have the guts to take the plunge, but your stories are inspiring me to at least think about it someday. In the meantime, I’m rooting for you to make it work so that I can keep living vicariously through you via this blog. 🙂

    1. Thanks Michael… if it helps, you should just do it! 😉 In the meantime, thanks for reading the blog and for rooting for us, it really helps sometimes to know we have so many people behind us!

  4. I like your musing, but I have to ask you a serious question: have you heard in what low impenetrable voice the Anglo-Saxons, U.S., U.K. speak…? It is amazing that anyone can understand them…
    Signed: an Italian in the U.S., still straining to get what the natives are murmuring… and I was told it is worse in England where it is bad manners to move your lips when speaking. (.. just kidding, but I heard that in an English class … ) ( PS: I loved it when I went to Italy and nobody there fell off chairs if I spoke in a “normal” tone of voice.)

    1. I think that might be part of my problem… I have a tendency to mumble, and even more so when I’m not confident about what I’m saying, which is every time I speak in Italian! You’re right, us Brits don’t move our lips enough and it makes speaking Italian nigh on impossible!

  5. We made the same move a year and a half ago and it’s the best decision we’ve ever made. I miss my family and friends in a way that’s too hard to put into words but they want us to be living it up too. Nice post!

  6. What a great post. I faced a similar prospect not long ago – whether to retire early or not – and saw things in much the same way you have. Once you lose the love it’s time to move on, and to not the twin sister, either (I really like the way you put that, btw)! 🙂

    1. Thanks! I think once you realise you can’t stand it anymore it’s better for your sanity, and for the sanity of those around you, to move on. Not always an easy decision though…

  7. Well of course we are all different. My man and I arrived in Tuscany 9 years ago and absolutely no regrets. Our daughter and grandchildren arrived a couple of years later and live less than an hour away and have carved out a good garden design business. We have made some lovely friends, mostly Italian, and the lifestyle is perfect for us. Relaxed morning coffee everyday in our local village… fantastico.
    Why did we come in the first place? My man wanted to learn Italian, we were fed up with the rat race and technology enabled us to continue to run our business from anywhere in Europe. He travels to London a couple of times a month and I go less frequently.
    What do we miss? Marmite and the pub, the latter only rarely and the former can be picked up departure side at Gatwick. There’s nothing better than a relaxed aperitivo sitting in our lovely terraced garden gazing at the chianti hills and beyond! Salute….

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, it’s great to read such a success story! We’re very happy with our decision so far, but we know there will be done ups and downs along the way. We’ll use your story as inspiration though. I love your blog by the way, and I really like the idea of your garden concerts. If we’re ever down that way we’d love to come along!!

  8. We have been here 6 years, I identify with everything you have said. I know I could earn double the salary in the UK, apply for and receive a replacement driving licence in 2 weeks, buy a proper beer and clothes would be half the price.

    But…..I hate the rain, the traffic jams, and I love Italy.

    Great post

    1. Thanks! Yep, I think it’s just a case of deciding what’s more important to you… some people choose money, careers or just being somewhere where things work properly, others choose a lifestyle, even if it does come with a few annoyances (such as no proper beer!).

      I’m glad to hear that after 6 years you’re still loving Italy. I hope I’ll be the same in 6 years’ time!

  9. Just found your blog… I live less than 50 km from you, between Cuneo and Saluzzo (ps: did you visit Saluzzo yet? I hope so, the old town has some great architecture) and I’m impressed by your choice because I’m planning to do the opposite, probably next year… leave my 12 years job and start a new life in Bavaria. I already know that I’ll miss my mountains every single day, but I’m getting fed up with how everything doesn’t go as it should in Italy. It’s the common way of thinking here that’s wrong and I’m getting tired of trying to change things… maybe I’m a coward. But I think that trying to live abroad gives you the boost and the will to do that right now in Italy people don’t have anymore. Let me know if you need company someday in your hiking adventures, me and my boyfriend are always in the mountains when not at work. Good luck with your project!

    1. Hi Elena, thanks for your comment. We’ve not made it to Saluzzo yet, though we’ve heard it’s lovely so it’s at the top of our list of places to visit!

      I know what you mean about the way of thinking here. For me, at the moment at least, the beauty, the weather and the outdoors make up for it. I’m still able to just laugh things off most of the time, but I imagine it will start to annoy me at some point. The positives outweigh the negatives right now, but let’s see what happens…

      Bavaria sounds like a great plan, and you’ll still have mountains! I think if we hadn’t moved here we might well have ended up in Germany, it’s a really great country.

      We always need company on our adventures, particularly in the mountains as we’re still just getting to know the area, so I’ll be in touch! In the meantime, best of luck with all your plans!

      1. Perfect! You have my email if you want, I’m recovering from an injury right now, but I’ll be back on the trails in september, I hope. Have a nice weekend 🙂

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