Could we really move to Europe? I think so!
I’ve wanted to move to Europe for a really long time. Since my first trip to Europe in 2012, I couldn’t wait to come back. And then in 2014, I got to live that dream when I studied abroad in Amsterdam for almost six months. But that wasn’t enough. I couldn’t wait to come back for more. In fact, my friend Gabby and I even had plans to come back and live in London before we turned 25.
Once I got back to Vancouver, I finished university and started my first real job at Free The Children. I knew they had an office in London, so my plan to move to London was still going full speed ahead. But then, things kind of changed. I left FTC, got a job at UBC, I met Colin, I quit my job, we moved in together and I found myself with a mortgage and a dog and a partner who works in a local hospital. Moving to London, or anywhere in Europe, suddenly felt very far away.
But it’s not like I met Colin or got my job at UBC and immediately decided to give up on a future move to Europe. It just kept fading farther and farther back in my mind. I kept taking steps to root myself in Vancouver and to settle into a fixed life here. And they were all steps I wanted to take. I was the one who pushed us to adopt a dog. I started looking at houses on MLS first. And I am proud to say the best thing I own is a cordless Dyson vacuum cleaner (closely followed by our portable air conditioning unit and dining table).
I’m not really sure when it started, but Europe has come back to the forefront of my mind. I think there’s a part of me that is always going to be a little bit nomadic. I know that’s a weird thing to hear from someone who has lived in the Lower Mainland for so long and for someone with a mortgage, but I think it’s true. Every few months, I start to get a little bit restless. I don’t like monotony. I think that’s why I love working as a freelance writer – there’s new stuff to do every day. And it explains why I move house, change jobs or go on trips so often.
For the last few years, I’ve been able to satisfy my inner nomad with all of our big life changes: quitting my job at UBC, starting my work as a freelancer, moving in with Colin, adopting Ellie and buying our house. It’s been a pretty crazy season of life. And throughout it, I’ve also managed to go on quite a few trips like Vietnam, Mexico, San Francisco, Ireland and Hawaii.
But now things are calming down and we’re settling into our life in Surrey. And I’m happy with our life. I like our spacious apartment. I like working from home in my office. And I like hanging out with Ellie and Colin on the couch. Sure, there are some days that I really miss living in Vancouver proper and when I can’t stand that Surrey isn’t a walkable city. But on the whole, I’m glad we live here.
And at the same time, I’m sort of looking to leave. My favourite thing to do is research trips. Recently, that research has also turned long-term – instead of looking up hotels, I’m looking up rentals. It’s not uncommon for Colin to come ask me what I’m doing and for the answer to be, “Looking up apartments in Budapest.”
When we first moved into our place in Surrey, Colin and I began talking about moving abroad for a period of time. It was something that I still had in the back of my mind and something I wanted to share with Colin. It was a new idea to him and not something he had really considered before. But he took it in stride. He had questions and concerns. But we’ve continued talking and the idea of a move to Europe has gone from my crazy idea to something Colin and I both really want to pursue.
For starters, it’s not something we’re looking at permanently. As much as I love traveling and seeing the world, I do know that I also love having a fixed home. And it would be awesome if that home was in the Lower Mainland (as long as we can afford it!). It’s home to both Colin and I and we have great friends and family here. So if we do move to Europe, it would only be on a temporary basis.
As our talks got more serious, I started scheming different ways we could actually move to Europe. As a freelancer, my job is portable so I’m able to go pretty much anywhere, anytime. Colin’s job? Not so much. So my first thought was to find a place where we could survive on my income and maybe ]Colin could do something online. And it is possible to move to Europe on just one salary. Of course, we couldn’t live in Paris or London, but there are some smaller cities where this is possible.
So that’s an option. We’d have to be careful with visa restrictions. As Canadians, we can stay in Schenghen countries for 90 days out of 180. So we’d have to map out our itinerary to make sure we don’t mess that up. But it’s do-able! How awesome would it be to move to Europe, live in a small town in Spain for a couple of months, off to Croatia for a couple more and then to Italy?
But the downside of that plan is that most of the affordable cities in Europe are not English-speaking. It would be a bit harder for Colin to work locally (plus the working visa we’d need) and for us to make friends if we can’t speak the language. The other downside is that Colin isn’t super keen on working online or doing a local job. He loves his work as an x-ray technologist and I would hate to ask him to leave that and do something he doesn’t enjoy.
Which brings us to another option: moving to an English-speaking country where Colin can work. I didn’t think this was possible until Colin sent me the link to an awesome website that has locum (temporary) jobs in the medical field in the UK, Ireland, Australia, etc. It was exactly what we were looking for! So we sent some emails and got on a phone call to learn more.
And it was eye-opening. There’s a lot we have to do if we want to make it happen. Colin has to register with the UK health governing board, which is an expensive four-month long process. We’d both have to get working holiday visas which is another long and expensive process. We’d have to book flights, find accommodation, rent out our apartment here, figure out what to do with Ellie, save up money and a boat load of other things.
Of course, living and working in the UK is going to be more expensive than a small city in Portugal or Hungary. But if Colin is able to work there, that would be a huge advantage. And, based on some research I’ve been doing, there are some UK cities that are slightly more affordable. So as much as I would love to move to Europe and live in London, that likely won’t happen.
So there are a ton of things to work out and plan and decide. And it’s not 100% a certainty that we will move to Europe. But it’s a possibility – a real possibility. And more than that, it’s something Colin and I are both really excited about. I’ve been looking at apartments online, pricing out the visas and figuring out our timeline. And it makes me so happy when Colin comes home and says he’s been talking with his colleagues about working in the UK.
We want to move to Europe. And I think it might happen!
If you were to move to Europe, where would you go?