Over 10 years - that's the amount of time I spent living at the heart of London. I arrived in August 2010 after lucking out at an internship offer in a newly founded company; and before I knew it, I found myself counting the years. Work, friends and relationships are easy motivators to stay in one place, settle and refuse the jump to the unknown. In the summer of 2019, Cris and I met, and new plans and dreams quickly formed, some involved building a life in the city and some were about escaping the 9 to 5 and heading south, towards the sun and tasty food.
And then came the year 2020
2020 will be a year that we all will remember. The year of COVID, the year of the lockdown, the year when companies had to shut down offices and it became acceptable for employees to work from home, the year of cancelled holidays and social distancing. Today is the 18th of September, and doomsayers will say that the year is not over yet. With Brexit happening in just a few months, it brings an uncertainty to our life that is hard to quantify, and I still feel rather uneasy about it. Add to this the prospect of the second COVID wave hitting this autumn and its annoying (but necessary) friend Lockdown, and the arguments for a rapid change of situation start pilling up.
After working from home more or less successfully over the past 6 months, we asked our companies if moving abroad was an option, and they agreed to let us go and keep our jobs. That was quite a welcomed piece of news, we're allowed to move!
The choice is made - we're leaving!
From here, things tend to accelerate. What do we bring, what do we sell, what do we give to charity or leave behind and what do we throw away. Sorting everything out, we had to face our past, in a material sense. It's easy to accumulate things, store them in boxes, piles those boxes in storage and do another round of this cycle until the boxes hit the ceiling.
Looking at it positively, moving to a different place inevitably leads to some cleansing of your stuff - and for us, it meant a first step towards minimalism. Shipping boxes across two seas is expensive, so we might as well check that it is worth shipping in the first place. We'll end up living in a van, so sizing down is good!
At the end, we packed more boxes than we planned to, we filled them up to hit exactly the maximum weight allowed and off they went. The moving company only sent one guy to carry all our boxes to the truck. It's hard work and we felt sorry for him, but in less than 20 minutes, the job was done. He gaves us a receipt for the goods, and the truck hastily hit the road.
Many hours spent on Gumtree listing what we don't want to bring with us, but valuable enough to sell... and a few trips to the charity shop later, we are now finding ourselves living out of essentially two luggages each. We still have more things to sell and bits to prepare - we need to organise visits and find a new tenant, terminate phone and electricity contracts - and enjoy the London life while we still can. Our flight tickets are already booked and the 30 day countdown has begun.
London has been a winding, perilous road, with its big hopes and dreams, but also its deceptions. Sunny days might not be as plentiful as rainy ones, and living here is definitely far from cheap, but London to me will always be the place that gave me the opportunity to realise my dreams. I arrived penniless, without speaking english and quite frankly a bit lost. And years later, somehow, things worked out. Here I built great friendships, I ended up going through exciting positions, and ultimately, here, I also met the one I love.
London made me who am I today, I've grown and I am thankful for my experiences; and I'm now ready for the next adventure and thrilled to see what is ahead.